Part 4 - A Tale of Two Cities Audiobook by Charles Dickens (Book 02, Chs 14-19)

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Book the Second: The Golden Thread Chapter XIV.
The Honest Tradesman
To the eyes of Mr. Jeremiah Cruncher, sitting on his stool in Fleet-street with
his grisly urchin beside him, a vast number and variety of objects in movement were
every day presented.
Who could sit upon anything in Fleet-street during the busy hours of the day, and not
be dazed and deafened by two immense processions, one ever tending westward with
the sun, the other ever tending eastward
from the sun, both ever tending to the plains beyond the range of red and purple
where the sun goes down!
With his straw in his mouth, Mr. Cruncher sat watching the two streams, like the
heathen rustic who has for several centuries been on duty watching one stream-
-saving that Jerry had no expectation of their ever running dry.
Nor would it have been an expectation of a hopeful kind, since a small part of his
income was derived from the pilotage of timid women (mostly of a full habit and
past the middle term of life) from
Tellson's side of the tides to the opposite shore.
Brief as such companionship was in every separate instance, Mr. Cruncher never
failed to become so interested in the lady as to express a strong desire to have the
honour of drinking her very good health.
And it was from the gifts bestowed upon him towards the execution of this benevolent
purpose, that he recruited his finances, as just now observed.
Time was, when a poet sat upon a stool in a public place, and mused in the sight of
Mr. Cruncher, sitting on a stool in a public place, but not being a poet, mused
as little as possible, and looked about him.
It fell out that he was thus engaged in a season when crowds were few, and belated
women few, and when his affairs in general were so unprosperous as to awaken a strong
suspicion in his breast that Mrs. Cruncher
must have been "flopping" in some pointed manner, when an unusual concourse pouring
down Fleet-street westward, attracted his attention.
Looking that way, Mr. Cruncher made out that some kind of funeral was coming along,
and that there was popular objection to this funeral, which engendered uproar.
"Young Jerry," said Mr. Cruncher, turning to his offspring, "it's a buryin'."
"Hooroar, father!" cried Young Jerry. The young gentleman uttered this exultant
sound with mysterious significance.
The elder gentleman took the cry so ill, that he watched his opportunity, and smote
the young gentleman on the ear. "What d'ye mean?
What are you hooroaring at?
What do you want to conwey to your own father, you young Rip?
This boy is a getting too many for _me_!" said Mr. Cruncher, surveying him.
"Him and his hooroars!
Don't let me hear no more of you, or you shall feel some more of me.
D'ye hear?" "I warn't doing no harm," Young Jerry
protested, rubbing his cheek.
"Drop it then," said Mr. Cruncher; "I won't have none of _your_ no harms.
Get a top of that there seat, and look at the crowd."
His son obeyed, and the crowd approached; they were bawling and hissing round a dingy
hearse and dingy mourning coach, in which mourning coach there was only one mourner,
dressed in the dingy trappings that were
considered essential to the dignity of the position.
The position appeared by no means to please him, however, with an increasing rabble
surrounding the coach, deriding him, making grimaces at him, and incessantly groaning
and calling out: "Yah! Spies! Tst! Yaha!
Spies!" with many compliments too numerous and forcible to repeat.
Funerals had at all times a remarkable attraction for Mr. Cruncher; he always
pricked up his senses, and became excited, when a funeral passed Tellson's.
Naturally, therefore, a funeral with this uncommon attendance excited him greatly,
and he asked of the first man who ran against him:
"What is it, brother?
What's it about?" "_I_ don't know," said the man.
"Spies! Yaha! Tst! Spies!" He asked another man.
"Who is it?"
"_I_ don't know," returned the man, clapping his hands to his mouth
nevertheless, and vociferating in a surprising heat and with the greatest
ardour, "Spies! Yaha! Tst, tst! Spi--ies!"
At length, a person better informed on the merits of the case, tumbled against him,
and from this person he learned that the funeral was the funeral of one Roger Cly.
"Was He a spy?" asked Mr. Cruncher.
"Old Bailey spy," returned his informant. "Yaha! Tst! Yah! Old Bailey Spi--i--ies!"
"Why, to be sure!" exclaimed Jerry, recalling the Trial at which he had
"I've seen him. Dead, is he?"
"Dead as mutton," returned the other, "and can't be too dead.
Have 'em out, there! Spies!
Pull 'em out, there! Spies!"
The idea was so acceptable in the prevalent absence of any idea, that the crowd caught
it up with eagerness, and loudly repeating the suggestion to have 'em out, and to pull
'em out, mobbed the two vehicles so closely that they came to a stop.
On the crowd's opening the coach doors, the one mourner scuffled out of himself and was
in their hands for a moment; but he was so alert, and made such good use of his time,
that in another moment he was scouring away
up a bye-street, after shedding his cloak, hat, long hatband, white pocket-
handkerchief, and other symbolical tears.
These, the people tore to pieces and scattered far and wide with great
enjoyment, while the tradesmen hurriedly shut up their shops; for a crowd in those
times stopped at nothing, and was a monster much dreaded.
They had already got the length of opening the hearse to take the coffin out, when
some brighter genius proposed instead, its being escorted to its destination amidst
general rejoicing.
Practical suggestions being much needed, this suggestion, too, was received with
acclamation, and the coach was immediately filled with eight inside and a dozen out,
while as many people got on the roof of the
hearse as could by any exercise of ingenuity stick upon it.
Among the first of these volunteers was Jerry Cruncher himself, who modestly
concealed his spiky head from the observation of Tellson's, in the further
corner of the mourning coach.
The officiating undertakers made some protest against these changes in the
ceremonies; but, the river being alarmingly near, and several voices remarking on the
efficacy of cold immersion in bringing
refractory members of the profession to reason, the protest was faint and brief.
The remodelled procession started, with a chimney-sweep driving the hearse--advised
by the regular driver, who was perched beside him, under close inspection, for the
purpose--and with a pieman, also attended
by his cabinet minister, driving the mourning coach.
A bear-leader, a popular street character of the time, was impressed as an additional
ornament, before the cavalcade had gone far down the Strand; and his bear, who was
black and very mangy, gave quite an
Undertaking air to that part of the procession in which he walked.
Thus, with beer-drinking, pipe-smoking, song-roaring, and infinite caricaturing of
woe, the disorderly procession went its way, recruiting at every step, and all the
shops shutting up before it.
Its destination was the old church of Saint Pancras, far off in the fields.
It got there in course of time; insisted on pouring into the burial-ground; finally,
accomplished the interment of the deceased Roger Cly in its own way, and highly to its
own satisfaction.
The dead man disposed of, and the crowd being under the necessity of providing some
other entertainment for itself, another brighter genius (or perhaps the same)
conceived the humour of impeaching casual
passers-by, as Old Bailey spies, and wreaking vengeance on them.
Chase was given to some scores of inoffensive persons who had never been near
the Old Bailey in their lives, in the realisation of this fancy, and they were
roughly hustled and maltreated.
The transition to the sport of window- breaking, and thence to the plundering of
public-houses, was easy and natural.
At last, after several hours, when sundry summer-houses had been pulled down, and
some area-railings had been torn up, to arm the more belligerent spirits, a rumour got
about that the Guards were coming.
Before this rumour, the crowd gradually melted away, and perhaps the Guards came,
and perhaps they never came, and this was the usual progress of a mob.
Mr. Cruncher did not assist at the closing sports, but had remained behind in the
churchyard, to confer and condole with the undertakers.
The place had a soothing influence on him.
He procured a pipe from a neighbouring public-house, and smoked it, looking in at
the railings and maturely considering the spot.
"Jerry," said Mr. Cruncher, apostrophising himself in his usual way, "you see that
there Cly that day, and you see with your own eyes that he was a young 'un and a
straight made 'un."
Having smoked his pipe out, and ruminated a little longer, he turned himself about,
that he might appear, before the hour of closing, on his station at Tellson's.
Whether his meditations on mortality had touched his liver, or whether his general
health had been previously at all amiss, or whether he desired to show a little
attention to an eminent man, is not so much
to the purpose, as that he made a short call upon his medical adviser--a
distinguished surgeon--on his way back.
Young Jerry relieved his father with dutiful interest, and reported No job in
his absence.
The bank closed, the ancient clerks came out, the usual watch was set, and Mr.
Cruncher and his son went home to tea. "Now, I tell you where it is!" said Mr.
Cruncher to his wife, on entering.
"If, as a honest tradesman, my wenturs goes wrong to-night, I shall make sure that
you've been praying again me, and I shall work you for it just the same as if I seen
you do it."
The dejected Mrs. Cruncher shook her head. "Why, you're at it afore my face!" said Mr.
Cruncher, with signs of angry apprehension. "I am saying nothing."
"Well, then; don't meditate nothing.
You might as well flop as meditate. You may as well go again me one way as
another. Drop it altogether."
"Yes, Jerry."
"Yes, Jerry," repeated Mr. Cruncher sitting down to tea.
"Ah! It _is_ yes, Jerry. That's about it.
You may say yes, Jerry."
Mr. Cruncher had no particular meaning in these sulky corroborations, but made use of
them, as people not unfrequently do, to express general ironical dissatisfaction.
"You and your yes, Jerry," said Mr. Cruncher, taking a bite out of his bread-
and-butter, and seeming to help it down with a large invisible oyster out of his
"Ah! I think so. I believe you."
"You are going out to-night?" asked his decent wife, when he took another bite.
"Yes, I am."
"May I go with you, father?" asked his son, briskly.
"No, you mayn't. I'm a going--as your mother knows--a
That's where I'm going to. Going a fishing."
"Your fishing-rod gets rayther rusty; don't it, father?"
"Never you mind."
"Shall you bring any fish home, father?"
"If I don't, you'll have short commons, to- morrow," returned that gentleman, shaking
his head; "that's questions enough for you; I ain't a going out, till you've been long
He devoted himself during the remainder of the evening to keeping a most vigilant
watch on Mrs. Cruncher, and sullenly holding her in conversation that she might
be prevented from meditating any petitions to his disadvantage.
With this view, he urged his son to hold her in conversation also, and led the
unfortunate woman a hard life by dwelling on any causes of complaint he could bring
against her, rather than he would leave her for a moment to her own reflections.
The devoutest person could have rendered no greater homage to the efficacy of an honest
prayer than he did in this distrust of his wife.
It was as if a professed unbeliever in ghosts should be frightened by a ghost
story. "And mind you!" said Mr. Cruncher.
"No games to-morrow!
If I, as a honest tradesman, succeed in providing a jinte of meat or two, none of
your not touching of it, and sticking to bread.
If I, as a honest tradesman, am able to provide a little beer, none of your
declaring on water. When you go to Rome, do as Rome does.
Rome will be a ugly customer to you, if you don't.
_I_'m your Rome, you know." Then he began grumbling again:
"With your flying into the face of your own wittles and drink!
I don't know how scarce you mayn't make the wittles and drink here, by your flopping
tricks and your unfeeling conduct.
Look at your boy: he _is_ your'n, ain't he? He's as thin as a lath.
Do you call yourself a mother, and not know that a mother's first duty is to blow her
boy out?"
This touched Young Jerry on a tender place; who adjured his mother to perform her first
duty, and, whatever else she did or neglected, above all things to lay especial
stress on the discharge of that maternal
function so affectingly and delicately indicated by his other parent.
