When the Attorney-General ceased, a buzz arose in the court as ifa cloud of great blue-flies were swarming about the prisoner, inanticipation of what he was soon to become. When toned down again, theunimpeachable patriot appeared in the witness-box.
Mr. Solicitor-General then, following his leader's lead, examinedthe patriot: John Barsad, gentleman, by name. The story of his puresoul was exactly what Mr. Attorney-General had described it to be-perhaps, if it had a fault, a little too exactly. Having releasedhis noble bosom of its burden, he would have modestly withdrawnhimself, but that the wigged gentleman with the papers before him,sitting not far from Mr. Lorry, begged to ask him a few questions. Thewigged gentleman sitting opposite, still looking at the ceiling of thecourt.
Had he ever been a spy himself? No, he scorned the base insinuation.What did he live upon? His property. Where was his property? He didn'tprecisely remember where it was. What was it? No business ofanybody's. Had he inherited it? Yes, he had. From whom? Distantrelation. Very distant? Rather. Ever been in prison? Certainly not.Never in a debtors' prison? Didn't see what that had to do with it.Never in a debtors' prison?- Come, once again. Never? Yes. How manytimes? Two or three times. Not five or six? Perhaps. Of whatprofession? Gentleman. Ever been kicked? Might have been.Frequently? No. Ever kicked downstairs? Decidedly not; once received akick on the top of a staircase, and fell down-stairs of his ownaccord. Kicked on that occasion for cheating at dice? Something tothat effect was said by the intoxicated liar who committed theassault, but it was not true. Swear it was not true? Positively.Ever live by cheating at play? Never. Ever live by play? Not more thanother gentlemen do. Ever borrow money of the prisoner? Yes. Ever payhim? No. Was not this intimacy with the prisoner, in reality a veryslight one, forced upon the prisoner in coaches, inns, and packets?No. Sure he saw the prisoner with these lists? Certain. Knew no moreabout the lists? No. Had not procured them himself, for instance?No. Expect to get anything by this evidence? No. Not in regulargovernment pay and employment, to lay traps? Oh dear no. Or to doanything? Oh dear no. Swear that? Over and over again. No motivesbut motives of sheer patriotism? None whatever.
The virtuous servant, Roger Cly, swore his way through the case at agreat rate. He had taken service with the prisoner, in good faithand simplicity, four years ago. He had asked the prisoner, aboardthe Calais packet, if he wanted a handy fellow, and the prisoner hadengaged him. He had not asked the prisoner to take the handy fellow asan act of charity- never thought of such a thing. He began to havesuspicions of the prisoner, and to keep an eye upon him, soonafterwards. In arranging his clothes, while travelling, he had seensimilar lists to these in the prisoner's pockets, over and over again.He had taken these lists from the drawer of the prisoner's desk. Hehad not put them there first. He had seen the prisoner show theseidentical lists to French gentlemen at Calais, and similar lists toFrench gentlemen, both at Calais and Boulogne. He loved his country,and couldn't bear it, and had given information. He had never beensuspected of stealing a silver tea-pot; he had been malignedrespecting a mustard-pot, but it turned out to be only a plated one.He had known the last witness seven or eight years; that was merelya coincidence. He didn't call it a particularly curious coincidence;most coincidences were curious. Neither did he call it a curiouscoincidence that true patriotism was his only motive too. He was atrue Briton, and hoped there were many like him.
The blue-flies buzzed again, and Mr. Attorney-General called Mr.Jarvis Lorry.
"Mr. Jarvis Lorry, are you a clerk in Tellson's bank?"
"On a certain Friday night in November one thousand seven hundredand seventy-five, did business occasion you to travel between Londonand Dover by the mail?"
"Were there any other passengers in the mail?"
"Did they alight on the road in the course of the night?"
"Mr. Lorry, look upon the prisoner. Was he one of those twopassengers?"
"I cannot undertake to say that he was."
"Does he resemble either of these two passengers?"
"Both were so wrapped up, and the night was so dark, and we were allso reserved, that I cannot undertake to say even that."
