Part 2 - A Tale of Two Cities Audiobook by Charles Dickens (Book 02, Chs 01-06)

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Book the Second: The Golden Thread Chapter I.
Five Years Later
Tellson's Bank by Temple Bar was an old- fashioned place, even in the year one
thousand seven hundred and eighty. It was very small, very dark, very ugly,
very incommodious.
It was an old-fashioned place, moreover, in the moral attribute that the partners in
the House were proud of its smallness, proud of its darkness, proud of its
ugliness, proud of its incommodiousness.
They were even boastful of its eminence in those particulars, and were fired by an
express conviction that, if it were less objectionable, it would be less
This was no passive belief, but an active weapon which they flashed at more
convenient places of business.
Tellson's (they said) wanted no elbow-room, Tellson's wanted no light, Tellson's wanted
no embellishment. Noakes and Co.'s might, or Snooks Brothers'
might; but Tellson's, thank Heaven--!
Any one of these partners would have disinherited his son on the question of
rebuilding Tellson's.
In this respect the House was much on a par with the Country; which did very often
disinherit its sons for suggesting improvements in laws and customs that had
long been highly objectionable, but were only the more respectable.
Thus it had come to pass, that Tellson's was the triumphant perfection of
After bursting open a door of idiotic obstinacy with a weak rattle in its throat,
you fell into Tellson's down two steps, and came to your senses in a miserable little
shop, with two little counters, where the
oldest of men made your cheque shake as if the wind rustled it, while they examined
the signature by the dingiest of windows, which were always under a shower-bath of
mud from Fleet-street, and which were made
the dingier by their own iron bars proper, and the heavy shadow of Temple Bar.
If your business necessitated your seeing "the House," you were put into a species of
Condemned Hold at the back, where you meditated on a misspent life, until the
House came with its hands in its pockets,
and you could hardly blink at it in the dismal twilight.
Your money came out of, or went into, wormy old wooden drawers, particles of which flew
up your nose and down your throat when they were opened and shut.
Your bank-notes had a musty odour, as if they were fast decomposing into rags again.
Your plate was stowed away among the neighbouring cesspools, and evil
communications corrupted its good polish in a day or two.
Your deeds got into extemporised strong- rooms made of kitchens and sculleries, and
fretted all the fat out of their parchments into the banking-house air.
Your lighter boxes of family papers went up-stairs into a Barmecide room, that
always had a great dining-table in it and never had a dinner, and where, even in the
year one thousand seven hundred and eighty,
the first letters written to you by your old love, or by your little children, were
but newly released from the horror of being ogled through the windows, by the heads
exposed on Temple Bar with an insensate
brutality and ferocity worthy of Abyssinia or Ashantee.
But indeed, at that time, putting to death was a recipe much in vogue with all trades
and professions, and not least of all with Tellson's.
Death is Nature's remedy for all things, and why not Legislation's?
Accordingly, the forger was put to Death; the utterer of a bad note was put to Death;
the unlawful opener of a letter was put to Death; the purloiner of forty shillings and
sixpence was put to Death; the holder of a
horse at Tellson's door, who made off with it, was put to Death; the coiner of a bad
shilling was put to Death; the sounders of three-fourths of the notes in the whole
gamut of Crime, were put to Death.
Not that it did the least good in the way of prevention--it might almost have been
worth remarking that the fact was exactly the reverse--but, it cleared off (as to
this world) the trouble of each particular
case, and left nothing else connected with it to be looked after.
Thus, Tellson's, in its day, like greater places of business, its contemporaries, had
taken so many lives, that, if the heads laid low before it had been ranged on
Temple Bar instead of being privately
disposed of, they would probably have excluded what little light the ground floor
had, in a rather significant manner.
Cramped in all kinds of dim cupboards and hutches at Tellson's, the oldest of men
carried on the business gravely.
When they took a young man into Tellson's London house, they hid him somewhere till
he was old.
They kept him in a dark place, like a cheese, until he had the full Tellson
flavour and blue-mould upon him.
Then only was he permitted to be seen, spectacularly poring over large books, and
casting his breeches and gaiters into the general weight of the establishment.
Outside Tellson's--never by any means in it, unless called in--was an odd-job-man,
an occasional porter and messenger, who served as the live sign of the house.
He was never absent during business hours, unless upon an errand, and then he was
represented by his son: a grisly urchin of twelve, who was his express image.
People understood that Tellson's, in a stately way, tolerated the odd-job-man.
The house had always tolerated some person in that capacity, and time and tide had
drifted this person to the post.
His surname was Cruncher, and on the youthful occasion of his renouncing by
proxy the works of darkness, in the easterly parish church of Hounsditch, he
had received the added appellation of Jerry.
The scene was Mr. Cruncher's private lodging in Hanging-sword-alley,
Whitefriars: the time, half-past seven of the clock on a windy March morning, Anno
Domini seventeen hundred and eighty.
(Mr. Cruncher himself always spoke of the year of our Lord as Anna Dominoes:
apparently under the impression that the Christian era dated from the invention of a
popular game, by a lady who had bestowed her name upon it.)
Mr. Cruncher's apartments were not in a savoury neighbourhood, and were but two in
number, even if a closet with a single pane of glass in it might be counted as one.
But they were very decently kept.
Early as it was, on the windy March morning, the room in which he lay abed was
already scrubbed throughout; and between the cups and saucers arranged for
breakfast, and the lumbering deal table, a very clean white cloth was spread.
Mr. Cruncher reposed under a patchwork counterpane, like a Harlequin at home.
At first, he slept heavily, but, by degrees, began to roll and surge in bed,
until he rose above the surface, with his spiky hair looking as if it must tear the
sheets to ribbons.
At which juncture, he exclaimed, in a voice of dire exasperation:
"Bust me, if she ain't at it agin!"
A woman of orderly and industrious appearance rose from her knees in a corner,
with sufficient haste and trepidation to show that she was the person referred to.
"What!" said Mr. Cruncher, looking out of bed for a boot.
"You're at it agin, are you?"
After hailing the morn with this second salutation, he threw a boot at the woman as
a third.
It was a very muddy boot, and may introduce the odd circumstance connected with Mr.
Cruncher's domestic economy, that, whereas he often came home after banking hours with
clean boots, he often got up next morning to find the same boots covered with clay.
"What," said Mr. Cruncher, varying his apostrophe after missing his mark--"what
are you up to, Aggerawayter?"
"I was only saying my prayers." "Saying your prayers!
You're a nice woman! What do you mean by flopping yourself down
and praying agin me?"
"I was not praying against you; I was praying for you."
"You weren't. And if you were, I won't be took the
liberty with.
Here! your mother's a nice woman, young Jerry, going a praying agin your father's
prosperity. You've got a dutiful mother, you have, my
You've got a religious mother, you have, my boy: going and flopping herself down, and
praying that the bread-and-butter may be snatched out of the mouth of her only
Master Cruncher (who was in his shirt) took this very ill, and, turning to his mother,
strongly deprecated any praying away of his personal board.
"And what do you suppose, you conceited female," said Mr. Cruncher, with
unconscious inconsistency, "that the worth of _your_ prayers may be?
Name the price that you put _your_ prayers at!"
"They only come from the heart, Jerry. They are worth no more than that."
"Worth no more than that," repeated Mr. Cruncher.
"They ain't worth much, then. Whether or no, I won't be prayed agin, I
tell you.
I can't afford it. I'm not a going to be made unlucky by
_your_ sneaking.
If you must go flopping yourself down, flop in favour of your husband and child, and
not in opposition to 'em.
If I had had any but a unnat'ral wife, and this poor boy had had any but a unnat'ral
mother, I might have made some money last week instead of being counter-prayed and
countermined and religiously circumwented into the worst of luck.
B-u-u-ust me!" said Mr. Cruncher, who all this time had been putting on his clothes,
"if I ain't, what with piety and one blowed thing and another, been choused this last
week into as bad luck as ever a poor devil of a honest tradesman met with!
Young Jerry, dress yourself, my boy, and while I clean my boots keep a eye upon your
mother now and then, and if you see any signs of more flopping, give me a call.
For, I tell you," here he addressed his wife once more, "I won't be gone agin, in
this manner.
I am as rickety as a hackney-coach, I'm as sleepy as laudanum, my lines is strained to
that degree that I shouldn't know, if it wasn't for the pain in 'em, which was me
and which somebody else, yet I'm none the
better for it in pocket; and it's my suspicion that you've been at it from
morning to night to prevent me from being the better for it in pocket, and I won't
put up with it, Aggerawayter, and what do you say now!"
Growling, in addition, such phrases as "Ah! yes!
You're religious, too.
You wouldn't put yourself in opposition to the interests of your husband and child,
would you?
Not you!" and throwing off other sarcastic sparks from the whirling grindstone of his
indignation, Mr. Cruncher betook himself to his boot-cleaning and his general
preparation for business.
In the meantime, his son, whose head was garnished with tenderer spikes, and whose
young eyes stood close by one another, as his father's did, kept the required watch
upon his mother.
He greatly disturbed that poor woman at intervals, by darting out of his sleeping
closet, where he made his toilet, with a suppressed cry of "You are going to flop,
--Halloa, father!" and, after raising this fictitious alarm, darting in again with an
undutiful grin. Mr. Cruncher's temper was not at all
improved when he came to his breakfast.
He resented Mrs. Cruncher's saying grace with particular animosity.
"Now, Aggerawayter! What are you up to?
At it again?"
His wife explained that she had merely "asked a blessing."
"Don't do it!" said Mr. Crunches looking about, as if he rather expected to see the
loaf disappear under the efficacy of his wife's petitions.
"I ain't a going to be blest out of house and home.
I won't have my wittles blest off my table. Keep still!"
Exceedingly red-eyed and grim, as if he had been up all night at a party which had
taken anything but a convivial turn, Jerry Cruncher worried his breakfast rather than
ate it, growling over it like any four- footed inmate of a menagerie.
Towards nine o'clock he smoothed his ruffled aspect, and, presenting as
respectable and business-like an exterior as he could overlay his natural self with,
issued forth to the occupation of the day.
It could scarcely be called a trade, in spite of his favourite description of
himself as "a honest tradesman."
His stock consisted of a wooden stool, made out of a broken-backed chair cut down,
which stool, young Jerry, walking at his father's side, carried every morning to
beneath the banking-house window that was
nearest Temple Bar: where, with the addition of the first handful of straw that
could be gleaned from any passing vehicle to keep the cold and wet from the odd-job-
man's feet, it formed the encampment for the day.
On this post of his, Mr. Cruncher was as well known to Fleet-street and the Temple,
as the Bar itself,--and was almost as in- looking.
Encamped at a quarter before nine, in good time to touch his three-cornered hat to the
oldest of men as they passed in to Tellson's, Jerry took up his station on
this windy March morning, with young Jerry
standing by him, when not engaged in making forays through the Bar, to inflict bodily
and mental injuries of an acute description on passing boys who were small enough for
his amiable purpose.
Father and son, extremely like each other, looking silently on at the morning traffic
in Fleet-street, with their two heads as near to one another as the two eyes of each
were, bore a considerable resemblance to a pair of monkeys.
