Les Miserables by Peggy Horton Price & Deborah Miller & Larry LaPlue
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This Play is the copyright of the Author and may not be performed, copied or sold without the Author's prior consent
Background music begins in darkness and fading slowly as Older Cosette
finishes her first line.
Spot picks up Older Cosette as she is halfway down center aisle of
house. She walks to front as she speaks.
OLDER COSETTE: To profoundly influence for good is an amazing and
wonderful way to live life. (Pause. Continues walking to front and
Hello. My name is Baroness Cosette Pontmercy Oh, I haven't
always been a baronessthat thought makes me laugh, in spite of
myselfthe truth is so far from that. I was just rereading this
letter I've kept it for the past forty years. It reminds me of
the astonishing kindness that changed me from a poor forgotten urchin
into a baroness. I keep it because it tells the story of a man who
sacrificed everything for me and others that needed him.
He wrote this letter to me just before he died. It reminds me of the
grace that he extended to me, and that I am now required to give away.
Grace. What a beautiful word For you see, this man had not
always been such a generous benefactor there was someone who
caused him to change someone whose forgiveness transformed this
embittered criminal to a kind and loving man.
And I am still benefiting from the ripple effects of that single act
of kindness that happened before I was born. (She looks at M.
Myriel. Spot remains on Older Cosette as Lights dim up on M. Myriel.)
It was said of Monsignor Myriel that he did not study God he was
dazzled by Him.
M. MYRIEL: (Praying) Solomon calls you Compassion, and that is
the most beautiful of all Your names. (Freezes)
OLDER COSETTE: He was the same toward everyone and he judged nothing
M. MYRIEL: We should always examine the road over which the fault
OLDER COSETTE: His sister, Baptistine, would often attempt to curb
what she saw as his very dangerous adventures.
(Entering the spotlight.) Are you saying you intend to go on this
journey without escort?
M. MYRIEL: I do mean it so thoroughly that I absolutely refuse any
accompaniment, and shall set out in an hour.
BAPTISTINE: Set out?
M. MYRIEL: Set out.
M. MYRIEL: Alone.
BAPTISTINE: Brother, you will not do that!
M. MYRIEL: There exists in yonder mountains a tiny community which I
have not seen in three years. They need to be told of the good God now
and then. What would they say of a bishop who was afraid?
BAPTISTINE: But the bands of robbers?
M. MYRIEL: Hmmm. I must think of that. (Pause) You are right. I
may meet them. (Pause) They, too, need to be told of the good God.
BAPTISTINE: But they will rob you!
M. MYRIEL: I have nothing. Besides, we should never fear robbers.
Petty danger! Let us fear ourselves. Prejudices are the real
robbers. What matters it what threatens our purse! We must be
concerned with that which threatens our souls.
BAPTISTINE: They will kill you.
M. MYRIEL: An old priest, who passes along mumbling his prayers?
Bah! To what purpose?
BAPTISTINE: You must not go, brother. You are risking your life.
M. MYRIEL: Is that really all? I am not in the world to guard my
own life, but to guard souls.
OLDER COSETTE: And since we are now painting the bishop as he was in
reality, we must add that he had said more than once
M. MYRIEL: I would find it difficult to give up eating with silver
OLDER COSETTE: And along with these silver utensils, two massive
silver candlesticks which he had inherited from a much-loved aunt were
the only earthly possessions that truly belonged to him.
A more compassionate, caring man was not to be found. People
perceived that he had a rather peculiar way of his own for judging
things; I expect that he obtained it from the Gospel.
Lights dim on OLDER COSETTE
Lights full up on scene. M. MYRIEL is seated at the table, reading.
BAPTISTINE is setting the table for supper
BAPTISTINE: People are speaking of a prowler about town; a
suspicious vagabond of evil appearance. No-one even knows the name of
M. MYRIEL: We should not inquire the name of him who asks shelter.
The very man who is embarrassed by his name is the one who most needs
BAPTISTINE: It would behoove wise people to guard themselves, and to
fasten their doors well. (She waits for a response from M. MYRIEL,
but when there is none, continues.) Did you hear what I said,
M. MYRIEL: I have heard something of it in a vague way.
BAPTISTINE: I say that this house is not safe at all. If you
permit, I will-
A loud knock at the door. It is JEAN VALJEAN. BAPTISTINE, startled,
looks up from what she is doing.
