Part 5 out of 9
"See!" said the Doctor of Beauvais, raising his hand towards the moon.
"I have looked at her from my prison-window, when I could not bear
her light. I have looked at her when it has been such torture to me
to think of her shining upon what I had lost, that I have beaten my
head against my prison-walls. I have looked at her, in a state so
dun and lethargic, that I have thought of nothing but the number of
horizontal lines I could draw across her at the full, and the number of
perpendicular lines with which I could intersect them." He added in his
inward and pondering manner, as he looked at the moon, "It was twenty
either way, I remember, and the twentieth was difficult to squeeze in."
The strange thrill with which she heard him go back to that time,
deepened as he dwelt upon it; but, there was nothing to shock her in
the manner of his reference. He only seemed to contrast his present
cheerfulness and felicity with the dire endurance that was over.
"I have looked at her, speculating thousands of times upon the unborn
child from whom I had been rent. Whether it was alive. Whether it had
been born alive, or the poor mother's shock had killed it. Whether it
was a son who would some day avenge his father. (There was a time in my
imprisonment, when my desire for vengeance was unbearable.) Whether it
was a son who would never know his father's story; who might even live
to weigh the possibility of his father's having disappeared of his own
will and act. Whether it was a daughter who would grow to be a woman."
She drew closer to him, and kissed his cheek and his hand.
"I have pictured my daughter, to myself, as perfectly forgetful of me
--rather, altogether ignorant of me, and unconscious of me. I have
cast up the years of her age, year after year. I have seen her married
to a man who knew nothing of my fate. I have altogether perished from
the remembrance of the living, and in the next generation my place
was a blank."
"My father! Even to hear that you had such thoughts of a daughter
who never existed, strikes to my heart as if I had been that child."
"You, Lucie? It is out of the Consolation and restoration you have
brought to me, that these remembrances arise, and pass between us and
the moon on this last night.--What did I say just now?"
"She knew nothing of you. She cared nothing for you."
"So! But on other moonlight nights, when the sadness and the silence
have touched me in a different way--have affected me with something as
like a sorrowful sense of peace, as any emotion that had pain for its
foundations could--I have imagined her as coming to me in my cell, and
leading me out into the freedom beyond the fortress. I have seen her
image in the moonlight often, as I now see you; except that I never held
her in my arms; it stood between the little grated window and the door.
But, you understand that that was not the child I am speaking of?"
"The figure was not; the--the--image; the fancy?"
"No. That was another thing. It stood before my disturbed sense of
sight, but it never moved. The phantom that my mind pursued, was
another and more real child. Of her outward appearance I know no more
than that she was like her mother. The other had that likeness too
--as you have--but was not the same. Can you follow me, Lucie?
Hardly, I think? I doubt you must have been a solitary prisoner to
understand these perplexed distinctions."
His collected and calm manner could not prevent her blood from running
cold, as he thus tried to anatomise his old condition.
"In that more peaceful state, I have imagined her, in the moonlight,
coming to me and taking me out to show me that the home of her married
life was full of her loving remembrance of her lost father. My picture
was in her room, and I was in her prayers. Her life was active,
cheerful, useful; but my poor history pervaded it all."
"I was that child, my father, I was not half so good, but in my love
that was I."
"And she showed me her children," said the Doctor of Beauvais, "and
they had heard of me, and had been taught to pity me. When they
passed a prison of the State, they kept far from its frowning walls,
and looked up at its bars, and spoke in whispers. She could never
deliver me; I imagined that she always brought me back after showing
me such things. But then, blessed with the relief of tears,
I fell upon my knees, and blessed her."
"I am that child, I hope, my father. O my dear, my dear, will you
bless me as fervently to-morrow?"
"Lucie, I recall these old troubles in the reason that I have to-night
for loving you better than words can tell, and thanking God for my
great happiness. My thoughts, when they were wildest, never rose near
the happiness that I have known with you, and that we have before us."
He embraced her, solemnly commended her to Heaven, and humbly thanked
Heaven for having bestowed her on him. By-and-bye, they went
into the house.
There was no one bidden to the marriage but Mr. Lorry; there was even
to be no bridesmaid but the gaunt Miss Pross. The marriage was to
make no change in their place of residence; they had been able to
extend it, by taking to themselves the upper rooms formerly belonging
to the apocryphal invisible lodger, and they desired nothing more.
Doctor Manette was very cheerful at the little supper. They were
only three at table, and Miss Pross made the third. He regretted that
Charles was not there; was more than half disposed to object to the
loving little plot that kept him away; and drank to him affectionately.
So, the time came for him to bid Lucie good night, and they separated.
But, in the stillness of the third hour of the morning, Lucie came
downstairs again, and stole into his room; not free from unshaped fears,
All things, however, were in their places; all was quiet; and he lay
asleep, his white hair picturesque on the untroubled pillow, and his
hands lying quiet on the coverlet. She put her needless candle in the
shadow at a distance, crept up to his bed, and put her lips to his;
then, leaned over him, and looked at him.
Into his handsome face, the bitter waters of captivity had worn; but,
he covered up their tracks with a determination so strong, that he held
the mastery of them even in his sleep. A more remarkable face in its
quiet, resolute, and guarded struggle with an unseen assailant, was
not to be beheld in all the wide dominions of sleep, that night.
She timidly laid her hand on his dear breast, and put up a prayer that
she might ever be as true to him as her love aspired to be, and as his
sorrows deserved. Then, she withdrew her hand, and kissed his lips
once more, and went away. So, the sunrise came, and the shadows of
the leaves of the plane-tree moved upon his face, as softly as her
lips had moved in praying for him.
The marriage-day was shining brightly, and they were ready outside
the closed door of the Doctor's room, where he was speaking with
Charles Darnay. They were ready to go to church; the beautiful bride,
Mr. Lorry, and Miss Pross--to whom the event, through a gradual process
of reconcilement to the inevitable, would have been one of absolute
bliss, but for the yet lingering consideration that her brother
Solomon should have been the bridegroom.
"And so," said Mr. Lorry, who could not sufficiently admire the bride,
and who had been moving round her to take in every point of her quiet,
pretty dress; "and so it was for this, my sweet Lucie, that I brought
you across the Channel, such a baby' Lord bless me' How little I
thought what I was doing! How lightly I valued the obligation I was
conferring on my friend Mr. Charles!"
"You didn't mean it," remarked the matter-of-fact Miss Pross, "and
therefore how could you know it? Nonsense!"
"Really? Well; but don't cry," said the gentle Mr. Lorry.
"I am not crying," said Miss Pross; "YOU are."
"I, my Pross?" (By this time, Mr. Lorry dared to be pleasant with
her, on occasion.)
"You were, just now; I saw you do it, and I don't wonder at it. Such
a present of plate as you have made 'em, is enough to bring tears into
anybody's eyes. There's not a fork or a spoon in the collection,"
said Miss Pross, "that I didn't cry over, last night after the box came,
till I couldn't see it."
"I am highly gratified," said Mr. Lorry, "though, upon my honour, I
had no intention of rendering those trifling articles of remembrance
invisible to any one. Dear me! This is an occasion that makes a man
speculate on all he has lost. Dear, dear, dear! To think that there
might have been a Mrs. Lorry, any time these fifty years almost!"
"Not at all!" From Miss Pross.
"You think there never might have been a Mrs. Lorry?" asked the
gentleman of that name.
"Pooh!" rejoined Miss Pross; "you were a bachelor in your cradle."
"Well!" observed Mr. Lorry, beamingly adjusting his little wig,
"that seems probable, too."
"And you were cut out for a bachelor," pursued Miss Pross, "before
you were put in your cradle."
"Then, I think," said Mr. Lorry, "that I was very unhandsomely dealt
with, and that I ought to have had a voice in the selection of my
pattern. Enough! Now, my dear Lucie," drawing his arm soothingly
round her waist, "I hear them moving in the next room, and Miss Pross
and I, as two formal folks of business, are anxious not to lose the
final opportunity of saying something to you that you wish to hear.
You leave your good father, my dear, in hands as earnest and as
loving as your own; he shall be taken every conceivable care of;
during the next fortnight, while you are in Warwickshire and thereabouts,
even Tellson's shall go to the wall (comparatively speaking) before him.
And when, at the fortnight's end, he comes to join you and your beloved
husband, on your other fortnight's trip in Wales, you shall say that
we have sent him to you in the best health and in the happiest frame.
Now, I hear Somebody's step coming to the door. Let me kiss my dear
girl with an old-fashioned bachelor blessing, before Somebody comes
to claim his own."
For a moment, he held the fair face from him to look at the
well-remembered expression on the forehead, and then laid the bright
golden hair against his little brown wig, with a genuine tenderness and
delicacy which, if such things be old-fashioned, were as old as Adam.
The door of the Doctor's room opened, and he came out with Charles
Darnay. He was so deadly pale--which had not been the case when they
went in together--that no vestige of colour was to be seen in his face.
But, in the composure of his manner he was unaltered, except that to
the shrewd glance of Mr. Lorry it disclosed some shadowy indication
that the old air of avoidance and dread had lately passed over him,
like a cold wind.
He gave his arm to his daughter, and took her down-stairs to the chariot
which Mr. Lorry had hired in honour of the day. The rest followed in
another carriage, and soon, in a neighbouring church, where no strange
eyes looked on, Charles Darnay and Lucie Manette were happily married.
Besides the glancing tears that shone among the smiles of the little
group when it was done, some diamonds, very bright and sparkling,
glanced on the bride's hand, which were newly released from the dark
obscurity of one of Mr. Lorry's pockets. They returned home to
breakfast, and all went well, and in due course the golden hair that
had mingled with the poor shoemaker's white locks in the Paris garret,
were mingled with them again in the morning sunlight, on the threshold
of the door at parting.
It was a hard parting, though it was not for long. But her father
cheered her, and said at last, gently disengaging himself from her
enfolding arms, "Take her, Charles! She is yours!"
And her agitated hand waved to them from a chaise window, and
she was gone.
The corner being out of the way of the idle and curious, and the
preparations having been very simple and few, the Doctor, Mr. Lorry,
and Miss Pross, were left quite alone. It was when they turned into
the welcome shade of the cool old hall, that Mr. Lorry observed a
great change to have come over the Doctor; as if the golden arm
uplifted there, had struck him a poisoned blow.
