A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens [A story of the French Revolution]
Part 6 out of 9
and they might be, at any time, you know, for who can say that Paris
is not set afire to-day, or sacked to-morrow! Now, a judicious selection
from these with the least possible delay, and the burying of them,
or otherwise getting of them out of harm's way, is within the power
(without loss of precious time) of scarcely any one but myself,
if any one. And shall I hang back, when Tellson's knows this and says
this--Tellson's, whose bread I have eaten these sixty years--because
I am a little stiff about the joints? Why, I am a boy, sir, to half
a dozen old codgers here!"
"How I admire the gallantry of your youthful spirit, Mr. Lorry."
"Tut! Nonsense, sir!--And, my dear Charles," said Mr. Lorry, glancing
at the House again, "you are to remember, that getting things out of
Paris at this present time, no matter what things, is next to an
impossibility. Papers and precious matters were this very day brought
to us here (I speak in strict confidence; it is not business-like to
whisper it, even to you), by the strangest bearers you can imagine,
every one of whom had his head hanging on by a single hair as he
passed the Barriers. At another time, our parcels would come and go,
as easily as in business-like Old England; but now, everything
"And do you really go to-night?"
"I really go to-night, for the case has become too pressing to
admit of delay."
"And do you take no one with you?"
"All sorts of people have been proposed to me, but I will have
nothing to say to any of them. I intend to take Jerry. Jerry has
been my bodyguard on Sunday nights for a long time past and I am used
to him. Nobody will suspect Jerry of being anything but an English
bull-dog, or of having any design in his head but to fly at anybody
who touches his master."
"I must say again that I heartily admire your gallantry and
"I must say again, nonsense, nonsense! When I have executed this
little commission, I shall, perhaps, accept Tellson's proposal to retire
and live at my ease. Time enough, then, to think about growing old."
This dialogue had taken place at Mr. Lorry's usual desk, with Monseigneur
swarming within a yard or two of it, boastful of what he would do to
avenge himself on the rascal-people before long. It was too much the
way of Monseigneur under his reverses as a refugee, and it was much
too much the way of native British orthodoxy, to talk of this terrible
Revolution as if it were the only harvest ever known under the skies
that had not been sown--as if nothing had ever been done, or omitted
to be done, that had led to it--as if observers of the wretched
millions in France, and of the misused and perverted resources that
should have made them prosperous, had not seen it inevitably coming,
years before, and had not in plain words recorded what they saw. Such
vapouring, combined with the extravagant plots of Monseigneur for the
restoration of a state of things that had utterly exhausted itself,
and worn out Heaven and earth as well as itself, was hard to be endured
without some remonstrance by any sane man who knew the truth. And it
was such vapouring all about his ears, like a troublesome confusion of
blood in his own head, added to a latent uneasiness in his mind, which
had already made Charles Darnay restless, and which still kept him so.
Among the talkers, was Stryver, of the King's Bench Bar, far on his
way to state promotion, and, therefore, loud on the theme: broaching
to Monseigneur, his devices for blowing the people up and
exterminating them from the face of the earth, and doing without them:
and for accomplishing many similar objects akin in their nature to
the abolition of eagles by sprinkling salt on the tails of the race.
Him, Darnay heard with a particular feeling of objection; and Darnay
stood divided between going away that he might hear no more, and
remaining to interpose his word, when the thing that was to be, went
on to shape itself out.
The House approached Mr. Lorry, and laying a soiled and unopened
letter before him, asked if he had yet discovered any traces of the
person to whom it was addressed? The House laid the letter down so
close to Darnay that he saw the direction--the more quickly because
it was his own right name. The address, turned into English, ran:
"Very pressing. To Monsieur heretofore the Marquis St. Evremonde,
of France. Confided to the cares of Messrs. Tellson and Co., Bankers,
On the marriage morning, Doctor Manette had made it his one urgent
and express request to Charles Darnay, that the secret of this name
should be--unless he, the Doctor, dissolved the obligation--kept
inviolate between them. Nobody else knew it to be his name; his own
wife had no suspicion of the fact; Mr. Lorry could have none.
"No," said Mr. Lorry, in reply to the House; "I have referred it,
I think, to everybody now here, and no one can tell me where this
gentleman is to be found."
The hands of the clock verging upon the hour of closing the Bank,
there was a general set of the current of talkers past Mr. Lorry's
desk. He held the letter out inquiringly; and Monseigneur looked at
it, in the person of this plotting and indignant refugee; and
Monseigneur looked at it in the person of that plotting and indignant
refugee; and This, That, and The Other, all had something disparaging
to say, in French or in English, concerning the Marquis who was not
to be found.
"Nephew, I believe--but in any case degenerate successor--of the
polished Marquis who was murdered," said one. "Happy to say, I never
"A craven who abandoned his post," said another--this Monseigneur
had been got out of Paris, legs uppermost and half suffocated, in a
load of hay--"some years ago."
"Infected with the new doctrines," said a third, eyeing the direction
through his glass in passing; "set himself in opposition to the last
Marquis, abandoned the estates when he inherited them, and left them
to the ruffian herd. They will recompense him now, I hope,
as he deserves."
"Hey?" cried the blatant Stryver. "Did he though? Is that the sort
of fellow? Let us look at his infamous name. D--n the fellow!"
Darnay, unable to restrain himself any longer, touched Mr. Stryver on
the shoulder, and said:
"I know the fellow."
"Do you, by Jupiter?" said Stryver. "I am sorry for it."
"Why, Mr. Darnay? D'ye hear what he did? Don't ask, why,
in these times."
"But I do ask why?"
"Then I tell you again, Mr. Darnay, I am sorry for it. I am sorry to
hear you putting any such extraordinary questions. Here is a fellow,
who, infected by the most pestilent and blasphemous code of devilry
that ever was known, abandoned his property to the vilest scum of the
earth that ever did murder by wholesale, and you ask me why I am
sorry that a man who instructs youth knows him? Well, but I'll
answer you. I am sorry because I believe there is contamination in
such a scoundrel. That's why."
Mindful of the secret, Darnay with great difficulty checked himself,
and said: "You may not understand the gentleman."
"I understand how to put YOU in a corner, Mr. Darnay," said Bully
Stryver, "and I'll do it. If this fellow is a gentleman, I DON'T
understand him. You may tell him so, with my compliments. You may
also tell him, from me, that after abandoning his worldly goods and
position to this butcherly mob, I wonder he is not at the head of them.
But, no, gentlemen," said Stryver, looking all round, and snapping his
fingers, "I know something of human nature, and I tell you that you'll
never find a fellow like this fellow, trusting himself to the mercies
of such precious PROTEGES. No, gentlemen; he'll always show 'em
a clean pair of heels very early in the scuffle, and sneak away."
With those words, and a final snap of his fingers, Mr. Stryver
shouldered himself into Fleet-street, amidst the general approbation
of his hearers. Mr. Lorry and Charles Darnay were left alone at the
desk, in the general departure from the Bank.
"Will you take charge of the letter?" said Mr. Lorry. "You know
where to deliver it?"
"Will you undertake to explain, that we suppose it to have been
addressed here, on the chance of our knowing where to forward it,
and that it has been here some time?"
"I will do so. Do you start for Paris from here?"
"From here, at eight."
"I will come back, to see you off."
Very ill at ease with himself, and with Stryver and most other men,
Darnay made the best of his way into the quiet of the Temple,
opened the letter, and read it. These were its contents:
"Prison of the Abbaye, Paris.
"June 21, 1792.
"MONSIEUR HERETOFORE THE MARQUIS.
"After having long been in danger of my life at the hands of the
village, I have been seized, with great violence and indignity, and
brought a long journey on foot to Paris. On the road I have suffered
a great deal. Nor is that all; my house has been destroyed--razed
to the ground.
"The crime for which I am imprisoned, Monsieur heretofore the
Marquis, and for which I shall be summoned before the tribunal, and
shall lose my life (without your so generous help), is, they tell me,
treason against the majesty of the people, in that I have acted
against them for an emigrant. It is in vain I represent that I have
acted for them, and not against, according to your commands. It is
in vain I represent that, before the sequestration of emigrant
property, I had remitted the imposts they had ceased to pay; that I
had collected no rent; that I had had recourse to no process. The
only response is, that I have acted for an emigrant, and where is
"Ah! most gracious Monsieur heretofore the Marquis, where is that
emigrant? I cry in my sleep where is he? I demand of Heaven, will
he not come to deliver me? No answer. Ah Monsieur heretofore the
Marquis, I send my desolate cry across the sea, hoping it may perhaps
reach your ears through the great bank of Tilson known at Paris!
"For the love of Heaven, of justice, of generosity, of the honour of
your noble name, I supplicate you, Monsieur heretofore the Marquis,
to succour and release me. My fault is, that I have been true to you.
Oh Monsieur heretofore the Marquis, I pray you be you true to me!
"From this prison here of horror, whence I every hour tend nearer
and nearer to destruction, I send you, Monsieur heretofore the Marquis,
the assurance of my dolorous and unhappy service.
The latent uneasiness in Darnay's mind was roused to vigourous life
by this letter. The peril of an old servant and a good one, whose
only crime was fidelity to himself and his family, stared him so
reproachfully in the face, that, as he walked to and fro in the Temple
considering what to do, he almost hid his face from the passersby.
He knew very well, that in his horror of the deed which had culminated
the bad deeds and bad reputation of the old family house, in his
resentful suspicions of his uncle, and in the aversion with which his
conscience regarded the crumbling fabric that he was supposed to
uphold, he had acted imperfectly. He knew very well, that in his love
for Lucie, his renunciation of his social place, though by no means
new to his own mind, had been hurried and incomplete. He knew that
he ought to have systematically worked it out and supervised it, and
that he had meant to do it, and that it had never been done.
