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Book the Third: The Track of a Storm Chapter VIII.
A Hand at Cards
Happily unconscious of the new calamity at home, Miss Pross threaded her way along the
narrow streets and crossed the river by the bridge of the Pont-Neuf, reckoning in her
mind the number of indispensable purchases she had to make.
Mr. Cruncher, with the basket, walked at her side.
They both looked to the right and to the left into most of the shops they passed,
had a wary eye for all gregarious assemblages of people, and turned out of
their road to avoid any very excited group of talkers.
It was a raw evening, and the misty river, blurred to the eye with blazing lights and
to the ear with harsh noises, showed where the barges were stationed in which the
smiths worked, making guns for the Army of the Republic.
Woe to the man who played tricks with _that_ Army, or got undeserved promotion in
it!
Better for him that his beard had never grown, for the National Razor shaved him
close.
Having purchased a few small articles of grocery, and a measure of oil for the lamp,
Miss Pross bethought herself of the wine they wanted.
After peeping into several wine-shops, she stopped at the sign of the Good Republican
Brutus of Antiquity, not far from the National Palace, once (and twice) the
Tuileries, where the aspect of things rather took her fancy.
It had a quieter look than any other place of the same description they had passed,
and, though red with patriotic caps, was not so red as the rest.
Sounding Mr. Cruncher, and finding him of her opinion, Miss Pross resorted to the
Good Republican Brutus of Antiquity, attended by her cavalier.
Slightly observant of the smoky lights; of the people, pipe in mouth, playing with
limp cards and yellow dominoes; of the one bare-breasted, bare-armed, soot-begrimed
workman reading a journal aloud, and of the
others listening to him; of the weapons worn, or laid aside to be resumed; of the
two or three customers fallen forward asleep, who in the popular high-shouldered
shaggy black spencer looked, in that
attitude, like slumbering bears or dogs; the two outlandish customers approached the
counter, and showed what they wanted.
As their wine was measuring out, a man parted from another man in a corner, and
rose to depart. In going, he had to face Miss Pross.
No sooner did he face her, than Miss Pross uttered a scream, and clapped her hands.
In a moment, the whole company were on their feet.
That somebody was assassinated by somebody vindicating a difference of opinion was the
likeliest occurrence.
Everybody looked to see somebody fall, but only saw a man and a woman standing staring
at each other; the man with all the outward aspect of a Frenchman and a thorough
Republican; the woman, evidently English.
What was said in this disappointing anti- climax, by the disciples of the Good
Republican Brutus of Antiquity, except that it was something very voluble and loud,
would have been as so much Hebrew or
Chaldean to Miss Pross and her protector, though they had been all ears.
But, they had no ears for anything in their surprise.
For, it must be recorded, that not only was Miss Pross lost in amazement and agitation,
but, Mr. Cruncher--though it seemed on his own separate and individual account--was in
a state of the greatest wonder.
"What is the matter?" said the man who had caused Miss Pross to scream; speaking in a
vexed, abrupt voice (though in a low tone), and in English.
"Oh, Solomon, dear Solomon!" cried Miss Pross, clapping her hands again.
"After not setting eyes upon you or hearing of you for so long a time, do I find you
here!"
"Don't call me Solomon. Do you want to be the death of me?" asked
the man, in a furtive, frightened way. "Brother, brother!" cried Miss Pross,
bursting into tears.
"Have I ever been so hard with you that you ask me such a cruel question?"
"Then hold your meddlesome tongue," said Solomon, "and come out, if you want to
speak to me.
Pay for your wine, and come out. Who's this man?"
Miss Pross, shaking her loving and dejected head at her by no means affectionate
brother, said through her tears, "Mr. Cruncher."
"Let him come out too," said Solomon.
"Does he think me a ghost?" Apparently, Mr. Cruncher did, to judge from
his looks.
He said not a word, however, and Miss Pross, exploring the depths of her reticule
through her tears with great difficulty paid for her wine.
As she did so, Solomon turned to the followers of the Good Republican Brutus of
Antiquity, and offered a few words of explanation in the French language, which
caused them all to relapse into their former places and pursuits.
"Now," said Solomon, stopping at the dark street corner, "what do you want?"
"How dreadfully unkind in a brother nothing has ever turned my love away from!" cried
Miss Pross, "to give me such a greeting, and show me no affection."
"There.
Confound it! There," said Solomon, making a dab at Miss
Pross's lips with his own. "Now are you content?"
Miss Pross only shook her head and wept in silence.
"If you expect me to be surprised," said her brother Solomon, "I am not surprised; I
knew you were here; I know of most people who are here.
If you really don't want to endanger my existence--which I half believe you do--go
your ways as soon as possible, and let me go mine.
I am busy.
I am an official."
"My English brother Solomon," mourned Miss Pross, casting up her tear-fraught eyes,
"that had the makings in him of one of the best and greatest of men in his native
country, an official among foreigners, and such foreigners!
I would almost sooner have seen the dear boy lying in his--"
"I said so!" cried her brother, interrupting.
"I knew it. You want to be the death of me.
I shall be rendered Suspected, by my own sister.
Just as I am getting on!" "The gracious and merciful Heavens forbid!"
cried Miss Pross.
"Far rather would I never see you again, dear Solomon, though I have ever loved you
truly, and ever shall.
Say but one affectionate word to me, and tell me there is nothing angry or estranged
between us, and I will detain you no longer."
Good Miss Pross!
As if the estrangement between them had come of any culpability of hers.
As if Mr. Lorry had not known it for a fact, years ago, in the quiet corner in
Soho, that this precious brother had spent her money and left her!
He was saying the affectionate word, however, with a far more grudging
condescension and patronage than he could have shown if their relative merits and
positions had been reversed (which is
invariably the case, all the world over), when Mr. Cruncher, touching him on the
shoulder, hoarsely and unexpectedly interposed with the following singular
question:
"I say! Might I ask the favour?