He had naturally repressed much, and some revulsion might have been
expected in him when the occasion for repression was gone. But, it
was the old scared lost look that troubled Mr. Lorry; and through
his absent manner of clasping his head and drearily wandering away
into his own room when they got up-stairs, Mr. Lorry was reminded of
Defarge the wine-shop keeper, and the starlight ride.
"I think," he whispered to Miss Pross, after anxious consideration,
"I think we had best not speak to him just now, or at all disturb him.
I must look in at Tellson's; so I will go there at once and come back
presently. Then, we will take him a ride into the country, and dine
there, and all will be well."
It was easier for Mr. Lorry to look in at Tellson's, than to look
out of Tellson's. He was detained two hours. When he came back,
he ascended the old staircase alone, having asked no question of
the servant; going thus into the Doctor's rooms, he was stopped by
a low sound of knocking.
"Good God!" he said, with a start. "What's that?"
Miss Pross, with a terrified face, was at his ear. "O me, O me!
All is lost!" cried she, wringing her hands. "What is to be told
to Ladybird? He doesn't know me, and is making shoes!"
Mr. Lorry said what he could to calm her, and went himself into the
Doctor's room. The bench was turned towards the light, as it had
been when he had seen the shoemaker at his work before, and his head
was bent down, and he was very busy.
"Doctor Manette. My dear friend, Doctor Manette!"
The Doctor looked at him for a moment--half inquiringly, half as if
he were angry at being spoken to--and bent over his work again.
He had laid aside his coat and waistcoat; his shirt was open at the
throat, as it used to be when he did that work; and even the old
haggard, faded surface of face had come back to him. He worked hard--
impatiently--as if in some sense of having been interrupted.
Mr. Lorry glanced at the work in his hand, and observed that it was
a shoe of the old size and shape. He took up another that was lying
by him, and asked what it was.
"A young lady's walking shoe," he muttered, without looking up.
"It ought to have been finished long ago. Let it be."
"But, Doctor Manette. Look at me!"
He obeyed, in the old mechanically submissive manner, without
pausing in his work.
"You know me, my dear friend? Think again. This is not your proper
occupation. Think, dear friend!"
Nothing would induce him to speak more. He looked up, for an instant
at a time, when he was requested to do so; but, no persuasion would
extract a word from him. He worked, and worked, and worked, in silence,
and words fell on him as they would have fallen on an echoless wall,
or on the air. The only ray of hope that Mr. Lorry could discover,
was, that he sometimes furtively looked up without being asked. In that,
there seemed a faint expression of curiosity or perplexity--as though
he were trying to reconcile some doubts in his mind.
Two things at once impressed themselves on Mr. Lorry, as important
above all others; the first, that this must be kept secret from Lucie;
the second, that it must be kept secret from all who knew him. In
conjunction with Miss Pross, he took immediate steps towards the
latter precaution, by giving out that the Doctor was not well, and
required a few days of complete rest. In aid of the kind deception
to be practised on his daughter, Miss Pross was to write, describing
his having been called away professionally, and referring to an
imaginary letter of two or three hurried lines in his own hand,
represented to have been addressed to her by the same post.
These measures, advisable to be taken in any case, Mr. Lorry took in
the hope of his coming to himself. If that should happen soon, he kept
another course in reserve; which was, to have a certain opinion that he
thought the best, on the Doctor's case.
In the hope of his recovery, and of resort to this third course being
thereby rendered practicable, Mr. Lorry resolved to watch him
attentively, with as little appearance as possible of doing so.
He therefore made arrangements to absent himself from Tellson's for the
first time in his life, and took his post by the window in the same room.
He was not long in discovering that it was worse than useless to speak
to him, since, on being pressed, he became worried. He abandoned that
attempt on the first day, and resolved merely to keep himself always
before him, as a silent protest against the delusion into which he had
fallen, or was falling. He remained, therefore, in his seat near the
window, reading and writing, and expressing in as many pleasant and
natural ways as he could think of, that it was a free place.
Doctor Manette took what was given him to eat and drink, and worked on,
that first day, until it was too dark to see--worked on, half an hour
after Mr. Lorry could not have seen, for his life, to read or write.
When he put his tools aside as useless, until morning, Mr. Lorry rose
and said to him:
"Will you go out?"
He looked down at the floor on either side of him in the old manner,
looked up in the old manner, and repeated in the old low voice:
"Yes; for a walk with me. Why not?"
He made no effort to say why not, and said not a word more. But,
Mr. Lorry thought he saw, as he leaned forward on his bench in the
dusk, with his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands, that he
was in some misty way asking himself, "Why not?" The sagacity of the
man of business perceived an advantage here, and determined to hold it.
Miss Pross and he divided the night into two watches, and observed him
at intervals from the adjoining room. He paced up and down for a long
time before he lay down; but, when he did finally lay himself down,
he fell asleep. In the morning, he was up betimes, and went straight
to his bench and to work.
On this second day, Mr. Lorry saluted him cheerfully by his name, and
spoke to him on topics that had been of late familiar to them. He
returned no reply, but it was evident that he heard what was said,
and that he thought about it, however confusedly. This encouraged
Mr. Lorry to have Miss Pross in with her work, several times during the
day; at those times, they quietly spoke of Lucie, and of her father then
present, precisely in the usual manner, and as if there were nothing
amiss. This was done without any demonstrative accompaniment, not long
enough, or often enough to harass him; and it lightened Mr. Lorry's
friendly heart to believe that he looked up oftener, and that he appeared
to be stirred by some perception of inconsistencies surrounding him.
When it fell dark again, Mr. Lorry asked him as before:
"Dear Doctor, will you go out?"
As before, he repeated, "Out?"
"Yes; for a walk with me. Why not?"
This time, Mr. Lorry feigned to go out when he could extract no answer
from him, and, after remaining absent for an hour, returned. In the
meanwhile, the Doctor had removed to the seat in the window, and had
sat there looking down at the plane-tree; but, on Mr. Lorry's return,
be slipped away to his bench.
The time went very slowly on, and Mr. Lorry's hope darkened, and his
heart grew heavier again, and grew yet heavier and heavier every day.
The third day came and went, the fourth, the fifth. Five days, six
days, seven days, eight days, nine days.
With a hope ever darkening, and with a heart always growing heavier
and heavier, Mr. Lorry passed through this anxious time. The secret
was well kept, and Lucie was unconscious and happy; but he could not
fail to observe that the shoemaker, whose hand had been a little out
at first, was growing dreadfully skilful, and that he had never been
so intent on his work, and that his hands had never been so nimble and
expert, as in the dusk of the ninth evening.
Worn out by anxious watching, Mr. Lorry fell asleep at his post. On
the tenth morning of his suspense, he was startled by the shining of
the sun into the room where a heavy slumber had overtaken him when it
was dark night.
He rubbed his eyes and roused himself; but he doubted, when he had
done so, whether he was not still asleep. For, going to the door of
the Doctor's room and looking in, he perceived that the shoemaker's
bench and tools were put aside again, and that the Doctor himself sat
reading at the window. He was in his usual morning dress, and his face
(which Mr. Lorry could distinctly see), though still very pale, was
calmly studious and attentive.
Even when he had satisfied himself that he was awake, Mr. Lorry felt
giddily uncertain for some few moments whether the late shoemaking
might not be a disturbed dream of his own; for, did not his eyes show
him his friend before him in his accustomed clothing and aspect, and
employed as usual; and was there any sign within their range, that the
change of which he had so strong an impression had actually happened?
It was but the inquiry of his first confusion and astonishment, the
answer being obvious. If the impression were not produced by a real
corresponding and sufficient cause, how came he, Jarvis Lorry, there?
How came he to have fallen asleep, in his clothes, on the sofa in
Doctor Manette's consulting-room, and to be debating these points
outside the Doctor's bedroom door in the early morning?
Within a few minutes, Miss Pross stood whispering at his side. If he
had had any particle of doubt left, her talk would of necessity have
resolved it; but he was by that time clear-headed, and had none. He
advised that they should let the time go by until the regular
breakfast-hour, and should then meet the Doctor as if nothing unusual
had occurred. If he appeared to be in his customary state of mind,
Mr. Lorry would then cautiously proceed to seek direction and guidance
from the opinion he had been, in his anxiety, so anxious to obtain.
Miss Pross, submitting herself to his judgment, the scheme was worked
out with care. Having abundance of time for his usual methodical
toilette, Mr. Lorry presented himself at the breakfast-hour in his
usual white linen, and with his usual neat leg. The Doctor was
summoned in the usual way, and came to breakfast.
So far as it was possible to comprehend him without overstepping
those delicate and gradual approaches which Mr. Lorry felt to be the
only safe advance, he at first supposed that his daughter's marriage
had taken place yesterday. An incidental allusion, purposely thrown
out, to the day of the week, and the day of the month, set him thinking
and counting, and evidently made him uneasy. In all other respects,
however, he was so composedly himself, that Mr. Lorry determined to
have the aid he sought. And that aid was his own.
Therefore, when the breakfast was done and cleared away, and he and
the Doctor were left together, Mr. Lorry said, feelingly:
"My dear Manette, I am anxious to have your opinion, in confidence,
on a very curious case in which I am deeply interested; that is to say,
it is very curious to me; perhaps, to your better information it may
be less so."
Glancing at his hands, which were discoloured by his late work, the
Doctor looked troubled, and listened attentively. He had already
glanced at his hands more than once.
"Doctor Manette," said Mr. Lorry, touching him affectionately on the
arm, "the case is the case of a particularly dear friend of mine.
Pray give your mind to it, and advise me well for his sake--and
above all, for his daughter's--his daughter's, my dear Manette."
"If I understand," said the Doctor, in a subdued tone, "some mental
"Be explicit," said the Doctor. "Spare no detail."
Mr. Lorry saw that they understood one another, and proceeded.
"My dear Manette, it is the case of an old and a prolonged shock, of
great acuteness and severity to the affections, the feelings,
the--the--as you express it--the mind. The mind. It is the case of
a shock under which the sufferer was borne down, one cannot say for
how long, because I believe he cannot calculate the time himself, and
there are no other means of getting at it. It is the case of a shock
from which the sufferer recovered, by a process that he cannot trace
himself--as I once heard him publicly relate in a striking manner.
It is the case of a shock from which he has recovered, so completely,
as to be a highly intelligent man, capable of close application of mind,
and great exertion of body, and of constantly making fresh additions to
his stock of knowledge, which was already very large. But, unfortunately,
there has been," he paused and took a deep breath--"a slight relapse."
The Doctor, in a low voice, asked, "Of how long duration?"