The happiness of his own chosen English home, the necessity of being
always actively employed, the swift changes and troubles of the time
which had followed on one another so fast, that the events of this
week annihilated the immature plans of last week, and the events of
the week following made all new again; he knew very well, that to the
force of these circumstances he had yielded:--not without disquiet,
but still without continuous and accumulating resistance. That he
had watched the times for a time of action, and that they had shifted
and struggled until the time had gone by, and the nobility were
trooping from France by every highway and byway, and their property
was in course of confiscation and destruction, and their very names
were blotting out, was as well known to himself as it could be to any
new authority in France that might impeach him for it.
But, he had oppressed no man, he had imprisoned no man; he was so far
from having harshly exacted payment of his dues, that he had
relinquished them of his own will, thrown himself on a world with no
favour in it, won his own private place there, and earned his own
bread. Monsieur Gabelle had held the impoverished and involved estate
on written instructions, to spare the people, to give them what little
there was to give--such fuel as the heavy creditors would let them
have in the winter, and such produce as could be saved from the same
grip in the summer--and no doubt he had put the fact in plea and proof,
for his own safety, so that it could not but appear now.
This favoured the desperate resolution Charles Darnay had begun to make,
that he would go to Paris.
Yes. Like the mariner in the old story, the winds and streams had
driven him within the influence of the Loadstone Rock, and it was
drawing him to itself, and he must go. Everything that arose before
his mind drifted him on, faster and faster, more and more steadily,
to the terrible attraction. His latent uneasiness had been, that bad
aims were being worked out in his own unhappy land by bad instruments,
and that he who could not fail to know that he was better than they,
was not there, trying to do something to stay bloodshed, and assert
the claims of mercy and humanity. With this uneasiness half stifled,
and half reproaching him, he had been brought to the pointed comparison
of himself with the brave old gentleman in whom duty was so strong;
upon that comparison (injurious to himself) had instantly followed
the sneers of Monseigneur, which had stung him bitterly, and those of
Stryver, which above all were coarse and galling, for old reasons.
Upon those, had followed Gabelle's letter: the appeal of an innocent
prisoner, in danger of death, to his justice, honour, and good name.
His resolution was made. He must go to Paris.
Yes. The Loadstone Rock was drawing him, and he must sail on, until
he struck. He knew of no rock; he saw hardly any danger. The
intention with which he had done what he had done, even although he
had left it incomplete, presented it before him in an aspect that
would be gratefully acknowledged in France on his presenting himself
to assert it. Then, that glorious vision of doing good, which is so
often the sanguine mirage of so many good minds, arose before him,
and he even saw himself in the illusion with some influence to guide
this raging Revolution that was running so fearfully wild.
As he walked to and fro with his resolution made, he considered that
neither Lucie nor her father must know of it until he was gone.
Lucie should be spared the pain of separation; and her father, always
reluctant to turn his thoughts towards the dangerous ground of old,
should come to the knowledge of the step, as a step taken, and not in
the balance of suspense and doubt. How much of the incompleteness of
his situation was referable to her father, through the painful
anxiety to avoid reviving old associations of France in his mind, he
did not discuss with himself. But, that circumstance too,
had had its influence in his course.
He walked to and fro, with thoughts very busy, until it was time to
return to Tellson's and take leave of Mr. Lorry. As soon as he
arrived in Paris he would present himself to this old friend, but he
must say nothing of his intention now.
A carriage with post-horses was ready at the Bank door, and Jerry
was booted and equipped.
"I have delivered that letter," said Charles Darnay to Mr. Lorry.
"I would not consent to your being charged with any written answer,
but perhaps you will take a verbal one?"
"That I will, and readily," said Mr. Lorry, "if it is not dangerous."
"Not at all. Though it is to a prisoner in the Abbaye."
"What is his name?" said Mr. Lorry, with his open pocket-book in his hand.
"Gabelle. And what is the message to the unfortunate Gabelle in prison?"
"Simply, `that he has received the letter, and will come.'"
"Any time mentioned?"
"He will start upon his journey to-morrow night."
"Any person mentioned?"
He helped Mr. Lorry to wrap himself in a number of coats and cloaks,
and went out with him from the warm atmosphere of the old Bank, into
the misty air of Fleet-street. "My love to Lucie, and to little
Lucie," said Mr. Lorry at parting, "and take precious care of them
till I come back." Charles Darnay shook his head and doubtfully smiled,
as the carriage rolled away.
That night--it was the fourteenth of August--he sat up late, and
wrote two fervent letters; one was to Lucie, explaining the strong
obligation he was under to go to Paris, and showing her, at length,
the reasons that he had, for feeling confident that he could become
involved in no personal danger there; the other was to the Doctor,
confiding Lucie and their dear child to his care, and dwelling on
the same topics with the strongest assurances. To both, he wrote
that he would despatch letters in proof of his safety, immediately
after his arrival.
It was a hard day, that day of being among them, with the first
reservation of their joint lives on his mind. It was a hard matter
to preserve the innocent deceit of which they were profoundly
unsuspicious. But, an affectionate glance at his wife, so happy and
busy, made him resolute not to tell her what impended (he had been
half moved to do it, so strange it was to him to act in anything
without her quiet aid), and the day passed quickly. Early in the
evening he embraced her, and her scarcely less dear namesake, pretending
that he would return by-and-bye (an imaginary engagement took him out,
and he had secreted a valise of clothes ready), and so he emerged
into the heavy mist of the heavy streets, with a heavier heart.
The unseen force was drawing him fast to itself, now, and all the
tides and winds were setting straight and strong towards it. He left
his two letters with a trusty porter, to be delivered half an hour
before midnight, and no sooner; took horse for Dover; and began his
journey. "For the love of Heaven, of justice, of generosity, of the
honour of your noble name!" was the poor prisoner's cry with which
he strengthened his sinking heart, as he left all that was dear on
earth behind him, and floated away for the Loadstone Rock.
The end of the second book.
Book the Third--the Track of a Storm
The traveller fared slowly on his way, who fared towards Paris from
England in the autumn of the year one thousand seven hundred and
ninety-two. More than enough of bad roads, bad equipages, and bad
horses, he would have encountered to delay him, though the fallen and
unfortunate King of France had been upon his throne in all his glory;
but, the changed times were fraught with other obstacles than these.
Every town-gate and village taxing-house had its band of citizen-
patriots, with their national muskets in a most explosive state of
readiness, who stopped all comers and goers, cross-questioned them,
inspected their papers, looked for their names in lists of their own,
turned them back, or sent them on, or stopped them and laid them in
hold, as their capricious judgment or fancy deemed best for the
dawning Republic One and Indivisible, of Liberty, Equality,
Fraternity, or Death.
A very few French leagues of his journey were accomplished, when
Charles Darnay began to perceive that for him along these country
roads there was no hope of return until he should have been declared
a good citizen at Paris. Whatever might befall now, he must on to
his journey's end. Not a mean village closed upon him, not a common
barrier dropped across the road behind him, but he knew it to be
another iron door in the series that was barred between him and
England. The universal watchfulness so encompassed him, that if he
had been taken in a net, or were being forwarded to his destination
in a cage, he could not have felt his freedom more completely gone.
This universal watchfulness not only stopped him on the highway
twenty times in a stage, but retarded his progress twenty times in a
day, by riding after him and taking him back, riding before him and
stopping him by anticipation, riding with him and keeping him in
charge. He had been days upon his journey in France alone, when he
went to bed tired out, in a little town on the high road, still a
long way from Paris.
Nothing but the production of the afflicted Gabelle's letter from his
prison of the Abbaye would have got him on so far. His difficulty at
the guard-house in this small place had been such, that he felt his
journey to have come to a crisis. And he was, therefore, as little
surprised as a man could be, to find himself awakened at the small
inn to which he had been remitted until morning, in the middle of the
Awakened by a timid local functionary and three armed patriots in
rough red caps and with pipes in their mouths, who sat down on the bed.
"Emigrant," said the functionary, "I am going to send you on to Paris,
under an escort."
"Citizen, I desire nothing more than to get to Paris, though I could
dispense with the escort."
"Silence!" growled a red-cap, striking at the coverlet with the
butt-end of his musket. "Peace, aristocrat!"
"It is as the good patriot says," observed the timid functionary.
"You are an aristocrat, and must have an escort--and must pay for it."
"I have no choice," said Charles Darnay.
"Choice! Listen to him!" cried the same scowling red-cap. "As if it
was not a favour to be protected from the lamp-iron!"
"It is always as the good patriot says," observed the functionary.
"Rise and dress yourself, emigrant."
Darnay complied, and was taken back to the guard-house, where other
patriots in rough red caps were smoking, drinking, and sleeping, by a
watch-fire. Here he paid a heavy price for his escort, and hence he
started with it on the wet, wet roads at three o'clock in the morning.
The escort were two mounted patriots in red caps and tri-coloured
cockades, armed with national muskets and sabres, who rode one on
either side of him.
The escorted governed his own horse, but a loose line was attached to
his bridle, the end of which one of the patriots kept girded round
his wrist. In this state they set forth with the sharp rain driving
in their faces: clattering at a heavy dragoon trot over the uneven
town pavement, and out upon the mire-deep roads. In this state they
traversed without change, except of horses and pace, all the mire-
deep leagues that lay between them and the capital.
They travelled in the night, halting an hour or two after daybreak,
and lying by until the twilight fell. The escort were so wretchedly
clothed, that they twisted straw round their bare legs, and thatched
their ragged shoulders to keep the wet off. Apart from the personal
discomfort of being so attended, and apart from such considerations
of present danger as arose from one of the patriots being chronically
drunk, and carrying his musket very recklessly, Charles Darnay did
not allow the restraint that was laid upon him to awaken any serious
fears in his breast; for, he reasoned with himself that it could have
no reference to the merits of an individual case that was not yet
stated, and of representations, confirmable by the prisoner in the
Abbaye, that were not yet made.
But when they came to the town of Beauvais--which they did at
eventide, when the streets were filled with people--he could not
conceal from himself that the aspect of affairs was very alarming.
An ominous crowd gathered to see him dismount of the posting-yard,
and many voices called out loudly, "Down with the emigrant!"