Thus the evening wore away with the Cruncher family, until Young Jerry was
ordered to bed, and his mother, laid under similar injunctions, obeyed them.
Mr. Cruncher beguiled the earlier watches of the night with solitary pipes, and did
not start upon his excursion until nearly one o'clock.
Towards that small and ghostly hour, he rose up from his chair, took a key out of
his pocket, opened a locked cupboard, and brought forth a sack, a crowbar of
convenient size, a rope and chain, and other fishing tackle of that nature.
Disposing these articles about him in skilful manner, he bestowed a parting
defiance on Mrs. Cruncher, extinguished the light, and went out.
Young Jerry, who had only made a feint of undressing when he went to bed, was not
long after his father.
Under cover of the darkness he followed out of the room, followed down the stairs,
followed down the court, followed out into the streets.
He was in no uneasiness concerning his getting into the house again, for it was
full of lodgers, and the door stood ajar all night.
Impelled by a laudable ambition to study the art and mystery of his father's honest
calling, Young Jerry, keeping as close to house fronts, walls, and doorways, as his
eyes were close to one another, held his honoured parent in view.
The honoured parent steering Northward, had not gone far, when he was joined by another
disciple of Izaak Walton, and the two trudged on together.
Within half an hour from the first starting, they were beyond the winking
lamps, and the more than winking watchmen, and were out upon a lonely road.
Another fisherman was picked up here--and that so silently, that if Young Jerry had
been superstitious, he might have supposed the second follower of the gentle craft to
have, all of a sudden, split himself into two.
The three went on, and Young Jerry went on, until the three stopped under a bank
overhanging the road.
Upon the top of the bank was a low brick wall, surmounted by an iron railing.
In the shadow of bank and wall the three turned out of the road, and up a blind
lane, of which the wall--there, risen to some eight or ten feet high--formed one
Crouching down in a corner, peeping up the lane, the next object that Young Jerry saw,
was the form of his honoured parent, pretty well defined against a watery and clouded
moon, nimbly scaling an iron gate.
He was soon over, and then the second fisherman got over, and then the third.
They all dropped softly on the ground within the gate, and lay there a little--
listening perhaps.
Then, they moved away on their hands and knees.
It was now Young Jerry's turn to approach the gate: which he did, holding his breath.
Crouching down again in a corner there, and looking in, he made out the three fishermen
creeping through some rank grass! and all the gravestones in the churchyard--it was a
large churchyard that they were in--looking
on like ghosts in white, while the church tower itself looked on like the ghost of a
monstrous giant. They did not creep far, before they stopped
and stood upright.
And then they began to fish. They fished with a spade, at first.
Presently the honoured parent appeared to be adjusting some instrument like a great
Whatever tools they worked with, they worked hard, until the awful striking of
the church clock so terrified Young Jerry, that he made off, with his hair as stiff as
his father's.
But, his long-cherished desire to know more about these matters, not only stopped him
in his running away, but lured him back again.
They were still fishing perseveringly, when he peeped in at the gate for the second
time; but, now they seemed to have got a bite.
There was a screwing and complaining sound down below, and their bent figures were
strained, as if by a weight. By slow degrees the weight broke away the
earth upon it, and came to the surface.
Young Jerry very well knew what it would be; but, when he saw it, and saw his
honoured parent about to wrench it open, he was so frightened, being new to the sight,
that he made off again, and never stopped until he had run a mile or more.
He would not have stopped then, for anything less necessary than breath, it
being a spectral sort of race that he ran, and one highly desirable to get to the end
He had a strong idea that the coffin he had seen was running after him; and, pictured
as hopping on behind him, bolt upright, upon its narrow end, always on the point of
overtaking him and hopping on at his side--
perhaps taking his arm--it was a pursuer to shun.
It was an inconsistent and ubiquitous fiend too, for, while it was making the whole
night behind him dreadful, he darted out into the roadway to avoid dark alleys,
fearful of its coming hopping out of them
like a dropsical boy's Kite without tail and wings.
It hid in doorways too, rubbing its horrible shoulders against doors, and
drawing them up to its ears, as if it were laughing.
It got into shadows on the road, and lay cunningly on its back to trip him up.
All this time it was incessantly hopping on behind and gaining on him, so that when the
boy got to his own door he had reason for being half dead.
And even then it would not leave him, but followed him upstairs with a bump on every
stair, scrambled into bed with him, and bumped down, dead and heavy, on his breast
when he fell asleep.
From his oppressed slumber, Young Jerry in his closet was awakened after daybreak and
before sunrise, by the presence of his father in the family room.
Something had gone wrong with him; at least, so Young Jerry inferred, from the
circumstance of his holding Mrs. Cruncher by the ears, and knocking the back of her
head against the head-board of the bed.
"I told you I would," said Mr. Cruncher, "and I did."
"Jerry, Jerry, Jerry!" his wife implored.
"You oppose yourself to the profit of the business," said Jerry, "and me and my
partners suffer. You was to honour and obey; why the devil
don't you?"
"I try to be a good wife, Jerry," the poor woman protested, with tears.
"Is it being a good wife to oppose your husband's business?
Is it honouring your husband to dishonour his business?
Is it obeying your husband to disobey him on the wital subject of his business?"
"You hadn't taken to the dreadful business then, Jerry."
"It's enough for you," retorted Mr. Cruncher, "to be the wife of a honest
tradesman, and not to occupy your female mind with calculations when he took to his
trade or when he didn't.
A honouring and obeying wife would let his trade alone altogether.
Call yourself a religious woman? If you're a religious woman, give me a
irreligious one!
You have no more nat'ral sense of duty than the bed of this here Thames river has of a
pile, and similarly it must be knocked into you."
The altercation was conducted in a low tone of voice, and terminated in the honest
tradesman's kicking off his clay-soiled boots, and lying down at his length on the
After taking a timid peep at him lying on his back, with his rusty hands under his
head for a pillow, his son lay down too, and fell asleep again.
There was no fish for breakfast, and not much of anything else.
Mr. Cruncher was out of spirits, and out of temper, and kept an iron pot-lid by him as
a projectile for the correction of Mrs. Cruncher, in case he should observe any
symptoms of her saying Grace.
He was brushed and washed at the usual hour, and set off with his son to pursue
his ostensible calling.
Young Jerry, walking with the stool under his arm at his father's side along sunny
and crowded Fleet-street, was a very different Young Jerry from him of the
previous night, running home through
darkness and solitude from his grim pursuer.
His cunning was fresh with the day, and his qualms were gone with the night--in which
particulars it is not improbable that he had compeers in Fleet-street and the City
of London, that fine morning.
"Father," said Young Jerry, as they walked along: taking care to keep at arm's length
and to have the stool well between them: "what's a Resurrection-Man?"
Mr. Cruncher came to a stop on the pavement before he answered, "How should I know?"
"I thought you knowed everything, father," said the artless boy.
"Hem! Well," returned Mr. Cruncher, going on again, and lifting off his hat to give
his spikes free play, "he's a tradesman." "What's his goods, father?" asked the brisk
Young Jerry.
"His goods," said Mr. Cruncher, after turning it over in his mind, "is a branch
of Scientific goods." "Persons' bodies, ain't it, father?" asked
the lively boy.
"I believe it is something of that sort," said Mr. Cruncher.
"Oh, father, I should so like to be a Resurrection-Man when I'm quite growed up!"
Mr. Cruncher was soothed, but shook his head in a dubious and moral way.
"It depends upon how you dewelop your talents.
Be careful to dewelop your talents, and never to say no more than you can help to
nobody, and there's no telling at the present time what you may not come to be
fit for."
As Young Jerry, thus encouraged, went on a few yards in advance, to plant the stool in
the shadow of the Bar, Mr. Cruncher added to himself: "Jerry, you honest tradesman,
there's hopes wot that boy will yet be a
blessing to you, and a recompense to you for his mother!"
Book the Second: The Golden Thread Chapter XV.
There had been earlier drinking than usual in the wine-shop of Monsieur Defarge.
As early as six o'clock in the morning, sallow faces peeping through its barred
windows had descried other faces within, bending over measures of wine.
Monsieur Defarge sold a very thin wine at the best of times, but it would seem to
have been an unusually thin wine that he sold at this time.
A sour wine, moreover, or a souring, for its influence on the mood of those who
drank it was to make them gloomy.
No vivacious Bacchanalian flame leaped out of the pressed grape of Monsieur Defarge:
but, a smouldering fire that burnt in the dark, lay hidden in the dregs of it.
This had been the third morning in succession, on which there had been early
drinking at the wine-shop of Monsieur Defarge.
It had begun on Monday, and here was Wednesday come.
There had been more of early brooding than drinking; for, many men had listened and
whispered and slunk about there from the time of the opening of the door, who could
not have laid a piece of money on the counter to save their souls.
These were to the full as interested in the place, however, as if they could have
commanded whole barrels of wine; and they glided from seat to seat, and from corner
to corner, swallowing talk in lieu of drink, with greedy looks.
Notwithstanding an unusual flow of company, the master of the wine-shop was not
He was not missed; for, nobody who crossed the threshold looked for him, nobody asked
for him, nobody wondered to see only Madame Defarge in her seat, presiding over the
distribution of wine, with a bowl of
battered small coins before her, as much defaced and beaten out of their original
impress as the small coinage of humanity from whose ragged pockets they had come.
A suspended interest and a prevalent absence of mind, were perhaps observed by
the spies who looked in at the wine-shop, as they looked in at every place, high and
low, from the king's palace to the criminal's gaol.
Games at cards languished, players at dominoes musingly built towers with them,
drinkers drew figures on the tables with spilt drops of wine, Madame Defarge herself
picked out the pattern on her sleeve with
her toothpick, and saw and heard something inaudible and invisible a long way off.
Thus, Saint Antoine in this vinous feature of his, until midday.
It was high noontide, when two dusty men passed through his streets and under his
swinging lamps: of whom, one was Monsieur Defarge: the other a mender of roads in a
blue cap.
All adust and athirst, the two entered the wine-shop.
Their arrival had lighted a kind of fire in the breast of Saint Antoine, fast spreading
as they came along, which stirred and flickered in flames of faces at most doors
and windows.
Yet, no one had followed them, and no man spoke when they entered the wine-shop,
though the eyes of every man there were turned upon them.
"Good day, gentlemen!" said Monsieur Defarge.
It may have been a signal for loosening the general tongue.
It elicited an answering chorus of "Good day!"
"It is bad weather, gentlemen," said Defarge, shaking his head.
Upon which, every man looked at his neighbour, and then all cast down their
eyes and sat silent. Except one man, who got up and went out.
"My wife," said Defarge aloud, addressing Madame Defarge: "I have travelled certain
leagues with this good mender of roads, called Jacques.
I met him--by accident--a day and half's journey out of Paris.
He is a good child, this mender of roads, called Jacques.
Give him to drink, my wife!"
A second man got up and went out. Madame Defarge set wine before the mender
of roads called Jacques, who doffed his blue cap to the company, and drank.
In the breast of his blouse he carried some coarse dark bread; he ate of this between
whiles, and sat munching and drinking near Madame Defarge's counter.
A third man got up and went out.