"Nine days and nights."
"How did it show itself? I infer," glancing at his hands again,
"in the resumption of some old pursuit connected with the shock?"
"That is the fact."
"Now, did you ever see him," asked the Doctor, distinctly and
collectedly, though in the same low voice, "engaged in that
"And when the relapse fell on him, was he in most respects--or in
all respects--as he was then?"
"I think in all respects."
"You spoke of his daughter. Does his daughter know of the relapse?"
"No. It has been kept from her, and I hope will always be kept from
her. It is known only to myself, and to one other who may be trusted."
The Doctor grasped his hand, and murmured, "That was very kind.
That was very thoughtful!" Mr. Lorry grasped his hand in return,
and neither of the two spoke for a little while.
"Now, my dear Manette," said Mr. Lorry, at length, in his most
considerate and most affectionate way, "I am a mere man of business,
and unfit to cope with such intricate and difficult matters. I do
not possess the kind of information necessary; I do not possess the
kind of intelligence; I want guiding. There is no man in this world
on whom I could so rely for right guidance, as on you. Tell me, how
does this relapse come about? Is there danger of another? Could a
repetition of it be prevented? How should a repetition of it be
treated? How does it come about at all? What can I do for my friend?
No man ever can have been more desirous in his heart to serve a friend,
than I am to serve mine, if I knew how.
But I don't know how to originate, in such a case. If your sagacity,
knowledge, and experience, could put me on the right track, I might be
able to do so much; unenlightened and undirected, I can do so little.
Pray discuss it with me; pray enable me to see it a little more clearly,
and teach me how to be a little more useful."
Doctor Manette sat meditating after these earnest words were spoken,
and Mr. Lorry did not press him.
"I think it probable," said the Doctor, breaking silence with an
effort, "that the relapse you have described, my dear friend, was
not quite unforeseen by its subject."
"Was it dreaded by him?" Mr. Lorry ventured to ask.
"Very much." He said it with an involuntary shudder.
"You have no idea how such an apprehension weighs on the sufferer's
mind, and how difficult--how almost impossible--it is, for him to force
himself to utter a word upon the topic that oppresses him."
"Would he," asked Mr. Lorry, "be sensibly relieved if he could
prevail upon himself to impart that secret brooding to any one,
when it is on him?"
"I think so. But it is, as I have told you, next to impossible.
I even believe it--in some cases--to be quite impossible."
"Now," said Mr. Lorry, gently laying his hand on the Doctor's arm
again, after a short silence on both sides, "to what would you refer
"I believe," returned Doctor Manette, "that there had been a strong
and extraordinary revival of the train of thought and remembrance that
was the first cause of the malady. Some intense associations of a
most distressing nature were vividly recalled, I think. It is probable
that there had long been a dread lurking in his mind, that those
associations would be recalled--say, under certain circumstances--say,
on a particular occasion. He tried to prepare himself in vain; perhaps
the effort to prepare himself made him less able to bear it."
"Would he remember what took place in the relapse?" asked Mr. Lorry,
with natural hesitation.
The Doctor looked desolately round the room, shook his head, and
answered, in a low voice, "Not at all."
"Now, as to the future," hinted Mr. Lorry.
"As to the future," said the Doctor, recovering firmness, "I should
have great hope. As it pleased Heaven in its mercy to restore him so
soon, I should have great hope. He, yielding under the pressure of a
complicated something, long dreaded and long vaguely foreseen and
contended against, and recovering after the cloud had burst and passed,
I should hope that the worst was over."
"Well, well! That's good comfort. I am thankful!" said Mr. Lorry.
"I am thankful!" repeated the Doctor, bending his head with reverence.
"There are two other points," said Mr. Lorry, "on which I am anxious
to be instructed. I may go on?"
"You cannot do your friend a better service." The Doctor gave him
"To the first, then. He is of a studious habit, and unusually
energetic; he applies himself with great ardour to the acquisition
of professional knowledge, to the conducting of experiments, to
many things. Now, does he do too much?"
"I think not. It may be the character of his mind, to be always in
singular need of occupation. That may be, in part, natural to it; in
part, the result of affliction. The less it was occupied with healthy
things, the more it would be in danger of turning in the unhealthy
direction. He may have observed himself, and made the discovery."
"You are sure that he is not under too great a strain?"
"I think I am quite sure of it."
"My dear Manette, if he were overworked now--"
"My dear Lorry, I doubt if that could easily be. There has been a
violent stress in one direction, and it needs a counterweight."
"Excuse me, as a persistent man of business. Assuming for a moment,
that he WAS overworked; it would show itself in some renewal of this disorder?"
"I do not think so. I do not think," said Doctor Manette with the
firmness of self-conviction, "that anything but the one train of
association would renew it. I think that, henceforth, nothing but
some extraordinary jarring of that chord could renew it. After what
has happened, and after his recovery, I find it difficult to imagine
any such violent sounding of that string again. I trust, and I almost
believe, that the circumstances likely to renew it are exhausted."
He spoke with the diffidence of a man who knew how slight a thing
would overset the delicate organisation of the mind, and yet with the
confidence of a man who had slowly won his assurance out of personal
endurance and distress. It was not for his friend to abate that
confidence. He professed himself more relieved and encouraged than he
really was, and approached his second and last point. He felt it to
be the most difficult of all; but, remembering his old Sunday morning
conversation with Miss Pross, and remembering what he had seen in the
last nine days, he knew that he must face it.
"The occupation resumed under the influence of this passing affliction
so happily recovered from," said Mr. Lorry, clearing his throat, "we will
call--Blacksmith's work, Blacksmith's work. We will say, to put a case
and for the sake of illustration, that he had been used, in his bad time,
to work at a little forge. We will say that he was unexpectedly found
at his forge again. Is it not a pity that he should keep it by him?"
The Doctor shaded his forehead with his hand, and beat his foot nervously
on the ground.
"He has always kept it by him," said Mr. Lorry, with an anxious look
at his friend. "Now, would it not be better that he should let it go?"
Still, the Doctor, with shaded forehead, beat his foot nervously on
"You do not find it easy to advise me?" said Mr. Lorry. "I quite
understand it to be a nice question. And yet I think--" And there he
shook his head, and stopped.
"You see," said Doctor Manette, turning to him after an uneasy pause,
"it is very hard to explain, consistently, the innermost workings of
this poor man's mind. He once yearned so frightfully for that
occupation, and it was so welcome when it came; no doubt it relieved
his pain so much, by substituting the perplexity of the fingers for
the perplexity of the brain, and by substituting, as he became more
practised, the ingenuity of the hands, for the ingenuity of the
mental torture; that he has never been able to bear the thought of
putting it quite out of his reach. Even now, when I believe he is
more hopeful of himself than he has ever been, and even speaks of
himself with a kind of confidence, the idea that he might need that
old employment, and not find it, gives him a sudden sense of terror,
like that which one may fancy strikes to the heart of a lost child."
He looked like his illustration, as he raised his eyes to
Mr. Lorry's face.
"But may not--mind! I ask for information, as a plodding man of
business who only deals with such material objects as guineas,
shillings, and bank-notes--may not the retention of the thing involve
the retention of the idea? If the thing were gone, my dear Manette,
might not the fear go with it? In short, is it not a concession to
the misgiving, to keep the forge?"
There was another silence.
"You see, too," said the Doctor, tremulously, "it is such an
"I would not keep it," said Mr. Lorry, shaking his head; for he gained
in firmness as he saw the Doctor disquieted. "I would recommend him
to sacrifice it. I only want your authority. I am sure it does no
good. Come! Give me your authority, like a dear good man. For his
daughter's sake, my dear Manette!"
Very strange to see what a struggle there was within him!
"In her name, then, let it be done; I sanction it. But, I would not
take it away while he was present. Let it be removed when he is not
there; let him miss his old companion after an absence."
Mr. Lorry readily engaged for that, and the conference was ended.
They passed the day in the country, and the Doctor was quite restored.
On the three following days he remained perfectly well, and on the
fourteenth day he went away to join Lucie and her husband. The
precaution that had been taken to account for his silence, Mr. Lorry
had previously explained to him, and he had written to Lucie in
accordance with it, and she had no suspicions.
On the night of the day on which he left the house, Mr. Lorry went
into his room with a chopper, saw, chisel, and hammer, attended by
Miss Pross carrying a light. There, with closed doors, and in a
mysterious and guilty manner, Mr. Lorry hacked the shoemaker's bench
to pieces, while Miss Pross held the candle as if she were assisting
at a murder--for which, indeed, in her grimness, she was no unsuitable
figure. The burning of the body (previously reduced to pieces
convenient for the purpose) was commenced without delay in the kitchen
fire; and the tools, shoes, and leather, were buried in the garden.
So wicked do destruction and secrecy appear to honest minds, that
Mr. Lorry and Miss Pross, while engaged in the commission of their
deed and in the removal of its traces, almost felt, and almost looked,
like accomplices in a horrible crime.
When the newly-married pair came home, the first person who appeared,
to offer his congratulations, was Sydney Carton. They had not been
at home many hours, when he presented himself. He was not improved in
habits, or in looks, or in manner; but there was a certain rugged air of
fidelity about him, which was new to the observation of Charles Darnay.
He watched his opportunity of taking Darnay aside into a window, and
of speaking to him when no one overheard.
"Mr. Darnay," said Carton, "I wish we might be friends."
"We are already friends, I hope."
"You are good enough to say so, as a fashion of speech; but, I don't
mean any fashion of speech. Indeed, when I say I wish we might be friends,
I scarcely mean quite that, either."
Charles Darnay--as was natural--asked him, in all good-humour and
good-fellowship, what he did mean?
"Upon my life," said Carton, smiling, "I find that easier to comprehend
in my own mind, than to convey to yours. However, let me try. You
remember a certain famous occasion when I was more drunk than--
"I remember a certain famous occasion when you forced me to confess
that you had been drinking."
"I remember it too. The curse of those occasions is heavy upon me,
for I always remember them. I hope it may be taken into account one
day, when all days are at an end for me! Don't be alarmed;
I am not going to preach."
"I am not at all alarmed. Earnestness in you, is anything but
alarming to me."
"Ah!" said Carton, with a careless wave of his hand, as if he waved
that away. "On the drunken occasion in question (one of a large number,
as you know), I was insufferable about liking you, and not liking you.
I wish you would forget it."
"I forgot it long ago."