He stopped in the act of swinging himself out of his saddle, and,
resuming it as his safest place, said:
"Emigrant, my friends! Do you not see me here, in France, of my own will?"
"You are a cursed emigrant," cried a farrier, making at him in a
furious manner through the press, hammer in hand; "and you are a
The postmaster interposed himself between this man and the rider's
bridle (at which he was evidently making), and soothingly said,
"Let him be; let him be! He will be judged at Paris."
"Judged!" repeated the farrier, swinging his hammer.
"Ay! and condemned as a traitor." At this the crowd roared approval.
Checking the postmaster, who was for turning his horse's head to the
yard (the drunken patriot sat composedly in his saddle looking on,
with the line round his wrist), Darnay said, as soon as he could make
his voice heard:
"Friends, you deceive yourselves, or you are deceived. I am not a traitor."
"He lies!" cried the smith. "He is a traitor since the decree.
His life is forfeit to the people. His cursed life is not his own!"
At the instant when Darnay saw a rush in the eyes of the crowd,
which another instant would have brought upon him, the postmaster
turned his horse into the yard, the escort rode in close upon his
horse's flanks, and the postmaster shut and barred the crazy double
gates. The farrier struck a blow upon them with his hammer, and the
crowd groaned; but, no more was done.
"What is this decree that the smith spoke of?" Darnay asked the
postmaster, when he had thanked him, and stood beside him in the yard.
"Truly, a decree for selling the property of emigrants."
"On the fourteenth."
"The day I left England!"
"Everybody says it is but one of several, and that there will be
others--if there are not already-banishing all emigrants, and
condemning all to death who return. That is what he meant when he
said your life was not your own."
"But there are no such decrees yet?"
"What do I know!" said the postmaster, shrugging his shoulders;
"there may be, or there will be. It is all the same. What would
They rested on some straw in a loft until the middle of the night,
and then rode forward again when all the town was asleep. Among the
many wild changes observable on familiar things which made this wild
ride unreal, not the least was the seeming rarity of sleep.
After long and lonely spurring over dreary roads, they would come to
a cluster of poor cottages, not steeped in darkness, but all
glittering with lights, and would find the people, in a ghostly
manner in the dead of the night, circling hand in hand round a
shrivelled tree of Liberty, or all drawn up together singing a
Liberty song. Happily, however, there was sleep in Beauvais that
night to help them out of it and they passed on once more into
solitude and loneliness: jingling through the untimely cold and wet,
among impoverished fields that had yielded no fruits of the earth
that year, diversified by the blackened remains of burnt houses, and
by the sudden emergence from ambuscade, and sharp reining up across
their way, of patriot patrols on the watch on all the roads.
Daylight at last found them before the wall of Paris. The barrier
was closed and strongly guarded when they rode up to it.
"Where are the papers of this prisoner?" demanded a resolute-looking
man in authority, who was summoned out by the guard.
Naturally struck by the disagreeable word, Charles Darnay requested
the speaker to take notice that he was a free traveller and French
citizen, in charge of an escort which the disturbed state of the
country had imposed upon him, and which he had paid for.
"Where," repeated the same personage, without taking any heed of him
whatever, "are the papers of this prisoner?"
The drunken patriot had them in his cap, and produced them. Casting his
eyes over Gabelle's letter, the same personage in authority showed
some disorder and surprise, and looked at Darnay with a close attention.
He left escort and escorted without saying a word, however, and went
into the guard-room; meanwhile, they sat upon their horses outside
the gate. Looking about him while in this state of suspense, Charles
Darnay observed that the gate was held by a mixed guard of soldiers
and patriots, the latter far outnumbering the former; and that while
ingress into the city for peasants' carts bringing in supplies, and
for similar traffic and traffickers, was easy enough, egress, even
for the homeliest people, was very difficult. A numerous medley of
men and women, not to mention beasts and vehicles of various sorts,
was waiting to issue forth; but, the previous identification was so
strict, that they filtered through the barrier very slowly. Some of
these people knew their turn for examination to be so far off, that
they lay down on the ground to sleep or smoke, while others talked
together, or loitered about. The red cap and tri-colour cockade were
universal, both among men and women.
When he had sat in his saddle some half-hour, taking note of these
things, Darnay found himself confronted by the same man in authority,
who directed the guard to open the barrier. Then he delivered to the
escort, drunk and sober, a receipt for the escorted, and requested him
to dismount. He did so, and the two patriots, leading his tired horse,
turned and rode away without entering the city.
He accompanied his conductor into a guard-room, smelling of common
wine and tobacco, where certain soldiers and patriots, asleep and
awake, drunk and sober, and in various neutral states between
sleeping and waking, drunkenness and sobriety, were standing and
lying about. The light in the guard-house, half derived from the
waning oil-lamps of the night, and half from the overcast day, was in
a correspondingly uncertain condition. Some registers were lying
open on a desk, and an officer of a coarse, dark aspect, presided
"Citizen Defarge," said he to Darnay's conductor, as he took a slip
of paper to write on. "Is this the emigrant Evremonde?"
"This is the man."
"Your age, Evremonde?"
"Without doubt. Where is your wife, Evremonde?"
"Without doubt. You are consigned, Evremonde, to the prison of La Force."
"Just Heaven!" exclaimed Darnay. "Under what law, and for what offence?"
The officer looked up from his slip of paper for a moment.
"We have new laws, Evremonde, and new offences, since you were here."
He said it with a hard smile, and went on writing.
"I entreat you to observe that I have come here voluntarily, in response
to that written appeal of a fellow-countryman which lies before you.
I demand no more than the opportunity to do so without delay.
Is not that my right?"
"Emigrants have no rights, Evremonde," was the stolid reply.
The officer wrote until he had finished, read over to himself what he
had written, sanded it, and handed it to Defarge, with the words
Defarge motioned with the paper to the prisoner that he must
accompany him. The prisoner obeyed, and a guard of two armed
patriots attended them.
"Is it you," said Defarge, in a low voice, as they went down the
guardhouse steps and turned into Paris, "who married the daughter of
Doctor Manette, once a prisoner in the Bastille that is no more?"
"Yes," replied Darnay, looking at him with surprise.
"My name is Defarge, and I keep a wine-shop in the Quarter Saint
Antoine. Possibly you have heard of me."
"My wife came to your house to reclaim her father? Yes!"
The word "wife" seemed to serve as a gloomy reminder to Defarge,
to say with sudden impatience, "In the name of that sharp female
newly-born, and called La Guillotine, why did you come to France?"
"You heard me say why, a minute ago. Do you not believe it is the
"A bad truth for you," said Defarge, speaking with knitted brows,
and looking straight before him.
"Indeed I am lost here. All here is so unprecedented, so changed,
so sudden and unfair, that I am absolutely lost. Will you render me
a little help?"
"None." Defarge spoke, always looking straight before him.
"Will you answer me a single question?"
"Perhaps. According to its nature. You can say what it is."
"In this prison that I am going to so unjustly, shall I have some
free communication with the world outside?"
"You will see."
"I am not to be buried there, prejudged, and without any means of
presenting my case?"
"You will see. But, what then? Other people have been similarly
buried in worse prisons, before now."
"But never by me, Citizen Defarge."
Defarge glanced darkly at him for answer, and walked on in a steady
and set silence. The deeper he sank into this silence, the fainter
hope there was--or so Darnay thought--of his softening in any slight
degree. He, therefore, made haste to say:
"It is of the utmost importance to me (you know, Citizen, even better
than I, of how much importance), that I should be able to communicate
to Mr. Lorry of Tellson's Bank, an English gentleman who is now in
Paris, the simple fact, without comment, that I have been thrown into
the prison of La Force. Will you cause that to be done for me?"
"I will do," Defarge doggedly rejoined, "nothing for you. My duty is
to my country and the People. I am the sworn servant of both,
against you. I will do nothing for you."
Charles Darnay felt it hopeless to entreat him further, and his pride
was touched besides. As they walked on in silence, he could not but
see how used the people were to the spectacle of prisoners passing
along the streets. The very children scarcely noticed him. A few
passers turned their heads, and a few shook their fingers at him as
an aristocrat; otherwise, that a man in good clothes should be going
to prison, was no more remarkable than that a labourer in working
clothes should be going to work. In one narrow, dark, and dirty
street through which they passed, an excited orator, mounted on a stool,
was addressing an excited audience on the crimes against the people,
of the king and the royal family. The few words that he caught from
this man's lips, first made it known to Charles Darnay that the king
was in prison, and that the foreign ambassadors had one and all left
Paris. On the road (except at Beauvais) he had heard absolutely nothing.
The escort and the universal watchfulness had completely isolated him.
That he had fallen among far greater dangers than those which had
developed themselves when he left England, he of course knew now.
That perils had thickened about him fast, and might thicken faster
and faster yet, he of course knew now. He could not but admit to
himself that he might not have made this journey, if he could have
foreseen the events of a few days. And yet his misgivings were not
so dark as, imagined by the light of this later time, they would appear.
Troubled as the future was, it was the unknown future, and in its
obscurity there was ignorant hope. The horrible massacre, days and
nights long, which, within a few rounds of the clock, was to set a
great mark of blood upon the blessed garnering time of harvest, was
as far out of his knowledge as if it had been a hundred thousand
years away. The "sharp female newly-born, and called La Guillotine,"
was hardly known to him, or to the generality of people, by name.
The frightful deeds that were to be soon done, were probably
unimagined at that time in the brains of the doers. How could they
have a place in the shadowy conceptions of a gentle mind?
Of unjust treatment in detention and hardship, and in cruel
separation from his wife and child, he foreshadowed the likelihood,
or the certainty; but, beyond this, he dreaded nothing distinctly.
With this on his mind, which was enough to carry into a dreary prison
courtyard, he arrived at the prison of La Force.
A man with a bloated face opened the strong wicket, to whom Defarge
presented "The Emigrant Evremonde."
"What the Devil! How many more of them!" exclaimed the man with
the bloated face.
Defarge took his receipt without noticing the exclamation,
and withdrew, with his two fellow-patriots.