M. MYRIEL: Come in.
JEAN VALJEAN, ragged in appearance, enters. BAPTISTINE, afraid, steps
back from him. She looks at her brother, and seeing he is calm, is
somewhat settled her fear.
JEAN VALJEAN: (Abruptly) See here. My name is Jean Valjean. I am
a convict. I have passed nineteen years in prison, and I was
liberated four days ago. I have traveled 30 miles today on foot.
This evening, when I arrived in your town, I went to an inn. They
turned me out because of my yellow passport, which I am required by
law, to show wherever I go. At another inn, they said to me, 'Be
off'. No one would take me in. I went into the fields to sleep
under the stars, but there were no stars. It was about to rain, so I
came back into town. Yonder, in the square, a good woman pointed out
your house, and said to me, 'Knock there!' I am very weary and
hungry. Are you willing that I should remain here?
M. MYRIEL: Baptistine, set another place at the table.
She does so, thought obviously not happy about it.
JEAN VALJEAN: No, wait! Did you understand what I just said to you?
I am a convict. (He pulls a yellow sheet of paper from his pocket,
which he unfolds.)
Here's my passport. This serves to expel me from every place I go.
This is what it says: 'Jean Valjean, prisoner number 24601,
discharged convict. Has been nineteen years in the galleys: five
years for house-breaking and burglary; fourteen years for having
attempted to escape on four occasions. He is a very dangerous man.'
There! Everyone has cast me out. Will you give me something to eat
and a bed? (Pause) Or, just the stable? I would sleep there.
M. MYRIEL: Baptistine, you will put white sheets on the bed in the
alcove. (She exits.) Sit down, sir. We are going to sup in a few
JEAN VALJEAN: Really? You do not drive me away? A convict? You
call me 'sir'! You do not say, 'Get out of here, you dog!'
Now, I am really going to eat. And it has been nineteen years since I
slept in a bed! You are good people. Besides, I have money that I
made working in the prison galleys. I can pay. You are an innkeeper,
are you not?
M. MYRIEL: No, no; I am a priest.
JEAN VALJEAN: A priest! O, what a fine priest! Then you are not
going to demand any money of me? (He deposits his knapsack on the
floor, puts the passport back into his pocket, and sits.) You are
human, good priest; you have not scorned me.
M. MYRIEL: Sister, it strikes me that there is something missing on
this table. Ahh. It is the silverware. (BAPTISTINE stares at him
for a moment, and then crosses to get the silverware and returns to
place it on the table. Again, obviously, not pleased.) And it is
obviously not so light in here. (BAPTISTINE, after hesitating for a
moment, crosses to retrieve the silver candlesticks and places them on
the table, and lights them. Then crosses to get the platter of food
and brings it to the table. She exits.)
JEAN VALJEAN: Monsieur, you are good; you do not despise me. You
receive me into your house. You light your candles for me.
M. MYRIEL: Now, it is time to eat. (JEAN VALJEAN begins to eat
This is not my house. It is the house of Jesus Christ. This door
does not demand of him who enters whether he has a name; but whether
he has a grief. You suffer. You are hungry and thirsty; you are
welcome. The man who needs a refuge is at home here. Everything here
is yours. Besides, before you told me your name, I knew it.
JEAN VALJEAN: Really? You knew my name?
M. MYRIEL: Yes. Your name is my brother.
JEAN VALJEAN: Wait! Your brother?! (Obviously moved.) I was very
hungry when I came here; but, you are so good that, now, I do not know
what I am.
M. MYRIEL: You have suffered much.
JEAN VALJEAN: In chains, even when I was sick, a plank to sleep on,
the thrashings. Nineteen years for stealing a loaf of bread to
feed my sister's child. She was starving. That's all I took
a loaf of bread and it has cost me nineteen years of my life.
M. MYRIEL: Yes, you have come from a place of suffering. If you
emerge from that sad place with thoughts of hatred and wrath against
mankind, you are deserving of compassion; if you emerge with thoughts
of good-will and of peace, you are more worthy than any one of us.