The resemblance was not lessened by the accidental circumstance, that the mature
Jerry bit and spat out straw, while the twinkling eyes of the youthful Jerry were
as restlessly watchful of him as of everything else in Fleet-street.
The head of one of the regular indoor messengers attached to Tellson's
establishment was put through the door, and the word was given:
"Porter wanted!"
"Hooray, father! Here's an early job to begin with!"
Having thus given his parent God speed, young Jerry seated himself on the stool,
entered on his reversionary interest in the straw his father had been chewing, and
"Al-ways rusty! His fingers is al-ways rusty!" muttered
young Jerry. "Where does my father get all that iron
rust from?
He don't get no iron rust here!"
Book the Second: The Golden Thread Chapter II.
A Sight
"You know the Old Bailey well, no doubt?" said one of the oldest of clerks to Jerry
the messenger. "Ye-es, sir," returned Jerry, in something
of a dogged manner.
"I _do_ know the Bailey." "Just so.
And you know Mr. Lorry." "I know Mr. Lorry, sir, much better than I
know the Bailey.
Much better," said Jerry, not unlike a reluctant witness at the establishment in
question, "than I, as a honest tradesman, wish to know the Bailey."
"Very well.
Find the door where the witnesses go in, and show the door-keeper this note for Mr.
Lorry. He will then let you in."
"Into the court, sir?"
"Into the court." Mr. Cruncher's eyes seemed to get a little
closer to one another, and to interchange the inquiry, "What do you think of this?"
"Am I to wait in the court, sir?" he asked, as the result of that conference.
"I am going to tell you.
The door-keeper will pass the note to Mr. Lorry, and do you make any gesture that
will attract Mr. Lorry's attention, and show him where you stand.
Then what you have to do, is, to remain there until he wants you."
"Is that all, sir?" "That's all.
He wishes to have a messenger at hand.
This is to tell him you are there." As the ancient clerk deliberately folded
and superscribed the note, Mr. Cruncher, after surveying him in silence until he
came to the blotting-paper stage, remarked:
"I suppose they'll be trying Forgeries this morning?"
"Treason!" "That's quartering," said Jerry.
"It is the law," remarked the ancient clerk, turning his surprised spectacles
upon him. "It is the law."
"It's hard in the law to spile a man, I think.
It's hard enough to kill him, but it's wery hard to spile him, sir."
"Not at all," retained the ancient clerk.
"Speak well of the law. Take care of your chest and voice, my good
friend, and leave the law to take care of itself.
I give you that advice."
"It's the damp, sir, what settles on my chest and voice," said Jerry.
"I leave you to judge what a damp way of earning a living mine is."
"Well, well," said the old clerk; "we all have our various ways of gaining a
livelihood. Some of us have damp ways, and some of us
have dry ways.
Here is the letter. Go along."
Jerry took the letter, and, remarking to himself with less internal deference than
he made an outward show of, "You are a lean old one, too," made his bow, informed his
son, in passing, of his destination, and went his way.
They hanged at Tyburn, in those days, so the street outside Newgate had not obtained
one infamous notoriety that has since attached to it.
But, the gaol was a vile place, in which most kinds of debauchery and villainy were
practised, and where dire diseases were bred, that came into court with the
prisoners, and sometimes rushed straight
from the dock at my Lord Chief Justice himself, and pulled him off the bench.
It had more than once happened, that the Judge in the black cap pronounced his own
doom as certainly as the prisoner's, and even died before him.
For the rest, the Old Bailey was famous as a kind of deadly inn-yard, from which pale
travellers set out continually, in carts and coaches, on a violent passage into the
other world: traversing some two miles and
a half of public street and road, and shaming few good citizens, if any.
So powerful is use, and so desirable to be good use in the beginning.
It was famous, too, for the pillory, a wise old institution, that inflicted a
punishment of which no one could foresee the extent; also, for the whipping-post,
another dear old institution, very
humanising and softening to behold in action; also, for extensive transactions in
blood-money, another fragment of ancestral wisdom, systematically leading to the most
frightful mercenary crimes that could be committed under Heaven.
Altogether, the Old Bailey, at that date, was a choice illustration of the precept,
that "Whatever is is right;" an aphorism that would be as final as it is lazy, did
it not include the troublesome consequence, that nothing that ever was, was wrong.
Making his way through the tainted crowd, dispersed up and down this hideous scene of
action, with the skill of a man accustomed to make his way quietly, the messenger
found out the door he sought, and handed in his letter through a trap in it.
For, people then paid to see the play at the Old Bailey, just as they paid to see
the play in Bedlam--only the former entertainment was much the dearer.
Therefore, all the Old Bailey doors were well guarded--except, indeed, the social
doors by which the criminals got there, and those were always left wide open.
After some delay and demur, the door grudgingly turned on its hinges a very
little way, and allowed Mr. Jerry Cruncher to squeeze himself into court.
"What's on?" he asked, in a whisper, of the man he found himself next to.
"Nothing yet." "What's coming on?"
"The Treason case."
"The quartering one, eh?"
"Ah!" returned the man, with a relish; "he'll be drawn on a hurdle to be half
hanged, and then he'll be taken down and sliced before his own face, and then his
inside will be taken out and burnt while he
looks on, and then his head will be chopped off, and he'll be cut into quarters.
That's the sentence." "If he's found Guilty, you mean to say?"
Jerry added, by way of proviso.
"Oh! they'll find him guilty," said the other.
"Don't you be afraid of that."
Mr. Cruncher's attention was here diverted to the door-keeper, whom he saw making his
way to Mr. Lorry, with the note in his hand.
Mr. Lorry sat at a table, among the gentlemen in wigs: not far from a wigged
gentleman, the prisoner's counsel, who had a great bundle of papers before him: and
nearly opposite another wigged gentleman
with his hands in his pockets, whose whole attention, when Mr. Cruncher looked at him
then or afterwards, seemed to be concentrated on the ceiling of the court.
After some gruff coughing and rubbing of his chin and signing with his hand, Jerry
attracted the notice of Mr. Lorry, who had stood up to look for him, and who quietly
nodded and sat down again.
"What's _he_ got to do with the case?" asked the man he had spoken with.
"Blest if I know," said Jerry. "What have _you_ got to do with it, then,
if a person may inquire?"
"Blest if I know that either," said Jerry. The entrance of the Judge, and a consequent
great stir and settling down in the court, stopped the dialogue.
Presently, the dock became the central point of interest.
Two gaolers, who had been standing there, went out, and the prisoner was brought in,
and put to the bar.
Everybody present, except the one wigged gentleman who looked at the ceiling, stared
at him. All the human breath in the place, rolled
at him, like a sea, or a wind, or a fire.
Eager faces strained round pillars and corners, to get a sight of him; spectators
in back rows stood up, not to miss a hair of him; people on the floor of the court,
laid their hands on the shoulders of the
people before them, to help themselves, at anybody's cost, to a view of him--stood a-
tiptoe, got upon ledges, stood upon next to nothing, to see every inch of him.
Conspicuous among these latter, like an animated bit of the spiked wall of Newgate,
Jerry stood: aiming at the prisoner the beery breath of a whet he had taken as he
came along, and discharging it to mingle
with the waves of other beer, and gin, and tea, and coffee, and what not, that flowed
at him, and already broke upon the great windows behind him in an impure mist and
The object of all this staring and blaring, was a young man of about five-and-twenty,
well-grown and well-looking, with a sunburnt cheek and a dark eye.
His condition was that of a young gentleman.
He was plainly dressed in black, or very dark grey, and his hair, which was long and
dark, was gathered in a ribbon at the back of his neck; more to be out of his way than
for ornament.
As an emotion of the mind will express itself through any covering of the body, so
the paleness which his situation engendered came through the brown upon his cheek,
showing the soul to be stronger than the sun.
He was otherwise quite self-possessed, bowed to the Judge, and stood quiet.
The sort of interest with which this man was stared and breathed at, was not a sort
that elevated humanity.
Had he stood in peril of a less horrible sentence--had there been a chance of any
one of its savage details being spared--by just so much would he have lost in his
The form that was to be doomed to be so shamefully mangled, was the sight; the
immortal creature that was to be so butchered and torn asunder, yielded the
Whatever gloss the various spectators put upon the interest, according to their
several arts and powers of self-deceit, the interest was, at the root of it, Ogreish.
Silence in the court!
Charles Darnay had yesterday pleaded Not Guilty to an indictment denouncing him
(with infinite jingle and jangle) for that he was a false traitor to our serene,
illustrious, excellent, and so forth,
prince, our Lord the King, by reason of his having, on divers occasions, and by divers
means and ways, assisted Lewis, the French King, in his wars against our said serene,
illustrious, excellent, and so forth; that
was to say, by coming and going, between the dominions of our said serene,
illustrious, excellent, and so forth, and those of the said French Lewis, and
wickedly, falsely, traitorously, and
otherwise evil-adverbiously, revealing to the said French Lewis what forces our said
serene, illustrious, excellent, and so forth, had in preparation to send to Canada
and North America.
This much, Jerry, with his head becoming more and more spiky as the law terms
bristled it, made out with huge satisfaction, and so arrived circuitously
at the understanding that the aforesaid,
and over and over again aforesaid, Charles Darnay, stood there before him upon his
trial; that the jury were swearing in; and that Mr. Attorney-General was making ready
to speak.
The accused, who was (and who knew he was) being mentally hanged, beheaded, and
quartered, by everybody there, neither flinched from the situation, nor assumed
any theatrical air in it.
He was quiet and attentive; watched the opening proceedings with a grave interest;
and stood with his hands resting on the slab of wood before him, so composedly,
that they had not displaced a leaf of the herbs with which it was strewn.
The court was all bestrewn with herbs and sprinkled with vinegar, as a precaution
against gaol air and gaol fever.
Over the prisoner's head there was a mirror, to throw the light down upon him.
Crowds of the wicked and the wretched had been reflected in it, and had passed from
its surface and this earth's together.
Haunted in a most ghastly manner that abominable place would have been, if the
glass could ever have rendered back its reflections, as the ocean is one day to
give up its dead.
Some passing thought of the infamy and disgrace for which it had been reserved,
may have struck the prisoner's mind.
Be that as it may, a change in his position making him conscious of a bar of light
across his face, he looked up; and when he saw the glass his face flushed, and his
right hand pushed the herbs away.
It happened, that the action turned his face to that side of the court which was on
his left.
About on a level with his eyes, there sat, in that corner of the Judge's bench, two
persons upon whom his look immediately rested; so immediately, and so much to the
changing of his aspect, that all the eyes that were turned upon him, turned to them.
The spectators saw in the two figures, a young lady of little more than twenty, and
a gentleman who was evidently her father; a man of a very remarkable appearance in
respect of the absolute whiteness of his
hair, and a certain indescribable intensity of face: not of an active kind, but
pondering and self-communing.
When this expression was upon him, he looked as if he were old; but when it was
stirred and broken up--as it was now, in a moment, on his speaking to his daughter--he
became a handsome man, not past the prime of life.
His daughter had one of her hands drawn through his arm, as she sat by him, and the
other pressed upon it.