"Fashion of speech again! But, Mr. Darnay, oblivion is not so easy to
me, as you represent it to be to you. I have by no means forgotten it,
and a light answer does not help me to forget it."
"If it was a light answer," returned Darnay, "I beg your forgiveness
for it. I had no other object than to turn a slight thing, which,
to my surprise, seems to trouble you too much, aside. I declare to you,
on the faith of a gentleman, that I have long dismissed it from my mind.
Good Heaven, what was there to dismiss! Have I had nothing more
important to remember, in the great service you rendered me that day?"
"As to the great service," said Carton, "I am bound to avow to you,
when you speak of it in that way, that it was mere professional
claptrap, I don't know that I cared what became of you, when I
rendered it.--Mind! I say when I rendered it; I am speaking of the past."
"You make light of the obligation," returned Darnay, "but I will not
quarrel with YOUR light answer."
"Genuine truth, Mr. Darnay, trust me! I have gone aside from my
purpose; I was speaking about our being friends. Now, you know me;
you know I am incapable of all the higher and better flights of men.
If you doubt it, ask Stryver, and he'll tell you so."
"I prefer to form my own opinion, without the aid of his."
"Well! At any rate you know me as a dissolute dog, who has never
done any good, and never will."
"I don't know that you `never will.'"
"But I do, and you must take my word for it. Well! If you could
endure to have such a worthless fellow, and a fellow of such indifferent
reputation, coming and going at odd times, I should ask that I might be
permitted to come and go as a privileged person here; that I might be
regarded as an useless (and I would add, if it were not for the
resemblance I detected between you and me, an unornamental) piece of
furniture, tolerated for its old service, and taken no notice of.
I doubt if I should abuse the permission. It is a hundred to one
if I should avail myself of it four times in a year. It would satisfy me,
I dare say, to know that I had it."
"Will you try?"
"That is another way of saying that I am placed on the footing I have
indicated. I thank you, Darnay. I may use that freedom with your name?"
"I think so, Carton, by this time."
They shook hands upon it, and Sydney turned away. Within a minute
afterwards, he was, to all outward appearance, as unsubstantial as ever.
When he was gone, and in the course of an evening passed with Miss Pross,
the Doctor, and Mr. Lorry, Charles Darnay made some mention of this
conversation in general terms, and spoke of Sydney Carton as a problem
of carelessness and recklessness. He spoke of him, in short, not
bitterly or meaning to bear hard upon him, but as anybody might who
saw him as he showed himself.
He had no idea that this could dwell in the thoughts of his fair young
wife; but, when he afterwards joined her in their own rooms, he found
her waiting for him with the old pretty lifting of the forehead
"We are thoughtful to-night!" said Darnay, drawing his arm about her.
"Yes, dearest Charles," with her hands on his breast, and the
inquiring and attentive expression fixed upon him; "we are rather
thoughtful to-night, for we have something on our mind to-night."
"What is it, my Lucie?"
"Will you promise not to press one question on me, if I beg you
not to ask it?"
"Will I promise? What will I not promise to my Love?"
What, indeed, with his hand putting aside the golden hair from the
cheek, and his other hand against the heart that beat for him!
"I think, Charles, poor Mr. Carton deserves more consideration and
respect than you expressed for him to-night."
"Indeed, my own? Why so?"
"That is what you are not to ask me. But I think--I know--he does."
"If you know it, it is enough. What would you have me do, my Life?"
"I would ask you, dearest, to be very generous with him always, and
very lenient on his faults when he is not by. I would ask you to
believe that he has a heart he very, very seldom reveals, and that there
are deep wounds in it. My dear, I have seen it bleeding."
"It is a painful reflection to me," said Charles Darnay, quite astounded,
"that I should have done him any wrong. I never thought this of him."
"My husband, it is so. I fear he is not to be reclaimed; there is
scarcely a hope that anything in his character or fortunes is reparable
now. But, I am sure that he is capable of good things, gentle things,
even magnanimous things."
She looked so beautiful in the purity of her faith in this lost man,
that her husband could have looked at her as she was for hours.
"And, O my dearest Love!" she urged, clinging nearer to him, laying
her head upon his breast, and raising her eyes to his, "remember how
strong we are in our happiness, and how weak he is in his misery!"
The supplication touched him home. "I will always remember it, dear
Heart! I will remember it as long as I live."
He bent over the golden head, and put the rosy lips to his, and folded
her in his arms. If one forlorn wanderer then pacing the dark streets,
could have heard her innocent disclosure, and could have seen the drops
of pity kissed away by her husband from the soft blue eyes so loving of
that husband, he might have cried to the night--and the words would not
have parted from his lips for the first time--
"God bless her for her sweet compassion!"
A wonderful corner for echoes, it has been remarked, that corner where
the Doctor lived. Ever busily winding the golden thread which bound
her husband, and her father, and herself, and her old directress and
companion, in a life of quiet bliss, Lucie sat in the still house in the
tranquilly resounding corner, listening to the echoing footsteps of years.
At first, there were times, though she was a perfectly happy young
wife, when her work would slowly fall from her hands, and her eyes
would be dimmed. For, there was something coming in the echoes,
something light, afar off, and scarcely audible yet, that stirred
her heart too much. Fluttering hopes and doubts--hopes, of a love as
yet unknown to her: doubts, of her remaining upon earth, to enjoy that
new delight--divided her breast. Among the echoes then, there would
arise the sound of footsteps at her own early grave; and thoughts of
the husband who would be left so desolate, and who would mourn for
her so much, swelled to her eyes, and broke like waves.
That time passed, and her little Lucie lay on her bosom. Then,
among the advancing echoes, there was the tread of her tiny feet and
the sound of her prattling words. Let greater echoes resound as they
would, the young mother at the cradle side could always hear those
coming. They came, and the shady house was sunny with a child's laugh,
and the Divine friend of children, to whom in her trouble she had
confided hers, seemed to take her child in his arms, as He took the
child of old, and made it a sacred joy to her.
Ever busily winding the golden thread that bound them all together,
weaving the service of her happy influence through the tissue of all
their lives, and making it predominate nowhere, Lucie heard in the
echoes of years none but friendly and soothing sounds. Her husband's
step was strong and prosperous among them; her father's firm and equal.
Lo, Miss Pross, in harness of string, awakening the echoes, as an
unruly charger, whip-corrected, snorting and pawing the earth under
the plane-tree in the garden!
Even when there were sounds of sorrow among the rest, they were not
harsh nor cruel. Even when golden hair, like her own, lay in a halo
on a pillow round the worn face of a little boy, and he said, with a
radiant smile, "Dear papa and mamma, I am very sorry to leave you both,
and to leave my pretty sister; but I am called, and I must go!"
those were not tears all of agony that wetted his young mother's cheek,
as the spirit departed from her embrace that had been entrusted to it.
Suffer them and forbid them not. They see my Father's face.
O Father, blessed words!
Thus, the rustling of an Angel's wings got blended with the other
echoes, and they were not wholly of earth, but had in them that breath
of Heaven. Sighs of the winds that blew over a little garden-tomb were
mingled with them also, and both were audible to Lucie, in a hushed
murmur--like the breathing of a summer sea asleep upon a sandy shore
--as the little Lucie, comically studious at the task of the morning,
or dressing a doll at her mother's footstool, chattered in the
tongues of the Two Cities that were blended in her life.
The Echoes rarely answered to the actual tread of Sydney Carton.
Some half-dozen times a year, at most, he claimed his privilege of coming
in uninvited, and would sit among them through the evening, as he had
once done often. He never came there heated with wine. And one other
thing regarding him was whispered in the echoes, which has been
whispered by all true echoes for ages and ages.
No man ever really loved a woman, lost her, and knew her with a
blameless though an unchanged mind, when she was a wife and a mother,
but her children had a strange sympathy with him--an instinctive
delicacy of pity for him. What fine hidden sensibilities are touched
in such a case, no echoes tell; but it is so, and it was so here.
Carton was the first stranger to whom little Lucie held out her chubby
arms, and he kept his place with her as she grew. The little boy had
spoken of him, almost at the last. "Poor Carton! Kiss him for me!"
Mr. Stryver shouldered his way through the law, like some great engine
forcing itself through turbid water, and dragged his useful friend in
his wake, like a boat towed astern. As the boat so favoured is usually
in a rough plight, and mostly under water, so, Sydney had a swamped life
of it. But, easy and strong custom, unhappily so much easier and
stronger in him than any stimulating sense of desert or disgrace, made
it the life he was to lead; and he no more thought of emerging from his
state of lion's jackal, than any real jackal may be supposed to think
of rising to be a lion. Stryver was rich; had married a florid widow
with property and three boys, who had nothing particularly shining about
them but the straight hair of their dumpling heads.
These three young gentlemen, Mr. Stryver, exuding patronage of the most
offensive quality from every pore, had walked before him like three
sheep to the quiet corner in Soho, and had offered as pupils to Lucie's
husband: delicately saying "Halloa! here are three lumps of bread-and-
cheese towards your matrimonial picnic, Darnay!" The polite rejection
of the three lumps of bread-and-cheese had quite bloated Mr. Stryver
with indignation, which he afterwards turned to account in the training
of the young gentlemen, by directing them to beware of the pride of
Beggars, like that tutor-fellow. He was also in the habit of declaiming
to Mrs. Stryver, over his full-bodied wine, on the arts Mrs. Darnay had
once put in practice to "catch" him, and on the diamond-cut-diamond
arts in himself, madam, which had rendered him "not to be caught."
Some of his King's Bench familiars, who were occasionally parties
to the full-bodied wine and the lie, excused him for the latter by saying
that he had told it so often, that he believed it himself--which is
surely such an incorrigible aggravation of an originally bad offence,
as to justify any such offender's being carried off to some suitably
retired spot, and there hanged out of the way.
These were among the echoes to which Lucie, sometimes pensive,
sometimes amused and laughing, listened in the echoing corner, until
her little daughter was six years old. How near to her heart the echoes
of her child's tread came, and those of her own dear father's, always
active and self-possessed, and those of her dear husband's, need not
be told. Nor, how the lightest echo of their united home, directed
by herself with such a wise and elegant thrift that it was more
abundant than any waste, was music to her. Nor, how there were echoes
all about her, sweet in her ears, of the many times her father had
told her that he found her more devoted to him married (if that could be)
than single, and of the many times her husband had said to her that no
cares and duties seemed to divide her love for him or her help to him,
and asked her "What is the magic secret, my darling, of your being
everything to all of us, as if there were only one of us,
yet never seeming to be hurried, or to have too much to do?"