"What the Devil, I say again!" exclaimed the gaoler, left with his wife.
"How many more!"
The gaoler's wife, being provided with no answer to the question,
merely replied, "One must have patience, my dear!" Three turnkeys who
entered responsive to a bell she rang, echoed the sentiment, and one
added, "For the love of Liberty;" which sounded in that place like an
The prison of La Force was a gloomy prison, dark and filthy, and with
a horrible smell of foul sleep in it. Extraordinary how soon the
noisome flavour of imprisoned sleep, becomes manifest in all such
places that are ill cared for!
"In secret, too," grumbled the gaoler, looking at the written paper.
"As if I was not already full to bursting!"
He stuck the paper on a file, in an ill-humour, and Charles Darnay
awaited his further pleasure for half an hour: sometimes, pacing to
and fro in the strong arched room: sometimes, resting on a stone seat:
in either case detained to be imprinted on the memory of the chief
and his subordinates.
"Come!" said the chief, at length taking up his keys, "come with me, emigrant."
Through the dismal prison twilight, his new charge accompanied him by
corridor and staircase, many doors clanging and locking behind them,
until they came into a large, low, vaulted chamber, crowded with
prisoners of both sexes. The women were seated at a long table,
reading and writing, knitting, sewing, and embroidering; the men were
for the most part standing behind their chairs, or lingering up and
down the room.
In the instinctive association of prisoners with shameful crime and
disgrace, the new-comer recoiled from this company. But the crowning
unreality of his long unreal ride, was, their all at once rising to
receive him, with every refinement of manner known to the time, and
with all the engaging graces and courtesies of life.
So strangely clouded were these refinements by the prison manners and
gloom, so spectral did they become in the inappropriate squalor and
misery through which they were seen, that Charles Darnay seemed to
stand in a company of the dead. Ghosts all! The ghost of beauty,
the ghost of stateliness, the ghost of elegance, the ghost of pride,
the ghost of frivolity, the ghost of wit, the ghost of youth, the
ghost of age, all waiting their dismissal from the desolate shore,
all turning on him eyes that were changed by the death they had died
in coming there.
It struck him motionless. The gaoler standing at his side, and the
other gaolers moving about, who would have been well enough as to
appearance in the ordinary exercise of their functions, looked so
extravagantly coarse contrasted with sorrowing mothers and blooming
daughters who were there--with the apparitions of the coquette,
the young beauty, and the mature woman delicately bred--that the
inversion of all experience and likelihood which the scene of shadows
presented, was heightened to its utmost. Surely, ghosts all.
Surely, the long unreal ride some progress of disease that had
brought him to these gloomy shades!
"In the name of the assembled companions in misfortune," said a
gentleman of courtly appearance and address, coming forward,
"I have the honour of giving you welcome to La Force, and of
condoling with you on the calamity that has brought you among us.
May it soon terminate happily! It would be an impertinence elsewhere,
but it is not so here, to ask your name and condition?"
Charles Darnay roused himself, and gave the required information,
in words as suitable as he could find.
"But I hope," said the gentleman, following the chief gaoler with his
eyes, who moved across the room, "that you are not in secret?"
"I do not understand the meaning of the term, but I have heard them
"Ah, what a pity! We so much regret it! But take courage; several
members of our society have been in secret, at first, and it has
lasted but a short time." Then he added, raising his voice,
"I grieve to inform the society--in secret."
There was a murmur of commiseration as Charles Darnay crossed the
room to a grated door where the gaoler awaited him, and many
voices--among which, the soft and compassionate voices of women were
conspicuous--gave him good wishes and encouragement. He turned at
the grated door, to render the thanks of his heart; it closed under
the gaoler's hand; and the apparitions vanished from his sight forever.
The wicket opened on a stone staircase, leading upward. When they
bad ascended forty steps (the prisoner of half an hour already
counted them), the gaoler opened a low black door, and they passed
into a solitary cell. It struck cold and damp, but was not dark.
"Yours," said the gaoler.
"Why am I confined alone?"
"How do I know!"
"I can buy pen, ink, and paper?"
"Such are not my orders. You will be visited, and can ask then.
At present, you may buy your food, and nothing more."
There were in the cell, a chair, a table, and a straw mattress.
As the gaoler made a general inspection of these objects, and of the
four walls, before going out, a wandering fancy wandered through the
mind of the prisoner leaning against the wall opposite to him, that
this gaoler was so unwholesomely bloated, both in face and person,
as to look like a man who had been drowned and filled with water.
When the gaoler was gone, he thought in the same wandering way,
"Now am I left, as if I were dead." Stopping then, to look down at
the mattress, he turned from it with a sick feeling, and thought,
"And here in these crawling creatures is the first condition of the
body after death."
"Five paces by four and a half, five paces by four and a half, five
paces by four and a half." The prisoner walked to and fro in his
cell, counting its measurement, and the roar of the city arose like
muffled drums with a wild swell of voices added to them. "He made
shoes, he made shoes, he made shoes." The prisoner counted the
measurement again, and paced faster, to draw his mind with him from
that latter repetition. "The ghosts that vanished when the wicket
closed. There was one among them, the appearance of a lady dressed
in black, who was leaning in the embrasure of a window, and she had a
light shining upon her golden hair, and she looked like * * * * Let
us ride on again, for God's sake, through the illuminated villages
with the people all awake! * * * * He made shoes, he made shoes,
he made shoes. * * * * Five paces by four and a half." With such scraps
tossing and rolling upward from the depths of his mind, the prisoner
walked faster and faster, obstinately counting and counting; and the
roar of the city changed to this extent--that it still rolled in like
muffled drums, but with the wail of voices that he knew, in the swell
that rose above them.
Tellson's Bank, established in the Saint Germain Quarter of Paris,
was in a wing of a large house, approached by a courtyard and shut
off from the street by a high wall and a strong gate. The house
belonged to a great nobleman who had lived in it until he made a
flight from the troubles, in his own cook's dress, and got across the
borders. A mere beast of the chase flying from hunters, he was still
in his metempsychosis no other than the same Monseigneur, the
preparation of whose chocolate for whose lips had once occupied three
strong men besides the cook in question.
Monseigneur gone, and the three strong men absolving themselves from
the sin of having drawn his high wages, by being more than ready and
willing to cut his throat on the altar of the dawning Republic one and
indivisible of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, or Death, Monseigneur's
house had been first sequestrated, and then confiscated. For, all
things moved so fast, and decree followed decree with that fierce
precipitation, that now upon the third night of the autumn month of
September, patriot emissaries of the law were in possession of
Monseigneur's house, and had marked it with the tri-colour, and were
drinking brandy in its state apartments.
A place of business in London like Tellson's place of business in
Paris, would soon have driven the House out of its mind and into the
Gazette. For, what would staid British responsibility and
respectability have said to orange-trees in boxes in a Bank courtyard,
and even to a Cupid over the counter? Yet such things were.
Tellson's had whitewashed the Cupid, but he was still to be seen on
the ceiling, in the coolest linen, aiming (as he very often does) at
money from morning to night. Bankruptcy must inevitably have come of
this young Pagan, in Lombard-street, London, and also of a curtained
alcove in the rear of the immortal boy, and also of a looking-glass
let into the wall, and also of clerks not at all old, who danced in
public on the slightest provocation. Yet, a French Tellson's could
get on with these things exceedingly well, and, as long as the times
held together, no man had taken fright at them, and drawn out his money.
What money would be drawn out of Tellson's henceforth, and what would
lie there, lost and forgotten; what plate and jewels would tarnish in
Tellson's hiding-places, while the depositors rusted in prisons, and
when they should have violently perished; how many accounts with
Tellson's never to be balanced in this world, must be carried over
into the next; no man could have said, that night, any more than
Mr. Jarvis Lorry could, though he thought heavily of these questions.
He sat by a newly-lighted wood fire (the blighted and unfruitful year
was prematurely cold), and on his honest and courageous face there
was a deeper shade than the pendent lamp could throw, or any object
in the room distortedly reflect--a shade of horror.
He occupied rooms in the Bank, in his fidelity to the House of which
he had grown to be a part, lie strong root-ivy. it chanced that they
derived a kind of security from the patriotic occupation of the main
building, but the true-hearted old gentleman never calculated about
that. All such circumstances were indifferent to him, so that he did
his duty. On the opposite side of the courtyard, under a colonnade,
was extensive standing--for carriages--where, indeed, some carriages
of Monseigneur yet stood. Against two of the pillars were fastened
two great flaring flambeaux, and in the light of these, standing out
in the open air, was a large grindstone: a roughly mounted thing
which appeared to have hurriedly been brought there from some
neighbouring smithy, or other workshop. Rising and looking out of
window at these harmless objects, Mr. Lorry shivered, and retired to
his seat by the fire. He had opened, not only the glass window, but
the lattice blind outside it, and he had closed both again, and he
shivered through his frame.
From the streets beyond the high wall and the strong gate, there came
the usual night hum of the city, with now and then an indescribable
ring in it, weird and unearthly, as if some unwonted sounds of a
terrible nature were going up to Heaven.
"Thank God," said Mr. Lorry, clasping his hands, "that no one near
and dear to me is in this dreadful town to-night. May He have mercy
on all who are in danger!"
Soon afterwards, the bell at the great gate sounded, and he thought,
"They have come back!" and sat listening. But, there was no loud
irruption into the courtyard, as he had expected, and he heard the
gate clash again, and all was quiet.
The nervousness and dread that were upon him inspired that vague
uneasiness respecting the Bank, which a great change would naturally
awaken, with such feelings roused. It was well guarded, and he got
up to go among the trusty people who were watching it, when his door
suddenly opened, and two figures rushed in, at sight of which he fell
back in amazement.
Lucie and her father! Lucie with her arms stretched out to him, and
with that old look of earnestness so concentrated and intensified,
that it seemed as though it had been stamped upon her face expressly
to give force and power to it in this one passage of her life.
"What is this?" cried Mr. Lorry, breathless and confused.
"What is the matter? Lucie! Manette! What has happened? What has
brought you here? What is it?"