She had drawn close to him, in her dread of the scene, and in her pity for the
Her forehead had been strikingly expressive of an engrossing terror and compassion that
saw nothing but the peril of the accused.
This had been so very noticeable, so very powerfully and naturally shown, that
starers who had had no pity for him were touched by her; and the whisper went about,
"Who are they?"
Jerry, the messenger, who had made his own observations, in his own manner, and who
had been sucking the rust off his fingers in his absorption, stretched his neck to
hear who they were.
The crowd about him had pressed and passed the inquiry on to the nearest attendant,
and from him it had been more slowly pressed and passed back; at last it got to
"Witnesses." "For which side?"
"Against." "Against what side?"
"The prisoner's."
The Judge, whose eyes had gone in the general direction, recalled them, leaned
back in his seat, and looked steadily at the man whose life was in his hand, as Mr.
Attorney-General rose to spin the rope,
grind the axe, and hammer the nails into the scaffold.
Book the Second: The Golden Thread Chapter III.
A Disappointment
Mr. Attorney-General had to inform the jury, that the prisoner before them, though
young in years, was old in the treasonable practices which claimed the forfeit of his
That this correspondence with the public enemy was not a correspondence of to-day,
or of yesterday, or even of last year, or of the year before.
That, it was certain the prisoner had, for longer than that, been in the habit of
passing and repassing between France and England, on secret business of which he
could give no honest account.
That, if it were in the nature of traitorous ways to thrive (which happily it
never was), the real wickedness and guilt of his business might have remained
That Providence, however, had put it into the heart of a person who was beyond fear
and beyond reproach, to ferret out the nature of the prisoner's schemes, and,
struck with horror, to disclose them to his
Majesty's Chief Secretary of State and most honourable Privy Council.
That, this patriot would be produced before them.
That, his position and attitude were, on the whole, sublime.
That, he had been the prisoner's friend, but, at once in an auspicious and an evil
hour detecting his infamy, had resolved to immolate the traitor he could no longer
cherish in his bosom, on the sacred altar of his country.
That, if statues were decreed in Britain, as in ancient Greece and Rome, to public
benefactors, this shining citizen would assuredly have had one.
That, as they were not so decreed, he probably would not have one.
That, Virtue, as had been observed by the poets (in many passages which he well knew
the jury would have, word for word, at the tips of their tongues; whereat the jury's
countenances displayed a guilty
consciousness that they knew nothing about the passages), was in a manner contagious;
more especially the bright virtue known as patriotism, or love of country.
That, the lofty example of this immaculate and unimpeachable witness for the Crown, to
refer to whom however unworthily was an honour, had communicated itself to the
prisoner's servant, and had engendered in
him a holy determination to examine his master's table-drawers and pockets, and
secrete his papers.
That, he (Mr. Attorney-General) was prepared to hear some disparagement
attempted of this admirable servant; but that, in a general way, he preferred him to
his (Mr. Attorney-General's) brothers and
sisters, and honoured him more than his (Mr. Attorney-General's) father and mother.
That, he called with confidence on the jury to come and do likewise.
That, the evidence of these two witnesses, coupled with the documents of their
discovering that would be produced, would show the prisoner to have been furnished
with lists of his Majesty's forces, and of
their disposition and preparation, both by sea and land, and would leave no doubt that
he had habitually conveyed such information to a hostile power.
That, these lists could not be proved to be in the prisoner's handwriting; but that it
was all the same; that, indeed, it was rather the better for the prosecution, as
showing the prisoner to be artful in his precautions.
That, the proof would go back five years, and would show the prisoner already engaged
in these pernicious missions, within a few weeks before the date of the very first
action fought between the British troops and the Americans.
That, for these reasons, the jury, being a loyal jury (as he knew they were), and
being a responsible jury (as _they_ knew they were), must positively find the
prisoner Guilty, and make an end of him, whether they liked it or not.
That, they never could lay their heads upon their pillows; that, they never could
tolerate the idea of their wives laying their heads upon their pillows; that, they
never could endure the notion of their
children laying their heads upon their pillows; in short, that there never more
could be, for them or theirs, any laying of heads upon pillows at all, unless the
prisoner's head was taken off.
That head Mr. Attorney-General concluded by demanding of them, in the name of
everything he could think of with a round turn in it, and on the faith of his solemn
asseveration that he already considered the prisoner as good as dead and gone.
When the Attorney-General ceased, a buzz arose in the court as if a cloud of great
blue-flies were swarming about the prisoner, in anticipation of what he was
soon to become.
When toned down again, the unimpeachable patriot appeared in the witness-box.
Mr. Solicitor-General then, following his leader's lead, examined the patriot: John
Barsad, gentleman, by name.
The story of his pure soul was exactly what Mr. Attorney-General had described it to
be--perhaps, if it had a fault, a little too exactly.
Having released his noble bosom of its burden, he would have modestly withdrawn
himself, but that the wigged gentleman with the papers before him, sitting not far from
Mr. Lorry, begged to ask him a few questions.
The wigged gentleman sitting opposite, still looking at the ceiling of the court.
Had he ever been a spy himself?
No, he scorned the base insinuation. What did he live upon?
His property. Where was his property?
He didn't precisely remember where it was.
What was it? No business of anybody's.
Had he inherited it? Yes, he had.
From whom?
Distant relation. Very distant?
Rather. Ever been in prison?
Certainly not.
Never in a debtors' prison? Didn't see what that had to do with it.
Never in a debtors' prison?--Come, once again.
Yes. How many times?
Two or three times. Not five or six?
Of what profession? Gentleman.
Ever been kicked? Might have been.
No. Ever kicked downstairs?
Decidedly not; once received a kick on the top of a staircase, and fell downstairs of
his own accord.
Kicked on that occasion for cheating at dice?
Something to that effect was said by the intoxicated liar who committed the assault,
but it was not true.
Swear it was not true? Positively.
Ever live by cheating at play? Never.
Ever live by play?
Not more than other gentlemen do. Ever borrow money of the prisoner?
Yes. Ever pay him?
Was not this intimacy with the prisoner, in reality a very slight one, forced upon the
prisoner in coaches, inns, and packets? No.
Sure he saw the prisoner with these lists?
Certain. Knew no more about the lists?
No. Had not procured them himself, for
No. Expect to get anything by this evidence?
No. Not in regular government pay and
employment, to lay traps?
Oh dear no. Or to do anything?
Oh dear no. Swear that?
Over and over again.
No motives but motives of sheer patriotism? None whatever.
The virtuous servant, Roger Cly, swore his way through the case at a great rate.
He had taken service with the prisoner, in good faith and simplicity, four years ago.
He had asked the prisoner, aboard the Calais packet, if he wanted a handy fellow,
and the prisoner had engaged him.
He had not asked the prisoner to take the handy fellow as an act of charity--never
thought of such a thing.
He began to have suspicions of the prisoner, and to keep an eye upon him, soon
In arranging his clothes, while travelling, he had seen similar lists to these in the
prisoner's pockets, over and over again. He had taken these lists from the drawer of
the prisoner's desk.
He had not put them there first. He had seen the prisoner show these
identical lists to French gentlemen at Calais, and similar lists to French
gentlemen, both at Calais and Boulogne.
He loved his country, and couldn't bear it, and had given information.
He had never been suspected of stealing a silver tea-pot; he had been maligned
respecting a mustard-pot, but it turned out to be only a plated one.
He had known the last witness seven or eight years; that was merely a coincidence.
He didn't call it a particularly curious coincidence; most coincidences were
Neither did he call it a curious coincidence that true patriotism was _his_
only motive too. He was a true Briton, and hoped there were
many like him.
The blue-flies buzzed again, and Mr. Attorney-General called Mr. Jarvis Lorry.
"Mr. Jarvis Lorry, are you a clerk in Tellson's bank?"
"I am."
"On a certain Friday night in November one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five,
did business occasion you to travel between London and Dover by the mail?"
"It did."
"Were there any other passengers in the mail?"
"Two." "Did they alight on the road in the course
of the night?"
"They did." "Mr. Lorry, look upon the prisoner.
Was he one of those two passengers?" "I cannot undertake to say that he was."
"Does he resemble either of these two passengers?"
"Both were so wrapped up, and the night was so dark, and we were all so reserved, that
I cannot undertake to say even that."
"Mr. Lorry, look again upon the prisoner. Supposing him wrapped up as those two
passengers were, is there anything in his bulk and stature to render it unlikely that
he was one of them?"
"No." "You will not swear, Mr. Lorry, that he was
not one of them?" "No."
"So at least you say he may have been one of them?"
"Yes. Except that I remember them both to have been--like myself--timorous of
highwaymen, and the prisoner has not a timorous air."
"Did you ever see a counterfeit of timidity, Mr. Lorry?"
"I certainly have seen that." "Mr. Lorry, look once more upon the
Have you seen him, to your certain knowledge, before?"
"I have." "When?"
"I was returning from France a few days afterwards, and, at Calais, the prisoner
came on board the packet-ship in which I returned, and made the voyage with me."
"At what hour did he come on board?"
"At a little after midnight." "In the dead of the night.
Was he the only passenger who came on board at that untimely hour?"
"He happened to be the only one."
"Never mind about 'happening,' Mr. Lorry. He was the only passenger who came on board
in the dead of the night?" "He was."
"Were you travelling alone, Mr. Lorry, or with any companion?"
"With two companions. A gentleman and lady.
They are here."
"They are here. Had you any conversation with the
prisoner?" "Hardly any.
The weather was stormy, and the passage long and rough, and I lay on a sofa, almost
from shore to shore." "Miss Manette!"
The young lady, to whom all eyes had been turned before, and were now turned again,
stood up where she had sat. Her father rose with her, and kept her hand
drawn through his arm.
"Miss Manette, look upon the prisoner." To be confronted with such pity, and such
earnest youth and beauty, was far more trying to the accused than to be confronted
with all the crowd.
Standing, as it were, apart with her on the edge of his grave, not all the staring
curiosity that looked on, could, for the moment, nerve him to remain quite still.
His hurried right hand parcelled out the herbs before him into imaginary beds of
flowers in a garden; and his efforts to control and steady his breathing shook the
lips from which the colour rushed to his heart.
The buzz of the great flies was loud again. "Miss Manette, have you seen the prisoner
"Yes, sir." "Where?"
"On board of the packet-ship just now referred to, sir, and on the same
"You are the young lady just now referred to?"
"O! most unhappily, I am!"
The plaintive tone of her compassion merged into the less musical voice of the Judge,
as he said something fiercely: "Answer the questions put to you, and make no remark
upon them."
"Miss Manette, had you any conversation with the prisoner on that passage across
the Channel?" "Yes, sir."
"Recall it."
In the midst of a profound stillness, she faintly began: "When the gentleman came on
board--" "Do you mean the prisoner?" inquired the
Judge, knitting his brows.
"Yes, my Lord." "Then say the prisoner."
"When the prisoner came on board, he noticed that my father," turning her eyes
lovingly to him as he stood beside her, "was much fatigued and in a very weak state
of health.
My father was so reduced that I was afraid to take him out of the air, and I had made
a bed for him on the deck near the cabin steps, and I sat on the deck at his side to
take care of him.