Defarge refreshed himself with a draught of wine--but, he took less than was given to
the stranger, as being himself a man to whom it was no rarity--and stood waiting
until the countryman had made his breakfast.
He looked at no one present, and no one now looked at him; not even Madame Defarge, who
had taken up her knitting, and was at work.
"Have you finished your repast, friend?" he asked, in due season.
"Yes, thank you." "Come, then!
You shall see the apartment that I told you you could occupy.
It will suit you to a marvel."
Out of the wine-shop into the street, out of the street into a courtyard, out of the
courtyard up a steep staircase, out of the staircase into a garret--formerly the
garret where a white-haired man sat on a
low bench, stooping forward and very busy, making shoes.
No white-haired man was there now; but, the three men were there who had gone out of
the wine-shop singly.
And between them and the white-haired man afar off, was the one small link, that they
had once looked in at him through the chinks in the wall.
Defarge closed the door carefully, and spoke in a subdued voice:
"Jacques One, Jacques Two, Jacques Three! This is the witness encountered by
appointment, by me, Jacques Four.
He will tell you all. Speak, Jacques Five!"
The mender of roads, blue cap in hand, wiped his swarthy forehead with it, and
said, "Where shall I commence, monsieur?"
"Commence," was Monsieur Defarge's not unreasonable reply, "at the commencement."
"I saw him then, messieurs," began the mender of roads, "a year ago this running
summer, underneath the carriage of the Marquis, hanging by the chain.
Behold the manner of it.
I leaving my work on the road, the sun going to bed, the carriage of the Marquis
slowly ascending the hill, he hanging by the chain--like this."
Again the mender of roads went through the whole performance; in which he ought to
have been perfect by that time, seeing that it had been the infallible resource and
indispensable entertainment of his village during a whole year.
Jacques One struck in, and asked if he had ever seen the man before?
"Never," answered the mender of roads, recovering his perpendicular.
Jacques Three demanded how he afterwards recognised him then?
"By his tall figure," said the mender of roads, softly, and with his finger at his
nose. "When Monsieur the Marquis demands that
evening, 'Say, what is he like?'
I make response, 'Tall as a spectre.'" "You should have said, short as a dwarf,"
returned Jacques Two. "But what did I know?
The deed was not then accomplished, neither did he confide in me.
Observe! Under those circumstances even, I do not
offer my testimony.
Monsieur the Marquis indicates me with his finger, standing near our little fountain,
and says, 'To me! Bring that rascal!'
My faith, messieurs, I offer nothing."
"He is right there, Jacques," murmured Defarge, to him who had interrupted.
"Go on!" "Good!" said the mender of roads, with an
air of mystery.
"The tall man is lost, and he is sought-- how many months?
Nine, ten, eleven?" "No matter, the number," said Defarge.
"He is well hidden, but at last he is unluckily found.
Go on!" "I am again at work upon the hill-side, and
the sun is again about to go to bed.
I am collecting my tools to descend to my cottage down in the village below, where it
is already dark, when I raise my eyes, and see coming over the hill six soldiers.
In the midst of them is a tall man with his arms bound--tied to his sides--like this!"
With the aid of his indispensable cap, he represented a man with his elbows bound
fast at his hips, with cords that were knotted behind him.
"I stand aside, messieurs, by my heap of stones, to see the soldiers and their
prisoner pass (for it is a solitary road, that, where any spectacle is well worth
looking at), and at first, as they
approach, I see no more than that they are six soldiers with a tall man bound, and
that they are almost black to my sight-- except on the side of the sun going to bed,
where they have a red edge, messieurs.
Also, I see that their long shadows are on the hollow ridge on the opposite side of
the road, and are on the hill above it, and are like the shadows of giants.
Also, I see that they are covered with dust, and that the dust moves with them as
they come, tramp, tramp!
But when they advance quite near to me, I recognise the tall man, and he recognises
Ah, but he would be well content to precipitate himself over the hill-side once
again, as on the evening when he and I first encountered, close to the same spot!"
He described it as if he were there, and it was evident that he saw it vividly; perhaps
he had not seen much in his life.
"I do not show the soldiers that I recognise the tall man; he does not show
the soldiers that he recognises me; we do it, and we know it, with our eyes.
'Come on!' says the chief of that company, pointing to the village, 'bring him fast to
his tomb!' and they bring him faster. I follow.
His arms are swelled because of being bound so tight, his wooden shoes are large and
clumsy, and he is lame. Because he is lame, and consequently slow,
they drive him with their guns--like this!"
He imitated the action of a man's being impelled forward by the butt-ends of
muskets. "As they descend the hill like madmen
running a race, he falls.
They laugh and pick him up again. His face is bleeding and covered with dust,
but he cannot touch it; thereupon they laugh again.
They bring him into the village; all the village runs to look; they take him past
the mill, and up to the prison; all the village sees the prison gate open in the
darkness of the night, and swallow him-- like this!"
He opened his mouth as wide as he could, and shut it with a sounding snap of his
Observant of his unwillingness to mar the effect by opening it again, Defarge said,
"Go on, Jacques."
"All the village," pursued the mender of roads, on tiptoe and in a low voice,
"withdraws; all the village whispers by the fountain; all the village sleeps; all the
village dreams of that unhappy one, within
the locks and bars of the prison on the crag, and never to come out of it, except
to perish.
In the morning, with my tools upon my shoulder, eating my morsel of black bread
as I go, I make a circuit by the prison, on my way to my work.
There I see him, high up, behind the bars of a lofty iron cage, bloody and dusty as
last night, looking through.
He has no hand free, to wave to me; I dare not call to him; he regards me like a dead
man." Defarge and the three glanced darkly at one
The looks of all of them were dark, repressed, and revengeful, as they listened
to the countryman's story; the manner of all of them, while it was secret, was
authoritative too.
They had the air of a rough tribunal; Jacques One and Two sitting on the old
pallet-bed, each with his chin resting on his hand, and his eyes intent on the road-
mender; Jacques Three, equally intent, on
one knee behind them, with his agitated hand always gliding over the network of
fine nerves about his mouth and nose; Defarge standing between them and the
narrator, whom he had stationed in the
light of the window, by turns looking from him to them, and from them to him.
"Go on, Jacques," said Defarge. "He remains up there in his iron cage some
The village looks at him by stealth, for it is afraid.
But it always looks up, from a distance, at the prison on the crag; and in the evening,
when the work of the day is achieved and it assembles to gossip at the fountain, all
faces are turned towards the prison.
Formerly, they were turned towards the posting-house; now, they are turned towards
the prison.
They whisper at the fountain, that although condemned to death he will not be executed;
they say that petitions have been presented in Paris, showing that he was enraged and
made mad by the death of his child; they
say that a petition has been presented to the King himself.
What do I know? It is possible.
Perhaps yes, perhaps no."
"Listen then, Jacques," Number One of that name sternly interposed.
"Know that a petition was presented to the King and Queen.
All here, yourself excepted, saw the King take it, in his carriage in the street,
sitting beside the Queen.
It is Defarge whom you see here, who, at the hazard of his life, darted out before
the horses, with the petition in his hand."
"And once again listen, Jacques!" said the kneeling Number Three: his fingers ever
wandering over and over those fine nerves, with a strikingly greedy air, as if he
hungered for something--that was neither
food nor drink; "the guard, horse and foot, surrounded the petitioner, and struck him
blows. You hear?"
"I hear, messieurs."
"Go on then," said Defarge.
"Again; on the other hand, they whisper at the fountain," resumed the countryman,
"that he is brought down into our country to be executed on the spot, and that he
will very certainly be executed.
They even whisper that because he has slain Monseigneur, and because Monseigneur was
the father of his tenants--serfs--what you will--he will be executed as a parricide.
One old man says at the fountain, that his right hand, armed with the knife, will be
burnt off before his face; that, into wounds which will be made in his arms, his
breast, and his legs, there will be poured
boiling oil, melted lead, hot resin, wax, and sulphur; finally, that he will be torn
limb from limb by four strong horses.
That old man says, all this was actually done to a prisoner who made an attempt on
the life of the late King, Louis Fifteen. But how do I know if he lies?
I am not a scholar."
"Listen once again then, Jacques!" said the man with the restless hand and the craving
"The name of that prisoner was Damiens, and it was all done in open day, in the open
streets of this city of Paris; and nothing was more noticed in the vast concourse that
saw it done, than the crowd of ladies of
quality and fashion, who were full of eager attention to the last--to the last,
Jacques, prolonged until nightfall, when he had lost two legs and an arm, and still
And it was done--why, how old are you?" "Thirty-five," said the mender of roads,
who looked sixty. "It was done when you were more than ten
years old; you might have seen it."
"Enough!" said Defarge, with grim impatience.
"Long live the Devil! Go on."
Some whisper this, some whisper that; they speak of nothing else; even the fountain
appears to fall to that tune.
At length, on Sunday night when all the village is asleep, come soldiers, winding
down from the prison, and their guns ring on the stones of the little street.
Workmen dig, workmen hammer, soldiers laugh and sing; in the morning, by the fountain,
there is raised a gallows forty feet high, poisoning the water."
The mender of roads looked _through_ rather than _at_ the low ceiling, and pointed as
if he saw the gallows somewhere in the sky.
"All work is stopped, all assemble there, nobody leads the cows out, the cows are
there with the rest. At midday, the roll of drums.
Soldiers have marched into the prison in the night, and he is in the midst of many
He is bound as before, and in his mouth there is a gag--tied so, with a tight
string, making him look almost as if he laughed."
He suggested it, by creasing his face with his two thumbs, from the corners of his
mouth to his ears.
"On the top of the gallows is fixed the knife, blade upwards, with its point in the
air. He is hanged there forty feet high--and is
left hanging, poisoning the water."
They looked at one another, as he used his blue cap to wipe his face, on which the
perspiration had started afresh while he recalled the spectacle.
"It is frightful, messieurs.
How can the women and the children draw water!
Who can gossip of an evening, under that shadow!
Under it, have I said?
When I left the village, Monday evening as the sun was going to bed, and looked back
from the hill, the shadow struck across the church, across the mill, across the prison-
-seemed to strike across the earth, messieurs, to where the sky rests upon it!"
The hungry man gnawed one of his fingers as he looked at the other three, and his
finger quivered with the craving that was on him.
"That's all, messieurs.
I left at sunset (as I had been warned to do), and I walked on, that night and half
next day, until I met (as I was warned I should) this comrade.
With him, I came on, now riding and now walking, through the rest of yesterday and
through last night. And here you see me!"
After a gloomy silence, the first Jacques said, "Good!
You have acted and recounted faithfully. Will you wait for us a little, outside the
"Very willingly," said the mender of roads. Whom Defarge escorted to the top of the
stairs, and, leaving seated there, returned.
The three had risen, and their heads were together when he came back to the garret.
"How say you, Jacques?" demanded Number One.
"To be registered?"
"To be registered, as doomed to destruction," returned Defarge.
"Magnificent!" croaked the man with the craving.
"The chateau, and all the race?" inquired the first.
"The chateau and all the race," returned Defarge.
The hungry man repeated, in a rapturous croak, "Magnificent!" and began gnawing
another finger.
"Are you sure," asked Jacques Two, of Defarge, "that no embarrassment can arise
from our manner of keeping the register?
Without doubt it is safe, for no one beyond ourselves can decipher it; but shall we
always be able to decipher it--or, I ought to say, will she?"
