Innocence Lost

Chapter 5

Three nights later, Marius Pontmercy entered Cosette's garden. Cosette received the letter and assumed that it was from her dear Montparnasse. How sweet of him! But, as she read it, certain things did not seem right. This was far more poetic and dreamy than Montparnasse had ever been. Also, this obviously came from a man who had seen her and then lost her again. Why, she didn't even wear that old white hat anymore.

Suddenly, she recalled Him! Oh, how could things have gone so wrong? He'd waited too long to find her! Of course she loved him better, she realized in a flash. But she was betrothed now, in a most irrevocable way. She wondered what he intended by the letter.

Cosette walked in her garden that night, brooding. Montparnasse would not be there because of business, as he'd told her the night before. She was not at all surprised when Marius showed up. She knew as Marius' lips touched hers that she could never marry anyone but him. As Marius was finally leaving, after hours of breathless conversation, she cautioned him not to come the next night. "My father will be returning from his trip, and I must spent the evening with him," she explained. The lie came easily to her, as old childhood habits tend to do. "I will await your return two nights from now."

Cosette was moody the next day. One moment, Toussaint would catch her in dreamy contemplation on the window seat overlooking the garden. The next moment, she would be crankily ordering the old woman to "go away and leave me be!" as she threw herself on the sofa in a sobbing fit. Toussaint sighed and clucked, and chalked it up to "female troubles" and made her mistress some tea. The tea did help to soothe Cosette's troubled conscience a bit.

Nightfall came, and brought with it Montparnasse. Cosette was somberly dressed, with an even more somber face.

"You can't see me anymore, and we can't ever be married," she said tearfully, avoiding looking into his handsome face.

Montparnasse was bewildered. He was actually planning on dropping her soon, but dammit, girls didn't drop him! She'd become tedious, always wanting to chatter and such. And that silly marriage thing! Still, he played along.

"Are you sure I cannot change your mind?" he asked, putting on an injured air.

"Quite sure," she sniffled. "I am sorry."

He sighed piteously. "Farewell then, ma petite," He kissed her fingers and slipped out of the garden.

Cosette called upon yet another long-buried childhood skill, and turned her thoughts forcefully from the guilt. She thought of Marius coming to see her tomorrow, and smiled. Perhaps someday, she would find a way to tell him.

--Jeni Baron