There were no other passengers that night, but we four.
The prisoner was so good as to beg permission to advise me how I could shelter
my father from the wind and weather, better than I had done.
I had not known how to do it well, not understanding how the wind would set when
we were out of the harbour. He did it for me.
He expressed great gentleness and kindness for my father's state, and I am sure he
felt it. That was the manner of our beginning to
speak together."
"Let me interrupt you for a moment. Had he come on board alone?"
"No." "How many were with him?"
"Two French gentlemen."
"Had they conferred together?" "They had conferred together until the last
moment, when it was necessary for the French gentlemen to be landed in their
"Had any papers been handed about among them, similar to these lists?"
"Some papers had been handed about among them, but I don't know what papers."
"Like these in shape and size?"
"Possibly, but indeed I don't know, although they stood whispering very near to
me: because they stood at the top of the cabin steps to have the light of the lamp
that was hanging there; it was a dull lamp,
and they spoke very low, and I did not hear what they said, and saw only that they
looked at papers." "Now, to the prisoner's conversation, Miss
"The prisoner was as open in his confidence with me--which arose out of my helpless
situation--as he was kind, and good, and useful to my father.
I hope," bursting into tears, "I may not repay him by doing him harm to-day."
Buzzing from the blue-flies.
"Miss Manette, if the prisoner does not perfectly understand that you give the
evidence which it is your duty to give-- which you must give--and which you cannot
escape from giving--with great
unwillingness, he is the only person present in that condition.
Please to go on."
"He told me that he was travelling on business of a delicate and difficult
nature, which might get people into trouble, and that he was therefore
travelling under an assumed name.
He said that this business had, within a few days, taken him to France, and might,
at intervals, take him backwards and forwards between France and England for a
long time to come."
"Did he say anything about America, Miss Manette?
Be particular."
"He tried to explain to me how that quarrel had arisen, and he said that, so far as he
could judge, it was a wrong and foolish one on England's part.
He added, in a jesting way, that perhaps George Washington might gain almost as
great a name in history as George the Third.
But there was no harm in his way of saying this: it was said laughingly, and to
beguile the time."
Any strongly marked expression of face on the part of a chief actor in a scene of
great interest to whom many eyes are directed, will be unconsciously imitated by
the spectators.
Her forehead was painfully anxious and intent as she gave this evidence, and, in
the pauses when she stopped for the Judge to write it down, watched its effect upon
the counsel for and against.
Among the lookers-on there was the same expression in all quarters of the court;
insomuch, that a great majority of the foreheads there, might have been mirrors
reflecting the witness, when the Judge
looked up from his notes to glare at that tremendous heresy about George Washington.
Mr. Attorney-General now signified to my Lord, that he deemed it necessary, as a
matter of precaution and form, to call the young lady's father, Doctor Manette.
Who was called accordingly.
"Doctor Manette, look upon the prisoner. Have you ever seen him before?"
"Once. When he called at my lodgings in London.
Some three years, or three years and a half ago."
"Can you identify him as your fellow- passenger on board the packet, or speak to
his conversation with your daughter?"
"Sir, I can do neither." "Is there any particular and special reason
for your being unable to do either?" He answered, in a low voice, "There is."
"Has it been your misfortune to undergo a long imprisonment, without trial, or even
accusation, in your native country, Doctor Manette?"
He answered, in a tone that went to every heart, "A long imprisonment."
"Were you newly released on the occasion in question?"
"They tell me so."
"Have you no remembrance of the occasion?" "None.
My mind is a blank, from some time--I cannot even say what time--when I employed
myself, in my captivity, in making shoes, to the time when I found myself living in
London with my dear daughter here.
She had become familiar to me, when a gracious God restored my faculties; but, I
am quite unable even to say how she had become familiar.
I have no remembrance of the process."
Mr. Attorney-General sat down, and the father and daughter sat down together.
A singular circumstance then arose in the case.
The object in hand being to show that the prisoner went down, with some fellow-
plotter untracked, in the Dover mail on that Friday night in November five years
ago, and got out of the mail in the night,
as a blind, at a place where he did not remain, but from which he travelled back
some dozen miles or more, to a garrison and dockyard, and there collected information;
a witness was called to identify him as
having been at the precise time required, in the coffee-room of an hotel in that
garrison-and-dockyard town, waiting for another person.
The prisoner's counsel was cross-examining this witness with no result, except that he
had never seen the prisoner on any other occasion, when the wigged gentleman who had
all this time been looking at the ceiling
of the court, wrote a word or two on a little piece of paper, screwed it up, and
tossed it to him.
Opening this piece of paper in the next pause, the counsel looked with great
attention and curiosity at the prisoner. "You say again you are quite sure that it
was the prisoner?"
The witness was quite sure. "Did you ever see anybody very like the
prisoner?" Not so like (the witness said) as that he
could be mistaken.
"Look well upon that gentleman, my learned friend there," pointing to him who had
tossed the paper over, "and then look well upon the prisoner.
How say you?
Are they very like each other?"
Allowing for my learned friend's appearance being careless and slovenly if not
debauched, they were sufficiently like each other to surprise, not only the witness,
but everybody present, when they were thus brought into comparison.
My Lord being prayed to bid my learned friend lay aside his wig, and giving no
very gracious consent, the likeness became much more remarkable.
My Lord inquired of Mr. Stryver (the prisoner's counsel), whether they were next
to try Mr. Carton (name of my learned friend) for treason?
But, Mr. Stryver replied to my Lord, no; but he would ask the witness to tell him
whether what happened once, might happen twice; whether he would have been so
confident if he had seen this illustration
of his rashness sooner, whether he would be so confident, having seen it; and more.
The upshot of which, was, to smash this witness like a crockery vessel, and shiver
his part of the case to useless lumber.
Mr. Cruncher had by this time taken quite a lunch of rust off his fingers in his
following of the evidence.
He had now to attend while Mr. Stryver fitted the prisoner's case on the jury,
like a compact suit of clothes; showing them how the patriot, Barsad, was a hired
spy and traitor, an unblushing trafficker
in blood, and one of the greatest scoundrels upon earth since accursed Judas-
-which he certainly did look rather like.
How the virtuous servant, Cly, was his friend and partner, and was worthy to be;
how the watchful eyes of those forgers and false swearers had rested on the prisoner
as a victim, because some family affairs in
France, he being of French extraction, did require his making those passages across
the Channel--though what those affairs were, a consideration for others who were
near and dear to him, forbade him, even for his life, to disclose.
How the evidence that had been warped and wrested from the young lady, whose anguish
in giving it they had witnessed, came to nothing, involving the mere little innocent
gallantries and politenesses likely to pass
between any young gentleman and young lady so thrown together;--with the exception of
that reference to George Washington, which was altogether too extravagant and
impossible to be regarded in any other light than as a monstrous joke.
How it would be a weakness in the government to break down in this attempt to
practise for popularity on the lowest national antipathies and fears, and
therefore Mr. Attorney-General had made the
most of it; how, nevertheless, it rested upon nothing, save that vile and infamous
character of evidence too often disfiguring such cases, and of which the State Trials
of this country were full.
But, there my Lord interposed (with as grave a face as if it had not been true),
saying that he could not sit upon that Bench and suffer those allusions.
Mr. Stryver then called his few witnesses, and Mr. Cruncher had next to attend while
Mr. Attorney-General turned the whole suit of clothes Mr. Stryver had fitted on the
jury, inside out; showing how Barsad and
Cly were even a hundred times better than he had thought them, and the prisoner a
hundred times worse.
Lastly, came my Lord himself, turning the suit of clothes, now inside out, now
outside in, but on the whole decidedly trimming and shaping them into grave-
clothes for the prisoner.
And now, the jury turned to consider, and the great flies swarmed again.
Mr. Carton, who had so long sat looking at the ceiling of the court, changed neither
his place nor his attitude, even in this excitement.
While his learned friend, Mr. Stryver, massing his papers before him, whispered
with those who sat near, and from time to time glanced anxiously at the jury; while
all the spectators moved more or less, and
grouped themselves anew; while even my Lord himself arose from his seat, and slowly
paced up and down his platform, not unattended by a suspicion in the minds of
the audience that his state was feverish;
this one man sat leaning back, with his torn gown half off him, his untidy wig put
on just as it had happened to light on his head after its removal, his hands in his
pockets, and his eyes on the ceiling as they had been all day.
Something especially reckless in his demeanour, not only gave him a disreputable
look, but so diminished the strong resemblance he undoubtedly bore to the
prisoner (which his momentary earnestness,
when they were compared together, had strengthened), that many of the lookers-on,
taking note of him now, said to one another they would hardly have thought the two were
so alike.
Mr. Cruncher made the observation to his next neighbour, and added, "I'd hold half a
guinea that _he_ don't get no law-work to do.
Don't look like the sort of one to get any, do he?"
Yet, this Mr. Carton took in more of the details of the scene than he appeared to
take in; for now, when Miss Manette's head dropped upon her father's breast, he was
the first to see it, and to say audibly: "Officer! look to that young lady.
Help the gentleman to take her out. Don't you see she will fall!"
There was much commiseration for her as she was removed, and much sympathy with her
It had evidently been a great distress to him, to have the days of his imprisonment
He had shown strong internal agitation when he was questioned, and that pondering or
brooding look which made him old, had been upon him, like a heavy cloud, ever since.
As he passed out, the jury, who had turned back and paused a moment, spoke, through
their foreman. They were not agreed, and wished to retire.
My Lord (perhaps with George Washington on his mind) showed some surprise that they
were not agreed, but signified his pleasure that they should retire under watch and
ward, and retired himself.
The trial had lasted all day, and the lamps in the court were now being lighted.
It began to be rumoured that the jury would be out a long while.
The spectators dropped off to get refreshment, and the prisoner withdrew to
the back of the dock, and sat down.
Mr. Lorry, who had gone out when the young lady and her father went out, now
reappeared, and beckoned to Jerry: who, in the slackened interest, could easily get
near him.
"Jerry, if you wish to take something to eat, you can.
But, keep in the way. You will be sure to hear when the jury come
Don't be a moment behind them, for I want you to take the verdict back to the bank.
You are the quickest messenger I know, and will get to Temple Bar long before I can."
Jerry had just enough forehead to knuckle, and he knuckled it in acknowledgment of
this communication and a shilling. Mr. Carton came up at the moment, and
touched Mr. Lorry on the arm.
"How is the young lady?" "She is greatly distressed; but her father
is comforting her, and she feels the better for being out of court."
"I'll tell the prisoner so.
It won't do for a respectable bank gentleman like you, to be seen speaking to
him publicly, you know."
Mr. Lorry reddened as if he were conscious of having debated the point in his mind,
and Mr. Carton made his way to the outside of the bar.
The way out of court lay in that direction, and Jerry followed him, all eyes, ears, and
spikes. "Mr. Darnay!"
The prisoner came forward directly.
"You will naturally be anxious to hear of the witness, Miss Manette.
She will do very well. You have seen the worst of her agitation."
"I am deeply sorry to have been the cause of it.
Could you tell her so for me, with my fervent acknowledgments?"
"Yes, I could.