With the look fixed upon him, in her paleness and wildness,
she panted out in his arms, imploringly, "O my dear friend!
"Your husband, Lucie?"
"What of Charles?"
"Here, in Paris?"
"Has been here some days--three or four--I don't know how many--
I can't collect my thoughts. An errand of generosity brought him
here unknown to us; he was stopped at the barrier, and sent to prison."
The old man uttered an irrepressible cry. Almost at the same moment,
the beg of the great gate rang again, and a loud noise of feet and
voices came pouring into the courtyard.
"What is that noise?" said the Doctor, turning towards the window.
"Don't look!" cried Mr. Lorry. "Don't look out! Manette,
for your life, don't touch the blind!"
The Doctor turned, with his hand upon the fastening of the window,
and said, with a cool, bold smile:
"My dear friend, I have a charmed life in this city. I have been a
Bastille prisoner. There is no patriot in Paris--in Paris? In
France--who, knowing me to have been a prisoner in the Bastille,
would touch me, except to overwhelm me with embraces, or carry me in
triumph. My old pain has given me a power that has brought us
through the barrier, and gained us news of Charles there, and brought
us here. I knew it would be so; I knew I could help Charles out of
all danger; I told Lucie so.--What is that noise?" His hand was again
upon the window.
"Don't look!" cried Mr. Lorry, absolutely desperate. "No, Lucie, my
dear, nor you!" He got his arm round her, and held her. "Don't be so
terrified, my love. I solemnly swear to you that I know of no harm
having happened to Charles; that I had no suspicion even of his being
in this fatal place. What prison is he in?"
"La Force! Lucie, my child, if ever you were brave and serviceable in
your life--and you were always both--you will compose yourself now,
to do exactly as I bid you; for more depends upon it than you can think,
or I can say. There is no help for you in any action on your part
to-night; you cannot possibly stir out. I say this, because what I
must bid you to do for Charles's sake, is the hardest thing to do of all.
You must instantly be obedient, still, and quiet. You must let me
put you in a room at the back here. You must leave your father and
me alone for two minutes, and as there are Life and Death in the
world you must not delay."
"I will be submissive to you. I see in your face that you know I can
do nothing else than this. I know you are true."
The old man kissed her, and hurried her into his room, and turned the
key; then, came hurrying back to the Doctor, and opened the window
and partly opened the blind, and put his hand upon the Doctor's arm,
and looked out with him into the courtyard.
Looked out upon a throng of men and women: not enough in number, or
near enough, to fill the courtyard: not more than forty or fifty in
all. The people in possession of the house had let them in at the
gate, and they had rushed in to work at the grindstone; it had
evidently been set up there for their purpose, as in a convenient and
But, such awful workers, and such awful work!
The grindstone had a double handle, and, turning at it madly were two
men, whose faces, as their long hair Rapped back when the whirlings
of the grindstone brought their faces up, were more horrible and
cruel than the visages of the wildest savages in their most barbarous
disguise. False eyebrows and false moustaches were stuck upon them,
and their hideous countenances were all bloody and sweaty, and all
awry with howling, and all staring and glaring with beastly
excitement and want of sleep. As these ruffians turned and turned,
their matted locks now flung forward over their eyes, now flung
backward over their necks, some women held wine to their mouths that
they might drink; and what with dropping blood, and what with
dropping wine, and what with the stream of sparks struck out of the
stone, all their wicked atmosphere seemed gore and fire. The eye
could not detect one creature in the group free from the smear of blood.
Shouldering one another to get next at the sharpening-stone, were men
stripped to the waist, with the stain all over their limbs and
bodies; men in all sorts of rags, with the stain upon those rags; men
devilishly set off with spoils of women's lace and silk and ribbon,
with the stain dyeing those trifles through and through. Hatchets,
knives, bayonets, swords, all brought to be sharpened, were all red
with it. Some of the hacked swords were tied to the wrists of those
who carried them, with strips of linen and fragments of dress:
ligatures various in kind, but all deep of the one colour. And as
the frantic wielders of these weapons snatched them from the stream
of sparks and tore away into the streets, the same red hue was red in
their frenzied eyes;--eyes which any unbrutalised beholder would have
given twenty years of life, to petrify with a well-directed gun.
All this was seen in a moment, as the vision of a drowning man, or of
any human creature at any very great pass, could see a world if it
were there. They drew back from the window, and the Doctor looked
for explanation in his friend's ashy face.
"They are," Mr. Lorry whispered the words, glancing fearfully round
at the locked room, "murdering the prisoners. If you are sure of
what you say; if you really have the power you think you have--as I
believe you have--make yourself known to these devils, and get taken
to La Force. It may be too late, I don't know, but let it not be a
Doctor Manette pressed his hand, hastened bareheaded out of the room,
and was in the courtyard when Mr. Lorry regained the blind.
His streaming white hair, his remarkable face, and the impetuous
confidence of his manner, as he put the weapons aside like water,
carried him in an instant to the heart of the concourse at the stone.
For a few moments there was a pause, and a hurry, and a murmur, and
the unintelligible sound of his voice; and then Mr. Lorry saw him,
surrounded by all, and in the midst of a line of twenty men long, all
linked shoulder to shoulder, and hand to shoulder, hurried out with
cries of--"Live the Bastille prisoner! Help for the Bastille
prisoner's kindred in La Force! Room for the Bastille prisoner in
front there! Save the prisoner Evremonde at La Force!" and a thousand
He closed the lattice again with a fluttering heart, closed the
window and the curtain, hastened to Lucie, and told her that her
father was assisted by the people, and gone in search of her husband.
He found her child and Miss Pross with her; but, it never occurred to
him to be surprised by their appearance until a long time afterwards,
when he sat watching them in such quiet as the night knew.
Lucie had, by that time, fallen into a stupor on the floor at his feet,
clinging to his hand. Miss Pross had laid the child down on his own bed,
and her head had gradually fallen on the pillow beside her pretty charge.
O the long, long night, with the moans of the poor wife! And O the long,
long night, with no return of her father and no tidings!
Twice more in the darkness the bell at the great gate sounded,
and the irruption was repeated, and the grindstone whirled and
spluttered. "What is it?" cried Lucie, affrighted. "Hush! The
soldiers' swords are sharpened there," said Mr. Lorry. "The place
is national property now, and used as a kind of armoury, my love."
Twice more in all; but, the last spell of work was feeble and fitful.
Soon afterwards the day began to dawn, and he softly detached himself
from the clasping hand, and cautiously looked out again. A man, so
besmeared that he might have been a sorely wounded soldier creeping
back to consciousness on a field of slain, was rising from the
pavement by the side of the grindstone, and looking about him with a
vacant air. Shortly, this worn-out murderer descried in the imperfect
light one of the carriages of Monseigneur, and, staggering to that
gorgeous vehicle, climbed in at the door, and shut himself up to take
his rest on its dainty cushions.
The great grindstone, Earth, had turned when Mr. Lorry looked out again,
and the sun was red on the courtyard. But, the lesser grindstone
stood alone there in the calm morning air, with a red upon it that
the sun had never given, and would never take away.
One of the first considerations which arose in the business mind of
Mr. Lorry when business hours came round, was this:--that he had no
right to imperil Tellson's by sheltering the wife of an emigrant
prisoner under the Bank roof, His own possessions, safety, life,
he would have hazarded for Lucie and her child, without a moment's
demur; but the great trust he held was not his own, and as to that
business charge he was a strict man of business.
At first, his mind reverted to Defarge, and he thought of finding out
the wine-shop again and taking counsel with its master in reference
to the safest dwelling-place in the distracted state of the city.
But, the same consideration that suggested him, repudiated him; he
lived in the most violent Quarter, and doubtless was influential
there, and deep in its dangerous workings.
Noon coming, and the Doctor not returning, and every minute's delay
tending to compromise Tellson's, Mr. Lorry advised with Lucie.
She said that her father had spoken of hiring a lodging for a short
term, in that Quarter, near the Banking-house. As there was no
business objection to this, and as he foresaw that even if it were
all well with Charles, and he were to be released, he could not hope
to leave the city, Mr. Lorry went out in quest of such a lodging, and
found a suitable one, high up in a removed by-street where the closed
blinds in all the other windows of a high melancholy square of buildings
marked deserted homes.
To this lodging he at once removed Lucie and her child, and Miss
Pross: giving them what comfort he could, and much more than he had
himself. He left Jerry with them, as a figure to fill a doorway that
would bear considerable knocking on the head, and retained to his own
occupations. A disturbed and doleful mind he brought to bear upon them,
and slowly and heavily the day lagged on with him.
It wore itself out, and wore him out with it, until the Bank closed.
He was again alone in his room of the previous night, considering
what to do next, when he heard a foot upon the stair. In a few
moments, a man stood in his presence, who, with a keenly observant
look at him, addressed him by his name.
"Your servant," said Mr. Lorry. "Do you know me?"
He was a strongly made man with dark curling hair, from forty-five to
fifty years of age. For answer he repeated, without any change of
emphasis, the words:
"Do you know me?"
"I have seen you somewhere."
"Perhaps at my wine-shop?"
Much interested and agitated, Mr. Lorry said: "You come from Doctor
"Yes. I come from Doctor Manette."
"And what says he? What does he send me?"
Defarge gave into his anxious hand, an open scrap of paper. It bore
the words in the Doctor's writing:
"Charles is safe, but I cannot safely leave this place yet.
I have obtained the favour that the bearer has a short note
from Charles to his wife. Let the bearer see his wife."
It was dated from La Force, within an hour.
"Will you accompany me," said Mr. Lorry, joyfully relieved after
reading this note aloud, "to where his wife resides?"
"Yes," returned Defarge.
Scarcely noticing as yet, in what a curiously reserved and mechanical
way Defarge spoke, Mr. Lorry put on his hat and they went down into
the courtyard. There, they found two women; one, knitting.
"Madame Defarge, surely!" said Mr. Lorry, who had left her in exactly
the same attitude some seventeen years ago.