"Jacques," returned Defarge, drawing himself up, "if madame my wife undertook to
keep the register in her memory alone, she would not lose a word of it--not a syllable
of it.
Knitted, in her own stitches and her own symbols, it will always be as plain to her
as the sun. Confide in Madame Defarge.
It would be easier for the weakest poltroon that lives, to erase himself from
existence, than to erase one letter of his name or crimes from the knitted register of
Madame Defarge."
There was a murmur of confidence and approval, and then the man who hungered,
asked: "Is this rustic to be sent back soon?
I hope so.
He is very simple; is he not a little dangerous?"
"He knows nothing," said Defarge; "at least nothing more than would easily elevate
himself to a gallows of the same height.
I charge myself with him; let him remain with me; I will take care of him, and set
him on his road.
He wishes to see the fine world--the King, the Queen, and Court; let him see them on
Sunday." "What?" exclaimed the hungry man, staring.
"Is it a good sign, that he wishes to see Royalty and Nobility?"
"Jacques," said Defarge; "judiciously show a cat milk, if you wish her to thirst for
Judiciously show a dog his natural prey, if you wish him to bring it down one day."
Nothing more was said, and the mender of roads, being found already dozing on the
topmost stair, was advised to lay himself down on the pallet-bed and take some rest.
He needed no persuasion, and was soon asleep.
Worse quarters than Defarge's wine-shop, could easily have been found in Paris for a
provincial slave of that degree.
Saving for a mysterious dread of madame by which he was constantly haunted, his life
was very new and agreeable.
But, madame sat all day at her counter, so expressly unconscious of him, and so
particularly determined not to perceive that his being there had any connection
with anything below the surface, that he
shook in his wooden shoes whenever his eye lighted on her.
For, he contended with himself that it was impossible to foresee what that lady might
pretend next; and he felt assured that if she should take it into her brightly
ornamented head to pretend that she had
seen him do a murder and afterwards flay the victim, she would infallibly go through
with it until the play was played out.
Therefore, when Sunday came, the mender of roads was not enchanted (though he said he
was) to find that madame was to accompany monsieur and himself to Versailles.
It was additionally disconcerting to have madame knitting all the way there, in a
public conveyance; it was additionally disconcerting yet, to have madame in the
crowd in the afternoon, still with her
knitting in her hands as the crowd waited to see the carriage of the King and Queen.
"You work hard, madame," said a man near her.
"Yes," answered Madame Defarge; "I have a good deal to do."
"What do you make, madame?" "Many things."
"For instance--"
"For instance," returned Madame Defarge, composedly, "shrouds."
The man moved a little further away, as soon as he could, and the mender of roads
fanned himself with his blue cap: feeling it mightily close and oppressive.
If he needed a King and Queen to restore him, he was fortunate in having his remedy
at hand; for, soon the large-faced King and the fair-faced Queen came in their golden
coach, attended by the shining Bull's Eye
of their Court, a glittering multitude of laughing ladies and fine lords; and in
jewels and silks and powder and splendour and elegantly spurning figures and
handsomely disdainful faces of both sexes,
the mender of roads bathed himself, so much to his temporary intoxication, that he
cried Long live the King, Long live the Queen, Long live everybody and everything!
as if he had never heard of ubiquitous Jacques in his time.
Then, there were gardens, courtyards, terraces, fountains, green banks, more King
and Queen, more Bull's Eye, more lords and ladies, more Long live they all! until he
absolutely wept with sentiment.
During the whole of this scene, which lasted some three hours, he had plenty of
shouting and weeping and sentimental company, and throughout Defarge held him by
the collar, as if to restrain him from
flying at the objects of his brief devotion and tearing them to pieces.
"Bravo!" said Defarge, clapping him on the back when it was over, like a patron; "you
are a good boy!"
The mender of roads was now coming to himself, and was mistrustful of having made
a mistake in his late demonstrations; but no.
"You are the fellow we want," said Defarge, in his ear; "you make these fools believe
that it will last for ever. Then, they are the more insolent, and it is
the nearer ended."
"Hey!" cried the mender of roads, reflectively; "that's true."
"These fools know nothing.
While they despise your breath, and would stop it for ever and ever, in you or in a
hundred like you rather than in one of their own horses or dogs, they only know
what your breath tells them.
Let it deceive them, then, a little longer; it cannot deceive them too much."
Madame Defarge looked superciliously at the client, and nodded in confirmation.
"As to you," said she, "you would shout and shed tears for anything, if it made a show
and a noise. Say! Would you not?"
"Truly, madame, I think so.
For the moment."
"If you were shown a great heap of dolls, and were set upon them to pluck them to
pieces and despoil them for your own advantage, you would pick out the richest
and gayest.
Say! Would you not?" "Truly yes, madame."
"Yes. And if you were shown a flock of birds, unable to fly, and were set upon
them to strip them of their feathers for your own advantage, you would set upon the
birds of the finest feathers; would you not?"
"It is true, madame."
"You have seen both dolls and birds to- day," said Madame Defarge, with a wave of
her hand towards the place where they had last been apparent; "now, go home!"
Book the Second: The Golden Thread Chapter XVI.
Still Knitting
Madame Defarge and monsieur her husband returned amicably to the bosom of Saint
Antoine, while a speck in a blue cap toiled through the darkness, and through the dust,
and down the weary miles of avenue by the
wayside, slowly tending towards that point of the compass where the chateau of
Monsieur the Marquis, now in his grave, listened to the whispering trees.
Such ample leisure had the stone faces, now, for listening to the trees and to the
fountain, that the few village scarecrows who, in their quest for herbs to eat and
fragments of dead stick to burn, strayed
within sight of the great stone courtyard and terrace staircase, had it borne in upon
their starved fancy that the expression of the faces was altered.
A rumour just lived in the village--had a faint and bare existence there, as its
people had--that when the knife struck home, the faces changed, from faces of
pride to faces of anger and pain; also,
that when that dangling figure was hauled up forty feet above the fountain, they
changed again, and bore a cruel look of being avenged, which they would henceforth
bear for ever.
In the stone face over the great window of the bed-chamber where the murder was done,
two fine dints were pointed out in the sculptured nose, which everybody
recognised, and which nobody had seen of
old; and on the scarce occasions when two or three ragged peasants emerged from the
crowd to take a hurried peep at Monsieur the Marquis petrified, a skinny finger
would not have pointed to it for a minute,
before they all started away among the moss and leaves, like the more fortunate hares
who could find a living there.
Chateau and hut, stone face and dangling figure, the red stain on the stone floor,
and the pure water in the village well-- thousands of acres of land--a whole
province of France--all France itself--lay
under the night sky, concentrated into a faint hair-breadth line.
So does a whole world, with all its greatnesses and littlenesses, lie in a
twinkling star.
And as mere human knowledge can split a ray of light and analyse the manner of its
composition, so, sublimer intelligences may read in the feeble shining of this earth of
ours, every thought and act, every vice and
virtue, of every responsible creature on it.
The Defarges, husband and wife, came lumbering under the starlight, in their
public vehicle, to that gate of Paris whereunto their journey naturally tended.
There was the usual stoppage at the barrier guardhouse, and the usual lanterns came
glancing forth for the usual examination and inquiry.
Monsieur Defarge alighted; knowing one or two of the soldiery there, and one of the
police. The latter he was intimate with, and
affectionately embraced.
When Saint Antoine had again enfolded the Defarges in his dusky wings, and they,
having finally alighted near the Saint's boundaries, were picking their way on foot
through the black mud and offal of his
streets, Madame Defarge spoke to her husband:
"Say then, my friend; what did Jacques of the police tell thee?"
"Very little to-night, but all he knows.
There is another spy commissioned for our quarter.
There may be many more, for all that he can say, but he knows of one."
"Eh well!" said Madame Defarge, raising her eyebrows with a cool business air.
"It is necessary to register him. How do they call that man?"
"He is English."
"So much the better. His name?"
"Barsad," said Defarge, making it French by pronunciation.
But, he had been so careful to get it accurately, that he then spelt it with
perfect correctness. "Barsad," repeated madame.
Christian name?" "John."
"John Barsad," repeated madame, after murmuring it once to herself.
His appearance; is it known?"
"Age, about forty years; height, about five feet nine; black hair; complexion dark;
generally, rather handsome visage; eyes dark, face thin, long, and sallow; nose
aquiline, but not straight, having a
peculiar inclination towards the left cheek; expression, therefore, sinister."
"Eh my faith. It is a portrait!" said madame, laughing.
"He shall be registered to-morrow."
They turned into the wine-shop, which was closed (for it was midnight), and where
Madame Defarge immediately took her post at her desk, counted the small moneys that had
been taken during her absence, examined the
stock, went through the entries in the book, made other entries of her own,
checked the serving man in every possible way, and finally dismissed him to bed.
Then she turned out the contents of the bowl of money for the second time, and
began knotting them up in her handkerchief, in a chain of separate knots, for safe
keeping through the night.
All this while, Defarge, with his pipe in his mouth, walked up and down, complacently
admiring, but never interfering; in which condition, indeed, as to the business and
his domestic affairs, he walked up and down through life.
The night was hot, and the shop, close shut and surrounded by so foul a neighbourhood,
was ill-smelling.
Monsieur Defarge's olfactory sense was by no means delicate, but the stock of wine
smelt much stronger than it ever tasted, and so did the stock of rum and brandy and
He whiffed the compound of scents away, as he put down his smoked-out pipe.
"You are fatigued," said madame, raising her glance as she knotted the money.
"There are only the usual odours."
"I am a little tired," her husband acknowledged.
"You are a little depressed, too," said madame, whose quick eyes had never been so
intent on the accounts, but they had had a ray or two for him.
"Oh, the men, the men!"
"But my dear!" began Defarge. "But my dear!" repeated madame, nodding
firmly; "but my dear! You are faint of heart to-night, my dear!"
"Well, then," said Defarge, as if a thought were wrung out of his breast, "it _is_ a
long time." "It is a long time," repeated his wife;
"and when is it not a long time?
Vengeance and retribution require a long time; it is the rule."
"It does not take a long time to strike a man with Lightning," said Defarge.
"How long," demanded madame, composedly, "does it take to make and store the
lightning? Tell me."
Defarge raised his head thoughtfully, as if there were something in that too.
"It does not take a long time," said madame, "for an earthquake to swallow a
Eh well! Tell me how long it takes to prepare the
earthquake?" "A long time, I suppose," said Defarge.
"But when it is ready, it takes place, and grinds to pieces everything before it.
In the meantime, it is always preparing, though it is not seen or heard.
That is your consolation.
Keep it." She tied a knot with flashing eyes, as if
it throttled a foe.
"I tell thee," said madame, extending her right hand, for emphasis, "that although it
is a long time on the road, it is on the road and coming.
I tell thee it never retreats, and never stops.
I tell thee it is always advancing.
Look around and consider the lives of all the world that we know, consider the faces
of all the world that we know, consider the rage and discontent to which the Jacquerie
addresses itself with more and more of certainty every hour.
Can such things last? Bah! I mock you."
"My brave wife," returned Defarge, standing before her with his head a little bent, and
his hands clasped at his back, like a docile and attentive pupil before his
catechist, "I do not question all this.