I will, if you ask it." Mr. Carton's manner was so careless as to
be almost insolent. He stood, half turned from the prisoner,
lounging with his elbow against the bar.
"I do ask it. Accept my cordial thanks."
"What," said Carton, still only half turned towards him, "do you expect, Mr. Darnay?"
"The worst."
"It's the wisest thing to expect, and the likeliest.
But I think their withdrawing is in your favour."
Loitering on the way out of court not being allowed, Jerry heard no more: but left
them--so like each other in feature, so unlike each other in manner--standing side
by side, both reflected in the glass above them.
An hour and a half limped heavily away in the thief-and-rascal crowded passages
below, even though assisted off with mutton pies and ale.
The hoarse messenger, uncomfortably seated on a form after taking that refection, had
dropped into a doze, when a loud murmur and a rapid tide of people setting up the
stairs that led to the court, carried him along with them.
"Jerry! Jerry!"
Mr. Lorry was already calling at the door when he got there.
"Here, sir! It's a fight to get back again.
Here I am, sir!"
Mr. Lorry handed him a paper through the throng.
"Quick! Have you got it?"
"Yes, sir."
Hastily written on the paper was the word "ACQUITTED."
"If you had sent the message, 'Recalled to Life,' again," muttered Jerry, as he
turned, "I should have known what you meant, this time."
He had no opportunity of saying, or so much as thinking, anything else, until he was
clear of the Old Bailey; for, the crowd came pouring out with a vehemence that
nearly took him off his legs, and a loud
buzz swept into the street as if the baffled blue-flies were dispersing in
search of other carrion.
Book the Second: The Golden Thread Chapter IV.
From the dimly-lighted passages of the court, the last sediment of the human stew
that had been boiling there all day, was straining off, when Doctor Manette, Lucie
Manette, his daughter, Mr. Lorry, the
solicitor for the defence, and its counsel, Mr. Stryver, stood gathered round Mr.
Charles Darnay--just released-- congratulating him on his escape from
It would have been difficult by a far brighter light, to recognise in Doctor
Manette, intellectual of face and upright of bearing, the shoemaker of the garret in
Yet, no one could have looked at him twice, without looking again: even though the
opportunity of observation had not extended to the mournful cadence of his low grave
voice, and to the abstraction that
overclouded him fitfully, without any apparent reason.
While one external cause, and that a reference to his long lingering agony,
would always--as on the trial--evoke this condition from the depths of his soul, it
was also in its nature to arise of itself,
and to draw a gloom over him, as incomprehensible to those unacquainted with
his story as if they had seen the shadow of the actual Bastille thrown upon him by a
summer sun, when the substance was three hundred miles away.
Only his daughter had the power of charming this black brooding from his mind.
She was the golden thread that united him to a Past beyond his misery, and to a
Present beyond his misery: and the sound of her voice, the light of her face, the touch
of her hand, had a strong beneficial influence with him almost always.
Not absolutely always, for she could recall some occasions on which her power had
failed; but they were few and slight, and she believed them over.
Mr. Darnay had kissed her hand fervently and gratefully, and had turned to Mr.
Stryver, whom he warmly thanked.
Mr. Stryver, a man of little more than thirty, but looking twenty years older than
he was, stout, loud, red, bluff, and free from any drawback of delicacy, had a
pushing way of shouldering himself (morally
and physically) into companies and conversations, that argued well for his
shouldering his way up in life.
He still had his wig and gown on, and he said, squaring himself at his late client
to that degree that he squeezed the innocent Mr. Lorry clean out of the group:
"I am glad to have brought you off with honour, Mr. Darnay.
It was an infamous prosecution, grossly infamous; but not the less likely to
succeed on that account."
"You have laid me under an obligation to you for life--in two senses," said his late
client, taking his hand.
"I have done my best for you, Mr. Darnay; and my best is as good as another man's, I
It clearly being incumbent on some one to say, "Much better," Mr. Lorry said it;
perhaps not quite disinterestedly, but with the interested object of squeezing himself
back again.
"You think so?" said Mr. Stryver. "Well! you have been present all day, and
you ought to know. You are a man of business, too."
"And as such," quoth Mr. Lorry, whom the counsel learned in the law had now
shouldered back into the group, just as he had previously shouldered him out of it--
"as such I will appeal to Doctor Manette,
to break up this conference and order us all to our homes.
Miss Lucie looks ill, Mr. Darnay has had a terrible day, we are worn out."
"Speak for yourself, Mr. Lorry," said Stryver; "I have a night's work to do yet.
Speak for yourself."
"I speak for myself," answered Mr. Lorry, "and for Mr. Darnay, and for Miss Lucie,
and--Miss Lucie, do you not think I may speak for us all?"
He asked her the question pointedly, and with a glance at her father.
His face had become frozen, as it were, in a very curious look at Darnay: an intent
look, deepening into a frown of dislike and distrust, not even unmixed with fear.
With this strange expression on him his thoughts had wandered away.
"My father," said Lucie, softly laying her hand on his.
He slowly shook the shadow off, and turned to her.
"Shall we go home, my father?" With a long breath, he answered "Yes."
The friends of the acquitted prisoner had dispersed, under the impression--which he
himself had originated--that he would not be released that night.
The lights were nearly all extinguished in the passages, the iron gates were being
closed with a jar and a rattle, and the dismal place was deserted until to-morrow
morning's interest of gallows, pillory,
whipping-post, and branding-iron, should repeople it.
Walking between her father and Mr. Darnay, Lucie Manette passed into the open air.
A hackney-coach was called, and the father and daughter departed in it.
Mr. Stryver had left them in the passages, to shoulder his way back to the robing-
Another person, who had not joined the group, or interchanged a word with any one
of them, but who had been leaning against the wall where its shadow was darkest, had
silently strolled out after the rest, and had looked on until the coach drove away.
He now stepped up to where Mr. Lorry and Mr. Darnay stood upon the pavement.
"So, Mr. Lorry!
Men of business may speak to Mr. Darnay now?"
Nobody had made any acknowledgment of Mr. Carton's part in the day's proceedings;
nobody had known of it.
He was unrobed, and was none the better for it in appearance.
"If you knew what a conflict goes on in the business mind, when the business mind is
divided between good-natured impulse and business appearances, you would be amused,
Mr. Darnay."
Mr. Lorry reddened, and said, warmly, "You have mentioned that before, sir.
We men of business, who serve a House, are not our own masters.
We have to think of the House more than ourselves."
"_I_ know, _I_ know," rejoined Mr. Carton, carelessly.
"Don't be nettled, Mr. Lorry.
You are as good as another, I have no doubt: better, I dare say."
"And indeed, sir," pursued Mr. Lorry, not minding him, "I really don't know what you
have to do with the matter.
If you'll excuse me, as very much your elder, for saying so, I really don't know
that it is your business." "Business!
Bless you, _I_ have no business," said Mr. Carton.
"It is a pity you have not, sir." "I think so, too."
"If you had," pursued Mr. Lorry, "perhaps you would attend to it."
"Lord love you, no!--I shouldn't," said Mr. Carton.
"Well, sir!" cried Mr. Lorry, thoroughly heated by his indifference, "business is a
very good thing, and a very respectable thing.
And, sir, if business imposes its restraints and its silences and
impediments, Mr. Darnay as a young gentleman of generosity knows how to make
allowance for that circumstance.
Mr. Darnay, good night, God bless you, sir! I hope you have been this day preserved for
a prosperous and happy life.--Chair there!"
Perhaps a little angry with himself, as well as with the barrister, Mr. Lorry
bustled into the chair, and was carried off to Tellson's.
Carton, who smelt of port wine, and did not appear to be quite sober, laughed then, and
turned to Darnay: "This is a strange chance that throws you
and me together.
This must be a strange night to you, standing alone here with your counterpart
on these street stones?" "I hardly seem yet," returned Charles
Darnay, "to belong to this world again."
"I don't wonder at it; it's not so long since you were pretty far advanced on your
way to another. You speak faintly."
"I begin to think I _am_ faint."
"Then why the devil don't you dine? I dined, myself, while those numskulls were
deliberating which world you should belong to--this, or some other.
Let me show you the nearest tavern to dine well at."
Drawing his arm through his own, he took him down Ludgate-hill to Fleet-street, and
so, up a covered way, into a tavern.
Here, they were shown into a little room, where Charles Darnay was soon recruiting
his strength with a good plain dinner and good wine: while Carton sat opposite to him
at the same table, with his separate bottle
of port before him, and his fully half- insolent manner upon him.
"Do you feel, yet, that you belong to this terrestrial scheme again, Mr. Darnay?"
"I am frightfully confused regarding time and place; but I am so far mended as to
feel that." "It must be an immense satisfaction!"
He said it bitterly, and filled up his glass again: which was a large one.
"As to me, the greatest desire I have, is to forget that I belong to it.
It has no good in it for me--except wine like this--nor I for it.
So we are not much alike in that particular.
Indeed, I begin to think we are not much alike in any particular, you and I."
Confused by the emotion of the day, and feeling his being there with this Double of
coarse deportment, to be like a dream, Charles Darnay was at a loss how to answer;
finally, answered not at all.
"Now your dinner is done," Carton presently said, "why don't you call a health, Mr.
Darnay; why don't you give your toast?" "What health?
What toast?"
"Why, it's on the tip of your tongue. It ought to be, it must be, I'll swear it's
there." "Miss Manette, then!"
"Miss Manette, then!"
Looking his companion full in the face while he drank the toast, Carton flung his
glass over his shoulder against the wall, where it shivered to pieces; then, rang the
bell, and ordered in another.
"That's a fair young lady to hand to a coach in the dark, Mr. Darnay!" he said,
filling his new goblet. A slight frown and a laconic "Yes," were
the answer.
"That's a fair young lady to be pitied by and wept for by!
How does it feel?
Is it worth being tried for one's life, to be the object of such sympathy and
compassion, Mr. Darnay?" Again Darnay answered not a word.
"She was mightily pleased to have your message, when I gave it her.
Not that she showed she was pleased, but I suppose she was."
The allusion served as a timely reminder to Darnay that this disagreeable companion
had, of his own free will, assisted him in the strait of the day.
He turned the dialogue to that point, and thanked him for it.
"I neither want any thanks, nor merit any," was the careless rejoinder.
"It was nothing to do, in the first place; and I don't know why I did it, in the
second. Mr. Darnay, let me ask you a question."
"Willingly, and a small return for your good offices."
"Do you think I particularly like you?"
"Really, Mr. Carton," returned the other, oddly disconcerted, "I have not asked
myself the question." "But ask yourself the question now."
"You have acted as if you do; but I don't think you do."
"_I_ don't think I do," said Carton. "I begin to have a very good opinion of
your understanding."
"Nevertheless," pursued Darnay, rising to ring the bell, "there is nothing in that, I
hope, to prevent my calling the reckoning, and our parting without ill-blood on either
Carton rejoining, "Nothing in life!" Darnay rang.
"Do you call the whole reckoning?" said Carton.
On his answering in the affirmative, "Then bring me another pint of this same wine,
drawer, and come and wake me at ten." The bill being paid, Charles Darnay rose
and wished him good night.