As to whether your name is John Solomon, or Solomon John?"
The official turned towards him with sudden distrust.
He had not previously uttered a word. "Come!" said Mr. Cruncher.
"Speak out, you know."
(Which, by the way, was more than he could do himself.)
"John Solomon, or Solomon John? She calls you Solomon, and she must know,
being your sister.
And _I_ know you're John, you know. Which of the two goes first?
And regarding that name of Pross, likewise. That warn't your name over the water."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I don't know all I mean, for I can't call to mind what your name was, over the
water." "No?"
"No. But I'll swear it was a name of two syllables."
"Indeed?" "Yes. T'other one's was one syllable.
I know you.
You was a spy--witness at the Bailey. What, in the name of the Father of Lies,
own father to yourself, was you called at that time?"
"Barsad," said another voice, striking in.
"That's the name for a thousand pound!" cried Jerry.
The speaker who struck in, was Sydney Carton.
He had his hands behind him under the skirts of his riding-coat, and he stood at
Mr. Cruncher's elbow as negligently as he might have stood at the Old Bailey itself.
"Don't be alarmed, my dear Miss Pross.
I arrived at Mr. Lorry's, to his surprise, yesterday evening; we agreed that I would
not present myself elsewhere until all was well, or unless I could be useful; I
present myself here, to beg a little talk with your brother.
I wish you had a better employed brother than Mr. Barsad.
I wish for your sake Mr. Barsad was not a Sheep of the Prisons."
Sheep was a cant word of the time for a spy, under the gaolers.
The spy, who was pale, turned paler, and asked him how he dared--
"I'll tell you," said Sydney.
"I lighted on you, Mr. Barsad, coming out of the prison of the Conciergerie while I
was contemplating the walls, an hour or more ago.
You have a face to be remembered, and I remember faces well.
Made curious by seeing you in that connection, and having a reason, to which
you are no stranger, for associating you with the misfortunes of a friend now very
unfortunate, I walked in your direction.
I walked into the wine-shop here, close after you, and sat near you.
I had no difficulty in deducing from your unreserved conversation, and the rumour
openly going about among your admirers, the nature of your calling.
And gradually, what I had done at random, seemed to shape itself into a purpose, Mr.
Barsad." "What purpose?" the spy asked.
"It would be troublesome, and might be dangerous, to explain in the street.
Could you favour me, in confidence, with some minutes of your company--at the office
of Tellson's Bank, for instance?"
"Under a threat?" "Oh! Did I say that?"
"Then, why should I go there?" "Really, Mr. Barsad, I can't say, if you
can't."
"Do you mean that you won't say, sir?" the spy irresolutely asked.
"You apprehend me very clearly, Mr. Barsad. I won't."
Carton's negligent recklessness of manner came powerfully in aid of his quickness and
skill, in such a business as he had in his secret mind, and with such a man as he had
to do with.
His practised eye saw it, and made the most of it.
"Now, I told you so," said the spy, casting a reproachful look at his sister; "if any
trouble comes of this, it's your doing."
"Come, come, Mr. Barsad!" exclaimed Sydney. "Don't be ungrateful.
But for my great respect for your sister, I might not have led up so pleasantly to a
little proposal that I wish to make for our mutual satisfaction.
Do you go with me to the Bank?"
"I'll hear what you have got to say. Yes, I'll go with you."
"I propose that we first conduct your sister safely to the corner of her own
street.
Let me take your arm, Miss Pross. This is not a good city, at this time, for
you to be out in, unprotected; and as your escort knows Mr. Barsad, I will invite him
to Mr. Lorry's with us.
Are we ready? Come then!"
Miss Pross recalled soon afterwards, and to the end of her life remembered, that as she
pressed her hands on Sydney's arm and looked up in his face, imploring him to do
no hurt to Solomon, there was a braced
purpose in the arm and a kind of inspiration in the eyes, which not only
contradicted his light manner, but changed and raised the man.
She was too much occupied then with fears for the brother who so little deserved her
affection, and with Sydney's friendly reassurances, adequately to heed what she
observed.
They left her at the corner of the street, and Carton led the way to Mr. Lorry's,
which was within a few minutes' walk. John Barsad, or Solomon Pross, walked at
his side.
Mr. Lorry had just finished his dinner, and was sitting before a cheery little log or
two of fire--perhaps looking into their blaze for the picture of that younger
elderly gentleman from Tellson's, who had
looked into the red coals at the Royal George at Dover, now a good many years ago.
He turned his head as they entered, and showed the surprise with which he saw a
stranger.
"Miss Pross's brother, sir," said Sydney. "Mr. Barsad."
"Barsad?" repeated the old gentleman, "Barsad?
I have an association with the name--and with the face."
"I told you you had a remarkable face, Mr. Barsad," observed Carton, coolly.
"Pray sit down."
As he took a chair himself, he supplied the link that Mr. Lorry wanted, by saying to
him with a frown, "Witness at that trial."
Mr. Lorry immediately remembered, and regarded his new visitor with an
undisguised look of abhorrence.
"Mr. Barsad has been recognised by Miss Pross as the affectionate brother you have
heard of," said Sydney, "and has acknowledged the relationship.
I pass to worse news.
Darnay has been arrested again." Struck with consternation, the old
gentleman exclaimed, "What do you tell me! I left him safe and free within these two
hours, and am about to return to him!"
"Arrested for all that. When was it done, Mr. Barsad?"
"Just now, if at all."
"Mr. Barsad is the best authority possible, sir," said Sydney, "and I have it from Mr.
Barsad's communication to a friend and brother Sheep over a bottle of wine, that
the arrest has taken place.
He left the messengers at the gate, and saw them admitted by the porter.
There is no earthly doubt that he is retaken."
Mr. Lorry's business eye read in the speaker's face that it was loss of time to
dwell upon the point.
Confused, but sensible that something might depend on his presence of mind, he
commanded himself, and was silently attentive.