"It is she," observed her husband.
"Does Madame go with us?" inquired Mr. Lorry, seeing that she moved
as they moved.
"Yes. That she may be able to recognise the faces and know the persons.
It is for their safety."
Beginning to be struck by Defarge's manner, Mr. Lorry looked
dubiously at him, and led the way. Both the women followed; the
second woman being The Vengeance.
They passed through the intervening streets as quickly as they might,
ascended the staircase of the new domicile, were admitted by Jerry,
and found Lucie weeping, alone. She was thrown into a transport by
the tidings Mr. Lorry gave her of her husband, and clasped the hand
that delivered his note--little thinking what it had been doing near
him in the night, and might, but for a chance, have done to him.
"DEAREST,--Take courage. I am well, and your father has
influence around me. You cannot answer this.
Kiss our child for me."
That was all the writing. It was so much, however, to her who
received it, that she turned from Defarge to his wife, and kissed one
of the hands that knitted. It was a passionate, loving, thankful,
womanly action, but the hand made no response--dropped cold and
heavy, and took to its knitting again.
There was something in its touch that gave Lucie a check.
She stopped in the act of putting the note in her bosom, and,
with her hands yet at her neck, looked terrified at Madame Defarge.
Madame Defarge met the lifted eyebrows and forehead with a cold,
"My dear," said Mr. Lorry, striking in to explain; "there are
frequent risings in the streets; and, although it is not likely they
will ever trouble you, Madame Defarge wishes to see those whom she
has the power to protect at such times, to the end that she may know
them--that she may identify them. I believe," said Mr. Lorry,
rather halting in his reassuring words, as the stony manner of all
the three impressed itself upon him more and more, "I state the case,
Defarge looked gloomily at his wife, and gave no other answer than a
gruff sound of acquiescence.
"You had better, Lucie," said Mr. Lorry, doing all he could to
propitiate, by tone and manner, "have the dear child here, and our
good Pross. Our good Pross, Defarge, is an English lady, and knows
The lady in question, whose rooted conviction that she was more than
a match for any foreigner, was not to be shaken by distress and,
danger, appeared with folded arms, and observed in English to The
Vengeance, whom her eyes first encountered, "Well, I am sure, Boldface!
I hope YOU are pretty well!" She also bestowed a British cough on
Madame Defarge; but, neither of the two took much heed of her.
"Is that his child?" said Madame Defarge, stopping in her work for
the first time, and pointing her knitting-needle at little Lucie as
if it were the finger of Fate.
"Yes, madame," answered Mr. Lorry; "this is our poor prisoner's
darling daughter, and only child."
The shadow attendant on Madame Defarge and her party seemed to fall
so threatening and dark on the child, that her mother instinctively
kneeled on the ground beside her, and held her to her breast. The
shadow attendant on Madame Defarge and her party seemed then to fall,
threatening and dark, on both the mother and the child.
"It is enough, my husband," said Madame Defarge. "I have seen them.
We may go."
But, the suppressed manner had enough of menace in it--not visible
and presented, but indistinct and withheld--to alarm Lucie into
saying, as she laid her appealing hand on Madame Defarge's dress:
"You will be good to my poor husband. You will do him no harm.
You will help me to see him if you can?"
"Your husband is not my business here," returned Madame Defarge,
looking down at her with perfect composure. "It is the daughter of
your father who is my business here."
"For my sake, then, be merciful to my husband. For my child's sake!
She will put her hands together and pray you to be merciful. We are
more afraid of you than of these others."
Madame Defarge received it as a compliment, and looked at her
husband. Defarge, who had been uneasily biting his thumb-nail and
looking at her, collected his face into a sterner expression.
"What is it that your husband says in that little letter?" asked
Madame Defarge, with a lowering smile. "Influence; he says something
"That my father," said Lucie, hurriedly taking the paper from her
breast, but with her alarmed eyes on her questioner and not on it,
"has much influence around him."
"Surely it will release him!" said Madame Defarge. "Let it do so."
"As a wife and mother," cried Lucie, most earnestly, "I implore you
to have pity on me and not to exercise any power that you possess,
against my innocent husband, but to use it in his behalf.
O sister-woman, think of me. As a wife and mother!"
Madame Defarge looked, coldly as ever, at the suppliant, and said,
turning to her friend The Vengeance:
"The wives and mothers we have been used to see, since we were as
little as this child, and much less, have not been greatly
considered? We have known THEIR husbands and fathers laid in prison
and kept from them, often enough? All our lives, we have seen our
sister-women suffer, in themselves and in their children, poverty,
nakedness, hunger, thirst, sickness, misery, oppression and neglect
of all kinds?"
"We have seen nothing else," returned The Vengeance.
"We have borne this a long time," said Madame Defarge, turning her
eyes again upon Lucie. "Judge you! Is it likely that the trouble of
one wife and mother would be much to us now?"
She resumed her knitting and went out. The Vengeance followed.
Defarge went last, and closed the door.
"Courage, my dear Lucie," said Mr. Lorry, as he raised her.
"Courage, courage! So far all goes well with us--much, much better
than it has of late gone with many poor souls. Cheer up, and have a
"I am not thankless, I hope, but that dreadful woman seems to throw a
shadow on me and on all my hopes."
"Tut, tut!" said Mr. Lorry; "what is this despondency in the brave
little breast? A shadow indeed! No substance in it, Lucie."
But the shadow of the manner of these Defarges was dark upon himself,
for all that, and in his secret mind it troubled him greatly.
Calm in Storm
Doctor Manette did not return until the morning of the fourth day of
his absence. So much of what had happened in that dreadful time as
could be kept from the knowledge of Lucie was so well concealed from
her, that not until long afterwards, when France and she were far apart,
did she know that eleven hundred defenceless prisoners of both sexes
and all ages had been killed by the populace; that four days and
nights had been darkened by this deed of horror; and that the air
around her had been tainted by the slain. She only knew that there
had been an attack upon the prisons, that all political prisoners had
been in danger, and that some had been dragged out by the crowd and
To Mr. Lorry, the Doctor communicated under an injunction of secrecy
on which he had no need to dwell, that the crowd had taken him
through a scene of carnage to the prison of La Force. That, in the
prison he had found a self-appointed Tribunal sitting, before which
the prisoners were brought singly, and by which they were rapidly
ordered to be put forth to be massacred, or to be released, or (in a
few cases) to be sent back to their cells. That, presented by his
conductors to this Tribunal, he had announced himself by name and
profession as having been for eighteen years a secret and unaccused
prisoner in the Bastille; that, one of the body so sitting in
judgment had risen and identified him, and that this man was Defarge.
That, hereupon he had ascertained, through the registers on the table,
that his son-in-law was among the living prisoners, and had pleaded
hard to the Tribunal--of whom some members were asleep and some awake,
some dirty with murder and some clean, some sober and some not--for
his life and liberty. That, in the first frantic greetings lavished
on himself as a notable sufferer under the overthrown system, it had
been accorded to him to have Charles Darnay brought before the lawless
Court, and examined. That, he seemed on the point of being at once
released, when the tide in his favour met with some unexplained check
(not intelligible to the Doctor), which led to a few words of secret
conference. That, the man sitting as President had then informed
Doctor Manette that the prisoner must remain in custody, but should,
for his sake, be held inviolate in safe custody. That, immediately,
on a signal, the prisoner was removed to the interior of the prison
again; but, that he, the Doctor, had then so strongly pleaded for
permission to remain and assure himself that his son-in-law was,
through no malice or mischance, delivered to the concourse whose
murderous yells outside the gate had often drowned the proceedings,
that he had obtained the permission, and had remained in that Hall of
Blood until the danger was over.
The sights he had seen there, with brief snatches of food and sleep
by intervals, shall remain untold. The mad joy over the prisoners
who were saved, had astounded him scarcely less than the mad ferocity
against those who were cut to pieces. One prisoner there was, he
said, who had been discharged into the street free, but at whom a
mistaken savage had thrust a pike as he passed out. Being besought
to go to him and dress the wound, the Doctor had passed out at the
same gate, and had found him in the arms of a company of Samaritans,
who were seated on the bodies of their victims. With an inconsistency
as monstrous as anything in this awful nightmare, they had helped the
healer, and tended the wounded man with the gentlest solicitude--
had made a litter for him and escorted him carefully from the spot--
had then caught up their weapons and plunged anew into a butchery so
dreadful, that the Doctor had covered his eyes with his hands, and
swooned away in the midst of it.
As Mr. Lorry received these confidences, and as he watched the face
of his friend now sixty-two years of age, a misgiving arose within
him that such dread experiences would revive the old danger.
But, he had never seen his friend in his present aspect: he had never
at all known him in his present character. For the first time the
Doctor felt, now, that his suffering was strength and power. For the
first time he felt that in that sharp fire, he had slowly forged the
iron which could break the prison door of his daughter's husband, and
deliver him. "It all tended to a good end, my friend; it was not
mere waste and ruin. As my beloved child was helpful in restoring me
to myself, I will be helpful now in restoring the dearest part of
herself to her; by the aid of Heaven I will do it!" Thus, Doctor
Manette. And when Jarvis Lorry saw the kindled eyes, the resolute
face, the calm strong look and bearing of the man whose life always
seemed to him to have been stopped, like a clock, for so many years,
and then set going again with an energy which had lain dormant during
the cessation of its usefulness, he believed.
Greater things than the Doctor had at that time to contend with,
would have yielded before his persevering purpose. While he kept
himself in his place, as a physician, whose business was with all
degrees of mankind, bond and free, rich and poor, bad and good, he
used his personal influence so wisely, that he was soon the inspecting
physician of three prisons, and among them of La Force. He could now
assure Lucie that her husband was no longer confined alone, but was
mixed with the general body of prisoners; he saw her husband weekly,
and brought sweet messages to her, straight from his lips; sometimes
her husband himself sent a letter to her (though never by the Doctor's
hand), but she was not permitted to write to him: for, among the many
wild suspicions of plots in the prisons, the wildest of all pointed
at emigrants who were known to have made friends or permanent
This new life of the Doctor's was an anxious life, no doubt; still,
the sagacious Mr. Lorry saw that there was a new sustaining pride in it.