But, there were other echoes, from a distance, that rumbled menacingly
in the corner all through this space of time. And it was now, about
little Lucie's sixth birthday, that they began to have an awful sound,
as of a great storm in France with a dreadful sea rising.
On a night in mid-July, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine,
Mr. Lorry came in late, from Tellson's, and sat himself down by Lucie
and her husband in the dark window. It was a hot, wild night, and
they were all three reminded of the old Sunday night when they had
looked at the lightning from the same place.
"I began to think," said Mr. Lorry, pushing his brown wig back, "that
I should have to pass the night at Tellson's. We have been so full of
business all day, that we have not known what to do first, or which
way to turn. There is such an uneasiness in Paris, that we have
actually a run of confidence upon us! Our customers over there, seem
not to be able to confide their property to us fast enough. There is
positively a mania among some of them for sending it to England."
"That has a bad look," said Darnay--
"A bad look, you say, my dear Darnay? Yes, but we don't know what
reason there is in it. People are so unreasonable! Some of us at
Tellson's are getting old, and we really can't be troubled out of
the ordinary course without due occasion."
"Still," said Darnay, "you know how gloomy and threatening the sky is."
"I know that, to be sure," assented Mr. Lorry, trying to persuade
himself that his sweet temper was soured, and that he grumbled,
"but I am determined to be peevish after my long day's botheration.
Where is Manette?"
"Here he is," said the Doctor, entering the dark room at the moment.
"I am quite glad you are at home; for these hurries and forebodings by
which I have been surrounded all day long, have made me nervous
without reason. You are not going out, I hope?"
"No; I am going to play backgammon with you, if you like,"
said the Doctor.
"I don't think I do like, if I may speak my mind. I am not fit to
be pitted against you to-night. Is the teaboard still there, Lucie?
I can't see."
"Of course, it has been kept for you."
"Thank ye, my dear. The precious child is safe in bed?"
"And sleeping soundly."
"That's right; all safe and well! I don't know why anything should
be otherwise than safe and well here, thank God; but I have been so
put out all day, and I am not as young as I was! My tea, my dear!
Thank ye. Now, come and take your place in the circle, and let us
sit quiet, and hear the echoes about which you have your theory."
"Not a theory; it was a fancy."
"A fancy, then, my wise pet," said Mr. Lorry, patting her hand. "They
are very numerous and very loud, though, are they not? Only hear them!"
Headlong, mad, and dangerous footsteps to force their way into anybody's
life, footsteps not easily made clean again if once stained red, the
footsteps raging in Saint Antoine afar off, as the little circle sat
in the dark London window.
Saint Antoine had been, that morning, a vast dusky mass of scarecrows
heaving to and fro, with frequent gleams of light above the billowy
heads, where steel blades and bayonets shone in the sun. A tremendous
roar arose from the throat of Saint Antoine, and a forest of naked arms
struggled in the air like shrivelled branches of trees in a winter wind:
all the fingers convulsively clutching at every weapon or semblance of
a weapon that was thrown up from the depths below, no matter how far off.
Who gave them out, whence they last came, where they began, through
what agency they crookedly quivered and jerked, scores at a time, over
the heads of the crowd, like a kind of lightning, no eye in the throng
could have told; but, muskets were being distributed--so were
cartridges, powder, and ball, bars of iron and wood, knives, axes,
pikes, every weapon that distracted ingenuity could discover or devise.
People who could lay hold of nothing else, set themselves with bleeding
hands to force stones and bricks out of their places in walls. Every
pulse and heart in Saint Antoine was on high-fever strain and at
high-fever heat. Every living creature there held life as of no account,
and was demented with a passionate readiness to sacrifice it.
As a whirlpool of boiling waters has a centre point, so, all this raging
circled round Defarge's wine-shop, and every human drop in the caldron
had a tendency to be sucked towards the vortex where Defarge himself,
already begrimed with gunpowder and sweat, issued orders, issued arms,
thrust this man back, dragged this man forward, disarmed one to arm
another, laboured and strove in the thickest of the uproar.
"Keep near to me, Jacques Three," cried Defarge; "and do you,
Jacques One and Two, separate and put yourselves at the head of
as many of these patriots as you can. Where is my wife?"
"Eh, well! Here you see me!" said madame, composed as ever, but not
knitting to-day. Madame's resolute right hand was occupied with an axe,
in place of the usual softer implements, and in her girdle were a pistol
and a cruel knife.
"Where do you go, my wife?"
"I go," said madame, "with you at present. You shall see me at the
head of women, by-and-bye."
"Come, then!" cried Defarge, in a resounding voice. "Patriots and
friends, we are ready! The Bastille!"
With a roar that sounded as if all the breath in France had been
shaped into the detested word, the living sea rose, wave on wave,
depth on depth, and overflowed the city to that point. Alarm-bells
ringing, drums beating, the sea raging and thundering on its new beach,
the attack began.
Deep ditches, double drawbridge, massive stone walls, eight great
towers, cannon, muskets, fire and smoke. Through the fire and through
the smoke--in the fire and in the smoke, for the sea cast him up against
a cannon, and on the instant he became a cannonier--Defarge of the
wine-shop worked like a manful soldier, Two fierce hours.
Deep ditch, single drawbridge, massive stone walls, eight great towers,
cannon, muskets, fire and smoke. One drawbridge down! "Work, comrades
all, work! Work, Jacques One, Jacques Two, Jacques One Thousand,
Jacques Two Thousand, Jacques Five-and-Twenty Thousand; in the name of
all the Angels or the Devils--which you prefer--work!" Thus Defarge
of the wine-shop, still at his gun, which had long grown hot.
"To me, women!" cried madame his wife. "What! We can kill as well as
the men when the place is taken!" And to her, with a shrill thirsty cry,
trooping women variously armed, but all armed alike in hunger and revenge.
Cannon, muskets, fire and smoke; but, still the deep ditch, the single
drawbridge, the massive stone walls, and the eight great towers. Slight
displacements of the raging sea, made by the falling wounded. Flashing
weapons, blazing torches, smoking waggonloads of wet straw, hard work
at neighbouring barricades in all directions, shrieks, volleys,
execrations, bravery without stint, boom smash and rattle, and the
furious sounding of the living sea; but, still the deep ditch, and the
single drawbridge, and the massive stone walls, and the eight great
towers, and still Defarge of the wine-shop at his gun, grown doubly
hot by the service of Four fierce hours.
A white flag from within the fortress, and a parley--this dimly
perceptible through the raging storm, nothing audible in it--suddenly
the sea rose immeasurably wider and higher, and swept Defarge of the
wine-shop over the lowered drawbridge, past the massive stone outer
walls, in among the eight great towers surrendered!
So resistless was the force of the ocean bearing him on, that even
to draw his breath or turn his head was as impracticable as if he had
been struggling in the surf at the South Sea, until he was landed in
the outer courtyard of the Bastille. There, against an angle of a
wall, he made a struggle to look about him. Jacques Three was nearly
at his side; Madame Defarge, still heading some of her women, was
visible in the inner distance, and her knife was in her hand. Everywhere
was tumult, exultation, deafening and maniacal bewilderment, astounding
noise, yet furious dumb-show.
"The secret cells!"
"The instruments of torture!"
Of all these cries, and ten thousand incoherences, "The Prisoners!"
was the cry most taken up by the sea that rushed in, as if there were
an eternity of people, as well as of time and space. When the foremost
billows rolled past, bearing the prison officers with them, and
threatening them all with instant death if any secret nook remained
undisclosed, Defarge laid his strong hand on the breast of one of
these men--a man with a grey head, who had a lighted torch in his hand--
separated him from the rest, and got him between himself and the wall.
"Show me the North Tower!" said Defarge. "Quick!"
"I will faithfully," replied the man, "if you will come with me. But
there is no one there."
"What is the meaning of One Hundred and Five, North Tower?"
asked Defarge. "Quick!"
"The meaning, monsieur?"
"Does it mean a captive, or a place of captivity? Or do you mean that
I shall strike you dead?"
"Kill him!" croaked Jacques Three, who had come close up.
"Monsieur, it is a cell."
"Show it me!"
"Pass this way, then."
Jacques Three, with his usual craving on him, and evidently
disappointed by the dialogue taking a turn that did not seem to promise
bloodshed, held by Defarge's arm as he held by the turnkey's. Their
three heads had been close together during this brief discourse, and
it had been as much as they could do to hear one another, even then:
so tremendous was the noise of the living ocean, in its irruption into
the Fortress, and its inundation of the courts and passages and
staircases. All around outside, too, it beat the walls with a deep,
hoarse roar, from which, occasionally, some partial shouts of tumult
broke and leaped into the air like spray.
Through gloomy vaults where the light of day had never shone, past
hideous doors of dark dens and cages, down cavernous flights of steps,
and again up steep rugged ascents of stone and brick, more like dry
waterfalls than staircases, Defarge, the turnkey, and Jacques Three,
linked hand and arm, went with all the speed they could make. Here
and there, especially at first, the inundation started on them and
swept by; but when they had done descending, and were winding and
climbing up a tower, they were alone. Hemmed in here by the massive
thickness of walls and arches, the storm within the fortress and without
was only audible to them in a dull, subdued way, as if the noise out of
which they had come had almost destroyed their sense of hearing.
The turnkey stopped at a low door, put a key in a clashing lock,
swung the door slowly open, and said, as they all bent their heads
and passed in:
"One hundred and five, North Tower!"
There was a small, heavily-grated, unglazed window high in the wall,
with a stone screen before it, so that the sky could be only seen by
stooping low and looking up. There was a small chimney, heavily barred
across, a few feet within. There was a heap of old feathery wood-ashes
on the hearth. There was a stool, and table, and a straw bed. There
were the four blackened walls, and a rusted iron ring in one of them.
"Pass that torch slowly along these walls, that I may see them,"
said Defarge to the turnkey.
The man obeyed, and Defarge followed the light closely with his eyes.
"Stop!--Look here, Jacques!"
"A. M.!" croaked Jacques Three, as he read greedily.
"Alexandre Manette," said Defarge in his ear, following the letters
with his swart forefinger, deeply engrained with gunpowder. "And here
he wrote `a poor physician.' And it was he, without doubt, who scratched
a calendar on this stone. What is that in your hand? A crowbar?
Give it me!"
