At this word she bestowed on her daughter a passionate kiss, which woke her. The child opened her eyes, great blue eyes like her mother’s, and looked at—what? Nothing; with that serious and sometimes severe air of little children, which is a mystery of their luminous innocence in the presence of our twilight of virtue. One would say that they feel themselves to be angels, and that they know us to be men. Then the child began to laugh; and although the mother held fast to her, she slipped to the ground with the unconquerable energy of a little being which wished to run. All at once she caught sight of the two others in the swing, stopped short, and put out her tongue, in sign of admiration.
Mother Thenardier released her daughters, made them descend from the swing, and said:—
"Now amuse yourselves, all three of you."
Children become acquainted quickly at that age, and at the expiration of a minute the little Thenardiers were playing with the new-comer at making holes in the ground, which was an immense pleasure.
The new-comer was very gay; the goodness of the mother is written in the gayety of the child; she had seized a scrap of wood which served her for a shovel, and energetically dug a cavity big enough for a fly. The grave-digger’s business becomes a subject for laughter when performed by a child.
The two women pursued their chat.
"What is your little one’s name?"
For Cosette, read Euphrasie. The child’s name was Euphrasie. But out of Euphrasie the mother had made Cosette by that sweet and graceful instinct of mothers and of the populace which changes Josepha into Pepita, and Francoise into Sillette. It is a sort of derivative which disarranges and disconcerts the whole science of etymologists. We have known a grandmother who succeeded in turning Theodore into Gnon.
"How old is she?"
"She is going on three."
"That is the age of my eldest."
In the meantime, the three little girls were grouped in an attitude of profound anxiety and blissfulness; an event had happened; a big worm had emerged from the ground, and they were afraid; and they were in ecstasies over it.
Their radiant brows touched each other; one would have said that there were three heads in one aureole.
"How easily children get acquainted at once!" exclaimed Mother Thenardier; "one would swear that they were three sisters!"
French text and the whys of this passage under the cut! Which is mainly me freaking out completely about victims of an abusive system continuing its work, and, you know, cycles of oppression and all, because this is a FUN WACKY NOVEL.