Scarlet Blood on a White Gown
With Sophia arrested, what will the events to follow have in store for her?
“I want to see my husband,” she said in between sobs, yet her hands were delicately folded in her lap. Tears ran down her cheeks.
“I am not a prostitute, monsieur. I am a good and honest woman and I am married to a good man. Please let me go, monsieur!” she begged.
“I cannot release you until the Inspector has arrived, madame. I am sorry. But what is your name? So I can write it down?”
“Sophia,” she begun and his eyes widened in surprise.
“Sophia?” he repeated, still unsure that he had heard it correctly
“Yes...it isn’t that much of an uncommon name.”
“Are you Inspector Javert’s wife?”
“Yes. I was going for a walk. I felt suffocated in the house, so I slipped out shortly after Etienne left. I happened to go by the tavern where the poor women were. Some drunkards mistook me for one of the whores- even though I am almost five months with child. They were getting rough and I wanted to protect myself. That’s when Etienne arrested me- for hitting a man! If anyone should be in jail, it should be Inspector Javert. He abuses me. Hits me. Only a month after we were married he turned on me.”
Beauvais looked at the sweet, young Sophia and could not believe what she had said. Who would harm such a sweet girl like this young woman in front of him?
“Does the mayor know?” he asked, “does anyone know?”
“No. There’d be no point, monsieur. Etienne is head of the police of Montrieul-sur-Mer. He’s hardly going to arrest himself, is he Beauvais?”
“At least tell me if he goes too far. The mayor has asked me to do so.” Sophia nodded and tears were still running down her cheeks. Out of comfort, Beauvais embraced the distraught girl, but as if it were a bad dream, Javert came into the room in the middle of the embrace.
Beauvais let go of Sophia, “this isn’t what it looks like, sir.” Javert ignored him, pushed him away. Beauvais hit his head on the table, and Javert roughly yanked Sophia up and pinned her against the wall.
“How dare you, Sophia! Sneak out of the house while I am gone and then commit adultery with my Captain!” he yelled.
“Etienne, he didn’t know,” Sophia replied, crying, “all I wanted was some air!” Javert slapped her across the face and she went to the floor crying. He spun round to face Beauvais, who was struggling to get up. He yanked up the captain and took him by the collar of Beauvais’ coat.
“You keep away from my wife, Beauvais. I don’t want to see you anywhere near her again for as long as you shall live. Or I’ll have you both arrested for adultery,” he hissed. He looked over at Sophia, who was struggling to get up. He kicked her, unknowingly to him in the abdomen.
“Stop it, Etienne!” she cried, “you....might have hurt the baby!” Javert roughly picked Sophia up, put her against the wall and Beauvais watched on in horror as Javert thrusted himself up into her. She screamed and begged him to stop, but Javert did not listen to her.
About five minutes later, Sophia’s broken body was lying in prison. She was sobbing quietly, her hand on her swollen abdomen which carried her child. She was sore all over and she knew there would be bruises. Javert had disappeared and Beauvais walked over to her.
“Sophia?” he asked.
“I’ll go to Monsieur Madeliene,” she cried in between sobs, “if it continues.” The night was turning into hell for Sophia. It had gotten out of hand and she hoped her unborn child was still healthy. Beauvais was only being kind.. but Javert had over-reacted...her own husband...
She fell asleep and about two in the morning, she heard someone come into the station. At first she thought it was Beauvais, but she soon knew it was Javert by the sound of his footsteps. She sat up and knelt in front of the bars.
“Etienne!” she called out. He did not answer her. She had tears running down her cheeks again. He silently got the keys and unlocked the gaol.
“You are getting four months,” he told her.
“But I’ll give birth in here!” she cried, “Etienne please let me go! All I want to do is raise our child at home and support you.” Javert sighed and knelt in front of her.
“Sophia, you must promise me you will do as I say,” he told her, kissing her forehead.
“I promise,” she replied, her voice shaking. He helped her up and draped his greatcoat around her.
As they arrived home, she went straight to the bedroom. She was shivering still. She undressed and exchanged her dress for her nightgown. From her dressing table she picked up her hairbrush and brushed her long blonde curls. Javert stood in the doorway and watched her. Her swollen stomach was prominent and bathed in the candlelight, she looked so beautiful and at peace. But at the same time, she looked delicate. Sophia put the hair brush down and walked over to the bed. She pulled back the covers and sat down in bed plaiting her hair. He brought himself to walk into the bedroom. He unbuttoned his shirt and took it off. Sitting down on the bed, he let out a big sigh. Sophia looked up from what she was doing.
