October 12, 1822

Today I turned 12. My aunt gave me this book to help me practice writing. She said I should write down all my thoughts in it, but that sounds boring to me. It's not a very good birthday present.

August 24, 1823

Today I was bored. It was a beautiful day outside, but my grandfather told me I could only walk around the block, nowhere else. I don't want to have to have a chaperon every time I leave the house anymore. Goodness, I'm almost a man!

I went into the library to find something to read. I opened one of grandfather's books.

I'm never going into the library again.

April 6, 1824

I suppose I really haven't written much in this, have I? Yesterday my grandfather told me that, come fall, I won't be schooled at home anymore. I'll be going to university in Paris, but living at home. That sounds like an improvement over the current system- I never get to do anything of interest, and have scarcely seen anyone my own age in months.

When I was a child my grandfather used to take me to Madame T's salon. It was dreadful then, because no one would talk to me. Or I'd be scared, because some old lady would come over and fawn over me- why do old women think they are every child's mother?- but now that I'm thirteen it sounds appealing. At least I'd have someone to talk to.

September 8, 1824

School was dreadful! I thought I'd make all kinds of new friends, but the minute I walked through to door it was like my tongue was tied up. I was too scared to say a word. I don't want to seem weak and shy. One of the boys teased me and said I was a girl! Because I was too 'bashful' to talk to anyone! Most of the boys knew each other from earlier school- apparently not everyone is tutored. Some of the boys were, but most of the loud ones had already been in school together. Just because I didn't previously have friends does not make me a girl.

Then I talked to another young man whose name was Gilles. He was sitting in his desk when I got to arithmetic, even earlier than I. He seemed kind, so I sat by him. He asked my name, so I told him. "My name is Marius." He was nice and we ate lunch together later.

But then I told me that he doesn't believe in God. Not at all. His mother and father are Catholic, so he made his Confirmation, but just to make them happy. He says he's an atheist.

I don't know if I can sit with him tomorrow. I don't think I can bear it.

November 20, 1824

Today a boy named Franck asked me who my parents were. I told him my mother was dead and that I lived with my grandfather. He asked me who my father was. I didn't know what to say, because my Grandfather says "we do not speak of your father" whenever I asked. "We do not speak of him!" he says, and scrunches his face up.

So I told him I didn't know him, but his name was Pontmercy. The boy shrugged. Somehow I feel I said the wrong thing.