Nothing unbecoming tinged the pride; it was a natural and worthy one;
but he observed it as a curiosity. The Doctor knew, that up to that
time, his imprisonment had been associated in the minds of his
daughter and his friend, with his personal affliction, deprivation,
and weakness. Now that this was changed, and he knew himself to be
invested through that old trial with forces to which they both looked
for Charles's ultimate safety and deliverance, he became so far exalted
by the change, that he took the lead and direction, and required them
as the weak, to trust to him as the strong. The preceding relative
positions of himself and Lucie were reversed, yet only as the
liveliest gratitude and affection could reverse them, for he could
have had no pride but in rendering some service to her who had
rendered so much to him. "All curious to see," thought Mr. Lorry,
in his amiably shrewd way, "but all natural and right; so, take the
lead, my dear friend, and keep it; it couldn't be in better hands."
But, though the Doctor tried hard, and never ceased trying, to get
Charles Darnay set at liberty, or at least to get him brought to trial,
the public current of the time set too strong and fast for him.
The new era began; the king was tried, doomed, and beheaded; the
Republic of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, or Death, declared for
victory or death against the world in arms; the black flag waved
night and day from the great towers of Notre Dame; three hundred
thousand men, summoned to rise against the tyrants of the earth, rose
from all the varying soils of France, as if the dragon's teeth had
been sown broadcast, and had yielded fruit equally on hill and plain,
on rock, in gravel, and alluvial mud, under the bright sky of the
South and under the clouds of the North, in fell and forest, in the
vineyards and the olive-grounds and among the cropped grass and the
stubble of the corn, along the fruitful banks of the broad rivers,
and in the sand of the sea-shore. What private solicitude could rear
itself against the deluge of the Year One of Liberty--the deluge
rising from below, not falling from above, and with the windows of
Heaven shut, not opened!
There was no pause, no pity, no peace, no interval of relenting rest,
no measurement of time. Though days and nights circled as regularly
as when time was young, and the evening and morning were the first
day, other count of time there was none. Hold of it was lost in the
raging fever of a nation, as it is in the fever of one patient.
Now, breaking the unnatural silence of a whole city, the executioner
showed the people the head of the king--and now, it seemed almost in
the same breath, the head of his fair wife which had had eight weary
months of imprisoned widowhood and misery, to turn it grey.
And yet, observing the strange law of contradiction which obtains in
all such cases, the time was long, while it flamed by so fast.
A revolutionary tribunal in the capital, and forty or fifty thousand
revolutionary committees all over the land; a law of the Suspected,
which struck away all security for liberty or life, and delivered
over any good and innocent person to any bad and guilty one; prisons
gorged with people who had committed no offence, and could obtain no
hearing; these things became the established order and nature of
appointed things, and seemed to be ancient usage before they were
many weeks old. Above all, one hideous figure grew as familiar as if
it had been before the general gaze from the foundations of the
world--the figure of the sharp female called La Guillotine.
It was the popular theme for jests; it was the best cure for
headache, it infallibly prevented the hair from turning grey, it
imparted a peculiar delicacy to the complexion, it was the National
Razor which shaved close: who kissed La Guillotine, looked through
the little window and sneezed into the sack. It was the sign of the
regeneration of the human race. It superseded the Cross. Models of
it were worn on breasts from which the Cross was discarded, and it
was bowed down to and believed in where the Cross was denied.
It sheared off heads so many, that it, and the ground it most
polluted, were a rotten red. It was taken to pieces, like a
toy-puzzle for a young Devil, and was put together again when the
occasion wanted it. It hushed the eloquent, struck down the powerful,
abolished the beautiful and good. Twenty-two friends of high public
mark, twenty-one living and one dead, it had lopped the heads off,
in one morning, in as many minutes. The name of the strong man of
Old Scripture had descended to the chief functionary who worked it;
but, so armed, he was stronger than his namesake, and blinder, and
tore away the gates of God's own Temple every day.
Among these terrors, and the brood belonging to them, the Doctor
walked with a steady head: confident in his power, cautiously
persistent in his end, never doubting that he would save Lucie's
husband at last. Yet the current of the time swept by, so strong and
deep, and carried the time away so fiercely, that Charles had lain in
prison one year and three months when the Doctor was thus steady and
confident. So much more wicked and distracted had the Revolution
grown in that December month, that the rivers of the South were
encumbered with the bodies of the violently drowned by night, and
prisoners were shot in lines and squares under the southern wintry sun.
Still, the Doctor walked among the terrors with a steady head.
No man better known than he, in Paris at that day; no man in a
stranger situation. Silent, humane, indispensable in hospital and
prison, using his art equally among assassins and victims, he was a
man apart. In the exercise of his skill, the appearance and the
story of the Bastille Captive removed him from all other men. He was
not suspected or brought in question, any more than if he had indeed
been recalled to life some eighteen years before, or were a Spirit
moving among mortals.
One year and three months. During all that time Lucie was never
sure, from hour to hour, but that the Guillotine would strike off her
husband's head next day. Every day, through the stony streets, the
tumbrils now jolted heavily, filled with Condemned. Lovely girls;
bright women, brown-haired, black-haired, and grey; youths; stalwart
men and old; gentle born and peasant born; all red wine for La
Guillotine, all daily brought into light from the dark cellars of the
loathsome prisons, and carried to her through the streets to slake
her devouring thirst. Liberty, equality, fraternity, or death;--the
last, much the easiest to bestow, O Guillotine!
If the suddenness of her calamity, and the whirling wheels of the
time, had stunned the Doctor's daughter into awaiting the result in
idle despair, it would but have been with her as it was with many.
But, from the hour when she had taken the white head to her fresh
young bosom in the garret of Saint Antoine, she had been true to her
duties. She was truest to them in the season of trial, as all the
quietly loyal and good will always be.
As soon as they were established in their new residence, and her
father had entered on the routine of his avocations, she arranged the
little household as exactly as if her husband had been there.
Everything had its appointed place and its appointed time. Little
Lucie she taught, as regularly, as if they had all been united in
their English home. The slight devices with which she cheated
herself into the show of a belief that they would soon be reunited--
the little preparations for his speedy return, the setting aside of
his chair and his books--these, and the solemn prayer at night for
one dear prisoner especially, among the many unhappy souls in prison
and the shadow of death--were almost the only outspoken reliefs of
her heavy mind.
She did not greatly alter in appearance. The plain dark dresses,
akin to mourning dresses, which she and her child wore, were as neat
and as well attended to as the brighter clothes of happy days.
She lost her colour, and the old and intent expression was a constant,
not an occasional, thing; otherwise, she remained very pretty and
comely. Sometimes, at night on kissing her father, she would burst
into the grief she had repressed all day, and would say that her sole
reliance, under Heaven, was on him. He always resolutely answered:
"Nothing can happen to him without my knowledge, and I know that I
can save him, Lucie."
They had not made the round of their changed life many weeks,
when her father said to her, on coming home one evening:
"My dear, there is an upper window in the prison, to which Charles
can sometimes gain access at three in the afternoon. When he can get
to it--which depends on many uncertainties and incidents--he might
see you in the street, he thinks, if you stood in a certain place
that I can show you. But you will not be able to see him, my poor
child, and even if you could, it would be unsafe for you to make a
sign of recognition."
"O show me the place, my father, and I will go there every day."
From that time, in all weathers, she waited there two hours.
As the clock struck two, she was there, and at four she turned
resignedly away. When it was not too wet or inclement for her child
to be with her, they went together; at other times she was alone;
but, she never missed a single day.
It was the dark and dirty corner of a small winding street.
The hovel of a cutter of wood into lengths for burning, was the only
house at that end; all else was wall. On the third day of her being
there, he noticed her.
"Good day, citizeness."
"Good day, citizen."
This mode of address was now prescribed by decree. It had been
established voluntarily some time ago, among the more thorough
patriots; but, was now law for everybody.
"Walking here again, citizeness?"
"You see me, citizen!"
The wood-sawyer, who was a little man with a redundancy of gesture
(he had once been a mender of roads), cast a glance at the prison,
pointed at the prison, and putting his ten fingers before his face to
represent bars, peeped through them jocosely.
"But it's not my business," said he. And went on sawing his wood.
Next day he was looking out for her, and accosted her the moment she
"What? Walking here again, citizeness?"
"Ah! A child too! Your mother, is it not, my little citizeness?"
"Do I say yes, mamma?" whispered little Lucie, drawing close to her.
"Ah! But it's not my business. My work is my business. See my saw!
I call it my Little Guillotine. La, la, la; La, la, la! And off his
The billet fell as he spoke, and he threw it into a basket.
"I call myself the Samson of the firewood guillotine. See here again!
Loo, loo, loo; Loo, loo, loo! And off HER head comes! Now, a child.
Tickle, tickle; Pickle, pickle! And off ITS head comes. All the family!"
Lucie shuddered as he threw two more billets into his basket, but it
was impossible to be there while the wood-sawyer was at work, and not
be in his sight. Thenceforth, to secure his good will, she always
spoke to him first, and often gave him drink-money, which he readily
He was an inquisitive fellow, and sometimes when she had quite
forgotten him in gazing at the prison roof and grates, and in lifting
her heart up to her husband, she would come to herself to find him
looking at her, with his knee on his bench and his saw stopped in its
work. "But it's not my business!" he would generally say at those
times, and would briskly fall to his sawing again.
In all weathers, in the snow and frost of winter, in the bitter winds
of spring, in the hot sunshine of summer, in the rains of autumn, and
again in the snow and frost of winter, Lucie passed two hours of
every day at this place; and every day on leaving it, she kissed the
prison wall. Her husband saw her (so she learned from her father) it
might be once in five or six times: it might be twice or thrice running:
it might be, not for a week or a fortnight together. It was enough
that he could and did see her when the chances served, and on that
possibility she would have waited out the day, seven days a week.