"Mr. Lorry, look again upon the prisoner. Supposing him wrapped upas those two passengers were, is there anything in his bulk andstature to render it unlikely that he was one of them?"
"You will not swear, Mr. Lorry, that he was not one of them?"
"So at least you say he may have been one of them?"
"Yes. Except that I remember them both to have been- like myself-timorous of highwaymen, and the prisoner has not a timorous air."
"Did you ever see a counterfeit of timidity, Mr. Lorry?"
"I certainly have seen that."
"Mr. Lorry, look once more upon the prisoner. Have you seen him,to your certain knowledge, before?"
"I was returning from France a few days afterwards, and, atCalais, the prisoner came on board the packet-ship in which Ireturned, and made the voyage with me."
"At what hour did he come on board?"
"At a little after midnight."
"In the dead of the night. Was he the only passenger who came onboard at that untimely hour?"
"He happened to be the only one."
"Never mind about 'happening,' Mr. Lorry. He was the onlypassenger who came on board in the dead of the night?"
"Were you travelling alone, Mr. Lorry, or with any companion?"
"With two companions. A gentleman and lady. They are here."
"They are here. Had you any conversation with the prisoner?"
"Hardly any. The weather was stormy, and the passage long and rough,and I lay on a sofa, almost from shore to shore."
The young lady, to whom all eyes had been turned before, and werenow turned again, stood up where she had sat. Her father rose withher, and kept her hand drawn through his arm.
"Miss Manette, look upon the prisoner."
To be confronted with such pity, and such earnest youth andbeauty, was far more trying to the accused than to be confrontedwith all the crowd. Standing, as it were, apart with her on the edgeof his grave, not all the staring curiosity that looked on, could, forthe moment, nerve him to remain quite still. His hurried right handparcelled out the herbs before him into imaginary beds of flowers in agarden; and his efforts to control and steady his breathing shookthe lips from which the colour rushed to his heart. The buzz of thegreat flies was loud again.
"Miss Manette, have you seen the prisoner before?"
"On board of the packet-ship just now referred to, sir, and on thesame occasion."
"You are the young lady just now referred to?"
"O! most unhappily, I am!"
The plaintive tone of her compassion merged into the less musicalvoice of the Judge, as he said something fiercely: "Answer thequestions put to you, and make no remark upon them."
"Miss Manette, had you any conversation with the prisoner on thatpassage across the Channel?"
In the midst of a profound stillness, she faintly began:
"When the gentleman came on board--"
"Do you mean the prisoner?" inquired the Judge, knitting his brows.
"Yes, my Lord."
"Then say the prisoner."
"When the prisoner came on board, he noticed that my father,"turning her eyes lovingly to him as he stood beside her, "was muchfatigued and in a very weak state of health. My father was soreduced that I was afraid to take him out of the air, and I had made abed for him on the deck near the cabin steps, and I sat on the deck athis side to take care of him. There were no other passengers thatnight, but we four. The prisoner was so good as to beg permission toadvise me how I could shelter my father from the wind and weather,better than I had done. I had not known how to do it well, notunderstanding how the wind would set when we were out of theharbour. He did it for me. He expressed great gentleness andkindness for my father's state, and I am sure he felt it. That was themanner of our beginning to speak together."
"Let me interrupt you for a moment. Had he come on board alone?"
"How many were with him?"
"Two French gentlemen."
"Had they conferred together?"
"They had conferred together until the last moment, when it wasnecessary for the French gentlemen to be landed in their boat."
"Had any papers been handed about among them, similar to theselists?"
"Some papers had been handed about among them, but I don't know whatpapers."
"Like these in shape and size?"
"Possibly, but indeed I don't know, although they stood whisperingvery near to me: because they stood at the top of the cabin steps tohave the light of the lamp that was hanging there; it was a dull lamp,and they spoke very low, and I did not hear what they said, and sawonly that they looked at papers."
"Now, to the prisoner's conversation, Miss Manette."
"The prisoner was as open in his confidence with me- which arose outof my helpless situation- as he was kind, and good, and useful to myfather. I hope," bursting into tears, "I may not repay him by doinghim harm to-day."
Buzzing from the blue-flies.
