They left Javert´s house, but to his surprise when they got outside, it was bright daylight, and they were somewhere that looked vaguely familiar to him. They found themselves on a meadow which was thinly covered with snow, and big flakes were still falling. At a distance, he could see two little boys playing in the snow. One of them had fair hair, the other one was dark, and wore clothes that looked as if they were too big for him. Javert could hear their loud, excited voices.
Even though it was apparently cold, he did not feel the chill, even though he was in his night dress. Also, the boys took no notice of them, which was peculiar. A man in a night dress would have attracted any boys´ attention!
„What you see here are the shadows of things that have been," said the spirit before Javert could even ask how this was possible. „They can`t see you."
There was something familiar about this place. The way the path besides the meadow wound its way up the hill, the houses in the distance... Suddenly he recognised it. They were in Toulon! Here he had grown up and later spent some time of his working years. He had a closer look at the two boys, and with a jolt recognised that the dark-haired one was himself!
More and more memories of these long-gone days returned, and he was amazed how clear they were once he let accepted them.
Snow was rare in Toulon, and they had been so excited about it! Julien Gaspard was the only friend he ever had when he was a child. Javert had not thought about his childhood for longer than he cared to remember. Even though he thought to have left it long behind him, the shame of being the son of a gipsy woman and a convict, and having grown up in a prison was something he never quite outgrown. He had kept it a secret from everybody.
Javert watched the two boys throwing snowballs at each other, laughing and screaming.
The spirit made him follow the two boys back home, or rather to Julien´s home. It moved Javert strangely to get back to the house where he had spent the only happy moments of his childhood.
Julien´s father had been a guard at the Toulon prison, where Javert´s mother had been imprisoned. When he thought of it now Javert did not understand why he had let his son play with him, the filthy gypsy brat. He used to be pushed around and beaten by the guards and by the other children. But the Gaspard family had never treated him differently from any other children in the neighbourhood.
Javert watched how the boys drank some hot chocolate, and how they finally got to open their Christmas gifts. The atmosphere was friendly and warm, and he knew he had wished that he would never have to leave it again, but after a little while it was time for the little boy to go back to the prison, and to his mother.
"We´d love to have you here overnight, but you can´t leave your mother all alone at Christmas." The little boy nodded sadly, accepting that Gaspard was right.
They followed the two of them to the Toulon prison, a huge fortress which looked dark and intimidating. Gaspard brought the little boy to the small room inside the prison where he lived with his mother.
She looked at both of them with contempt.
"There you are! My own son rather spends Christmas with these guard rats than with his own mother..."
Her voice was cold and bitter. Years of prison had made her features hard, and she was full of frustration about her ruined life and full of hate for everybody who worked at the prison.
The boy shrugged his shoulders, looking to the floor.
"You are still my son, aren´t you, Troyáno?"
The boy looked downwards. How he hated his first name! It was like his mother had wanted to brand him forever to stick out as a gipsy.
Javert remembered like it was yesterday what he had thought then - "I wish I wasn´t...".
Everything blurred around them, and Javert and the spirit found themselves in the same room, one year later. There was Troyáno, his mother, and a guard.
"You won´t be allowed to leave the room until further notice. You know that there was a riot among the convicts, and they killed several of our men."
His eye fell on the boy.
"I always said that Gaspard was too soft with you lot. His softness made him lose his life."
M. Gaspard was killed?! Troyáno cried out in despair. "That isn´t true, you are lying!"
The guard shook the boy off impatiently.
"Yes, he is dead. And it was your people who killed him, never forget that, you little gypsy scum."
He turned round and slammed the door. Troyáno stared at the door motionlessly, tears running from his eyes.
"Serves him right too. These bloody guards. Serves them right, all of them."
His mother´s voice cut like a knife in the boy´s heart.
"Don´t say that!"
"I will say it again and again! Only a dead guard is a good guard."
The boy ran up to her in a wild fury.
"Don´t say that again! I hate you! I would rather die than become like you!"
His little fists were hitting his mother, who just laughed at him.
"Just look at you! You have got gypsy and convict blood in your veins! Do you really think that you can escape your destiny? Troyáno, you´re a just a little fool!"
Suddenly a change came over the boy. He stopped hitting his mother. His hands were still clenched to fists, but he stood perfectly still, and his eyes were getting cold.
"I am not like you. I´ll show you. You´ll all see."
The last thing Javert saw before the scene faded away from his eyes was how his mother's laugh slowly faded away, giving way to an expression of fear. He did not want to remember, but inevitably his mind wandered back to that time. Julien and his mother had moved away from Toulon, and he had never seen them again. With them being gone, he had lost his only refuge from the cruelties of everyday life. Nobody thought that a gypsy brat could be any good. He soon noticed that he had to be quicker and better than everybody else. He was made fun of and beaten up regularly. None of the teachers at school ever prevented this. The headmaster was particularly bad, his name was Rocher, he had a deep hatred for all that came from inside a prison, and he had made him suffer tremendously. He had tried anything to make the gypsy scum, as he put it, run away from school or find a reason to have him expelled, but he did not succeed.
The spirit touching his arm jolted him out of his reverie. They were in a dark wood, and it was snowing. Javert saw a little girl apparently lost in the woods. She looked scared to death, and was carrying a bucket that was far too huge and heavy for her. He could not make out who she was, and what she was supposed to have to do with him. A man came down the path. He softly addressed the child, and talked to her gently. He wrapped his scarf around her, and carried the bucket for her. The man looked strangely familiar to Javert. All of a sudden he remembered. It was Jean Valjean - the convict who had been in jail for violent robbery. This Valjean had had broken his parole when Javert was a young officer in Toulon, and he had been chasing him for years and years, until his trace had entirely disappeared some nine years ago... This man was a dangerous violent brute, just like he the imagined the convict who killed Gaspard when trying to escape from prison to be.
The spirit showed him an entirely different scene. The little girl was there again, and so was Jean Valjean, but how different she looked! The ragged clothes had gone, she was wearing a pretty dress now, her hair was nicely done, and she looked healthy and happy. Javert froze when he looked at her - she had the same joy and adoration in her face when she looked at Valjean like little Troyáno had when he was at the Gaspards´ home. It was Jean Valjean who had caused this change! His face was lit with friendliness and warmth.
Javert would have liked to watch the scene for longer, without even noticing that this was the man he had been chasing for so long. But the ghost took him by the arm and led him away, all the while getting losing substance and getting more and more translucent.
"I must leave you now - but you will be visited by another spirit tomorrow."
"No, don´t go! There are so many questions I have to ask! Please, stay!"
But Javert´s pleading was in vain. The light grew dimmer and dimmer, until the spirit had entirely disappeared. Javert found himself back in his bed. Still feeling dazed, but also very tired, he fell asleep at once.