These occupations brought her round to the December month, wherein
her father walked among the terrors with a steady head. On a
lightly-snowing afternoon she arrived at the usual corner. It was a
day of some wild rejoicing, and a festival. She had seen the houses,
as she came along, decorated with little pikes, and with little red
caps stuck upon them; also, with tricoloured ribbons; also, with the
standard inscription (tricoloured letters were the favourite),
Republic One and Indivisible. Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, or Death!
The miserable shop of the wood-sawyer was so small, that its whole
surface furnished very indifferent space for this legend. He had got
somebody to scrawl it up for him, however, who had squeezed Death in
with most inappropriate difficulty. On his house-top, he displayed
pike and cap, as a good citizen must, and in a window he had
stationed his saw inscribed as his "Little Sainte Guillotine"--
for the great sharp female was by that time popularly canonised.
His shop was shut and he was not there, which was a relief to Lucie,
and left her quite alone.
But, he was not far off, for presently she heard a troubled movement
and a shouting coming along, which filled her with fear. A moment
afterwards, and a throng of people came pouring round the corner by
the prison wall, in the midst of whom was the wood-sawyer hand in
hand with The Vengeance. There could not be fewer than five hundred
people, and they were dancing like five thousand demons. There was
no other music than their own singing. They danced to the popular
Revolution song, keeping a ferocious time that was like a gnashing of
teeth in unison. Men and women danced together, women danced
together, men danced together, as hazard had brought them together.
At first, they were a mere storm of coarse red caps and coarse
woollen rags; but, as they filled the place, and stopped to dance
about Lucie, some ghastly apparition of a dance-figure gone raving
mad arose among them. They advanced, retreated, struck at one
another's hands, clutched at one another's heads, spun round alone,
caught one another and spun round in pairs, until many of them
dropped. While those were down, the rest linked hand in hand, and
all spun round together: then the ring broke, and in separate rings
of two and four they turned and turned until they all stopped at
once, began again, struck, clutched, and tore, and then reversed the
spin, and all spun round another way. Suddenly they stopped again,
paused, struck out the time afresh, formed into lines the width of
the public way, and, with their heads low down and their hands high
up, swooped screaming off. No fight could have been half so terrible
as this dance. It was so emphatically a fallen sport--a something,
once innocent, delivered over to all devilry--a healthy pastime
changed into a means of angering the blood, bewildering the senses,
and steeling the heart. Such grace as was visible in it, made it the
uglier, showing how warped and perverted all things good by nature
were become. The maidenly bosom bared to this, the pretty
almost-child's head thus distracted, the delicate foot mincing in
this slough of blood and dirt, were types of the disjointed time.
This was the Carmagnole. As it passed, leaving Lucie frightened and
bewildered in the doorway of the wood-sawyer's house, the feathery
snow fell as quietly and lay as white and soft, as if it had never been.
"O my father!" for he stood before her when she lifted up the eyes
she had momentarily darkened with her hand; "such a cruel, bad sight."
"I know, my dear, I know. I have seen it many times. Don't be
frightened! Not one of them would harm you."
"I am not frightened for myself, my father. But when I think of my
husband, and the mercies of these people--"
"We will set him above their mercies very soon. I left him climbing
to the window, and I came to tell you. There is no one here to see.
You may kiss your hand towards that highest shelving roof."
"I do so, father, and I send him my Soul with it!"
"You cannot see him, my poor dear?"
"No, father," said Lucie, yearning and weeping as she kissed her hand,
A footstep in the snow. Madame Defarge. "I salute you, citizeness,"
from the Doctor. "I salute you, citizen." This in passing. Nothing
more. Madame Defarge gone, like a shadow over the white road.
"Give me your arm, my love. Pass from here with an air of cheerfulness
and courage, for his sake. That was well done;" they had left the spot;
"it shall not be in vain. Charles is summoned for to-morrow."
"There is no time to lose. I am well prepared, but there are
precautions to be taken, that could not be taken until he was actually
summoned before the Tribunal. He has not received the notice yet,
but I know that he will presently be summoned for to-morrow, and
removed to the Conciergerie; I have timely information.
You are not afraid?"
She could scarcely answer, "I trust in you."
"Do so, implicitly. Your suspense is nearly ended, my darling; he
shall be restored to you within a few hours; I have encompassed him
with every protection. I must see Lorry."
He stopped. There was a heavy lumbering of wheels within hearing.
They both knew too well what it meant. One. Two. Three. Three
tumbrils faring away with their dread loads over the hushing snow.
"I must see Lorry," the Doctor repeated, turning her another way.
The staunch old gentleman was still in his trust; had never left it.
He and his books were in frequent requisition as to property
confiscated and made national. What he could save for the owners, he
saved. No better man living to hold fast by what Tellson's had in
keeping, and to hold his peace.
A murky red and yellow sky, and a rising mist from the Seine, denoted
the approach of darkness. It was almost dark when they arrived at
the Bank. The stately residence of Monseigneur was altogether
blighted and deserted. Above a heap of dust and ashes in the court,
ran the letters: National Property. Republic One and Indivisible.
Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, or Death!
Who could that be with Mr. Lorry--the owner of the riding-coat upon
the chair--who must not be seen? From whom newly arrived, did he come
out, agitated and surprised, to take his favourite in his arms? To
whom did he appear to repeat her faltering words, when, raising his
voice and turning his head towards the door of the room from which he
had issued, he said: "Removed to the Conciergerie, and summoned for
The dread tribunal of five Judges, Public Prosecutor, and determined
Jury, sat every day. Their lists went forth every evening, and were
read out by the gaolers of the various prisons to their prisoners.
The standard gaoler-joke was, "Come out and listen to the Evening Paper,
you inside there!"
"Charles Evremonde, called Darnay!"
So at last began the Evening Paper at La Force.
When a name was called, its owner stepped apart into a spot reserved
for those who were announced as being thus fatally recorded. Charles
Evremonde, called Darnay, had reason to know the usage; he had seen
hundreds pass away so.
His bloated gaoler, who wore spectacles to read with, glanced over
them to assure himself that he had taken his place, and went through
the list, making a similar short pause at each name. There were
twenty-three names, but only twenty were responded to; for one of the
prisoners so summoned had died in gaol and been forgotten, and two
had already been guillotined and forgotten. The list was read, in
the vaulted chamber where Darnay had seen the associated prisoners on
the night of his arrival. Every one of those had perished in the
massacre; every human creature he had since cared for and parted with,
had died on the scaffold.
There were hurried words of farewell and kindness, but the parting
was soon over. It was the incident of every day, and the society of
La Force were engaged in the preparation of some games of forfeits
and a little concert, for that evening. They crowded to the grates
and shed tears there; but, twenty places in the projected
entertainments had to be refilled, and the time was, at best, short
to the lock-up hour, when the common rooms and corridors would be
delivered over to the great dogs who kept watch there through the
night. The prisoners were far from insensible or unfeeling; their
ways arose out of the condition of the time. Similarly, though with
a subtle difference, a species of fervour or intoxication, known,
without doubt, to have led some persons to brave the guillotine
unnecessarily, and to die by it, was not mere boastfulness, but a
wild infection of the wildly shaken public mind. In seasons of
pestilence, some of us will have a secret attraction to the disease--
a terrible passing inclination to die of it. And all of us have like
wonders hidden in our breasts, only needing circumstances to evoke them.
The passage to the Conciergerie was short and dark; the night in its
vermin-haunted cells was long and cold. Next day, fifteen prisoners
were put to the bar before Charles Darnay's name was called. All the
fifteen were condemned, and the trials of the whole occupied an hour
and a half.
"Charles Evremonde, called Darnay," was at length arraigned.
His judges sat upon the Bench in feathered hats; but the rough red
cap and tricoloured cockade was the head-dress otherwise prevailing.
Looking at the Jury and the turbulent audience, he might have thought
that the usual order of things was reversed, and that the felons were
trying the honest men. The lowest, cruelest, and worst populace of a
city, never without its quantity of low, cruel, and bad, were the
directing spirits of the scene: noisily commenting, applauding,
disapproving, anticipating, and precipitating the result, without a
check. Of the men, the greater part were armed in various ways; of
the women, some wore knives, some daggers, some ate and drank as they
looked on, many knitted. Among these last, was one, with a spare
piece of knitting under her arm as she worked. She was in a front
row, by the side of a man whom he had never seen since his arrival at
the Barrier, but whom he directly remembered as Defarge. He noticed
that she once or twice whispered in his ear, and that she seemed to
be his wife; but, what he most noticed in the two figures was, that
although they were posted as close to himself as they could be, they
never looked towards him. They seemed to be waiting for something
with a dogged determination, and they looked at the Jury, but at
nothing else. Under the President sat Doctor Manette, in his usual
quiet dress. As well as the prisoner could see, he and Mr. Lorry
were the only men there, unconnected with the Tribunal, who wore their
usual clothes, and had not assumed the coarse garb of the Carmagnole.
Charles Evremonde, called Darnay, was accused by the public
prosecutor as an emigrant, whose life was forfeit to the Republic,
under the decree which banished all emigrants on pain of Death.
It was nothing that the decree bore date since his return to France.
There he was, and there was the decree; he had been taken in France,
and his head was demanded.
"Take off his head!" cried the audience. "An enemy to the Republic!"
The President rang his bell to silence those cries, and asked the
prisoner whether it was not true that he had lived many years in England?
Undoubtedly it was.
Was he not an emigrant then? What did he call himself?
Not an emigrant, he hoped, within the sense and spirit of the law.
Why not? the President desired to know.
Because he had voluntarily relinquished a title that was distasteful
to him, and a station that was distasteful to him, and had left his
country--he submitted before the word emigrant in the present
acceptation by the Tribunal was in use--to live by his own industry
in England, rather than on the industry of the overladen people of
What proof had he of this?
He handed in the names of two witnesses; Theophile Gabelle, and
But he had married in England? the President reminded him.
True, but not an English woman.
A citizeness of France?
Yes. By birth.
Her name and family?
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