"Now, I trust," said Sydney to him, "that the name and influence of Doctor Manette
may stand him in as good stead to-morrow-- you said he would be before the Tribunal
again to-morrow, Mr. Barsad?--"
"Yes; I believe so." "--In as good stead to-morrow as to-day.
But it may not be so.
I own to you, I am shaken, Mr. Lorry, by Doctor Manette's not having had the power
to prevent this arrest." "He may not have known of it beforehand,"
said Mr. Lorry.
"But that very circumstance would be alarming, when we remember how identified
he is with his son-in-law."
"That's true," Mr. Lorry acknowledged, with his troubled hand at his chin, and his
troubled eyes on Carton.
"In short," said Sydney, "this is a desperate time, when desperate games are
played for desperate stakes. Let the Doctor play the winning game; I
will play the losing one.
No man's life here is worth purchase. Any one carried home by the people to-day,
may be condemned tomorrow.
Now, the stake I have resolved to play for, in case of the worst, is a friend in the
Conciergerie. And the friend I purpose to myself to win,
is Mr. Barsad."
"You need have good cards, sir," said the spy.
"I'll run them over.
I'll see what I hold,--Mr. Lorry, you know what a brute I am; I wish you'd give me a
little brandy."
It was put before him, and he drank off a glassful--drank off another glassful--
pushed the bottle thoughtfully away.
"Mr. Barsad," he went on, in the tone of one who really was looking over a hand at
cards: "Sheep of the prisons, emissary of Republican committees, now turnkey, now
prisoner, always spy and secret informer,
so much the more valuable here for being English that an Englishman is less open to
suspicion of subornation in those characters than a Frenchman, represents
himself to his employers under a false name.
That's a very good card.
Mr. Barsad, now in the employ of the republican French government, was formerly
in the employ of the aristocratic English government, the enemy of France and
freedom.
That's an excellent card.
Inference clear as day in this region of suspicion, that Mr. Barsad, still in the
pay of the aristocratic English government, is the spy of Pitt, the treacherous foe of
the Republic crouching in its bosom, the
English traitor and agent of all mischief so much spoken of and so difficult to find.
That's a card not to be beaten. Have you followed my hand, Mr. Barsad?"
"Not to understand your play," returned the spy, somewhat uneasily.
"I play my Ace, Denunciation of Mr. Barsad to the nearest Section Committee.
Look over your hand, Mr. Barsad, and see what you have.
Don't hurry." He drew the bottle near, poured out another
glassful of brandy, and drank it off.
He saw that the spy was fearful of his drinking himself into a fit state for the
immediate denunciation of him. Seeing it, he poured out and drank another
glassful.
"Look over your hand carefully, Mr. Barsad. Take time."
It was a poorer hand than he suspected. Mr. Barsad saw losing cards in it that
Sydney Carton knew nothing of.
Thrown out of his honourable employment in England, through too much unsuccessful hard
swearing there--not because he was not wanted there; our English reasons for
vaunting our superiority to secrecy and
spies are of very modern date--he knew that he had crossed the Channel, and accepted
service in France: first, as a tempter and an eavesdropper among his own countrymen
there: gradually, as a tempter and an eavesdropper among the natives.
He knew that under the overthrown government he had been a spy upon Saint
Antoine and Defarge's wine-shop; had received from the watchful police such
heads of information concerning Doctor
Manette's imprisonment, release, and history, as should serve him for an
introduction to familiar conversation with the Defarges; and tried them on Madame
Defarge, and had broken down with them signally.
He always remembered with fear and trembling, that that terrible woman had
knitted when he talked with her, and had looked ominously at him as her fingers
moved.
He had since seen her, in the Section of Saint Antoine, over and over again produce
her knitted registers, and denounce people whose lives the guillotine then surely
swallowed up.
He knew, as every one employed as he was did, that he was never safe; that flight
was impossible; that he was tied fast under the shadow of the axe; and that in spite of
his utmost tergiversation and treachery in
furtherance of the reigning terror, a word might bring it down upon him.
Once denounced, and on such grave grounds as had just now been suggested to his mind,
he foresaw that the dreadful woman of whose unrelenting character he had seen many
proofs, would produce against him that
fatal register, and would quash his last chance of life.
Besides that all secret men are men soon terrified, here were surely cards enough of
one black suit, to justify the holder in growing rather livid as he turned them
over.
"You scarcely seem to like your hand," said Sydney, with the greatest composure.
"Do you play?"
"I think, sir," said the spy, in the meanest manner, as he turned to Mr. Lorry,
"I may appeal to a gentleman of your years and benevolence, to put it to this other
gentleman, so much your junior, whether he
can under any circumstances reconcile it to his station to play that Ace of which he
has spoken.
I admit that _I_ am a spy, and that it is considered a discreditable station--though
it must be filled by somebody; but this gentleman is no spy, and why should he so
demean himself as to make himself one?"
"I play my Ace, Mr. Barsad," said Carton, taking the answer on himself, and looking
at his watch, "without any scruple, in a very few minutes."
"I should have hoped, gentlemen both," said the spy, always striving to hook Mr. Lorry
into the discussion, "that your respect for my sister--"
"I could not better testify my respect for your sister than by finally relieving her
of her brother," said Sydney Carton. "You think not, sir?"
"I have thoroughly made up my mind about it."
The smooth manner of the spy, curiously in dissonance with his ostentatiously rough
dress, and probably with his usual demeanour, received such a check from the
inscrutability of Carton,--who was a
mystery to wiser and honester men than he,- -that it faltered here and failed him.
While he was at a loss, Carton said, resuming his former air of contemplating
cards:
"And indeed, now I think again, I have a strong impression that I have another good
card here, not yet enumerated.
That friend and fellow-Sheep, who spoke of himself as pasturing in the country
prisons; who was he?" "French.
You don't know him," said the spy, quickly.
"French, eh?" repeated Carton, musing, and not appearing to notice him at all, though
he echoed his word. "Well; he may be."
