December 25, 1820. Although Javert never failed to attend mass on Sundays, he did not see the point of closing shops and giving everyone a day off from work on Christmas Day. This was his first Christmas in Montreuil-sur-Mer- in other words, his first wasted day in Montreuil-sur-Mer.
He carefully made his bed. Once it was perfect, Javert turned around and noticed that his house plant, which was visible through the open door of his bedroom, was swaying slightly, as if being blown by the wind. This was strange, as all of his windows were closed during the winter. He left his room and looked at his front door. To his surprise, it was open.
It had to have happened during the night, when he was asleep. What Javert could not understand was how the intruder had gotten in without him hearing, and why. He could not have been aiming to harm Javert, and after a quick survey of his surroundings, he concluded that nothing was stolen from the house. Nothing had been touched. Except...
"That's odd." Javert was inspecting his coat, which was hanging over a chair. "It isn't straight. Perhaps it shifted during the night...?" Javert lifted his coat and shook it. An oddly shaped package fell to the ground. "What's this?" he asked, picking it up. There was something attached to it. Javert flipped the paper over and read it.
Merry Christmas, Inspector! I have been informed that you don't get enough rest because of all your work. You are very valuable to us here at Montreuil-sur-Mer, and I would prefer that you allow yourself more rest every now and then. Take today to relax and sleep. Included in this box is 100 francs and a snack. Please enjoy.
The letter was not signed.
Javert pried the box open slowly and suspiciously. When he found that the package only contained a loaf of bread and the 100 francs mentioned in the letter, he relaxed a little. However, even though the gift may have been given with good intentions, the giver had broken into his house. Javert placed the bread on a table and quickly dressed himself. Whoever the gift giver was, he should have known better than to trespass on Inspector Javert. He put his coat on and left his home.
While crossing the street, Javert spotted a young boy hurrying home, probably after delivering a present to a nearby friend or family member. He stopped him and proceeded to question the terrified boy. "You. Do you have any information on a man or woman who sneaks into people's houses in the night to leave them presents?" Javert demanded.
"Um... Yes, Inspector. I do. You mean Santa Claus, right? He comes by my place too, sir. He visits every good kid. Did he visit you last night? I didn't know he visits grown ups too," the boy answered. Javert frowned.
"Santa? I believe I have heard of him before... You are free to continue on your way, child," Javert said, and the boy darted away in fear. "Perhaps... He might be a criminal once mentioned by a colleague." He continued walking around the town, thinking about this "Santa Claus." He was so lost in thought that he almost didn't notice when a man wished him Merry Christmas in a small, scared voice.
"I, uh, just wanted to thank you for the service you've been doing for us, you know?" the man stammered when Javert turned his glare at him. It wasn't that Javert was angry. A glare was just his default facial expression, but the man didn't know that.
"There is no need. It's my job," Javert said simply. "Although... If you are that grateful, perhaps you could help me with something. Do you have any information on when I can find Santa Claus?" he asked, quite seriously. So seriously, in fact, that the young man began to question the Inspector's sanity. He probably shouldn't have started this conversation.
"I...well... No, sir. No one can find him, sir. He's not real," the man explained.
"Not real, eh? That's how good he is, then..." Javert thought to himself for a moment, then continued on his way without paying any more attention to the confused man.
This Santa Claus had to be good at hiding if some people didn't even believe that he was real. Speaking of people who were good at hiding, 24601 was still on the run... Javert took from his pocket a piece of paper that he had found earlier. It was a drawing of Santa that someone had dropped. The inspector examined the man. He had a beard, and seemed to be a large man. One might see the drawing as fat, but it could be that the man was simply strong, and the artist failed to capture it. Javert drew the conclusion that this Santa Claus everyone was talking about was in fact Jean Valjean, who was terrorizing this very town! After several minutes of comparing the picture to his memory of the convict, Javert looked up from the paper to check where his feet had taken him.
His aimless wanderings took him to the home of the mayor before he realized it. Perfect. The mayor would know something about this, since he had lived in the town longer than himself. Javert knocked on the door and waited for a little longer than a minute until the door opened.
"Inspector Javert. I wish to speak to M. Madeleine," he said to the servant. She nodded and disappeared inside the house. A few moments later, Madeleine was at the door.
"Merry Christmas, Javert. What can I do for you?" the mayor asked.
"I wish to speak to you about a criminal that I believe is terrorizing this town," Javert said. The mayor raised an eyebrow.
"Is that so? Why don't we discuss this inside, you hat has almost turned white in this weather." Madeleine opened the door for Javert, and Javert shook out his hat and brushed the snow off of his coat before entering.
"Thank you, M. le Maire. Now, about the criminal..." Javert took a seat across from Madeleine. "I believe he has trespassed on the homes of every person in this town, including mine. What's more, he cannot be located. I request that we have more investigations of this man," Javert said.
"And what would this man's name be?" Madeleine asked curiously.
"Santa Claus." Javert took a sip of the warm drink that the servant had brought, and continued to look straight at the mayor as if he had said nothing out of the ordinary.
"Santa?" Madeleine was lost. "My dear Inspector, I'm afraid that man is no more a criminal than he is a real person!" he exclaimed.
"Not you too!" Javert said in exasperation. "I'm telling you this man is real. He broke into my home and gave me a present! I have reason to believe that this man is a convict who broke parole. It's exactly the sort of thing that 24601 would do!"
"Javert, calm down and listen to me," Madeleine said, frowning at the mention of the convict. "Santa is not real. He's made up. He doesn't really go into people's homes on Christmas Eve."
"He...He doesn't?" Javert asked, wide-eyed.
"Yes, none of what you believed about Santa is true," Madeleine said, sighing. "He is a made up person we tell our children about. Santa climbs down chimneys in the middle of the night and leaves presents for all the children that have been good throughout the year," he explained. Poor Javert! Madeleine had no idea that the inspector didn't even know who Santa Claus was.
"That doesn't explain how the present got into my house, though," Javert said as he thought over the new information. However it got into his home, he now knew that it was not because of Santa Claus. "My sincere apologies, M. le Maire. I have wasted your time and wasted my day more than I would have. I shall be taking my leave," Javert said politely, and he rose from the chair and made his way to the door. "Merry Christmas, Monsieur," he added.
"Merry Christmas, Inspector. And I do hope you enjoy the bread," the mayor said, and he shut the door.