Without returning the wish, Carton rose too, with something of a threat of defiance
in his manner, and said, "A last word, Mr. Darnay: you think I am drunk?"
"I think you have been drinking, Mr. Carton."
"Think? You know I have been drinking."
"Since I must say so, I know it."
"Then you shall likewise know why. I am a disappointed drudge, sir.
I care for no man on earth, and no man on earth cares for me."
"Much to be regretted.
You might have used your talents better." "May be so, Mr. Darnay; may be not.
Don't let your sober face elate you, however; you don't know what it may come
Good night!" When he was left alone, this strange being
took up a candle, went to a glass that hung against the wall, and surveyed himself
minutely in it.
"Do you particularly like the man?" he muttered, at his own image; "why should you
particularly like a man who resembles you? There is nothing in you to like; you know
Ah, confound you! What a change you have made in yourself!
A good reason for taking to a man, that he shows you what you have fallen away from,
and what you might have been!
Change places with him, and would you have been looked at by those blue eyes as he
was, and commiserated by that agitated face as he was?
Come on, and have it out in plain words!
You hate the fellow."
He resorted to his pint of wine for consolation, drank it all in a few minutes,
and fell asleep on his arms, with his hair straggling over the table, and a long
winding-sheet in the candle dripping down upon him.
Book the Second: The Golden Thread Chapter V.
The Jackal
Those were drinking days, and most men drank hard.
So very great is the improvement Time has brought about in such habits, that a
moderate statement of the quantity of wine and punch which one man would swallow in
the course of a night, without any
detriment to his reputation as a perfect gentleman, would seem, in these days, a
ridiculous exaggeration.
The learned profession of the law was certainly not behind any other learned
profession in its Bacchanalian propensities; neither was Mr. Stryver,
already fast shouldering his way to a large
and lucrative practice, behind his compeers in this particular, any more than in the
drier parts of the legal race.
A favourite at the Old Bailey, and eke at the Sessions, Mr. Stryver had begun
cautiously to hew away the lower staves of the ladder on which he mounted.
Sessions and Old Bailey had now to summon their favourite, specially, to their
longing arms; and shouldering itself towards the visage of the Lord Chief
Justice in the Court of King's Bench, the
florid countenance of Mr. Stryver might be daily seen, bursting out of the bed of
wigs, like a great sunflower pushing its way at the sun from among a rank garden-
full of flaring companions.
It had once been noted at the Bar, that while Mr. Stryver was a glib man, and an
unscrupulous, and a ready, and a bold, he had not that faculty of extracting the
essence from a heap of statements, which is
among the most striking and necessary of the advocate's accomplishments.
But, a remarkable improvement came upon him as to this.
The more business he got, the greater his power seemed to grow of getting at its pith
and marrow; and however late at night he sat carousing with Sydney Carton, he always
had his points at his fingers' ends in the morning.
Sydney Carton, idlest and most unpromising of men, was Stryver's great ally.
What the two drank together, between Hilary Term and Michaelmas, might have floated a
king's ship.
Stryver never had a case in hand, anywhere, but Carton was there, with his hands in his
pockets, staring at the ceiling of the court; they went the same Circuit, and even
there they prolonged their usual orgies
late into the night, and Carton was rumoured to be seen at broad day, going
home stealthily and unsteadily to his lodgings, like a dissipated cat.
At last, it began to get about, among such as were interested in the matter, that
although Sydney Carton would never be a lion, he was an amazingly good jackal, and
that he rendered suit and service to Stryver in that humble capacity.
"Ten o'clock, sir," said the man at the tavern, whom he had charged to wake him--
"ten o'clock, sir."
"_What's_ the matter?" "Ten o'clock, sir."
"What do you mean? Ten o'clock at night?"
"Yes, sir.
Your honour told me to call you." "Oh! I remember.
Very well, very well."
After a few dull efforts to get to sleep again, which the man dexterously combated
by stirring the fire continuously for five minutes, he got up, tossed his hat on, and
walked out.
He turned into the Temple, and, having revived himself by twice pacing the
pavements of King's Bench-walk and Paper- buildings, turned into the Stryver
The Stryver clerk, who never assisted at these conferences, had gone home, and the
Stryver principal opened the door.
He had his slippers on, and a loose bed- gown, and his throat was bare for his
greater ease.
He had that rather wild, strained, seared marking about the eyes, which may be
observed in all free livers of his class, from the portrait of Jeffries downward, and
which can be traced, under various
disguises of Art, through the portraits of every Drinking Age.
"You are a little late, Memory," said Stryver.
"About the usual time; it may be a quarter of an hour later."
They went into a dingy room lined with books and littered with papers, where there
was a blazing fire.
A kettle steamed upon the hob, and in the midst of the wreck of papers a table shone,
with plenty of wine upon it, and brandy, and rum, and sugar, and lemons.
"You have had your bottle, I perceive, Sydney."
"Two to-night, I think. I have been dining with the day's client;
or seeing him dine--it's all one!"
"That was a rare point, Sydney, that you brought to bear upon the identification.
How did you come by it? When did it strike you?"
"I thought he was rather a handsome fellow, and I thought I should have been much the
same sort of fellow, if I had had any luck."
Mr. Stryver laughed till he shook his precocious paunch.
"You and your luck, Sydney! Get to work, get to work."
Sullenly enough, the jackal loosened his dress, went into an adjoining room, and
came back with a large jug of cold water, a basin, and a towel or two.
Steeping the towels in the water, and partially wringing them out, he folded them
on his head in a manner hideous to behold, sat down at the table, and said, "Now I am
"Not much boiling down to be done to-night, Memory," said Mr. Stryver, gaily, as he
looked among his papers. "How much?"
"Only two sets of them."
"Give me the worst first." "There they are, Sydney.
Fire away!"
The lion then composed himself on his back on a sofa on one side of the drinking-
table, while the jackal sat at his own paper-bestrewn table proper, on the other
side of it, with the bottles and glasses ready to his hand.
Both resorted to the drinking-table without stint, but each in a different way; the
lion for the most part reclining with his hands in his waistband, looking at the
fire, or occasionally flirting with some
lighter document; the jackal, with knitted brows and intent face, so deep in his task,
that his eyes did not even follow the hand he stretched out for his glass--which often
groped about, for a minute or more, before it found the glass for his lips.
Two or three times, the matter in hand became so knotty, that the jackal found it
imperative on him to get up, and steep his towels anew.
From these pilgrimages to the jug and basin, he returned with such eccentricities
of damp headgear as no words can describe; which were made the more ludicrous by his
anxious gravity.
At length the jackal had got together a compact repast for the lion, and proceeded
to offer it to him.
The lion took it with care and caution, made his selections from it, and his
remarks upon it, and the jackal assisted both.
When the repast was fully discussed, the lion put his hands in his waistband again,
and lay down to meditate.
The jackal then invigorated himself with a bumper for his throttle, and a fresh
application to his head, and applied himself to the collection of a second meal;
this was administered to the lion in the
same manner, and was not disposed of until the clocks struck three in the morning.
"And now we have done, Sydney, fill a bumper of punch," said Mr. Stryver.
The jackal removed the towels from his head, which had been steaming again, shook
himself, yawned, shivered, and complied. "You were very sound, Sydney, in the matter
of those crown witnesses to-day.
Every question told." "I always am sound; am I not?"
"I don't gainsay it. What has roughened your temper?
Put some punch to it and smooth it again."
With a deprecatory grunt, the jackal again complied.
"The old Sydney Carton of old Shrewsbury School," said Stryver, nodding his head
over him as he reviewed him in the present and the past, "the old seesaw Sydney.
Up one minute and down the next; now in spirits and now in despondency!"
"Ah!" returned the other, sighing: "yes! The same Sydney, with the same luck.
Even then, I did exercises for other boys, and seldom did my own."
"And why not?" "God knows.
It was my way, I suppose."
He sat, with his hands in his pockets and his legs stretched out before him, looking
at the fire.
"Carton," said his friend, squaring himself at him with a bullying air, as if the fire-
grate had been the furnace in which sustained endeavour was forged, and the one
delicate thing to be done for the old
Sydney Carton of old Shrewsbury School was to shoulder him into it, "your way is, and
always was, a lame way. You summon no energy and purpose.
Look at me."
"Oh, botheration!" returned Sydney, with a lighter and more good-humoured laugh,
"don't _you_ be moral!" "How have I done what I have done?" said
Stryver; "how do I do what I do?"
"Partly through paying me to help you, I suppose.
But it's not worth your while to apostrophise me, or the air, about it; what
you want to do, you do.
You were always in the front rank, and I was always behind."
"I had to get into the front rank; I was not born there, was I?"
"I was not present at the ceremony; but my opinion is you were," said Carton.
At this, he laughed again, and they both laughed.
"Before Shrewsbury, and at Shrewsbury, and ever since Shrewsbury," pursued Carton,
"you have fallen into your rank, and I have fallen into mine.
Even when we were fellow-students in the Student-Quarter of Paris, picking up
French, and French law, and other French crumbs that we didn't get much good of, you
were always somewhere, and I was always nowhere."
"And whose fault was that?" "Upon my soul, I am not sure that it was
not yours.
You were always driving and riving and shouldering and passing, to that restless
degree that I had no chance for my life but in rust and repose.
It's a gloomy thing, however, to talk about one's own past, with the day breaking.
Turn me in some other direction before I go."
"Well then!
Pledge me to the pretty witness," said Stryver, holding up his glass.
"Are you turned in a pleasant direction?" Apparently not, for he became gloomy again.
"Pretty witness," he muttered, looking down into his glass.
"I have had enough of witnesses to-day and to-night; who's your pretty witness?"
"The picturesque doctor's daughter, Miss Manette."
"_She_ pretty?" "Is she not?"
"Why, man alive, she was the admiration of the whole Court!"
"Rot the admiration of the whole Court! Who made the Old Bailey a judge of beauty?
She was a golden-haired doll!"
"Do you know, Sydney," said Mr. Stryver, looking at him with sharp eyes, and slowly
drawing a hand across his florid face: "do you know, I rather thought, at the time,
that you sympathised with the golden-haired
doll, and were quick to see what happened to the golden-haired doll?"
"Quick to see what happened!
If a girl, doll or no doll, swoons within a yard or two of a man's nose, he can see it
without a perspective-glass. I pledge you, but I deny the beauty.
And now I'll have no more drink; I'll get to bed."
When his host followed him out on the staircase with a candle, to light him down
the stairs, the day was coldly looking in through its grimy windows.
When he got out of the house, the air was cold and sad, the dull sky overcast, the
river dark and dim, the whole scene like a lifeless desert.
And wreaths of dust were spinning round and round before the morning blast, as if the
desert-sand had risen far away, and the first spray of it in its advance had begun
to overwhelm the city.
Waste forces within him, and a desert all around, this man stood still on his way
across a silent terrace, and saw for a moment, lying in the wilderness before him,
a mirage of honourable ambition, self- denial, and perseverance.
In the fair city of this vision, there were airy galleries from which the loves and
graces looked upon him, gardens in which the fruits of life hung ripening, waters of
Hope that sparkled in his sight.
A moment, and it was gone. Climbing to a high chamber in a well of
houses, he threw himself down in his clothes on a neglected bed, and its pillow
was wet with wasted tears.