"Is, I assure you," said the spy; "though it's not important."
"Though it's not important," repeated Carton, in the same mechanical way--"though
it's not important--No, it's not important.
No. Yet I know the face." "I think not.
I am sure not. It can't be," said the spy.
"It-can't-be," muttered Sydney Carton, retrospectively, and idling his glass
(which fortunately was a small one) again. "Can't-be.
Spoke good French.
Yet like a foreigner, I thought?" "Provincial," said the spy.
"No. Foreign!" cried Carton, striking his open hand on the table, as a light broke
clearly on his mind.
"Cly! Disguised, but the same man. We had that man before us at the Old
Bailey."
"Now, there you are hasty, sir," said Barsad, with a smile that gave his aquiline
nose an extra inclination to one side; "there you really give me an advantage over
you.
Cly (who I will unreservedly admit, at this distance of time, was a partner of mine)
has been dead several years. I attended him in his last illness.
He was buried in London, at the church of Saint Pancras-in-the-Fields.
His unpopularity with the blackguard multitude at the moment prevented my
following his remains, but I helped to lay him in his coffin."
Here, Mr. Lorry became aware, from where he sat, of a most remarkable goblin shadow on
the wall.
Tracing it to its source, he discovered it to be caused by a sudden extraordinary
rising and stiffening of all the risen and stiff hair on Mr. Cruncher's head.
"Let us be reasonable," said the spy, "and let us be fair.
To show you how mistaken you are, and what an unfounded assumption yours is, I will
lay before you a certificate of Cly's burial, which I happened to have carried in
my pocket-book," with a hurried hand he produced and opened it, "ever since.
There it is. Oh, look at it, look at it!
You may take it in your hand; it's no forgery."
Here, Mr. Lorry perceived the reflection on the wall to elongate, and Mr. Cruncher rose
and stepped forward.
His hair could not have been more violently on end, if it had been that moment dressed
by the Cow with the crumpled horn in the house that Jack built.
Unseen by the spy, Mr. Cruncher stood at his side, and touched him on the shoulder
like a ghostly bailiff.
"That there Roger Cly, master," said Mr. Cruncher, with a taciturn and iron-bound
visage. "So _you_ put him in his coffin?"
"I did."
"Who took him out of it?" Barsad leaned back in his chair, and
stammered, "What do you mean?" "I mean," said Mr. Cruncher, "that he
warn't never in it.
No! Not he! I'll have my head took off, if he was ever
in it."
The spy looked round at the two gentlemen; they both looked in unspeakable
astonishment at Jerry.
"I tell you," said Jerry, "that you buried paving-stones and earth in that there
coffin. Don't go and tell me that you buried Cly.
It was a take in.
Me and two more knows it." "How do you know it?"
"What's that to you?
Ecod!" growled Mr. Cruncher, "it's you I have got a old grudge again, is it, with
your shameful impositions upon tradesmen! I'd catch hold of your throat and choke you
for half a guinea."
Sydney Carton, who, with Mr. Lorry, had been lost in amazement at this turn of the
business, here requested Mr. Cruncher to moderate and explain himself.
"At another time, sir," he returned, evasively, "the present time is ill-
conwenient for explainin'.
What I stand to, is, that he knows well wot that there Cly was never in that there
coffin.
Let him say he was, in so much as a word of one syllable, and I'll either catch hold of
his throat and choke him for half a guinea;" Mr. Cruncher dwelt upon this as
quite a liberal offer; "or I'll out and announce him."
"Humph! I see one thing," said Carton.
"I hold another card, Mr. Barsad.
Impossible, here in raging Paris, with Suspicion filling the air, for you to
outlive denunciation, when you are in communication with another aristocratic spy
of the same antecedents as yourself, who,
moreover, has the mystery about him of having feigned death and come to life
again! A plot in the prisons, of the foreigner
against the Republic.
A strong card--a certain Guillotine card! Do you play?"
"No!" returned the spy. "I throw up.
I confess that we were so unpopular with the outrageous mob, that I only got away
from England at the risk of being ducked to death, and that Cly was so ferreted up and
down, that he never would have got away at all but for that sham.
Though how this man knows it was a sham, is a wonder of wonders to me."
"Never you trouble your head about this man," retorted the contentious Mr.
Cruncher; "you'll have trouble enough with giving your attention to that gentleman.
And look here!
Once more!"--Mr. Cruncher could not be restrained from making rather an
ostentatious parade of his liberality--"I'd catch hold of your throat and choke you for
half a guinea."
The Sheep of the prisons turned from him to Sydney Carton, and said, with more
decision, "It has come to a point. I go on duty soon, and can't overstay my
time.
You told me you had a proposal; what is it? Now, it is of no use asking too much of me.
Ask me to do anything in my office, putting my head in great extra danger, and I had
better trust my life to the chances of a refusal than the chances of consent.
In short, I should make that choice.
You talk of desperation. We are all desperate here.
Remember!
I may denounce you if I think proper, and I can swear my way through stone walls, and
so can others. Now, what do you want with me?"
"Not very much.
You are a turnkey at the Conciergerie?" "I tell you once for all, there is no such
thing as an escape possible," said the spy, firmly.
"Why need you tell me what I have not asked?
You are a turnkey at the Conciergerie?" "I am sometimes."
"You can be when you choose?"
"I can pass in and out when I choose." Sydney Carton filled another glass with
brandy, poured it slowly out upon the hearth, and watched it as it dropped.
It being all spent, he said, rising:
"So far, we have spoken before these two, because it was as well that the merits of
the cards should not rest solely between you and me.
Come into the dark room here, and let us have one final word alone."
>
Book the Third: The Track of a Storm Chapter IX.
The Game Made
While Sydney Carton and the Sheep of the prisons were in the adjoining dark room,
speaking so low that not a sound was heard, Mr. Lorry looked at Jerry in considerable
doubt and mistrust.