“What is it?” she asked, crawling across the bed to sit behind him. She kissed his bare shoulder.
“I’m tired, that’s all, Sophie.” Sophia’s heart stopped. He had never called her that. It was normally her papa who called her Sophie; to her it meant they were full of affection for her. Her husband had never called her Sophie at all in the time that they were married. She was suspicious.
“Etienne, you’ve never called me that.” She wrapped her arms around his neck.
She whispered in his ear, “I cannot forgive you straight away, but if you gave me some freedom and spent time with me each evening, then I’d be willing to forgive you more quickly.”
Javert was a temperamental man and Sophia was holding her breath for a moment. He lay down and pulled her to his chest gently. His hand stroked a loose curl that had escaped from the plait. He glanced at Sophia’s swollen stomach and sighed.
“Sophie, ma chérie, I am not sure if I am ready to be a father.”
“You’re forty-one years old. Who knows how long you’ll have your virility left for?” she replied sleepily. She was getting to the point where she could not keep her eyes open but she was worried the quiet, sympathetic Javert would disappear if she fell asleep. She tried to stifle a yawn but he whispered in her ear,
“Sleep, my Sophie. I’ll be here in the morning.” With the reassurance from him, she drifted off into a welcoming sleep.
The next morning she woke up just as Javert was getting ready to leave the house. It was cold, so she draped her fur wrapper around her shoulders. She leant against the door frame which connected the bedroom to the hallway and smiled at him.
“Good morning,” she said. He turned around, in the middle of putting on his black coat. He smiled at her, briefly mind you, and she smiled her sweet smile back at him. He walked over to her and placed both hands on her shoulders. He kissed her quickly on the mouth. Her eyes fluttered shut. He stepped back and his smile faded.
“Etienne?” she asked, her smile quickly fading too.
“You’re bleeding.” She looked down and saw there was a increasing patch of blood on her white nightgown around the area where the womb was. Her face looked incredibly pale, and she felt faint. Her knees gave way and so she did not fall to the floor, Javert quickly caught her. As she laid in his arms, she looked up at her husband’s face.
“W-w-what’s happening?” she asked, her eyes filling with tears. He did not have the heart to say it. She was carrying their unborn baby with such hope that it would unite them.
He heard Beauvais knocking at the door.
“Inspector? Inspector?” he was calling. Javert laid Sophia down and promised he would back soon. He strode over to the door and opened it. Beauvais saw the look on his superior’s face. He could tell something was not right.
“What is it? Inspector?” he asked.
“It’s Sophia...I think she’s lost the child.”
“We need to get her to the hospital.” Javert went back to the bedroom where Sophia was slowly trying to stand up. There was blood everywhere. He picked her up but she cried out in pain. After carrying her to the front door, Beauvais saw the amount of blood there was. The whole lower half of Sophia’s nightgown was soaked in blood and most of Javert’s sleeves.
The two policemen got Sophia to the hospital as quick as they could and the Mayor, Monsieur Madeliene, heard about it fairly quickly. His name was not Madeliene. It was, in fact, Jean Valjean, a convict who had been redeemed by a single act of kindness by a bishop. He had a past with Javert who had once been a prison officer at the quarries in Toulon where Valjean had been doing hard labour.
“Strange isn’t it?” he said to Beauvais, “the morning after she was unknowingly arrested by her own husband, she miscarries what should be their firstborn. Did anything happen last night which may have cause the miscarriage?” Beauvais wanted to say that he had seen Javert sexually assault his wife, but women had few rights compared to those of men. Besides, even so, Javert could manipulate his wife into saying he did not do anything wrong.
“No, Monsieur le Maire,” Beauvais replied to Valjean, “from what I have learned... from what I have seen of the Javert marriage, the Inspector is very protective of Madame Javert. She’s young- only seventeen or eighteen it is believed- so I do not blame him. She is what you would call beautiful. She looks like a goddess.”
“It sounds like you are in love with her, Captain.”
“If you saw her, Monsieur, you would be too.”
As Valjean and Beauvais arrived at the nunnery, they saw a pale-looking Javert sitting alone, head in hands.
“This is my fault,” he said softly.