"Miss Manette, if the prisoner does not perfectly understand thatyou give the evidence which it is your duty to give- which you mustgive- and which you cannot escape from giving- with greatunwillingness, he is the only person present in that condition. Pleaseto go on."
"He told me that he was travelling on business of a delicate anddifficult nature, which might get people into trouble, and that he wastherefore travelling under an assumed name. He said that this businesshad, within a few days, taken him to France, and might, atintervals, take him backwards and forwards between France andEngland for a long time to come."
"Did he say anything about America, Miss Manette? Be particular."
"He tried to explain to me how that quarrel had arisen, and hesaid that, so far as he could judge, it was a wrong and foolish one onEngland's part. He added, in a jesting way, that perhaps GeorgeWashington might gain almost as great a name in history as Georgethe Third. But there was no harm in his way of saying this: it wassaid laughingly, and to beguile the time."
Any strongly marked expression of face on the part of a chiefactor in a scene of great interest to whom many eyes are directed,will be unconsciously imitated by the spectators. Her forehead waspainfully anxious and instent as she gave this evidence, and, in thepauses when she stopped for the Judge to write it down, watched itseffect upon the counsel for and against. Among the lookers-on therewas the same expression in all quarters of the court; insomuch, that agreat majority of the foreheads there, might have been mirrorsreflecting the witness, when the Judge looked up from his notes toglare at that tremendous heresy about George Washington.
Mr. Attorney-General now signified to my Lord, that he deemed itnecessary, as a matter of precaution and form, to call the younglady's father, Doctor Manette. Who was called accordingly.
"Doctor Manette, look upon the prisoner. Have you ever seen himbefore?"
"Once. When he called at my lodgings in London. Some three years, orthree years and a half ago."
"Can you identify him as your fellow-passenger on board thepacket, or speak to his conversation with your daughter?"
"Sir, I can do neither."
"Is there any particular and special reason for your being unable todo either?"
He answered, in a low voice, "There is."
"Has it been your misfortune to undergo a long imprisonment, withouttrial, or even accusation, in your native country, Doctor Manette?"
He answered, in a tone that went to every heart, "A longimprisonment."
"Were you newly released on the occasion in question?"
"They tell me so."
"Have you no remembrance of the occasion?"
"None. My mind is a blank, from some time- I cannot even say whattime- when I employed myself, in my captivity, in making shoes, to thetime when I found myself living in London with my dear daughterhere. She had become familiar to me, when a gracious God restored myfaculties; but, I am quite unable even to say how she had becomefamiliar. I have no remembrance of the process."
Mr. Attorney-General sat down, and the father and daughter satdown together.
A singular circumstance then arose in the case. The object in handbeing to show that the prisoner went down, with some fellow-plotteruntracked, in the Dover mail on that Friday night in November fiveyears ago, and got out of the mail in the night, as a blind, at aplace where he did not remain, but from which he travelled back somedozen miles or more, to a garrison and dockyard, and there collectedinformation; a witness was called to identify him as having been atthe precise time required, in the coffee-room of an hotel in thatgarrison-and-dockyard town, waiting for another person. The prisoner'scounsel was cross-examining this witness with no result, except thathe had never seen the prisoner on any other occasion, when thewigged gentleman who had all this time been looking at the ceilingof the court, wrote a word or two on a little piece of paper,screwed it up, and tossed it to him. Opening this piece of paper inthe next pause, the counsel looked with great attention andcuriosity at the prisoner.
"You say again you are quite sure that it was the prisoner?"
The witness was quite sure.
"Did you ever see anybody very like the prisoner?"
Not so like (the witness said) as that he could be mistaken.
"Look well upon that gentleman, my learned friend there," pointingto him who had tossed the paper over, "and then look well upon theprisoner. How say you? Are they very like each other?"