That honest tradesman's manner of receiving the look, did not inspire confidence; he
changed the leg on which he rested, as often as if he had fifty of those limbs,
and were trying them all; he examined his
finger-nails with a very questionable closeness of attention; and whenever Mr.
Lorry's eye caught his, he was taken with that peculiar kind of short cough requiring
the hollow of a hand before it, which is
seldom, if ever, known to be an infirmity attendant on perfect openness of character.
"Jerry," said Mr. Lorry. "Come here."
Mr. Cruncher came forward sideways, with one of his shoulders in advance of him.
"What have you been, besides a messenger?"
After some cogitation, accompanied with an intent look at his patron, Mr. Cruncher
conceived the luminous idea of replying, "Agicultooral character."
"My mind misgives me much," said Mr. Lorry, angrily shaking a forefinger at him, "that
you have used the respectable and great house of Tellson's as a blind, and that you
have had an unlawful occupation of an infamous description.
If you have, don't expect me to befriend you when you get back to England.
If you have, don't expect me to keep your secret.
Tellson's shall not be imposed upon."
"I hope, sir," pleaded the abashed Mr. Cruncher, "that a gentleman like yourself
wot I've had the honour of odd jobbing till I'm grey at it, would think twice about
harming of me, even if it wos so--I don't say it is, but even if it wos.
And which it is to be took into account that if it wos, it wouldn't, even then, be
all o' one side.
There'd be two sides to it.
There might be medical doctors at the present hour, a picking up their guineas
where a honest tradesman don't pick up his fardens--fardens! no, nor yet his half
fardens--half fardens! no, nor yet his
quarter--a banking away like smoke at Tellson's, and a cocking their medical eyes
at that tradesman on the sly, a going in and going out to their own carriages--ah!
equally like smoke, if not more so.
Well, that 'ud be imposing, too, on Tellson's.
For you cannot sarse the goose and not the gander.
And here's Mrs. Cruncher, or leastways wos in the Old England times, and would be to-
morrow, if cause given, a floppin' again the business to that degree as is
ruinating--stark ruinating!
Whereas them medical doctors' wives don't flop--catch 'em at it!
Or, if they flop, their floppings goes in favour of more patients, and how can you
rightly have one without t'other?
Then, wot with undertakers, and wot with parish clerks, and wot with sextons, and
wot with private watchmen (all awaricious and all in it), a man wouldn't get much by
it, even if it wos so.
And wot little a man did get, would never prosper with him, Mr. Lorry.
He'd never have no good of it; he'd want all along to be out of the line, if he,
could see his way out, being once in--even if it wos so."
"Ugh!" cried Mr. Lorry, rather relenting, nevertheless, "I am shocked at the sight of
you."
"Now, what I would humbly offer to you, sir," pursued Mr. Cruncher, "even if it wos
so, which I don't say it is--" "Don't prevaricate," said Mr. Lorry.
"No, I will _not_, sir," returned Mr. Crunches as if nothing were further from
his thoughts or practice--"which I don't say it is--wot I would humbly offer to you,
sir, would be this.
Upon that there stool, at that there Bar, sets that there boy of mine, brought up and
growed up to be a man, wot will errand you, message you, general-light-job you, till
your heels is where your head is, if such should be your wishes.
If it wos so, which I still don't say it is (for I will not prewaricate to you, sir),
let that there boy keep his father's place, and take care of his mother; don't blow
upon that boy's father--do not do it, sir--
and let that father go into the line of the reg'lar diggin', and make amends for what
he would have undug--if it wos so--by diggin' of 'em in with a will, and with
conwictions respectin' the futur' keepin' of 'em safe.
That, Mr. Lorry," said Mr. Cruncher, wiping his forehead with his arm, as an
announcement that he had arrived at the peroration of his discourse, "is wot I
would respectfully offer to you, sir.
A man don't see all this here a goin' on dreadful round him, in the way of Subjects
without heads, dear me, plentiful enough fur to bring the price down to porterage
and hardly that, without havin' his serious thoughts of things.
And these here would be mine, if it wos so, entreatin' of you fur to bear in mind that
wot I said just now, I up and said in the good cause when I might have kep' it back."
"That at least is true," said Mr. Lorry.
"Say no more now. It may be that I shall yet stand your
friend, if you deserve it, and repent in action--not in words.
I want no more words."
Mr. Cruncher knuckled his forehead, as Sydney Carton and the spy returned from the
dark room.
"Adieu, Mr. Barsad," said the former; "our arrangement thus made, you have nothing to
fear from me." He sat down in a chair on the hearth, over
against Mr. Lorry.
When they were alone, Mr. Lorry asked him what he had done?
"Not much. If it should go ill with the prisoner, I
have ensured access to him, once."
Mr. Lorry's countenance fell. "It is all I could do," said Carton.
"To propose too much, would be to put this man's head under the axe, and, as he
himself said, nothing worse could happen to him if he were denounced.
It was obviously the weakness of the position.
There is no help for it."
"But access to him," said Mr. Lorry, "if it should go ill before the Tribunal, will not
save him." "I never said it would."
Mr. Lorry's eyes gradually sought the fire; his sympathy with his darling, and the
heavy disappointment of his second arrest, gradually weakened them; he was an old man
now, overborne with anxiety of late, and his tears fell.
"You are a good man and a true friend," said Carton, in an altered voice.
"Forgive me if I notice that you are affected.
I could not see my father weep, and sit by, careless.
And I could not respect your sorrow more, if you were my father.
You are free from that misfortune, however."
Though he said the last words, with a slip into his usual manner, there was a true
feeling and respect both in his tone and in his touch, that Mr. Lorry, who had never
seen the better side of him, was wholly unprepared for.
He gave him his hand, and Carton gently pressed it.
"To return to poor Darnay," said Carton.
"Don't tell Her of this interview, or this arrangement.
It would not enable Her to go to see him.
She might think it was contrived, in case of the worse, to convey to him the means of
anticipating the sentence."