He had still the linstock of his gun in his own hand. He made a
sudden exchange of the two instruments, and turning on the worm-eaten
stool and table, beat them to pieces in a few blows.
"Hold the light higher!" he said, wrathfully, to the turnkey.
"Look among those fragments with care, Jacques. And see! Here is my knife,"
throwing it to him; "rip open that bed, and search the straw.
Hold the light higher, you!"
With a menacing look at the turnkey he crawled upon the hearth,
and, peering up the chimney, struck and prised at its sides with the
crowbar, and worked at the iron grating across it. In a few minutes,
some mortar and dust came dropping down, which he averted his face to
avoid; and in it, and in the old wood-ashes, and in a crevice in the
chimney into which his weapon had slipped or wrought itself, he groped
with a cautious touch.
"Nothing in the wood, and nothing in the straw, Jacques?"
"Let us collect them together, in the middle of the cell. So!
Light them, you!"
The turnkey fired the little pile, which blazed high and hot. Stooping
again to come out at the low-arched door, they left it burning, and
retraced their way to the courtyard; seeming to recover their sense of
hearing as they came down, until they were in the raging flood once more.
They found it surging and tossing, in quest of Defarge himself.
Saint Antoine was clamorous to have its wine-shop keeper foremost in
the guard upon the governor who had defended the Bastille and shot the
people. Otherwise, the governor would not be marched to the Hotel de
Ville for judgment. Otherwise, the governor would escape, and the
people's blood (suddenly of some value, after many years of
worthlessness) be unavenged.
In the howling universe of passion and contention that seemed to
encompass this grim old officer conspicuous in his grey coat and red
decoration, there was but one quite steady figure, and that was a
woman's. "See, there is my husband!" she cried, pointing him out.
"See Defarge!" She stood immovable close to the grim old officer,
and remained immovable close to him; remained immovable close to him
through the streets, as Defarge and the rest bore him along; remained
immovable close to him when he was got near his destination, and began
to be struck at from behind; remained immovable close to him when the
long-gathering rain of stabs and blows fell heavy; was so close to him
when he dropped dead under it, that, suddenly animated, she put her foot
upon his neck, and with her cruel knife--long ready--hewed off his head.
The hour was come, when Saint Antoine was to execute his horrible idea
of hoisting up men for lamps to show what he could be and do. Saint
Antoine's blood was up, and the blood of tyranny and domination by
the iron hand was down--down on the steps of the Hotel de Ville where
the governor's body lay--down on the sole of the shoe of Madame Defarge
where she had trodden on the body to steady it for mutilation.
"Lower the lamp yonder!" cried Saint Antoine, after glaring round for a
new means of death; "here is one of his soldiers to be left on guard!"
The swinging sentinel was posted, and the sea rushed on.
The sea of black and threatening waters, and of destructive upheaving
of wave against wave, whose depths were yet unfathomed and whose
forces were yet unknown. The remorseless sea of turbulently swaying
shapes, voices of vengeance, and faces hardened in the furnaces of
suffering until the touch of pity could make no mark on them.
But, in the ocean of faces where every fierce and furious expression
was in vivid life, there were two groups of faces--each seven in number
--so fixedly contrasting with the rest, that never did sea roll which
bore more memorable wrecks with it. Seven faces of prisoners, suddenly
released by the storm that had burst their tomb, were carried high
overhead: all scared, all lost, all wondering and amazed, as if the
Last Day were come, and those who rejoiced around them were lost spirits.
Other seven faces there were, carried higher, seven dead faces, whose
drooping eyelids and half-seen eyes awaited the Last Day. Impassive
faces, yet with a suspended--not an abolished--expression on them; faces,
rather, in a fearful pause, as having yet to raise the dropped lids of
the eyes, and bear witness with the bloodless lips, "THOU DIDST IT!"
Seven prisoners released, seven gory heads on pikes, the keys of the
accursed fortress of the eight strong towers, some discovered letters
and other memorials of prisoners of old time, long dead of broken
hearts,--such, and such--like, the loudly echoing footsteps of Saint
Antoine escort through the Paris streets in mid-July, one thousand seven
hundred and eighty-nine. Now, Heaven defeat the fancy of Lucie Darnay,
and keep these feet far out of her life! For, they are headlong, mad,
and dangerous; and in the years so long after the breaking of the cask
at Defarge's wine-shop door, they are not easily purified when once
The Sea Still Rises
Haggard Saint Antoine had had only one exultant week, in which to
soften his modicum of hard and bitter bread to such extent as he
could, with the relish of fraternal embraces and congratulations,
when Madame Defarge sat at her counter, as usual, presiding over the
customers. Madame Defarge wore no rose in her head, for the great
brotherhood of Spies had become, even in one short week, extremely
chary of trusting themselves to the saint's mercies. The lamps across
his streets had a portentously elastic swing with them.
Madame Defarge, with her arms folded, sat in the morning light and heat,
contemplating the wine-shop and the street. In both, there were several
knots of loungers, squalid and miserable, but now with a manifest sense
of power enthroned on their distress. The raggedest nightcap, awry on
the wretchedest head, had this crooked significance in it: "I know how
hard it has grown for me, the wearer of this, to support life in myself;
but do you know how easy it has grown for me, the wearer of this, to
destroy life in you?" Every lean bare arm, that had been without work
before, had this work always ready for it now, that it could strike.
The fingers of the knitting women were vicious, with the experience that
they could tear. There was a change in the appearance of Saint Antoine;
the image had been hammering into this for hundreds of years, and the
last finishing blows had told mightily on the expression.
Madame Defarge sat observing it, with such suppressed approval as was
to be desired in the leader of the Saint Antoine women. One of her
sisterhood knitted beside her. The short, rather plump wife of a
starved grocer, and the mother of two children withal, this lieutenant
had already earned the complimentary name of The Vengeance.
"Hark!" said The Vengeance. "Listen, then! Who comes?"
As if a train of powder laid from the outermost bound of Saint Antoine
Quarter to the wine-shop door, had been suddenly fired, a fast-spreading
murmur came rushing along.
"It is Defarge," said madame. "Silence, patriots!"
Defarge came in breathless, pulled off a red cap he wore, and looked
around him! "Listen, everywhere!" said madame again. "Listen to him!"
Defarge stood, panting, against a background of eager eyes and open
mouths, formed outside the door; all those within the wine-shop had
sprung to their feet.
"Say then, my husband. What is it?"
"News from the other world!"
"How, then?" cried madame, contemptuously. "The other world?"
"Does everybody here recall old Foulon, who told the famished people
that they might eat grass, and who died, and went to Hell?"
"Everybody!" from all throats.
"The news is of him. He is among us!"
"Among us!" from the universal throat again. "And dead?"
"Not dead! He feared us so much--and with reason--that he caused
himself to be represented as dead, and had a grand mock-funeral. But
they have found him alive, hiding in the country, and have brought him
in. I have seen him but now, on his way to the Hotel de Ville, a
prisoner. I have said that he had reason to fear us. Say all!
HAD he reason?"
Wretched old sinner of more than threescore years and ten, if he had
never known it yet, he would have known it in his heart of hearts if
he could have heard the answering cry.
A moment of profound silence followed. Defarge and his wife looked
steadfastly at one another. The Vengeance stooped, and the jar of
a drum was heard as she moved it at her feet behind the counter.
"Patriots!" said Defarge, in a determined voice, "are we ready?"
Instantly Madame Defarge's knife was in her girdle; the drum was beating
in the streets, as if it and a drummer had flown together by magic; and
The Vengeance, uttering terrific shrieks, and flinging her arms about
her head like all the forty Furies at once, was tearing from house to
house, rousing the women.
The men were terrible, in the bloody-minded anger with which they looked
from windows, caught up what arms they had, and came pouring down into
the streets; but, the women were a sight to chill the boldest. From
such household occupations as their bare poverty yielded, from their
children, from their aged and their sick crouching on the bare ground
famished and naked, they ran out with streaming hair, urging one
another, and themselves, to madness with the wildest cries and actions.
Villain Foulon taken, my sister! Old Foulon taken, my mother!
Miscreant Foulon taken, my daughter! Then, a score of others ran into
the midst of these, beating their breasts, tearing their hair, and
screaming, Foulon alive! Foulon who told the starving people they
might eat grass! Foulon who told my old father that he might eat
grass, when I had no bread to give him! Foulon who told my baby it
might suck grass, when these breasts where dry with want! O mother
of God, this Foulon! O Heaven our suffering! Hear me, my dead baby
and my withered father: I swear on my knees, on these stones, to avenge
you on Foulon! Husbands, and brothers, and young men, Give us the blood
of Foulon, Give us the head of Foulon, Give us the heart of Foulon,
Give us the body and soul of Foulon, Rend Foulon to pieces, and dig
him into the ground, that grass may grow from him! With these cries,
numbers of the women, lashed into blind frenzy, whirled about, striking
and tearing at their own friends until they dropped into a passionate
swoon, and were only saved by the men belonging to them from being
trampled under foot.
Nevertheless, not a moment was lost; not a moment! This Foulon was
at the Hotel de Ville, and might be loosed. Never, if Saint Antoine
knew his own sufferings, insults, and wrongs! Armed men and women
flocked out of the Quarter so fast, and drew even these last dregs
after them with such a force of suction, that within a quarter of an
hour there was not a human creature in Saint Antoine's bosom but a
few old crones and the wailing children.
No. They were all by that time choking the Hall of Examination where
this old man, ugly and wicked, was, and overflowing into the adjacent
open space and streets. The Defarges, husband and wife, The Vengeance,
and Jacques Three, were in the first press, and at no great distance
from him in the Hall.
"See!" cried madame, pointing with her knife. "See the old villain
bound with ropes. That was well done to tie a bunch of grass upon
his back. Ha, ha! That was well done. Let him eat it now!" Madame
put her knife under her arm, and clapped her hands as at a play.
The people immediately behind Madame Defarge, explaining the cause of
her satisfaction to those behind them, and those again explaining
to others, and those to others, the neighbouring streets resounded with
the clapping of hands. Similarly, during two or three hours of drawl,
and the winnowing of many bushels of words, Madame Defarge's frequent
expressions of impatience were taken up, with marvellous quickness,
at a distance: the more readily, because certain men who had by some
wonderful exercise of agility climbed up the external architecture to
look in from the windows, knew Madame Defarge well, and acted as a
telegraph between her and the crowd outside the building.