But it has lasted a long time, and it is possible--you know well, my wife, it is
possible--that it may not come, during our lives."
"Eh well!
How then?" demanded madame, tying another knot, as if there were another enemy
strangled. "Well!" said Defarge, with a half
complaining and half apologetic shrug.
"We shall not see the triumph." "We shall have helped it," returned madame,
with her extended hand in strong action. "Nothing that we do, is done in vain.
I believe, with all my soul, that we shall see the triumph.
But even if not, even if I knew certainly not, show me the neck of an aristocrat and
tyrant, and still I would--"
Then madame, with her teeth set, tied a very terrible knot indeed.
"Hold!" cried Defarge, reddening a little as if he felt charged with cowardice; "I
too, my dear, will stop at nothing."
"Yes! But it is your weakness that you sometimes need to see your victim and your
opportunity, to sustain you. Sustain yourself without that.
When the time comes, let loose a tiger and a devil; but wait for the time with the
tiger and the devil chained--not shown--yet always ready."
Madame enforced the conclusion of this piece of advice by striking her little
counter with her chain of money as if she knocked its brains out, and then gathering
the heavy handkerchief under her arm in a
serene manner, and observing that it was time to go to bed.
Next noontide saw the admirable woman in her usual place in the wine-shop, knitting
away assiduously.
A rose lay beside her, and if she now and then glanced at the flower, it was with no
infraction of her usual preoccupied air.
There were a few customers, drinking or not drinking, standing or seated, sprinkled
The day was very hot, and heaps of flies, who were extending their inquisitive and
adventurous perquisitions into all the glutinous little glasses near madame, fell
dead at the bottom.
Their decease made no impression on the other flies out promenading, who looked at
them in the coolest manner (as if they themselves were elephants, or something as
far removed), until they met the same fate.
Curious to consider how heedless flies are!--perhaps they thought as much at Court
that sunny summer day.
A figure entering at the door threw a shadow on Madame Defarge which she felt to
be a new one.
She laid down her knitting, and began to pin her rose in her head-dress, before she
looked at the figure. It was curious.
The moment Madame Defarge took up the rose, the customers ceased talking, and began
gradually to drop out of the wine-shop. "Good day, madame," said the new-comer.
"Good day, monsieur."
She said it aloud, but added to herself, as she resumed her knitting: "Hah! Good day,
age about forty, height about five feet nine, black hair, generally rather handsome
visage, complexion dark, eyes dark, thin,
long and sallow face, aquiline nose but not straight, having a peculiar inclination
towards the left cheek which imparts a sinister expression!
Good day, one and all!"
"Have the goodness to give me a little glass of old cognac, and a mouthful of cool
fresh water, madame." Madame complied with a polite air.
"Marvellous cognac this, madame!"
It was the first time it had ever been so complimented, and Madame Defarge knew
enough of its antecedents to know better. She said, however, that the cognac was
flattered, and took up her knitting.
The visitor watched her fingers for a few moments, and took the opportunity of
observing the place in general. "You knit with great skill, madame."
"I am accustomed to it."
"A pretty pattern too!" "_You_ think so?" said madame, looking at
him with a smile. "Decidedly.
May one ask what it is for?"
"Pastime," said madame, still looking at him with a smile while her fingers moved
nimbly. "Not for use?"
"That depends.
I may find a use for it one day. If I do--Well," said madame, drawing a
breath and nodding her head with a stern kind of coquetry, "I'll use it!"
It was remarkable; but, the taste of Saint Antoine seemed to be decidedly opposed to a
rose on the head-dress of Madame Defarge.
Two men had entered separately, and had been about to order drink, when, catching
sight of that novelty, they faltered, made a pretence of looking about as if for some
friend who was not there, and went away.
Nor, of those who had been there when this visitor entered, was there one left.
They had all dropped off. The spy had kept his eyes open, but had
been able to detect no sign.
They had lounged away in a poverty- stricken, purposeless, accidental manner,
quite natural and unimpeachable.
"_John_," thought madame, checking off her work as her fingers knitted, and her eyes
looked at the stranger. "Stay long enough, and I shall knit
'BARSAD' before you go."
"You have a husband, madame?" "I have."
"Children?" "No children."
"Business seems bad?"
"Business is very bad; the people are so poor."
"Ah, the unfortunate, miserable people! So oppressed, too--as you say."
"As _you_ say," madame retorted, correcting him, and deftly knitting an extra something
into his name that boded him no good. "Pardon me; certainly it was I who said so,
but you naturally think so.
Of course." "_I_ think?" returned madame, in a high
voice. "I and my husband have enough to do to keep
this wine-shop open, without thinking.
All we think, here, is how to live. That is the subject _we_ think of, and it
gives us, from morning to night, enough to think about, without embarrassing our heads
concerning others.
_I_ think for others? No, no."
The spy, who was there to pick up any crumbs he could find or make, did not allow
his baffled state to express itself in his sinister face; but, stood with an air of
gossiping gallantry, leaning his elbow on
Madame Defarge's little counter, and occasionally sipping his cognac.
"A bad business this, madame, of Gaspard's execution.
Ah! the poor Gaspard!"
With a sigh of great compassion. "My faith!" returned madame, coolly and
lightly, "if people use knives for such purposes, they have to pay for it.
He knew beforehand what the price of his luxury was; he has paid the price."
"I believe," said the spy, dropping his soft voice to a tone that invited
confidence, and expressing an injured revolutionary susceptibility in every
muscle of his wicked face: "I believe there
is much compassion and anger in this neighbourhood, touching the poor fellow?
Between ourselves." "Is there?" asked madame, vacantly.
"Is there not?"
"--Here is my husband!" said Madame Defarge.
As the keeper of the wine-shop entered at the door, the spy saluted him by touching
his hat, and saying, with an engaging smile, "Good day, Jacques!"
Defarge stopped short, and stared at him.
"Good day, Jacques!" the spy repeated; with not quite so much confidence, or quite so
easy a smile under the stare. "You deceive yourself, monsieur," returned
the keeper of the wine-shop.
"You mistake me for another. That is not my name.
I am Ernest Defarge." "It is all the same," said the spy, airily,
but discomfited too: "good day!"
"Good day!" answered Defarge, drily.
"I was saying to madame, with whom I had the pleasure of chatting when you entered,
that they tell me there is--and no wonder!- -much sympathy and anger in Saint Antoine,
touching the unhappy fate of poor Gaspard."
"No one has told me so," said Defarge, shaking his head.
"I know nothing of it."
Having said it, he passed behind the little counter, and stood with his hand on the
back of his wife's chair, looking over that barrier at the person to whom they were
both opposed, and whom either of them would have shot with the greatest satisfaction.
The spy, well used to his business, did not change his unconscious attitude, but
drained his little glass of cognac, took a sip of fresh water, and asked for another
glass of cognac.
Madame Defarge poured it out for him, took to her knitting again, and hummed a little
song over it.
"You seem to know this quarter well; that is to say, better than I do?" observed
Defarge. "Not at all, but I hope to know it better.
I am so profoundly interested in its miserable inhabitants."
"Hah!" muttered Defarge.
"The pleasure of conversing with you, Monsieur Defarge, recalls to me," pursued
the spy, "that I have the honour of cherishing some interesting associations
with your name."
"Indeed!" said Defarge, with much indifference.
"Yes, indeed.
When Doctor Manette was released, you, his old domestic, had the charge of him, I
know. He was delivered to you.
You see I am informed of the circumstances?"
"Such is the fact, certainly," said Defarge.
He had had it conveyed to him, in an accidental touch of his wife's elbow as she
knitted and warbled, that he would do best to answer, but always with brevity.
"It was to you," said the spy, "that his daughter came; and it was from your care
that his daughter took him, accompanied by a neat brown monsieur; how is he called?--
in a little wig--Lorry--of the bank of Tellson and Company--over to England."
"Such is the fact," repeated Defarge. "Very interesting remembrances!" said the
"I have known Doctor Manette and his daughter, in England."
"Yes?" said Defarge. "You don't hear much about them now?" said
the spy.
"No," said Defarge. "In effect," madame struck in, looking up
from her work and her little song, "we never hear about them.
We received the news of their safe arrival, and perhaps another letter, or perhaps two;
but, since then, they have gradually taken their road in life--we, ours--and we have
held no correspondence."
"Perfectly so, madame," replied the spy. "She is going to be married."
"Going?" echoed madame. "She was pretty enough to have been married
long ago.
You English are cold, it seems to me." "Oh! You know I am English."
"I perceive your tongue is," returned madame; "and what the tongue is, I suppose
the man is."
He did not take the identification as a compliment; but he made the best of it, and
turned it off with a laugh. After sipping his cognac to the end, he
"Yes, Miss Manette is going to be married. But not to an Englishman; to one who, like
herself, is French by birth. And speaking of Gaspard (ah, poor Gaspard!
It was cruel, cruel!), it is a curious thing that she is going to marry the nephew
of Monsieur the Marquis, for whom Gaspard was exalted to that height of so many feet;
in other words, the present Marquis.
But he lives unknown in England, he is no Marquis there; he is Mr. Charles Darnay.
D'Aulnais is the name of his mother's family."
Madame Defarge knitted steadily, but the intelligence had a palpable effect upon her
Do what he would, behind the little counter, as to the striking of a light and
the lighting of his pipe, he was troubled, and his hand was not trustworthy.
The spy would have been no spy if he had failed to see it, or to record it in his
Having made, at least, this one hit, whatever it might prove to be worth, and no
customers coming in to help him to any other, Mr. Barsad paid for what he had
drunk, and took his leave: taking occasion
to say, in a genteel manner, before he departed, that he looked forward to the
pleasure of seeing Monsieur and Madame Defarge again.
For some minutes after he had emerged into the outer presence of Saint Antoine, the
husband and wife remained exactly as he had left them, lest he should come back.
"Can it be true," said Defarge, in a low voice, looking down at his wife as he stood
smoking with his hand on the back of her chair: "what he has said of Ma'amselle
"As he has said it," returned madame, lifting her eyebrows a little, "it is
probably false. But it may be true."
"If it is--" Defarge began, and stopped.
"If it is?" repeated his wife. "--And if it does come, while we live to
see it triumph--I hope, for her sake, Destiny will keep her husband out of
"Her husband's destiny," said Madame Defarge, with her usual composure, "will
take him where he is to go, and will lead him to the end that is to end him.
That is all I know."
"But it is very strange--now, at least, is it not very strange"--said Defarge, rather
pleading with his wife to induce her to admit it, "that, after all our sympathy for
Monsieur her father, and herself, her
husband's name should be proscribed under your hand at this moment, by the side of
that infernal dog's who has just left us?" "Stranger things than that will happen when
it does come," answered madame.
"I have them both here, of a certainty; and they are both here for their merits; that
is enough."
She rolled up her knitting when she had said those words, and presently took the
rose out of the handkerchief that was wound about her head.
Either Saint Antoine had an instinctive sense that the objectionable decoration was
gone, or Saint Antoine was on the watch for its disappearance; howbeit, the Saint took
courage to lounge in, very shortly
afterwards, and the wine-shop recovered its habitual aspect.
In the evening, at which season of all others Saint Antoine turned himself inside
out, and sat on door-steps and window- ledges, and came to the corners of vile
streets and courts, for a breath of air,
Madame Defarge with her work in her hand was accustomed to pass from place to place
and from group to group: a Missionary-- there were many like her--such as the world
will do well never to breed again.