Mr. Lorry had not thought of that, and he looked quickly at Carton to see if it were
in his mind. It seemed to be; he returned the look, and
evidently understood it.
"She might think a thousand things," Carton said, "and any of them would only add to
her trouble. Don't speak of me to her.
As I said to you when I first came, I had better not see her.
I can put my hand out, to do any little helpful work for her that my hand can find
to do, without that.
You are going to her, I hope? She must be very desolate to-night."
"I am going now, directly." "I am glad of that.
She has such a strong attachment to you and reliance on you.
How does she look?" "Anxious and unhappy, but very beautiful."
"Ah!" It was a long, grieving sound, like a sigh--almost like a sob.
It attracted Mr. Lorry's eyes to Carton's face, which was turned to the fire.
A light, or a shade (the old gentleman could not have said which), passed from it
as swiftly as a change will sweep over a hill-side on a wild bright day, and he
lifted his foot to put back one of the
little flaming logs, which was tumbling forward.
He wore the white riding-coat and top- boots, then in vogue, and the light of the
fire touching their light surfaces made him look very pale, with his long brown hair,
all untrimmed, hanging loose about him.
His indifference to fire was sufficiently remarkable to elicit a word of remonstrance
from Mr. Lorry; his boot was still upon the hot embers of the flaming log, when it had
broken under the weight of his foot.
"I forgot it," he said. Mr. Lorry's eyes were again attracted to
his face.
Taking note of the wasted air which clouded the naturally handsome features, and having
the expression of prisoners' faces fresh in his mind, he was strongly reminded of that
expression.
"And your duties here have drawn to an end, sir?" said Carton, turning to him.
"Yes. As I was telling you last night when Lucie came in so unexpectedly, I have at
length done all that I can do here.
I hoped to have left them in perfect safety, and then to have quitted Paris.
I have my Leave to Pass. I was ready to go."
They were both silent.
"Yours is a long life to look back upon, sir?" said Carton, wistfully.
"I am in my seventy-eighth year."
"You have been useful all your life; steadily and constantly occupied; trusted,
respected, and looked up to?" "I have been a man of business, ever since
I have been a man.
Indeed, I may say that I was a man of business when a boy."
"See what a place you fill at seventy- eight.
How many people will miss you when you leave it empty!"
"A solitary old bachelor," answered Mr. Lorry, shaking his head.
"There is nobody to weep for me."
"How can you say that? Wouldn't She weep for you?
Wouldn't her child?" "Yes, yes, thank God.
I didn't quite mean what I said."
"It _is_ a thing to thank God for; is it not?"
"Surely, surely."
"If you could say, with truth, to your own solitary heart, to-night, 'I have secured
to myself the love and attachment, the gratitude or respect, of no human creature;
I have won myself a tender place in no
regard; I have done nothing good or serviceable to be remembered by!' your
seventy-eight years would be seventy-eight heavy curses; would they not?"
"You say truly, Mr. Carton; I think they would be."
Sydney turned his eyes again upon the fire, and, after a silence of a few moments,
said:
"I should like to ask you:--Does your childhood seem far off?
Do the days when you sat at your mother's knee, seem days of very long ago?"
Responding to his softened manner, Mr. Lorry answered:
"Twenty years back, yes; at this time of my life, no.
For, as I draw closer and closer to the end, I travel in the circle, nearer and
nearer to the beginning. It seems to be one of the kind smoothings
and preparings of the way.
My heart is touched now, by many remembrances that had long fallen asleep,
of my pretty young mother (and I so old!), and by many associations of the days when
what we call the World was not so real with
me, and my faults were not confirmed in me."
"I understand the feeling!" exclaimed Carton, with a bright flush.
"And you are the better for it?"
"I hope so." Carton terminated the conversation here, by
rising to help him on with his outer coat; "But you," said Mr. Lorry, reverting to the
theme, "you are young."
"Yes," said Carton. "I am not old, but my young way was never
the way to age. Enough of me."
"And of me, I am sure," said Mr. Lorry.
"Are you going out?" "I'll walk with you to her gate.
You know my vagabond and restless habits.
If I should prowl about the streets a long time, don't be uneasy; I shall reappear in
the morning. You go to the Court to-morrow?"
"Yes, unhappily."
"I shall be there, but only as one of the crowd.
My Spy will find a place for me. Take my arm, sir."
Mr. Lorry did so, and they went down-stairs and out in the streets.
A few minutes brought them to Mr. Lorry's destination.
Carton left him there; but lingered at a little distance, and turned back to the
gate again when it was shut, and touched it.
He had heard of her going to the prison every day.
"She came out here," he said, looking about him, "turned this way, must have trod on
these stones often.
Let me follow in her steps." It was ten o'clock at night when he stood
before the prison of La Force, where she had stood hundreds of times.
A little wood-sawyer, having closed his shop, was smoking his pipe at his shop-
door.
"Good night, citizen," said Sydney Carton, pausing in going by; for, the man eyed him
inquisitively. "Good night, citizen."
"How goes the Republic?"
"You mean the Guillotine. Not ill.
Sixty-three to-day. We shall mount to a hundred soon.
Samson and his men complain sometimes, of being exhausted.
Ha, ha, ha! He is so droll, that Samson.
Such a Barber!"
"Do you often go to see him--" "Shave?
Always. Every day.
What a barber!
You have seen him at work?" "Never."
"Go and see him when he has a good batch.
Figure this to yourself, citizen; he shaved the sixty-three to-day, in less than two
pipes! Less than two pipes.
Word of honour!"
As the grinning little man held out the pipe he was smoking, to explain how he
timed the executioner, Carton was so sensible of a rising desire to strike the
life out of him, that he turned away.
"But you are not English," said the wood- sawyer, "though you wear English dress?"
"Yes," said Carton, pausing again, and answering over his shoulder.
"You speak like a Frenchman."