At length the sun rose so high that it struck a kindly ray as of hope
or protection, directly down upon the old prisoner's head. The favour
was too much to bear; in an instant the barrier of dust and chaff that
had stood surprisingly long, went to the winds, and Saint Antoine had
It was known directly, to the furthest confines of the crowd. Defarge
had but sprung over a railing and a table, and folded the miserable
wretch in a deadly embrace--Madame Defarge had but followed and turned
her hand in one of the ropes with which he was tied--The Vengeance
and Jacques Three were not yet up with them, and the men at the windows
had not yet swooped into the Hall, like birds of prey from their high
perches--when the cry seemed to go up, all over the city, "Bring him
out! Bring him to the lamp!"
Down, and up, and head foremost on the steps of the building; now, on
his knees; now, on his feet; now, on his back; dragged, and struck at,
and stifled by the bunches of grass and straw that were thrust into his
face by hundreds of hands; torn, bruised, panting, bleeding, yet always
entreating and beseeching for mercy; now full of vehement agony of
action, with a small clear space about him as the people drew one
another back that they might see; now, a log of dead wood drawn through
a forest of legs; he was hauled to the nearest street corner where one
of the fatal lamps swung, and there Madame Defarge let him go--as a
cat might have done to a mouse--and silently and composedly looked
at him while they made ready, and while he besought her: the women
passionately screeching at him all the time, and the men sternly
calling out to have him killed with grass in his mouth. Once, he went
aloft, and the rope broke, and they caught him shrieking; twice, he went
aloft, and the rope broke, and they caught him shrieking; then, the rope
was merciful, and held him, and his head was soon upon a pike, with
grass enough in the mouth for all Saint Antoine to dance at the sight of.
Nor was this the end of the day's bad work, for Saint Antoine so
shouted and danced his angry blood up, that it boiled again, on
hearing when the day closed in that the son-in-law of the despatched,
another of the people's enemies and insulters, was coming into Paris
under a guard five hundred strong, in cavalry alone. Saint Antoine
wrote his crimes on flaring sheets of paper, seized him--would have
torn him out of the breast of an army to bear Foulon company--set
his head and heart on pikes, and carried the three spoils of the day,
in Wolf-procession through the streets.
Not before dark night did the men and women come back to the children,
wailing and breadless. Then, the miserable bakers' shops were beset
by long files of them, patiently waiting to buy bad bread; and while
they waited with stomachs faint and empty, they beguiled the time by
embracing one another on the triumphs of the day, and achieving them
again in gossip. Gradually, these strings of ragged people shortened
and frayed away; and then poor lights began to shine in high windows,
and slender fires were made in the streets, at which neighbours cooked
in common, afterwards supping at their doors.
Scanty and insufficient suppers those, and innocent of meat, as of
most other sauce to wretched bread. Yet, human fellowship infused
some nourishment into the flinty viands, and struck some sparks of
cheerfulness out of them. Fathers and mothers who had had their full
share in the worst of the day, played gently with their meagre
children; and lovers, with such a world around them and before them,
loved and hoped.
It was almost morning, when Defarge's wine-shop parted with its last
knot of customers, and Monsieur Defarge said to madame his wife, in
husky tones, while fastening the door:
"At last it is come, my dear!"
"Eh well!" returned madame. "Almost."
Saint Antoine slept, the Defarges slept: even The Vengeance slept with
her starved grocer, and the drum was at rest. The drum's was the only
voice in Saint Antoine that blood and hurry had not changed. The
Vengeance, as custodian of the drum, could have wakened him up and had
the same speech out of him as before the Bastille fell, or old Foulon
was seized; not so with the hoarse tones of the men and women in Saint
There was a change on the village where the fountain fell, and where
the mender of roads went forth daily to hammer out of the stones on
the highway such morsels of bread as might serve for patches to hold
his poor ignorant soul and his poor reduced body together. The prison
on the crag was not so dominant as of yore; there were soldiers to guard
it, but not many; there were officers to guard the soldiers, but not
one of them knew what his men would do--beyond this: that it would
probably not be what he was ordered.
Far and wide lay a ruined country, yielding nothing but desolation.
Every green leaf, every blade of grass and blade of grain, was as
shrivelled and poor as the miserable people. Everything was bowed
down, dejected, oppressed, and broken. Habitations, fences,
domesticated animals, men, women, children, and the soil that bore
them--all worn out.
Monseigneur (often a most worthy individual gentleman) was a national
blessing, gave a chivalrous tone to things, was a polite example of
luxurious and shining fife, and a great deal more to equal purpose;
nevertheless, Monseigneur as a class had, somehow or other, brought
things to this. Strange that Creation, designed expressly for
Monseigneur, should be so soon wrung dry and squeezed out! There must
be something short-sighted in the eternal arrangements, surely! Thus
it was, however; and the last drop of blood having been extracted from
the flints, and the last screw of the rack having been turned so often
that its purchase crumbled, and it now turned and turned with nothing
to bite, Monseigneur began to run away from a phenomenon so low
But, this was not the change on the village, and on many a village
like it. For scores of years gone by, Monseigneur had squeezed it
and wrung it, and had seldom graced it with his presence except for
the pleasures of the chase--now, found in hunting the people; now,
found in hunting the beasts, for whose preservation Monseigneur made
edifying spaces of barbarous and barren wilderness. No. The change
consisted in the appearance of strange faces of low caste, rather than
in the disappearance of the high caste, chiselled, and otherwise
beautified and beautifying features of Monseigneur.
For, in these times, as the mender of roads worked, solitary, in the
dust, not often troubling himself to reflect that dust he was and to
dust he must return, being for the most part too much occupied in
thinking how little he had for supper and how much more he would eat
if he had it--in these times, as he raised his eyes from his lonely
labour, and viewed the prospect, he would see some rough figure
approaching on foot, the like of which was once a rarity in those
parts, but was now a frequent presence. As it advanced, the mender
of roads would discern without surprise, that it was a shaggy-haired
man, of almost barbarian aspect, tall, in wooden shoes that were
clumsy even to the eyes of a mender of roads, grim, rough, swart,
steeped in the mud and dust of many highways, dank with the marshy
moisture of many low grounds, sprinkled with the thorns and leaves
and moss of many byways through woods.
Such a man came upon him, like a ghost, at noon in the July weather,
as he sat on his heap of stones under a bank, taking such shelter as
he could get from a shower of hail.
The man looked at him, looked at the village in the hollow, at the
mill, and at the prison on the crag. When he had identified these
objects in what benighted mind he had, he said, in a dialect that
was just intelligible:
"How goes it, Jacques?"
"All well, Jacques."
They joined hands, and the man sat down on the heap of stones.
"Nothing but supper now," said the mender of roads, with a hungry face.
"It is the fashion," growled the man. "I meet no dinner anywhere."
He took out a blackened pipe, filled it, lighted it with flint and
steel, pulled at it until it was in a bright glow: then, suddenly held
it from him and dropped something into it from between his finger and
thumb, that blazed and went out in a puff of smoke.
"Touch then." It was the turn of the mender of roads to say it this
time, after observing these operations. They again joined hands.
"To-night?" said the mender of roads.
"To-night," said the man, putting the pipe in his mouth.
He and the mender of roads sat on the heap of stones looking silently
at one another, with the hail driving in between them like a pigmy
charge of bayonets, until the sky began to clear over the village.
"Show me!" said the traveller then, moving to the brow of the hill.
"See!" returned the mender of roads, with extended finger. "You go
down here, and straight through the street, and past the fountain--"
"To the Devil with all that!" interrupted the other, rolling his eye
over the landscape. "_I_ go through no streets and past no fountains.
"Well! About two leagues beyond the summit of that hill above
"Good. When do you cease to work?"
"Will you wake me, before departing? I have walked two nights without
resting. Let me finish my pipe, and I shall sleep like a child. Will
you wake me?"
The wayfarer smoked his pipe out, put it in his breast, slipped off
his great wooden shoes, and lay down on his back on the heap of stones.
He was fast asleep directly.
As the road-mender plied his dusty labour, and the hail-clouds, rolling
away, revealed bright bars and streaks of sky which were responded to
by silver gleams upon the landscape, the little man (who wore a red cap
now, in place of his blue one) seemed fascinated by the figure on the
heap of stones. His eyes were so often turned towards it, that he
used his tools mechanically, and, one would have said, to very poor
account. The bronze face, the shaggy black hair and beard, the coarse
woollen red cap, the rough medley dress of home-spun stuff and hairy
skins of beasts, the powerful frame attenuated by spare living, and
the sullen and desperate compression of the lips in sleep, inspired
the mender of roads with awe. The traveller had travelled far, and
his feet were footsore, and his ankles chafed and bleeding; his great
shoes, stuffed with leaves and grass, had been heavy to drag over the
many long leagues, and his clothes were chafed into holes, as he himself
was into sores. Stooping down beside him, the road-mender tried to
get a peep at secret weapons in his breast or where not; but, in vain,
for he slept with his arms crossed upon him, and set as resolutely as
his lips. Fortified towns with their stockades, guard-houses, gates,
trenches, and drawbridges, seemed to the mender of roads, to be so much
air as against this figure. And when he lifted his eyes from it to
the horizon and looked around, he saw in his small fancy similar figures,
stopped by no obstacle, tending to centres all over France.
The man slept on, indifferent to showers of hail and intervals of
brightness, to sunshine on his face and shadow, to the paltering lumps
of dull ice on his body and the diamonds into which the sun changed
them, until the sun was low in the west, and the sky was glowing.
Then, the mender of roads having got his tools together and all things
ready to go down into the village, roused him.
"Good!" said the sleeper, rising on his elbow. "Two leagues beyond
the summit of the hill?"
The mender of roads went home, with the dust going on before him
according to the set of the wind, and was soon at the fountain,
squeezing himself in among the lean kine brought there to drink, and
appearing even to whisper to them in his whispering to all the village.
When the village had taken its poor supper, it did not creep to bed,
as it usually did, but came out of doors again, and remained there.
A curious contagion of whispering was upon it, and also, when it
gathered together at the fountain in the dark, another curious contagion
of looking expectantly at the sky in one direction only. Monsieur
Gabelle, chief functionary of the place, became uneasy; went out on
his house-top alone, and looked in that direction too; glanced down
from behind his chimneys at the darkening faces by the fountain below,
and sent word to the sacristan who kept the keys of the church, that
there might be need to ring the tocsin by-and-bye.
