He left the building, his identity card in a bag over his shoulder with some clothes. They were the only items he had - no family of his remained to look after his posessions until he was released from prison. Would the police have taken everything? Probably, though he still had a key to his house.
But that was miles away: the other end of the country. Jean Valjean would have to find somewhere to stay, a little closer to home.
It was strange, being in the open air. Occasionally the prisoners were taken out for a brief walk around, or to do some physical exercise out in the yard, but to be among people once more, free and let loose in the world ... the sensation was very odd.
As he walked along the pavement, he marvelled at the noise, and the way that ppeople hurried to and fro the shops, ignoring the huge prison they walked past. They didn't look at it, ignoring the brick building. Why was that?
People looked sideways at Valjean as he exited the gates. They wondered why he was there. Was it normal for a prisoner to be released in such a manner? He had no idea: none of the other prisoners who were released ever came back to visit. And why would they?
"Please, madam, tell me the way to a hotel," he pleaded, stopping a woman as she hurried past with two children. "I need somewhere to stay."
She was about to answer, a slight smile on her face, when she looked more closely at him. "I know you from somewhere," she said. "You were in the paper for trying to escape from that place!" she said sharply, gesturing to the prison. "Get away from me, Jean Valjean!"
Convict 24601 fell back at her harsh words, recognising her terror to be true fear. People were afraid of him and he did not know why. "Please, I just need directions, a map."
"You're a dangerous criminal - get away from my children!" She hugged the little boy to her; the girl was cowering behind. "Get away!"