All the women knitted.
They knitted worthless things; but, the mechanical work was a mechanical substitute
for eating and drinking; the hands moved for the jaws and the digestive apparatus:
if the bony fingers had been still, the
stomachs would have been more famine- pinched.
But, as the fingers went, the eyes went, and the thoughts.
And as Madame Defarge moved on from group to group, all three went quicker and
fiercer among every little knot of women that she had spoken with, and left behind.
Her husband smoked at his door, looking after her with admiration.
"A great woman," said he, "a strong woman, a grand woman, a frightfully grand woman!"
Darkness closed around, and then came the ringing of church bells and the distant
beating of the military drums in the Palace Courtyard, as the women sat knitting,
Darkness encompassed them.
Another darkness was closing in as surely, when the church bells, then ringing
pleasantly in many an airy steeple over France, should be melted into thundering
cannon; when the military drums should be
beating to drown a wretched voice, that night all potent as the voice of Power and
Plenty, Freedom and Life.
So much was closing in about the women who sat knitting, knitting, that they their
very selves were closing in around a structure yet unbuilt, where they were to
sit knitting, knitting, counting dropping heads.
Book the Second: The Golden Thread Chapter XVII.
One Night
Never did the sun go down with a brighter glory on the quiet corner in Soho, than one
memorable evening when the Doctor and his daughter sat under the plane-tree together.
Never did the moon rise with a milder radiance over great London, than on that
night when it found them still seated under the tree, and shone upon their faces
through its leaves.
Lucie was to be married to-morrow. She had reserved this last evening for her
father, and they sat alone under the plane- tree.
"You are happy, my dear father?"
"Quite, my child." They had said little, though they had been
there a long time.
When it was yet light enough to work and read, she had neither engaged herself in
her usual work, nor had she read to him.
She had employed herself in both ways, at his side under the tree, many and many a
time; but, this time was not quite like any other, and nothing could make it so.
"And I am very happy to-night, dear father.
I am deeply happy in the love that Heaven has so blessed--my love for Charles, and
Charles's love for me.
But, if my life were not to be still consecrated to you, or if my marriage were
so arranged as that it would part us, even by the length of a few of these streets, I
should be more unhappy and self-reproachful now than I can tell you.
Even as it is--" Even as it was, she could not command her
In the sad moonlight, she clasped him by the neck, and laid her face upon his
In the moonlight which is always sad, as the light of the sun itself is--as the
light called human life is--at its coming and its going.
"Dearest dear!
Can you tell me, this last time, that you feel quite, quite sure, no new affections
of mine, and no new duties of mine, will ever interpose between us?
_I_ know it well, but do you know it?
In your own heart, do you feel quite certain?"
Her father answered, with a cheerful firmness of conviction he could scarcely
have assumed, "Quite sure, my darling!
More than that," he added, as he tenderly kissed her: "my future is far brighter,
Lucie, seen through your marriage, than it could have been--nay, than it ever was--
without it."
"If I could hope _that_, my father!--" "Believe it, love!
Indeed it is so. Consider how natural and how plain it is,
my dear, that it should be so.
You, devoted and young, cannot fully appreciate the anxiety I have felt that
your life should not be wasted--" She moved her hand towards his lips, but he
took it in his, and repeated the word.
"--wasted, my child--should not be wasted, struck aside from the natural order of
things--for my sake.
Your unselfishness cannot entirely comprehend how much my mind has gone on
this; but, only ask yourself, how could my happiness be perfect, while yours was
"If I had never seen Charles, my father, I should have been quite happy with you."
He smiled at her unconscious admission that she would have been unhappy without
Charles, having seen him; and replied:
"My child, you did see him, and it is Charles.
If it had not been Charles, it would have been another.
Or, if it had been no other, I should have been the cause, and then the dark part of
my life would have cast its shadow beyond myself, and would have fallen on you."
It was the first time, except at the trial, of her ever hearing him refer to the period
of his suffering.
It gave her a strange and new sensation while his words were in her ears; and she
remembered it long afterwards. "See!" said the Doctor of Beauvais, raising
his hand towards the moon.
"I have looked at her from my prison- window, when I could not bear her light.
I have looked at her when it has been such torture to me to think of her shining upon
what I had lost, that I have beaten my head against my prison-walls.
I have looked at her, in a state so dull and lethargic, that I have thought of
nothing but the number of horizontal lines I could draw across her at the full, and
the number of perpendicular lines with which I could intersect them."
He added in his inward and pondering manner, as he looked at the moon, "It was
twenty either way, I remember, and the twentieth was difficult to squeeze in."
The strange thrill with which she heard him go back to that time, deepened as he dwelt
upon it; but, there was nothing to shock her in the manner of his reference.
He only seemed to contrast his present cheerfulness and felicity with the dire
endurance that was over.
"I have looked at her, speculating thousands of times upon the unborn child
from whom I had been rent. Whether it was alive.
Whether it had been born alive, or the poor mother's shock had killed it.
Whether it was a son who would some day avenge his father.
(There was a time in my imprisonment, when my desire for vengeance was unbearable.)
Whether it was a son who would never know his father's story; who might even live to
weigh the possibility of his father's having disappeared of his own will and act.
Whether it was a daughter who would grow to be a woman."
She drew closer to him, and kissed his cheek and his hand.
"I have pictured my daughter, to myself, as perfectly forgetful of me--rather,
altogether ignorant of me, and unconscious of me.
I have cast up the years of her age, year after year.
I have seen her married to a man who knew nothing of my fate.
I have altogether perished from the remembrance of the living, and in the next
generation my place was a blank." "My father!
Even to hear that you had such thoughts of a daughter who never existed, strikes to my
heart as if I had been that child." "You, Lucie?
It is out of the Consolation and restoration you have brought to me, that
these remembrances arise, and pass between us and the moon on this last night.--What
did I say just now?"
"She knew nothing of you. She cared nothing for you."
"So! But on other moonlight nights, when the sadness and the silence have touched me
in a different way--have affected me with something as like a sorrowful sense of
peace, as any emotion that had pain for its
foundations could--I have imagined her as coming to me in my cell, and leading me out
into the freedom beyond the fortress.
I have seen her image in the moonlight often, as I now see you; except that I
never held her in my arms; it stood between the little grated window and the door.
But, you understand that that was not the child I am speaking of?"
"The figure was not; the--the--image; the fancy?"
"No. That was another thing.
It stood before my disturbed sense of sight, but it never moved.
The phantom that my mind pursued, was another and more real child.
Of her outward appearance I know no more than that she was like her mother.
The other had that likeness too--as you have--but was not the same.
Can you follow me, Lucie?
Hardly, I think? I doubt you must have been a solitary
prisoner to understand these perplexed distinctions."
His collected and calm manner could not prevent her blood from running cold, as he
thus tried to anatomise his old condition.
"In that more peaceful state, I have imagined her, in the moonlight, coming to
me and taking me out to show me that the home of her married life was full of her
loving remembrance of her lost father.
My picture was in her room, and I was in her prayers.
Her life was active, cheerful, useful; but my poor history pervaded it all."
"I was that child, my father, I was not half so good, but in my love that was I."
"And she showed me her children," said the Doctor of Beauvais, "and they had heard of
me, and had been taught to pity me.
When they passed a prison of the State, they kept far from its frowning walls, and
looked up at its bars, and spoke in whispers.
She could never deliver me; I imagined that she always brought me back after showing me
such things. But then, blessed with the relief of tears,
I fell upon my knees, and blessed her."
"I am that child, I hope, my father. O my dear, my dear, will you bless me as
fervently to-morrow?"
"Lucie, I recall these old troubles in the reason that I have to-night for loving you
better than words can tell, and thanking God for my great happiness.
My thoughts, when they were wildest, never rose near the happiness that I have known
with you, and that we have before us."
He embraced her, solemnly commended her to Heaven, and humbly thanked Heaven for
having bestowed her on him. By-and-bye, they went into the house.
There was no one bidden to the marriage but Mr. Lorry; there was even to be no
bridesmaid but the gaunt Miss Pross.
The marriage was to make no change in their place of residence; they had been able to
extend it, by taking to themselves the upper rooms formerly belonging to the
apocryphal invisible lodger, and they desired nothing more.
Doctor Manette was very cheerful at the little supper.
They were only three at table, and Miss Pross made the third.
He regretted that Charles was not there; was more than half disposed to object to
the loving little plot that kept him away; and drank to him affectionately.
So, the time came for him to bid Lucie good night, and they separated.
But, in the stillness of the third hour of the morning, Lucie came downstairs again,
and stole into his room; not free from unshaped fears, beforehand.
All things, however, were in their places; all was quiet; and he lay asleep, his white
hair picturesque on the untroubled pillow, and his hands lying quiet on the coverlet.
She put her needless candle in the shadow at a distance, crept up to his bed, and put
her lips to his; then, leaned over him, and looked at him.
Into his handsome face, the bitter waters of captivity had worn; but, he covered up
their tracks with a determination so strong, that he held the mastery of them
even in his sleep.
A more remarkable face in its quiet, resolute, and guarded struggle with an
unseen assailant, was not to be beheld in all the wide dominions of sleep, that
She timidly laid her hand on his dear breast, and put up a prayer that she might
ever be as true to him as her love aspired to be, and as his sorrows deserved.
Then, she withdrew her hand, and kissed his lips once more, and went away.
So, the sunrise came, and the shadows of the leaves of the plane-tree moved upon his
face, as softly as her lips had moved in praying for him.
Book the Second: The Golden Thread Chapter XVIII.
Nine Days
The marriage-day was shining brightly, and they were ready outside the closed door of
the Doctor's room, where he was speaking with Charles Darnay.
They were ready to go to church; the beautiful bride, Mr. Lorry, and Miss Pross-
-to whom the event, through a gradual process of reconcilement to the inevitable,
would have been one of absolute bliss, but
for the yet lingering consideration that her brother Solomon should have been the
"And so," said Mr. Lorry, who could not sufficiently admire the bride, and who had
been moving round her to take in every point of her quiet, pretty dress; "and so
it was for this, my sweet Lucie, that I
brought you across the Channel, such a baby!
Lord bless me! How little I thought what I was doing!
How lightly I valued the obligation I was conferring on my friend Mr. Charles!"
"You didn't mean it," remarked the matter- of-fact Miss Pross, "and therefore how
could you know it?
Nonsense!" "Really?
Well; but don't cry," said the gentle Mr. Lorry.
"I am not crying," said Miss Pross; "_you_ are."
"I, my Pross?" (By this time, Mr. Lorry dared to be
pleasant with her, on occasion.)
"You were, just now; I saw you do it, and I don't wonder at it.
Such a present of plate as you have made 'em, is enough to bring tears into
anybody's eyes.
There's not a fork or a spoon in the collection," said Miss Pross, "that I
didn't cry over, last night after the box came, till I couldn't see it."
"I am highly gratified," said Mr. Lorry, "though, upon my honour, I had no intention
of rendering those trifling articles of remembrance invisible to any one.
Dear me!
This is an occasion that makes a man speculate on all he has lost.
Dear, dear, dear! To think that there might have been a Mrs.
Lorry, any time these fifty years almost!"