Lights dim to silhouettes on scene. They freeze. Lights up on OLDER
OLDER COSETTE: So, Jean Valjean had his first good meal in nineteen
years. (Pause) When his hunger was satisfied,
M. Myriel picked up one of the silver candlesticks from the table and
prepared to retire for the evening.
Lights up as this happens.
M. MYRIEL: Come, I will conduct you to your room. (JEAN VALJEAN is
obviously looking at the silverware. BAPTISTINE collects it quickly
and puts it away. The two men cross to exit.) Your room is just down
the hall. (Pointing offstage.) And may you pass a good night.
Thank you, Monsieur. (Suddenly his mood changes. Gazes at M. MYRIEL
harshly) Ah! Really! You lodge me in your house, close to yourself
like this? (Laughs loudly.) Have you reflected well? How do you not
know that I have not been an assassin?
M. MYRIEL: That is the concern of the good God.
Raising two fingers of his right hand, and moving his lips to form the
words of blessing quietly, he makes the sign of the Cross, bestowing
his benediction on JEAN VALJEAN. VALJEAN turns to exit. LIGHTS OUT.
TIME: The following morning
The Bishop's home. LIGHTS UP on M. MYRIEL, sitting at the dining
room table, reading. An empty chest is sitting on the floor by his
BAPTISTINE enters quickly. Notices the chest missing from its usual
place and screams.
BAPTISTINE: Brother! Brother! Do you know where the chest of
(Without looking up) Yes.
BAPTISTINE: Jesus, the Lord, be blessed! I did not know what had
become of it.
M. MYRIEL: (Picks up the empty chest beside his chair and hands it
to her.) Here it is.
BAPTISTINE: (Takes the chest from him and opens it.) Nothing in it!
Where is the silver?
M. MYRIEL: Ah, so it is the silver which troubles you? I don't
know where it is.
BAPTISTINE: It is stolen! That man that devil who was here last
night is gone and has stolen it! It was all you had in this world.
M. MYRIEL: (Silent for a moment. Then, speaks gently) Sister, in
the first place, was that silver mine? (No answer from BAPTISTINE.)
I have for a long time withheld that silver wrongfully. It belonged
to the poor. Who was that man? A poor man, evidently.
BAPTISTINE: It is not for my sake that I am so upset, but for yours,
dear Brother. What are you to eat with now?
M. MYRIEL: (Gazes at her, amazed.) Ah, come! Are there no such
things as wooden forks and spoons?
BAPTISTINE: A pretty idea, truly, to take in a man like that! To
lodge him close to one's self! And how fortunate that he did
nothing but steal! It makes one shudder to think of it! (A knock at
M. MYRIEL: Come in.
A policeman enters, holding VALJEAN by the collar.
DIGNE POLICEMAN: Monsignor
M. MYRIEL: Ah! Here you are! I am glad to see you! Last night I
gave you the candlesticks, too, which are made of silver like the
rest. Why did you not carry them away with your forks and spoons?
VALJEAN stares at the priest, in amazement and shock.
DIGNE POLICEMAN: Monsignor, am I to understand that what this man
has said to me is true, then? When I saw him, it seemed he was
running away. We stopped him to look into the matter. He had this
M. MYRIEL: (Interrupting) And he told you that it had been given to
him by a kind old fellow of a priest with whom he had passed the
night? I see how the matter stands. And you have brought him back
here. It is a mistake.
DIGNE POLICEMAN: And in that case, I can let him go?
M. MYRIEL: Certainly.
The policeman releases VALJEAN.
JEAN VALJEAN: It is true that I am to be released?
M. MYRIEL: (To policeman) You may retire, sir.
He nods in respect and exits. M. MYRIEL crosses and picks up the
candlesticks and returns to VALJEAN to hand them to him.
M. MYRIEL: Take them. (VALJEAN, trembling, takes the
candlesticks.) Now, go in peace. Do not forget never forget
that you are to use this silver to become an honest man. (Pause)
Jean Valjean, my brother, you no longer belong to evil, but to good.
It is your soul that I am buying for you. I withdraw it from dark
thoughts and from the spirit of fear and hatred, (Takes crucifix from
around his own neck and places it on JEAN VALJEAN.) and I give it to
While staring at the bishop, JEAN VALJEAN removes the yellow passport
from his pocket and crumples it in his hand without looking at it.
LIGHTS fade to black.
[end of extract]
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