Sadly, sadly, the sun rose; it rose upon no sadder sight than the man of good abilities
and good emotions, incapable of their directed exercise, incapable of his own
help and his own happiness, sensible of the
blight on him, and resigning himself to let it eat him away.
Book the Second: The Golden Thread Chapter VI.
Hundreds of People
The quiet lodgings of Doctor Manette were in a quiet street-corner not far from Soho-
On the afternoon of a certain fine Sunday when the waves of four months had rolled
over the trial for treason, and carried it, as to the public interest and memory, far
out to sea, Mr. Jarvis Lorry walked along
the sunny streets from Clerkenwell where he lived, on his way to dine with the Doctor.
After several relapses into business- absorption, Mr. Lorry had become the
Doctor's friend, and the quiet street- corner was the sunny part of his life.
On this certain fine Sunday, Mr. Lorry walked towards Soho, early in the
afternoon, for three reasons of habit.
Firstly, because, on fine Sundays, he often walked out, before dinner, with the Doctor
and Lucie; secondly, because, on unfavourable Sundays, he was accustomed to
be with them as the family friend, talking,
reading, looking out of window, and generally getting through the day; thirdly,
because he happened to have his own little shrewd doubts to solve, and knew how the
ways of the Doctor's household pointed to
that time as a likely time for solving them.
A quainter corner than the corner where the Doctor lived, was not to be found in
There was no way through it, and the front windows of the Doctor's lodgings commanded
a pleasant little vista of street that had a congenial air of retirement on it.
There were few buildings then, north of the Oxford-road, and forest-trees flourished,
and wild flowers grew, and the hawthorn blossomed, in the now vanished fields.
As a consequence, country airs circulated in Soho with vigorous freedom, instead of
languishing into the parish like stray paupers without a settlement; and there was
many a good south wall, not far off, on which the peaches ripened in their season.
The summer light struck into the corner brilliantly in the earlier part of the day;
but, when the streets grew hot, the corner was in shadow, though not in shadow so
remote but that you could see beyond it into a glare of brightness.
It was a cool spot, staid but cheerful, a wonderful place for echoes, and a very
harbour from the raging streets.
There ought to have been a tranquil bark in such an anchorage, and there was.
The Doctor occupied two floors of a large stiff house, where several callings
purported to be pursued by day, but whereof little was audible any day, and which was
shunned by all of them at night.
In a building at the back, attainable by a courtyard where a plane-tree rustled its
green leaves, church-organs claimed to be made, and silver to be chased, and likewise
gold to be beaten by some mysterious giant
who had a golden arm starting out of the wall of the front hall--as if he had beaten
himself precious, and menaced a similar conversion of all visitors.
Very little of these trades, or of a lonely lodger rumoured to live up-stairs, or of a
dim coach-trimming maker asserted to have a counting-house below, was ever heard or
Occasionally, a stray workman putting his coat on, traversed the hall, or a stranger
peered about there, or a distant clink was heard across the courtyard, or a thump from
the golden giant.
These, however, were only the exceptions required to prove the rule that the
sparrows in the plane-tree behind the house, and the echoes in the corner before
it, had their own way from Sunday morning unto Saturday night.
Doctor Manette received such patients here as his old reputation, and its revival in
the floating whispers of his story, brought him.
His scientific knowledge, and his vigilance and skill in conducting ingenious
experiments, brought him otherwise into moderate request, and he earned as much as
he wanted.
These things were within Mr. Jarvis Lorry's knowledge, thoughts, and notice, when he
rang the door-bell of the tranquil house in the corner, on the fine Sunday afternoon.
"Doctor Manette at home?"
Expected home. "Miss Lucie at home?"
Expected home. "Miss Pross at home?"
Possibly at home, but of a certainty impossible for handmaid to anticipate
intentions of Miss Pross, as to admission or denial of the fact.
"As I am at home myself," said Mr. Lorry, "I'll go upstairs."
Although the Doctor's daughter had known nothing of the country of her birth, she
appeared to have innately derived from it that ability to make much of little means,
which is one of its most useful and most agreeable characteristics.
Simple as the furniture was, it was set off by so many little adornments, of no value
but for their taste and fancy, that its effect was delightful.
The disposition of everything in the rooms, from the largest object to the least; the
arrangement of colours, the elegant variety and contrast obtained by thrift in trifles,
by delicate hands, clear eyes, and good
sense; were at once so pleasant in themselves, and so expressive of their
originator, that, as Mr. Lorry stood looking about him, the very chairs and
tables seemed to ask him, with something of
that peculiar expression which he knew so well by this time, whether he approved?
There were three rooms on a floor, and, the doors by which they communicated being put
open that the air might pass freely through them all, Mr. Lorry, smilingly observant of
that fanciful resemblance which he detected all around him, walked from one to another.
The first was the best room, and in it were Lucie's birds, and flowers, and books, and
desk, and work-table, and box of water- colours; the second was the Doctor's
consulting-room, used also as the dining-
room; the third, changingly speckled by the rustle of the plane-tree in the yard, was
the Doctor's bedroom, and there, in a corner, stood the disused shoemaker's bench
and tray of tools, much as it had stood on
the fifth floor of the dismal house by the wine-shop, in the suburb of Saint Antoine
in Paris.
"I wonder," said Mr. Lorry, pausing in his looking about, "that he keeps that reminder
of his sufferings about him!" "And why wonder at that?" was the abrupt
inquiry that made him start.
It proceeded from Miss Pross, the wild red woman, strong of hand, whose acquaintance
he had first made at the Royal George Hotel at Dover, and had since improved.
"I should have thought--" Mr. Lorry began.
"Pooh! You'd have thought!" said Miss Pross; and
Mr. Lorry left off.
"How do you do?" inquired that lady then-- sharply, and yet as if to express that she
bore him no malice. "I am pretty well, I thank you," answered
Mr. Lorry, with meekness; "how are you?"
"Nothing to boast of," said Miss Pross. "Indeed?"
"Ah! indeed!" said Miss Pross. "I am very much put out about my Ladybird."
"For gracious sake say something else besides 'indeed,' or you'll fidget me to
death," said Miss Pross: whose character (dissociated from stature) was shortness.
"Really, then?" said Mr. Lorry, as an amendment.
"Really, is bad enough," returned Miss Pross, "but better.
Yes, I am very much put out."
"May I ask the cause?" "I don't want dozens of people who are not
at all worthy of Ladybird, to come here looking after her," said Miss Pross.
"_Do_ dozens come for that purpose?"
"Hundreds," said Miss Pross.
It was characteristic of this lady (as of some other people before her time and
since) that whenever her original proposition was questioned, she exaggerated
"Dear me!" said Mr. Lorry, as the safest remark he could think of.
"I have lived with the darling--or the darling has lived with me, and paid me for
it; which she certainly should never have done, you may take your affidavit, if I
could have afforded to keep either myself
or her for nothing--since she was ten years old.
And it's really very hard," said Miss Pross.
Not seeing with precision what was very hard, Mr. Lorry shook his head; using that
important part of himself as a sort of fairy cloak that would fit anything.
"All sorts of people who are not in the least degree worthy of the pet, are always
turning up," said Miss Pross. "When you began it--"
"_I_ began it, Miss Pross?"
"Didn't you? Who brought her father to life?"
"Oh! If _that_ was beginning it--" said Mr. Lorry.
"It wasn't ending it, I suppose?
I say, when you began it, it was hard enough; not that I have any fault to find
with Doctor Manette, except that he is not worthy of such a daughter, which is no
imputation on him, for it was not to be
expected that anybody should be, under any circumstances.
But it really is doubly and trebly hard to have crowds and multitudes of people
turning up after him (I could have forgiven him), to take Ladybird's affections away
from me."
Mr. Lorry knew Miss Pross to be very jealous, but he also knew her by this time
to be, beneath the service of her eccentricity, one of those unselfish
creatures--found only among women--who
will, for pure love and admiration, bind themselves willing slaves, to youth when
they have lost it, to beauty that they never had, to accomplishments that they
were never fortunate enough to gain, to
bright hopes that never shone upon their own sombre lives.
He knew enough of the world to know that there is nothing in it better than the
faithful service of the heart; so rendered and so free from any mercenary taint, he
had such an exalted respect for it, that in
the retributive arrangements made by his own mind--we all make such arrangements,
more or less--he stationed Miss Pross much nearer to the lower Angels than many ladies
immeasurably better got up both by Nature and Art, who had balances at Tellson's.
"There never was, nor will be, but one man worthy of Ladybird," said Miss Pross; "and
that was my brother Solomon, if he hadn't made a mistake in life."
Here again: Mr. Lorry's inquiries into Miss Pross's personal history had established
the fact that her brother Solomon was a heartless scoundrel who had stripped her of
everything she possessed, as a stake to
speculate with, and had abandoned her in her poverty for evermore, with no touch of
Miss Pross's fidelity of belief in Solomon (deducting a mere trifle for this slight
mistake) was quite a serious matter with Mr. Lorry, and had its weight in his good
opinion of her.
"As we happen to be alone for the moment, and are both people of business," he said,
when they had got back to the drawing-room and had sat down there in friendly
relations, "let me ask you--does the
Doctor, in talking with Lucie, never refer to the shoemaking time, yet?"
"Never." "And yet keeps that bench and those tools
beside him?"
"Ah!" returned Miss Pross, shaking her head.
"But I don't say he don't refer to it within himself."
"Do you believe that he thinks of it much?"
"I do," said Miss Pross. "Do you imagine--" Mr. Lorry had begun,
when Miss Pross took him up short with: "Never imagine anything.
Have no imagination at all."
"I stand corrected; do you suppose--you go so far as to suppose, sometimes?"
"Now and then," said Miss Pross.
"Do you suppose," Mr. Lorry went on, with a laughing twinkle in his bright eye, as it
looked kindly at her, "that Doctor Manette has any theory of his own, preserved
through all those years, relative to the
cause of his being so oppressed; perhaps, even to the name of his oppressor?"
"I don't suppose anything about it but what Ladybird tells me."
"And that is--?"
"That she thinks he has." "Now don't be angry at my asking all these
questions; because I am a mere dull man of business, and you are a woman of business."
Miss Pross inquired, with placidity. Rather wishing his modest adjective away,
Mr. Lorry replied, "No, no, no. Surely not.
To return to business:--Is it not remarkable that Doctor Manette,
unquestionably innocent of any crime as we are all well assured he is, should never
touch upon that question?
I will not say with me, though he had business relations with me many years ago,
and we are now intimate; I will say with the fair daughter to whom he is so
devotedly attached, and who is so devotedly attached to him?
Believe me, Miss Pross, I don't approach the topic with you, out of curiosity, but
out of zealous interest."
"Well! To the best of my understanding, and bad's
the best, you'll tell me," said Miss Pross, softened by the tone of the apology, "he is
afraid of the whole subject."
"Afraid?" "It's plain enough, I should think, why he
may be. It's a dreadful remembrance.
Besides that, his loss of himself grew out of it.
Not knowing how he lost himself, or how he recovered himself, he may never feel
certain of not losing himself again.