"Not at all!" From Miss Pross.
"You think there never might have been a Mrs. Lorry?" asked the gentleman of that
"Pooh!" rejoined Miss Pross; "you were a bachelor in your cradle."
"Well!" observed Mr. Lorry, beamingly adjusting his little wig, "that seems
probable, too."
"And you were cut out for a bachelor," pursued Miss Pross, "before you were put in
your cradle."
"Then, I think," said Mr. Lorry, "that I was very unhandsomely dealt with, and that
I ought to have had a voice in the selection of my pattern.
Now, my dear Lucie," drawing his arm soothingly round her waist, "I hear them
moving in the next room, and Miss Pross and I, as two formal folks of business, are
anxious not to lose the final opportunity
of saying something to you that you wish to hear.
You leave your good father, my dear, in hands as earnest and as loving as your own;
he shall be taken every conceivable care of; during the next fortnight, while you
are in Warwickshire and thereabouts, even
Tellson's shall go to the wall (comparatively speaking) before him.
And when, at the fortnight's end, he comes to join you and your beloved husband, on
your other fortnight's trip in Wales, you shall say that we have sent him to you in
the best health and in the happiest frame.
Now, I hear Somebody's step coming to the door.
Let me kiss my dear girl with an old- fashioned bachelor blessing, before
Somebody comes to claim his own."
For a moment, he held the fair face from him to look at the well-remembered
expression on the forehead, and then laid the bright golden hair against his little
brown wig, with a genuine tenderness and
delicacy which, if such things be old- fashioned, were as old as Adam.
The door of the Doctor's room opened, and he came out with Charles Darnay.
He was so deadly pale--which had not been the case when they went in together--that
no vestige of colour was to be seen in his face.
But, in the composure of his manner he was unaltered, except that to the shrewd glance
of Mr. Lorry it disclosed some shadowy indication that the old air of avoidance
and dread had lately passed over him, like a cold wind.
He gave his arm to his daughter, and took her down-stairs to the chariot which Mr.
Lorry had hired in honour of the day.
The rest followed in another carriage, and soon, in a neighbouring church, where no
strange eyes looked on, Charles Darnay and Lucie Manette were happily married.
Besides the glancing tears that shone among the smiles of the little group when it was
done, some diamonds, very bright and sparkling, glanced on the bride's hand,
which were newly released from the dark obscurity of one of Mr. Lorry's pockets.
They returned home to breakfast, and all went well, and in due course the golden
hair that had mingled with the poor shoemaker's white locks in the Paris
garret, were mingled with them again in the
morning sunlight, on the threshold of the door at parting.
It was a hard parting, though it was not for long.
But her father cheered her, and said at last, gently disengaging himself from her
enfolding arms, "Take her, Charles! She is yours!"
And her agitated hand waved to them from a chaise window, and she was gone.
The corner being out of the way of the idle and curious, and the preparations having
been very simple and few, the Doctor, Mr. Lorry, and Miss Pross, were left quite
It was when they turned into the welcome shade of the cool old hall, that Mr. Lorry
observed a great change to have come over the Doctor; as if the golden arm uplifted
there, had struck him a poisoned blow.
He had naturally repressed much, and some revulsion might have been expected in him
when the occasion for repression was gone.
But, it was the old scared lost look that troubled Mr. Lorry; and through his absent
manner of clasping his head and drearily wandering away into his own room when they
got up-stairs, Mr. Lorry was reminded of
Defarge the wine-shop keeper, and the starlight ride.
"I think," he whispered to Miss Pross, after anxious consideration, "I think we
had best not speak to him just now, or at all disturb him.
I must look in at Tellson's; so I will go there at once and come back presently.
Then, we will take him a ride into the country, and dine there, and all will be
It was easier for Mr. Lorry to look in at Tellson's, than to look out of Tellson's.
He was detained two hours.
When he came back, he ascended the old staircase alone, having asked no question
of the servant; going thus into the Doctor's rooms, he was stopped by a low
sound of knocking.
"Good God!" he said, with a start. "What's that?"
Miss Pross, with a terrified face, was at his ear.
"O me, O me!
All is lost!" cried she, wringing her hands.
"What is to be told to Ladybird? He doesn't know me, and is making shoes!"
Mr. Lorry said what he could to calm her, and went himself into the Doctor's room.
The bench was turned towards the light, as it had been when he had seen the shoemaker
at his work before, and his head was bent down, and he was very busy.
"Doctor Manette.
My dear friend, Doctor Manette!" The Doctor looked at him for a moment--half
inquiringly, half as if he were angry at being spoken to--and bent over his work
He had laid aside his coat and waistcoat; his shirt was open at the throat, as it
used to be when he did that work; and even the old haggard, faded surface of face had
come back to him.
He worked hard--impatiently--as if in some sense of having been interrupted.
Mr. Lorry glanced at the work in his hand, and observed that it was a shoe of the old
size and shape.
He took up another that was lying by him, and asked what it was.
"A young lady's walking shoe," he muttered, without looking up.
"It ought to have been finished long ago.
Let it be." "But, Doctor Manette.
Look at me!"
He obeyed, in the old mechanically submissive manner, without pausing in his
work. "You know me, my dear friend?
Think again.
This is not your proper occupation. Think, dear friend!"
Nothing would induce him to speak more.
He looked up, for an instant at a time, when he was requested to do so; but, no
persuasion would extract a word from him.
He worked, and worked, and worked, in silence, and words fell on him as they
would have fallen on an echoless wall, or on the air.
The only ray of hope that Mr. Lorry could discover, was, that he sometimes furtively
looked up without being asked.
In that, there seemed a faint expression of curiosity or perplexity--as though he were
trying to reconcile some doubts in his mind.
Two things at once impressed themselves on Mr. Lorry, as important above all others;
the first, that this must be kept secret from Lucie; the second, that it must be
kept secret from all who knew him.
In conjunction with Miss Pross, he took immediate steps towards the latter
precaution, by giving out that the Doctor was not well, and required a few days of
complete rest.
In aid of the kind deception to be practised on his daughter, Miss Pross was
to write, describing his having been called away professionally, and referring to an
imaginary letter of two or three hurried
lines in his own hand, represented to have been addressed to her by the same post.
These measures, advisable to be taken in any case, Mr. Lorry took in the hope of his
coming to himself.
If that should happen soon, he kept another course in reserve; which was, to have a
certain opinion that he thought the best, on the Doctor's case.
In the hope of his recovery, and of resort to this third course being thereby rendered
practicable, Mr. Lorry resolved to watch him attentively, with as little appearance
as possible of doing so.
He therefore made arrangements to absent himself from Tellson's for the first time
in his life, and took his post by the window in the same room.
He was not long in discovering that it was worse than useless to speak to him, since,
on being pressed, he became worried.
He abandoned that attempt on the first day, and resolved merely to keep himself always
before him, as a silent protest against the delusion into which he had fallen, or was
He remained, therefore, in his seat near the window, reading and writing, and
expressing in as many pleasant and natural ways as he could think of, that it was a
free place.
Doctor Manette took what was given him to eat and drink, and worked on, that first
day, until it was too dark to see--worked on, half an hour after Mr. Lorry could not
have seen, for his life, to read or write.
When he put his tools aside as useless, until morning, Mr. Lorry rose and said to
him: "Will you go out?"
He looked down at the floor on either side of him in the old manner, looked up in the
old manner, and repeated in the old low voice:
"Yes; for a walk with me. Why not?"
He made no effort to say why not, and said not a word more.
But, Mr. Lorry thought he saw, as he leaned forward on his bench in the dusk, with his
elbows on his knees and his head in his hands, that he was in some misty way asking
himself, "Why not?"
The sagacity of the man of business perceived an advantage here, and determined
to hold it.
Miss Pross and he divided the night into two watches, and observed him at intervals
from the adjoining room.
He paced up and down for a long time before he lay down; but, when he did finally lay
himself down, he fell asleep. In the morning, he was up betimes, and went
straight to his bench and to work.
On this second day, Mr. Lorry saluted him cheerfully by his name, and spoke to him on
topics that had been of late familiar to them.
He returned no reply, but it was evident that he heard what was said, and that he
thought about it, however confusedly.
This encouraged Mr. Lorry to have Miss Pross in with her work, several times
during the day; at those times, they quietly spoke of Lucie, and of her father
then present, precisely in the usual manner, and as if there were nothing amiss.
This was done without any demonstrative accompaniment, not long enough, or often
enough to harass him; and it lightened Mr. Lorry's friendly heart to believe that he
looked up oftener, and that he appeared to
be stirred by some perception of inconsistencies surrounding him.
When it fell dark again, Mr. Lorry asked him as before:
"Dear Doctor, will you go out?"
As before, he repeated, "Out?" "Yes; for a walk with me.
Why not?"
This time, Mr. Lorry feigned to go out when he could extract no answer from him, and,
after remaining absent for an hour, returned.
In the meanwhile, the Doctor had removed to the seat in the window, and had sat there
looking down at the plane-tree; but, on Mr. Lorry's return, he slipped away to his
The time went very slowly on, and Mr. Lorry's hope darkened, and his heart grew
heavier again, and grew yet heavier and heavier every day.
The third day came and went, the fourth, the fifth.
Five days, six days, seven days, eight days, nine days.
With a hope ever darkening, and with a heart always growing heavier and heavier,
Mr. Lorry passed through this anxious time.
The secret was well kept, and Lucie was unconscious and happy; but he could not
fail to observe that the shoemaker, whose hand had been a little out at first, was
growing dreadfully skilful, and that he had
never been so intent on his work, and that his hands had never been so nimble and
expert, as in the dusk of the ninth evening.
Book the Second: The Golden Thread Chapter XIX.
An Opinion
Worn out by anxious watching, Mr. Lorry fell asleep at his post.
On the tenth morning of his suspense, he was startled by the shining of the sun into
the room where a heavy slumber had overtaken him when it was dark night.
He rubbed his eyes and roused himself; but he doubted, when he had done so, whether he
was not still asleep.
For, going to the door of the Doctor's room and looking in, he perceived that the
shoemaker's bench and tools were put aside again, and that the Doctor himself sat
reading at the window.
He was in his usual morning dress, and his face (which Mr. Lorry could distinctly
see), though still very pale, was calmly studious and attentive.
Even when he had satisfied himself that he was awake, Mr. Lorry felt giddily uncertain
for some few moments whether the late shoemaking might not be a disturbed dream
of his own; for, did not his eyes show him
his friend before him in his accustomed clothing and aspect, and employed as usual;
and was there any sign within their range, that the change of which he had so strong
an impression had actually happened?
It was but the inquiry of his first confusion and astonishment, the answer
being obvious.
If the impression were not produced by a real corresponding and sufficient cause,
how came he, Jarvis Lorry, there?
How came he to have fallen asleep, in his clothes, on the sofa in Doctor Manette's
consulting-room, and to be debating these points outside the Doctor's bedroom door in
the early morning?
Within a few minutes, Miss Pross stood whispering at his side.
If he had had any particle of doubt left, her talk would of necessity have resolved
it; but he was by that time clear-headed, and had none.
He advised that they should let the time go by until the regular breakfast-hour, and
should then meet the Doctor as if nothing unusual had occurred.
If he appeared to be in his customary state of mind, Mr. Lorry would then cautiously
proceed to seek direction and guidance from the opinion he had been, in his anxiety, so
anxious to obtain.