The night deepened. The trees environing the old chateau, keeping
its solitary state apart, moved in a rising wind, as though they
threatened the pile of building massive and dark in the gloom. Up
the two terrace flights of steps the rain ran wildly, and beat at
the great door, like a swift messenger rousing those within; uneasy
rushes of wind went through the hall, among the old spears and knives,
and passed lamenting up the stairs, and shook the curtains of the bed
where the last Marquis had slept. East, West, North, and South, through
the woods, four heavy-treading, unkempt figures crushed the high grass
and cracked the branches, striding on cautiously to come together in
the courtyard. Four lights broke out there, and moved away in different
directions, and all was black again.
But, not for long. Presently, the chateau began to make itself
strangely visible by some light of its own, as though it were growing
luminous. Then, a flickering streak played behind the architecture
of the front, picking out transparent places, and showing where
balustrades, arches, and windows were. Then it soared higher, and
grew broader and brighter. Soon, from a score of the great windows,
flames burst forth, and the stone faces awakened, stared out of fire.
A faint murmur arose about the house from the few people who were left
there, and there was a saddling of a horse and riding away. There was
spurring and splashing through the darkness, and bridle was drawn in
the space by the village fountain, and the horse in a foam stood at
Monsieur Gabelle's door. "Help, Gabelle! Help, every one!" The
tocsin rang impatiently, but other help (if that were any) there was
none. The mender of roads, and two hundred and fifty particular
friends, stood with folded arms at the fountain, looking at the pillar
of fire in the sky. "It must be forty feet high," said they, grimly;
and never moved.
The rider from the chateau, and the horse in a foam, clattered away
through the village, and galloped up the stony steep, to the prison
on the crag. At the gate, a group of officers were looking at the
fire; removed from them, a group of soldiers. "Help, gentlemen--
officers! The chateau is on fire; valuable objects may be saved from
the flames by timely aid! Help, help!" The officers looked towards
the soldiers who looked at the fire; gave no orders; and answered,
with shrugs and biting of lips, "It must burn."
As the rider rattled down the hill again and through the street, the
village was illuminating. The mender of roads, and the two hundred
and fifty particular friends, inspired as one man and woman by the
idea of lighting up, had darted into their houses, and were putting
candles in every dull little pane of glass. The general scarcity of
everything, occasioned candles to be borrowed in a rather peremptory
manner of Monsieur Gabelle; and in a moment of reluctance and hesitation
on that functionary's part, the mender of roads, once so submissive
to authority, had remarked that carriages were good to make bonfires
with, and that post-horses would roast.
The chateau was left to itself to flame and burn. In the roaring and
raging of the conflagration, a red-hot wind, driving straight from
the infernal regions, seemed to be blowing the edifice away. With the
rising and falling of the blaze, the stone faces showed as if they were
in torment. When great masses of stone and timber fell, the face with
the two dints in the nose became obscured: anon struggled out of the
smoke again, as if it were the face of the cruel Marquis, burning at
the stake and contending with the fire.
The chateau burned; the nearest trees, laid hold of by the fire,
scorched and shrivelled; trees at a distance, fired by the four fierce
figures, begirt the blazing edifice with a new forest of smoke. Molten
lead and iron boiled in the marble basin of the fountain; the water
ran dry; the extinguisher tops of the towers vanished like ice before
the heat, and trickled down into four rugged wells of flame. Great
rents and splits branched out in the solid walls, like crystallisation;
stupefied birds wheeled about and dropped into the furnace; four fierce
figures trudged away, East, West, North, and South, along the night-
enshrouded roads, guided by the beacon they had lighted, towards their
next destination. The illuminated village had seized hold of the
tocsin, and, abolishing the lawful ringer, rang for joy.
Not only that; but the village, light-headed with famine, fire, and
bell-ringing, and bethinking itself that Monsieur Gabelle had to do
with the collection of rent and taxes--though it was but a small
instalment of taxes, and no rent at all, that Gabelle had got in those
latter days--became impatient for an interview with him, and,
surrounding his house, summoned him to come forth for personal conference.
Whereupon, Monsieur Gabelle did heavily bar his door, and retire to
hold counsel with himself. The result of that conference was, that
Gabelle again withdrew himself to his housetop behind his stack of
chimneys; this time resolved, if his door were broken in (he was a
small Southern man of retaliative temperament), to pitch himself head
foremost over the parapet, and crush a man or two below.
Probably, Monsieur Gabelle passed a long night up there, with the
distant chateau for fire and candle, and the beating at his door,
combined with the joy-ringing, for music; not to mention his having
an ill-omened lamp slung across the road before his posting-house gate,
which the village showed a lively inclination to displace in his favour.
A trying suspense, to be passing a whole summer night on the brink of
the black ocean, ready to take that plunge into it upon which Monsieur
Gabelle had resolved! But, the friendly dawn appearing at last, and
the rush-candles of the village guttering out, the people happily
dispersed, and Monsieur Gabelle came down bringing his life with him
for that while.
Within a hundred miles, and in the light of other fires, there were
other functionaries less fortunate, that night and other nights, whom
the rising sun found hanging across once-peaceful streets, where they
had been born and bred; also, there were other villagers and townspeople
less fortunate than the mender of roads and his fellows, upon whom
the functionaries and soldiery turned with success, and whom they
strung up in their turn. But, the fierce figures were steadily wending
East, West, North, and South, be that as it would; and whosoever hung,
fire burned. The altitude of the gallows that would turn to water
and quench it, no functionary, by any stretch of mathematics, was
able to calculate successfully.
Drawn to the Loadstone Rock
In such risings of fire and risings of sea--the firm earth shaken by
the rushes of an angry ocean which had now no ebb, but was always on
the flow, higher and higher, to the terror and wonder of the beholders
on the shore--three years of tempest were consumed. Three more
birthdays of little Lucie had been woven by the golden thread into
the peaceful tissue of the life of her home.
Many a night and many a day had its inmates listened to the echoes in
the corner, with hearts that failed them when they heard the thronging
feet. For, the footsteps had become to their minds as the footsteps
of a people, tumultuous under a red flag and with their country declared
in danger, changed into wild beasts, by terrible enchantment long
Monseigneur, as a class, had dissociated himself from the phenomenon
of his not being appreciated: of his being so little wanted in France,
as to incur considerable danger of receiving his dismissal from it,
and this life together. Like the fabled rustic who raised the Devil
with infinite pains, and was so terrified at the sight of him that he
could ask the Enemy no question, but immediately fled; so, Monseigneur,
after boldly reading the Lord's Prayer backwards for a great number of
years, and performing many other potent spells for compelling the Evil
One, no sooner beheld him in his terrors than he took to his noble heels.
The shining Bull's Eye of the Court was gone, or it would have been
the mark for a hurricane of national bullets. It had never been a
good eye to see with--had long had the mote in it of Lucifer's pride,
Sardana--palus's luxury, and a mole's blindness--but it had dropped
out and was gone. The Court, from that exclusive inner circle to its
outermost rotten ring of intrigue, corruption, and dissimulation, was
all gone together. Royalty was gone; had been besieged in its Palace
and "suspended," when the last tidings came over.
The August of the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety-two was
come, and Monseigneur was by this time scattered far and wide.
As was natural, the head-quarters and great gathering-place of
Monseigneur, in London, was Tellson's Bank. Spirits are supposed to
haunt the places where their bodies most resorted, and Monseigneur
without a guinea haunted the spot where his guineas used to be.
Moreover, it was the spot to which such French intelligence as was
most to be relied upon, came quickest. Again: Tellson's was a
munificent house, and extended great liberality to old customers who
had fallen from their high estate. Again: those nobles who had seen
the coming storm in time, and anticipating plunder or confiscation,
had made provident remittances to Tellson's, were always to be heard
of there by their needy brethren. To which it must be added that every
new-comer from France reported himself and his tidings at Tellson's,
almost as a matter of course. For such variety of reasons, Tellson's
was at that time, as to French intelligence, a kind of High Exchange;
and this was so well known to the public, and the inquiries made there
were in consequence so numerous, that Tellson's sometimes wrote the
latest news out in a line or so and posted it in the Bank windows,
for all who ran through Temple Bar to read.
On a steaming, misty afternoon, Mr. Lorry sat at his desk, and Charles
Darnay stood leaning on it, talking with him in a low voice. The
penitential den once set apart for interviews with the House, was now
the news-Exchange, and was filled to overflowing. It was within half
an hour or so of the time of closing.
"But, although you are the youngest man that ever lived," said Charles
Darnay, rather hesitating, "I must still suggest to you--"
"I understand. That I am too old?" said Mr. Lorry.
"Unsettled weather, a long journey, uncertain means of travelling, a
disorganised country, a city that may not be even safe for you."
"My dear Charles," said Mr. Lorry, with cheerful confidence, "you
touch some of the reasons for my going: not for my staying away.
It is safe enough for me; nobody will care to interfere with an old
fellow of hard upon fourscore when there are so many people there
much better worth interfering with. As to its being a disorganised
city, if it were not a disorganised city there would be no occasion
to send somebody from our House here to our House there, who knows
the city and the business, of old, and is in Tellson's confidence.
As to the uncertain travelling, the long journey, and the winter
weather, if I were not prepared to submit myself to a few inconveniences
for the sake of Tellson's, after all these years, who ought to be?"
"I wish I were going myself," said Charles Darnay, somewhat restlessly,
and like one thinking aloud.
"Indeed! You are a pretty fellow to object and advise!" exclaimed
Mr. Lorry. "You wish you were going yourself? And you a Frenchman
born? You are a wise counsellor."
"My dear Mr. Lorry, it is because I am a Frenchman born, that the
thought (which I did not mean to utter here, however) has passed
through my mind often. One cannot help thinking, having had some
sympathy for the miserable people, and having abandoned something to
them," he spoke here in his former thoughtful manner, "that one might
be listened to, and might have the power to persuade to some restraint.
Only last night, after you had left us, when I was talking to Lucie--"
"When you were talking to Lucie," Mr. Lorry repeated. "Yes. I wonder
you are not ashamed to mention the name of Lucie! Wishing you were
going to France at this time of day!"
"However, I am not going," said Charles Darnay, with a smile. "It is
more to the purpose that you say you are."
"And I am, in plain reality. The truth is, my dear Charles," Mr. Lorry
glanced at the distant House, and lowered his voice, "you can have no
conception of the difficulty with which our business is transacted,
and of the peril in which our books and papers over yonder are involved.
The Lord above knows what the compromising consequences would be to
numbers of people, if some of our documents were seized or destroyed;