That alone wouldn't make the subject pleasant, I should think."
It was a profounder remark than Mr. Lorry had looked for.
"True," said he, "and fearful to reflect upon.
Yet, a doubt lurks in my mind, Miss Pross, whether it is good for Doctor Manette to
have that suppression always shut up within him.
Indeed, it is this doubt and the uneasiness it sometimes causes me that has led me to
our present confidence." "Can't be helped," said Miss Pross, shaking
her head.
"Touch that string, and he instantly changes for the worse.
Better leave it alone. In short, must leave it alone, like or no
Sometimes, he gets up in the dead of the night, and will be heard, by us overhead
there, walking up and down, walking up and down, in his room.
Ladybird has learnt to know then that his mind is walking up and down, walking up and
down, in his old prison.
She hurries to him, and they go on together, walking up and down, walking up
and down, until he is composed.
But he never says a word of the true reason of his restlessness, to her, and she finds
it best not to hint at it to him.
In silence they go walking up and down together, walking up and down together,
till her love and company have brought him to himself."
Notwithstanding Miss Pross's denial of her own imagination, there was a perception of
the pain of being monotonously haunted by one sad idea, in her repetition of the
phrase, walking up and down, which testified to her possessing such a thing.
The corner has been mentioned as a wonderful corner for echoes; it had begun
to echo so resoundingly to the tread of coming feet, that it seemed as though the
very mention of that weary pacing to and fro had set it going.
"Here they are!" said Miss Pross, rising to break up the conference; "and now we shall
have hundreds of people pretty soon!"
It was such a curious corner in its acoustical properties, such a peculiar Ear
of a place, that as Mr. Lorry stood at the open window, looking for the father and
daughter whose steps he heard, he fancied they would never approach.
Not only would the echoes die away, as though the steps had gone; but, echoes of
other steps that never came would be heard in their stead, and would die away for good
when they seemed close at hand.
However, father and daughter did at last appear, and Miss Pross was ready at the
street door to receive them.
Miss Pross was a pleasant sight, albeit wild, and red, and grim, taking off her
darling's bonnet when she came up-stairs, and touching it up with the ends of her
handkerchief, and blowing the dust off it,
and folding her mantle ready for laying by, and smoothing her rich hair with as much
pride as she could possibly have taken in her own hair if she had been the vainest
and handsomest of women.
Her darling was a pleasant sight too, embracing her and thanking her, and
protesting against her taking so much trouble for her--which last she only dared
to do playfully, or Miss Pross, sorely
hurt, would have retired to her own chamber and cried.
The Doctor was a pleasant sight too, looking on at them, and telling Miss Pross
how she spoilt Lucie, in accents and with eyes that had as much spoiling in them as
Miss Pross had, and would have had more if it were possible.
Mr. Lorry was a pleasant sight too, beaming at all this in his little wig, and thanking
his bachelor stars for having lighted him in his declining years to a Home.
But, no Hundreds of people came to see the sights, and Mr. Lorry looked in vain for
the fulfilment of Miss Pross's prediction. Dinner-time, and still no Hundreds of
In the arrangements of the little household, Miss Pross took charge of the
lower regions, and always acquitted herself marvellously.
Her dinners, of a very modest quality, were so well cooked and so well served, and so
neat in their contrivances, half English and half French, that nothing could be
Miss Pross's friendship being of the thoroughly practical kind, she had ravaged
Soho and the adjacent provinces, in search of impoverished French, who, tempted by
shillings and half-crowns, would impart culinary mysteries to her.
From these decayed sons and daughters of Gaul, she had acquired such wonderful arts,
that the woman and girl who formed the staff of domestics regarded her as quite a
Sorceress, or Cinderella's Godmother: who
would send out for a fowl, a rabbit, a vegetable or two from the garden, and
change them into anything she pleased.
On Sundays, Miss Pross dined at the Doctor's table, but on other days persisted
in taking her meals at unknown periods, either in the lower regions, or in her own
room on the second floor--a blue chamber,
to which no one but her Ladybird ever gained admittance.
On this occasion, Miss Pross, responding to Ladybird's pleasant face and pleasant
efforts to please her, unbent exceedingly; so the dinner was very pleasant, too.
It was an oppressive day, and, after dinner, Lucie proposed that the wine should
be carried out under the plane-tree, and they should sit there in the air.
As everything turned upon her, and revolved about her, they went out under the plane-
tree, and she carried the wine down for the special benefit of Mr. Lorry.
She had installed herself, some time before, as Mr. Lorry's cup-bearer; and
while they sat under the plane-tree, talking, she kept his glass replenished.
Mysterious backs and ends of houses peeped at them as they talked, and the plane-tree
whispered to them in its own way above their heads.
Still, the Hundreds of people did not present themselves.
Mr. Darnay presented himself while they were sitting under the plane-tree, but he
was only One.
Doctor Manette received him kindly, and so did Lucie.
But, Miss Pross suddenly became afflicted with a twitching in the head and body, and
retired into the house.
She was not unfrequently the victim of this disorder, and she called it, in familiar
conversation, "a fit of the jerks." The Doctor was in his best condition, and
looked specially young.
The resemblance between him and Lucie was very strong at such times, and as they sat
side by side, she leaning on his shoulder, and he resting his arm on the back of her
chair, it was very agreeable to trace the likeness.
He had been talking all day, on many subjects, and with unusual vivacity.
"Pray, Doctor Manette," said Mr. Darnay, as they sat under the plane-tree--and he said
it in the natural pursuit of the topic in hand, which happened to be the old
buildings of London--"have you seen much of the Tower?"
"Lucie and I have been there; but only casually.
We have seen enough of it, to know that it teems with interest; little more."
"_I_ have been there, as you remember," said Darnay, with a smile, though reddening
a little angrily, "in another character, and not in a character that gives
facilities for seeing much of it.
They told me a curious thing when I was there."
"What was that?" Lucie asked.
"In making some alterations, the workmen came upon an old dungeon, which had been,
for many years, built up and forgotten.
Every stone of its inner wall was covered by inscriptions which had been carved by
prisoners--dates, names, complaints, and prayers.
Upon a corner stone in an angle of the wall, one prisoner, who seemed to have gone
to execution, had cut as his last work, three letters.
They were done with some very poor instrument, and hurriedly, with an unsteady
At first, they were read as D.I.C.; but, on being more carefully examined, the last
letter was found to be G.
There was no record or legend of any prisoner with those initials, and many
fruitless guesses were made what the name could have been.
At length, it was suggested that the letters were not initials, but the complete
word, DIG.
The floor was examined very carefully under the inscription, and, in the earth beneath
a stone, or tile, or some fragment of paving, were found the ashes of a paper,
mingled with the ashes of a small leathern case or bag.
What the unknown prisoner had written will never be read, but he had written
something, and hidden it away to keep it from the gaoler."
"My father," exclaimed Lucie, "you are ill!"
He had suddenly started up, with his hand to his head.
His manner and his look quite terrified them all.
"No, my dear, not ill. There are large drops of rain falling, and
they made me start.
We had better go in." He recovered himself almost instantly.
Rain was really falling in large drops, and he showed the back of his hand with rain-
drops on it.
But, he said not a single word in reference to the discovery that had been told of,
and, as they went into the house, the business eye of Mr. Lorry either detected,
or fancied it detected, on his face, as it
turned towards Charles Darnay, the same singular look that had been upon it when it
turned towards him in the passages of the Court House.
He recovered himself so quickly, however, that Mr. Lorry had doubts of his business
The arm of the golden giant in the hall was not more steady than he was, when he
stopped under it to remark to them that he was not yet proof against slight surprises
(if he ever would be), and that the rain had startled him.
Tea-time, and Miss Pross making tea, with another fit of the jerks upon her, and yet
no Hundreds of people.
Mr. Carton had lounged in, but he made only Two.
The night was so very sultry, that although they sat with doors and windows open, they
were overpowered by heat.
When the tea-table was done with, they all moved to one of the windows, and looked out
into the heavy twilight. Lucie sat by her father; Darnay sat beside
her; Carton leaned against a window.
The curtains were long and white, and some of the thunder-gusts that whirled into the
corner, caught them up to the ceiling, and waved them like spectral wings.
"The rain-drops are still falling, large, heavy, and few," said Doctor Manette.
"It comes slowly." "It comes surely," said Carton.
They spoke low, as people watching and waiting mostly do; as people in a dark
room, watching and waiting for Lightning, always do.
There was a great hurry in the streets of people speeding away to get shelter before
the storm broke; the wonderful corner for echoes resounded with the echoes of
footsteps coming and going, yet not a footstep was there.
"A multitude of people, and yet a solitude!" said Darnay, when they had
listened for a while.
"Is it not impressive, Mr. Darnay?" asked Lucie.
"Sometimes, I have sat here of an evening, until I have fancied--but even the shade of
a foolish fancy makes me shudder to-night, when all is so black and solemn--"
"Let us shudder too.
We may know what it is." "It will seem nothing to you.
Such whims are only impressive as we originate them, I think; they are not to be
I have sometimes sat alone here of an evening, listening, until I have made the
echoes out to be the echoes of all the footsteps that are coming by-and-bye into
our lives."
"There is a great crowd coming one day into our lives, if that be so," Sydney Carton
struck in, in his moody way. The footsteps were incessant, and the hurry
of them became more and more rapid.
The corner echoed and re-echoed with the tread of feet; some, as it seemed, under
the windows; some, as it seemed, in the room; some coming, some going, some
breaking off, some stopping altogether; all
in the distant streets, and not one within sight.
"Are all these footsteps destined to come to all of us, Miss Manette, or are we to
divide them among us?"
"I don't know, Mr. Darnay; I told you it was a foolish fancy, but you asked for it.
When I have yielded myself to it, I have been alone, and then I have imagined them
the footsteps of the people who are to come into my life, and my father's."
"I take them into mine!" said Carton.
"_I_ ask no questions and make no stipulations.
There is a great crowd bearing down upon us, Miss Manette, and I see them--by the
He added the last words, after there had been a vivid flash which had shown him
lounging in the window. "And I hear them!" he added again, after a
peal of thunder.
"Here they come, fast, fierce, and furious!"
It was the rush and roar of rain that he typified, and it stopped him, for no voice
could be heard in it.
A memorable storm of thunder and lightning broke with that sweep of water, and there
was not a moment's interval in crash, and fire, and rain, until after the moon rose
at midnight.
The great bell of Saint Paul's was striking one in the cleared air, when Mr. Lorry,
escorted by Jerry, high-booted and bearing a lantern, set forth on his return-passage
to Clerkenwell.
There were solitary patches of road on the way between Soho and Clerkenwell, and Mr.
Lorry, mindful of foot-pads, always retained Jerry for this service: though it
was usually performed a good two hours earlier.
"What a night it has been! Almost a night, Jerry," said Mr. Lorry, "to
bring the dead out of their graves."
"I never see the night myself, master--nor yet I don't expect to--what would do that,"
answered Jerry. "Good night, Mr. Carton," said the man of
"Good night, Mr. Darnay. Shall we ever see such a night again,
together!" Perhaps.
Perhaps, see the great crowd of people with its rush and roar, bearing down upon them,