"I am an old student here." "Aha, a perfect Frenchman!
Good night, Englishman." "Good night, citizen."
"But go and see that droll dog," the little man persisted, calling after him.
"And take a pipe with you!"
Sydney had not gone far out of sight, when he stopped in the middle of the street
under a glimmering lamp, and wrote with his pencil on a scrap of paper.
Then, traversing with the decided step of one who remembered the way well, several
dark and dirty streets--much dirtier than usual, for the best public thoroughfares
remained uncleansed in those times of
terror--he stopped at a chemist's shop, which the owner was closing with his own
hands.
A small, dim, crooked shop, kept in a tortuous, up-hill thoroughfare, by a small,
dim, crooked man.
Giving this citizen, too, good night, as he confronted him at his counter, he laid the
scrap of paper before him. "Whew!" the chemist whistled softly, as he
read it.
"Hi! hi! hi!" Sydney Carton took no heed, and the chemist
said: "For you, citizen?"
"For me."
"You will be careful to keep them separate, citizen?
You know the consequences of mixing them?" "Perfectly."
Certain small packets were made and given to him.
He put them, one by one, in the breast of his inner coat, counted out the money for
them, and deliberately left the shop.
"There is nothing more to do," said he, glancing upward at the moon, "until to-
morrow. I can't sleep."
It was not a reckless manner, the manner in which he said these words aloud under the
fast-sailing clouds, nor was it more expressive of negligence than defiance.
It was the settled manner of a tired man, who had wandered and struggled and got
lost, but who at length struck into his road and saw its end.
Long ago, when he had been famous among his earliest competitors as a youth of great
promise, he had followed his father to the grave.
His mother had died, years before.
These solemn words, which had been read at his father's grave, arose in his mind as he
went down the dark streets, among the heavy shadows, with the moon and the clouds
sailing on high above him.
"I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though
he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall
never die."
In a city dominated by the axe, alone at night, with natural sorrow rising in him
for the sixty-three who had been that day put to death, and for to-morrow's victims
then awaiting their doom in the prisons,
and still of to-morrow's and to-morrow's, the chain of association that brought the
words home, like a rusty old ship's anchor from the deep, might have been easily
found.
He did not seek it, but repeated them and went on.
With a solemn interest in the lighted windows where the people were going to
rest, forgetful through a few calm hours of the horrors surrounding them; in the towers
of the churches, where no prayers were
said, for the popular revulsion had even travelled that length of self-destruction
from years of priestly impostors, plunderers, and profligates; in the distant
burial-places, reserved, as they wrote upon
the gates, for Eternal Sleep; in the abounding gaols; and in the streets along
which the sixties rolled to a death which had become so common and material, that no
sorrowful story of a haunting Spirit ever
arose among the people out of all the working of the Guillotine; with a solemn
interest in the whole life and death of the city settling down to its short nightly
pause in fury; Sydney Carton crossed the Seine again for the lighter streets.
Few coaches were abroad, for riders in coaches were liable to be suspected, and
gentility hid its head in red nightcaps, and put on heavy shoes, and trudged.
But, the theatres were all well filled, and the people poured cheerfully out as he
passed, and went chatting home.
At one of the theatre doors, there was a little girl with a mother, looking for a
way across the street through the mud.
He carried the child over, and before the timid arm was loosed from his neck asked
her for a kiss.
"I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though
he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall
never die."
Now, that the streets were quiet, and the night wore on, the words were in the echoes
of his feet, and were in the air.
Perfectly calm and steady, he sometimes repeated them to himself as he walked; but,
he heard them always.
The night wore out, and, as he stood upon the bridge listening to the water as it
splashed the river-walls of the Island of Paris, where the picturesque confusion of
houses and cathedral shone bright in the
light of the moon, the day came coldly, looking like a dead face out of the sky.
Then, the night, with the moon and the stars, turned pale and died, and for a
little while it seemed as if Creation were delivered over to Death's dominion.
But, the glorious sun, rising, seemed to strike those words, that burden of the
night, straight and warm to his heart in its long bright rays.
And looking along them, with reverently shaded eyes, a bridge of light appeared to
span the air between him and the sun, while the river sparkled under it.
The strong tide, so swift, so deep, and certain, was like a congenial friend, in
the morning stillness.
He walked by the stream, far from the houses, and in the light and warmth of the
sun fell asleep on the bank.
When he awoke and was afoot again, he lingered there yet a little longer,
watching an eddy that turned and turned purposeless, until the stream absorbed it,
and carried it on to the sea.--"Like me."
A trading-boat, with a sail of the softened colour of a dead leaf, then glided into his
view, floated by him, and died away.
As its silent track in the water disappeared, the prayer that had broken up
out of his heart for a merciful consideration of all his poor blindnesses
and errors, ended in the words, "I am the resurrection and the life."
Mr. Lorry was already out when he got back, and it was easy to surmise where the good
old man was gone.
Sydney Carton drank nothing but a little coffee, ate some bread, and, having washed
and changed to refresh himself, went out to the place of trial.
The court was all astir and a-buzz, when the black sheep--whom many fell away from
in dread--pressed him into an obscure corner among the crowd.
Mr. Lorry was there, and Doctor Manette was there.
She was there, sitting beside her father.
When her husband was brought in, she turned a look upon him, so sustaining, so
encouraging, so full of admiring love and pitying tenderness, yet so courageous for
his sake, that it called the healthy blood
into his face, brightened his glance, and animated his heart.
If there had been any eyes to notice the influence of her look, on Sydney Carton, it
would have been seen to be the same influence exactly.
Before that unjust Tribunal, there was little or no order of procedure, ensuring
to any accused person any reasonable hearing.
There could have been no such Revolution, if all laws, forms, and ceremonies, had not
first been so monstrously abused, that the suicidal vengeance of the Revolution was to
scatter them all to the winds.
Every eye was turned to the jury. The same determined patriots and good
republicans as yesterday and the day before, and to-morrow and the day after.