Miss Pross, submitting herself to his judgment, the scheme was worked out with
Having abundance of time for his usual methodical toilette, Mr. Lorry presented
himself at the breakfast-hour in his usual white linen, and with his usual neat leg.
The Doctor was summoned in the usual way, and came to breakfast.
So far as it was possible to comprehend him without overstepping those delicate and
gradual approaches which Mr. Lorry felt to be the only safe advance, he at first
supposed that his daughter's marriage had taken place yesterday.
An incidental allusion, purposely thrown out, to the day of the week, and the day of
the month, set him thinking and counting, and evidently made him uneasy.
In all other respects, however, he was so composedly himself, that Mr. Lorry
determined to have the aid he sought. And that aid was his own.
Therefore, when the breakfast was done and cleared away, and he and the Doctor were
left together, Mr. Lorry said, feelingly:
"My dear Manette, I am anxious to have your opinion, in confidence, on a very curious
case in which I am deeply interested; that is to say, it is very curious to me;
perhaps, to your better information it may be less so."
Glancing at his hands, which were discoloured by his late work, the Doctor
looked troubled, and listened attentively.
He had already glanced at his hands more than once.
"Doctor Manette," said Mr. Lorry, touching him affectionately on the arm, "the case is
the case of a particularly dear friend of mine.
Pray give your mind to it, and advise me well for his sake--and above all, for his
daughter's--his daughter's, my dear Manette."
"If I understand," said the Doctor, in a subdued tone, "some mental shock--?"
"Yes!" "Be explicit," said the Doctor.
"Spare no detail."
Mr. Lorry saw that they understood one another, and proceeded.
"My dear Manette, it is the case of an old and a prolonged shock, of great acuteness
and severity to the affections, the feelings, the--the--as you express it--the
The mind.
It is the case of a shock under which the sufferer was borne down, one cannot say for
how long, because I believe he cannot calculate the time himself, and there are
no other means of getting at it.
It is the case of a shock from which the sufferer recovered, by a process that he
cannot trace himself--as I once heard him publicly relate in a striking manner.
It is the case of a shock from which he has recovered, so completely, as to be a highly
intelligent man, capable of close application of mind, and great exertion of
body, and of constantly making fresh
additions to his stock of knowledge, which was already very large.
But, unfortunately, there has been," he paused and took a deep breath--"a slight
The Doctor, in a low voice, asked, "Of how long duration?"
"Nine days and nights." "How did it show itself?
I infer," glancing at his hands again, "in the resumption of some old pursuit
connected with the shock?" "That is the fact."
"Now, did you ever see him," asked the Doctor, distinctly and collectedly, though
in the same low voice, "engaged in that pursuit originally?"
"And when the relapse fell on him, was he in most respects--or in all respects--as he
was then?" "I think in all respects."
"You spoke of his daughter.
Does his daughter know of the relapse?" "No. It has been kept from her, and I hope
will always be kept from her. It is known only to myself, and to one
other who may be trusted."
The Doctor grasped his hand, and murmured, "That was very kind.
That was very thoughtful!"
Mr. Lorry grasped his hand in return, and neither of the two spoke for a little
"Now, my dear Manette," said Mr. Lorry, at length, in his most considerate and most
affectionate way, "I am a mere man of business, and unfit to cope with such
intricate and difficult matters.
I do not possess the kind of information necessary; I do not possess the kind of
intelligence; I want guiding.
There is no man in this world on whom I could so rely for right guidance, as on
you. Tell me, how does this relapse come about?
Is there danger of another?
Could a repetition of it be prevented? How should a repetition of it be treated?
How does it come about at all? What can I do for my friend?
No man ever can have been more desirous in his heart to serve a friend, than I am to
serve mine, if I knew how. "But I don't know how to originate, in such
a case.
If your sagacity, knowledge, and experience, could put me on the right
track, I might be able to do so much; unenlightened and undirected, I can do so
Pray discuss it with me; pray enable me to see it a little more clearly, and teach me
how to be a little more useful."
Doctor Manette sat meditating after these earnest words were spoken, and Mr. Lorry
did not press him.
"I think it probable," said the Doctor, breaking silence with an effort, "that the
relapse you have described, my dear friend, was not quite unforeseen by its subject."
"Was it dreaded by him?"
Mr. Lorry ventured to ask. "Very much."
He said it with an involuntary shudder.
"You have no idea how such an apprehension weighs on the sufferer's mind, and how
difficult--how almost impossible--it is, for him to force himself to utter a word
upon the topic that oppresses him."
"Would he," asked Mr. Lorry, "be sensibly relieved if he could prevail upon himself
to impart that secret brooding to any one, when it is on him?"
"I think so.
But it is, as I have told you, next to impossible.
I even believe it--in some cases--to be quite impossible."
"Now," said Mr. Lorry, gently laying his hand on the Doctor's arm again, after a
short silence on both sides, "to what would you refer this attack?"
"I believe," returned Doctor Manette, "that there had been a strong and extraordinary
revival of the train of thought and remembrance that was the first cause of the
Some intense associations of a most distressing nature were vividly recalled, I
It is probable that there had long been a dread lurking in his mind, that those
associations would be recalled--say, under certain circumstances--say, on a particular
He tried to prepare himself in vain; perhaps the effort to prepare himself made
him less able to bear it."
"Would he remember what took place in the relapse?" asked Mr. Lorry, with natural
The Doctor looked desolately round the room, shook his head, and answered, in a
low voice, "Not at all." "Now, as to the future," hinted Mr. Lorry.
"As to the future," said the Doctor, recovering firmness, "I should have great
As it pleased Heaven in its mercy to restore him so soon, I should have great
He, yielding under the pressure of a complicated something, long dreaded and
long vaguely foreseen and contended against, and recovering after the cloud had
burst and passed, I should hope that the worst was over."
"Well, well! That's good comfort.
I am thankful!" said Mr. Lorry.
"I am thankful!" repeated the Doctor, bending his head with reverence.
"There are two other points," said Mr. Lorry, "on which I am anxious to be
I may go on?" "You cannot do your friend a better
service." The Doctor gave him his hand.
"To the first, then.
He is of a studious habit, and unusually energetic; he applies himself with great
ardour to the acquisition of professional knowledge, to the conducting of
experiments, to many things.
Now, does he do too much?" "I think not.
It may be the character of his mind, to be always in singular need of occupation.
That may be, in part, natural to it; in part, the result of affliction.
The less it was occupied with healthy things, the more it would be in danger of
turning in the unhealthy direction.
He may have observed himself, and made the discovery."
"You are sure that he is not under too great a strain?"
"I think I am quite sure of it."
"My dear Manette, if he were overworked now--"
"My dear Lorry, I doubt if that could easily be.
There has been a violent stress in one direction, and it needs a counterweight."
"Excuse me, as a persistent man of business.
Assuming for a moment, that he _was_ overworked; it would show itself in some
renewal of this disorder?" "I do not think so.
I do not think," said Doctor Manette with the firmness of self-conviction, "that
anything but the one train of association would renew it.
I think that, henceforth, nothing but some extraordinary jarring of that chord could
renew it.
After what has happened, and after his recovery, I find it difficult to imagine
any such violent sounding of that string again.
I trust, and I almost believe, that the circumstances likely to renew it are
He spoke with the diffidence of a man who knew how slight a thing would overset the
delicate organisation of the mind, and yet with the confidence of a man who had slowly
won his assurance out of personal endurance and distress.
It was not for his friend to abate that confidence.
He professed himself more relieved and encouraged than he really was, and
approached his second and last point.
He felt it to be the most difficult of all; but, remembering his old Sunday morning
conversation with Miss Pross, and remembering what he had seen in the last
nine days, he knew that he must face it.
"The occupation resumed under the influence of this passing affliction so happily
recovered from," said Mr. Lorry, clearing his throat, "we will call--Blacksmith's
work, Blacksmith's work.
We will say, to put a case and for the sake of illustration, that he had been used, in
his bad time, to work at a little forge. We will say that he was unexpectedly found
at his forge again.
Is it not a pity that he should keep it by him?"
The Doctor shaded his forehead with his hand, and beat his foot nervously on the
"He has always kept it by him," said Mr. Lorry, with an anxious look at his friend.
"Now, would it not be better that he should let it go?"
Still, the Doctor, with shaded forehead, beat his foot nervously on the ground.
"You do not find it easy to advise me?" said Mr. Lorry.
"I quite understand it to be a nice question.
And yet I think--" And there he shook his head, and stopped.
"You see," said Doctor Manette, turning to him after an uneasy pause, "it is very hard
to explain, consistently, the innermost workings of this poor man's mind.
He once yearned so frightfully for that occupation, and it was so welcome when it
came; no doubt it relieved his pain so much, by substituting the perplexity of the
fingers for the perplexity of the brain,
and by substituting, as he became more practised, the ingenuity of the hands, for
the ingenuity of the mental torture; that he has never been able to bear the thought
of putting it quite out of his reach.
Even now, when I believe he is more hopeful of himself than he has ever been, and even
speaks of himself with a kind of confidence, the idea that he might need
that old employment, and not find it, gives
him a sudden sense of terror, like that which one may fancy strikes to the heart of
a lost child." He looked like his illustration, as he
raised his eyes to Mr. Lorry's face.
"But may not--mind!
I ask for information, as a plodding man of business who only deals with such material
objects as guineas, shillings, and bank- notes--may not the retention of the thing
involve the retention of the idea?
If the thing were gone, my dear Manette, might not the fear go with it?
In short, is it not a concession to the misgiving, to keep the forge?"
There was another silence.
"You see, too," said the Doctor, tremulously, "it is such an old companion."
"I would not keep it," said Mr. Lorry, shaking his head; for he gained in firmness
as he saw the Doctor disquieted.
"I would recommend him to sacrifice it. I only want your authority.
I am sure it does no good. Come!
Give me your authority, like a dear good man.
For his daughter's sake, my dear Manette!" Very strange to see what a struggle there
was within him!
"In her name, then, let it be done; I sanction it.
But, I would not take it away while he was present.
Let it be removed when he is not there; let him miss his old companion after an
absence." Mr. Lorry readily engaged for that, and the
conference was ended.
They passed the day in the country, and the Doctor was quite restored.
On the three following days he remained perfectly well, and on the fourteenth day
he went away to join Lucie and her husband.
The precaution that had been taken to account for his silence, Mr. Lorry had
previously explained to him, and he had written to Lucie in accordance with it, and
she had no suspicions.
On the night of the day on which he left the house, Mr. Lorry went into his room
with a chopper, saw, chisel, and hammer, attended by Miss Pross carrying a light.
There, with closed doors, and in a mysterious and guilty manner, Mr. Lorry
hacked the shoemaker's bench to pieces, while Miss Pross held the candle as if she
were assisting at a murder--for which,
indeed, in her grimness, she was no unsuitable figure.
The burning of the body (previously reduced to pieces convenient for the purpose) was
commenced without delay in the kitchen fire; and the tools, shoes, and leather,
were buried in the garden.
So wicked do destruction and secrecy appear to honest minds, that Mr. Lorry and Miss
Pross, while engaged in the commission of their deed and in the removal of its
traces, almost felt, and almost looked, like accomplices in a horrible crime.