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BOOK FOURTH: Aid from Below May be Aid From Above
Cosette takes care of Valjean when he returns home from his confrontation with the Thenardiers with a burn on his arm. He languishes with fever for over a month. At his urging, she spends time walking alone in the walled garden behind the house.
Valjean also walks alone once he is recovered from his wound. One day an adventure takes place which is observed by little Gavroche, the cast-off son of the Thenardiers. Gavroche hears an exchange between Father Mabeuf and his housekeeper in which she complains about the overdue rent and lack of food in the house. A short time later another old man (Valjean) appears; he is followed (though unaware) by Montparnasse. Montparnasse attacks Valjean, but is overpowered himself instead and is subjected to a lengthy lecture by Valjean. Valjean then gives Montparnasse his purse. While the robber looks after his benefactor in shock, Gavroche sneaks up on him and steals the purse from his pocket. He then tosses the purse over the wall where it lands at the feet of M. Mabeuf.
Gavroche has good intentions and is unselfish in spite of his own destitute condition. However, the gesture is not received as a gift. Instead Mabeuf takes the wallet to the police as an item that has been lost. Valjean also comes across as unnecessarily generous-which he is in every way except that which concerns Cosette. Cosette herself seems happier and has contentedly devoted herself to Valjean’s recovery. For a short time, their relationship seems almost as secure as it once was. Valjean revels in her attentions while Cosette is happy simply to be able to walk in the garden alone.