Eager and prominent among them, one man with a craving face, and his fingers
perpetually hovering about his lips, whose appearance gave great satisfaction to the
spectators.
A life-thirsting, cannibal-looking, bloody- minded juryman, the Jacques Three of St.
Antoine. The whole jury, as a jury of dogs
empannelled to try the deer.
Every eye then turned to the five judges and the public prosecutor.
No favourable leaning in that quarter to- day.
A fell, uncompromising, murderous business- meaning there.
Every eye then sought some other eye in the crowd, and gleamed at it approvingly; and
heads nodded at one another, before bending forward with a strained attention.
Charles Evremonde, called Darnay.
Released yesterday. Reaccused and retaken yesterday.
Indictment delivered to him last night.
Suspected and Denounced enemy of the Republic, Aristocrat, one of a family of
tyrants, one of a race proscribed, for that they had used their abolished privileges to
the infamous oppression of the people.
Charles Evremonde, called Darnay, in right of such proscription, absolutely Dead in
Law. To this effect, in as few or fewer words,
the Public Prosecutor.
The President asked, was the Accused openly denounced or secretly?
"Openly, President." "By whom?"
"Three voices.
Ernest Defarge, wine-vendor of St. Antoine."
"Good." "Therese Defarge, his wife."
"Good."
"Alexandre Manette, physician." A great uproar took place in the court, and
in the midst of it, Doctor Manette was seen, pale and trembling, standing where he
had been seated.
"President, I indignantly protest to you that this is a forgery and a fraud.
You know the accused to be the husband of my daughter.
My daughter, and those dear to her, are far dearer to me than my life.
Who and where is the false conspirator who says that I denounce the husband of my
child!"
"Citizen Manette, be tranquil. To fail in submission to the authority of
the Tribunal would be to put yourself out of Law.
As to what is dearer to you than life, nothing can be so dear to a good citizen as
the Republic." Loud acclamations hailed this rebuke.
The President rang his bell, and with warmth resumed.
"If the Republic should demand of you the sacrifice of your child herself, you would
have no duty but to sacrifice her.
Listen to what is to follow. In the meanwhile, be silent!"
Frantic acclamations were again raised.
Doctor Manette sat down, with his eyes looking around, and his lips trembling; his
daughter drew closer to him.
The craving man on the jury rubbed his hands together, and restored the usual hand
to his mouth.
Defarge was produced, when the court was quiet enough to admit of his being heard,
and rapidly expounded the story of the imprisonment, and of his having been a mere
boy in the Doctor's service, and of the
release, and of the state of the prisoner when released and delivered to him.
This short examination followed, for the court was quick with its work.
"You did good service at the taking of the Bastille, citizen?"
"I believe so."
Here, an excited woman screeched from the crowd: "You were one of the best patriots
there. Why not say so?
You were a cannonier that day there, and you were among the first to enter the
accursed fortress when it fell. Patriots, I speak the truth!"
It was The Vengeance who, amidst the warm commendations of the audience, thus
assisted the proceedings.
The President rang his bell; but, The Vengeance, warming with encouragement,
shrieked, "I defy that bell!" wherein she was likewise much commended.
"Inform the Tribunal of what you did that day within the Bastille, citizen."
"I knew," said Defarge, looking down at his wife, who stood at the bottom of the steps
on which he was raised, looking steadily up at him; "I knew that this prisoner, of whom
I speak, had been confined in a cell known
as One Hundred and Five, North Tower. I knew it from himself.
He knew himself by no other name than One Hundred and Five, North Tower, when he made
shoes under my care. As I serve my gun that day, I resolve, when
the place shall fall, to examine that cell.
It falls. I mount to the cell, with a fellow-citizen
who is one of the Jury, directed by a gaoler.
I examine it, very closely.
In a hole in the chimney, where a stone has been worked out and replaced, I find a
written paper. This is that written paper.
I have made it my business to examine some specimens of the writing of Doctor Manette.
This is the writing of Doctor Manette.
I confide this paper, in the writing of Doctor Manette, to the hands of the
President." "Let it be read."
In a dead silence and stillness--the prisoner under trial looking lovingly at
his wife, his wife only looking from him to look with solicitude at her father, Doctor
Manette keeping his eyes fixed on the
reader, Madame Defarge never taking hers from the prisoner, Defarge never taking his
from his feasting wife, and all the other eyes there intent upon the Doctor, who saw
none of them--the paper was read, as follows.
>
Book the Third: The Track of a Storm Chapter X.
The Substance of the Shadow
"I, Alexandre Manette, unfortunate physician, native of Beauvais, and
afterwards resident in Paris, write this melancholy paper in my doleful cell in the
Bastille, during the last month of the year, 1767.
I write it at stolen intervals, under every difficulty.
I design to secrete it in the wall of the chimney, where I have slowly and
laboriously made a place of concealment for it.
Some pitying hand may find it there, when I and my sorrows are dust.
"These words are formed by the rusty iron point with which I write with difficulty in
scrapings of soot and charcoal from the chimney, mixed with blood, in the last
month of the tenth year of my captivity.
Hope has quite departed from my breast.
I know from terrible warnings I have noted in myself that my reason will not long
remain unimpaired, but I solemnly declare that I am at this time in the possession of
my right mind--that my memory is exact and
circumstantial--and that I write the truth as I shall answer for these my last
recorded words, whether they be ever read by men or not, at the Eternal Judgment-
seat.
"One cloudy moonlight night, in the third week of December (I think the twenty-second
of the month) in the year 1757, I was walking on a retired part of the quay by
the Seine for the refreshment of the frosty
air, at an hour's distance from my place of residence in the Street of the School of
Medicine, when a carriage came along behind me, driven very fast.
As I stood aside to let that carriage pass, apprehensive that it might otherwise run me
down, a head was put out at the window, and a voice called to the driver to stop.
"The carriage stopped as soon as the driver could rein in his horses, and the same