Allowing for my learned friend's appearance being careless andslovenly if not debauched, they were sufficiently like each other tosurprise, not only the witness, but everybody present, when theywere thus brought into comparison. My Lord being prayed to bid mylearned friend lay aside his wig, and giving no very gracious consent,the likeness became much more remarkable. My Lord inquired of Mr.Stryver (the prisoner's counsel), whether they were next to try Mr.Carton (name of my learned friend) for treason? But, Mr. Stryverreplied to my Lord, no; but he would ask the witness to tell himwhether what happened once, might happen twice; whether he wouldhave been so confident if he had seen this illustration of hisrashness sooner, whether he would be so confident, having seen it; andmore. The upshot of which, was, to smash this witness like acrockery vessel, and shiver his part of the case to useless lumber.
Mr. Cruncher had by this time taken quite a lunch of rust off hisfingers in his following of the evidence. He had now to attend whileMr. Stryver fitted the prisoner's case on the jury, like a compactsuit of clothes; showing them how the patriot, Barsad, was a hired spyand traitor, an unblushing trafficker in blood, and one of thegreatest scoundrels upon earth since accursed Judas- which hecertainly did look rather like. How the virtuous servant, Cly, was hisfriend and partner, and was worthy to be; how the watchful eyes ofthose forgers and false swearers had rested on the prisoner as avictim, because some family affairs in France, he being of Frenchextraction, did require his making those passages across theChannel- though what those affairs were, a consideration for otherswho were near and dear to him, forbade him, even for his life, todisclose. How the evidence that had been warped and wrested from theyoung lady, whose anguish in giving it they had witnessed, came tonothing, involving the mere little innocent gallantries andpolitenesses likely to pass between any young gentleman and young ladyso thrown together;- with the exception of that reference to GeorgeWashington, which was altogether too extravagant and impossible tobe regarded in any other fight than as a monstrous joke. How itwould be a weakness in the government to break down in this attempt topractise for popularity on the lowest national antipathies andfears, and therefore Mr. Attorney-General had made the most of it;how, nevertheless, it rested upon nothing, save that vile and infamouscharacter of evidence too often disfiguring such cases, and of whichthe State Trials of this country were full. But, there my Lordinterposed (with as grave a face as if it had not been true), sayingthat he could not sit upon that Bench and suffer those allusions.
Mr. Stryver then called his few witnesses, and Mr. Cruncher had nextto attend while Mr. Attorney-General turned the whole suit ofclothes Mr. Stryver had fitted on the jury, inside out; showing howBarsad and Cly were even a hundred times better than he had thoughtthem, and the prisoner a hundred times worse. Lastly, came my Lordhimself, turning the suit of clothes, now inside out, now outsidein, but on the whole decidedly trimming and shaping them intograve-clothes for the prisoner.
And now, the jury turned to consider, and the great flies swarmedagain.
Mr. Carton, who had so long sat looking at the ceiling of the court,changed neither his place nor his attitude, even in this excitement.While his learned friend, Mr. Stryver, massing his papers beforehim, whispered with those who sat near, and from time to timeglanced anxiously at the jury; while all the spectators moved moreor less, and grouped themselves anew; while even my Lord himself arosefrom his seat, and slowly paced up and down his platform, notunattended by a suspicion in the minds of the audience that hisstate was feverish; this one man sat leaning back, with his torngown half off him, his untidy wig put on just as it had happened tolight on his head after its removal, his hands in his pockets, and hiseyes on the ceiling as they had been all day. Something especiallyreckless in his demeanour, not only gave him a disreputable look,but so diminished the strong resemblance he undoubtedly bore to theprisoner (which his momentary earnestness, when they were comparedtogether, had strengthened), that many of the lookers-on, takingnote of him now, said to one another they would hardly have thoughtthe two were so alike. Mr. Cruncher made the observation to his nextneighbour, and added, "I'd hold half a guinea that he don't get nolaw-work to do. Don't look like the sort of one to get any, do he?"
Yet, this Mr. Carton took in more of the details of the scene thanhe appeared to take in; for now, when Miss Manette's head dropped uponher father's breast, he was the first to see it, and to say audibly:"Officer! look to that young lady. Help the gentleman to take her out.Don't you see she will fall!"
There was much commiseration for her as she was removed, and muchsympathy with her father. It had evidently been a great distress tohim, to have the days of his imprisonment recalled. He had shownstrong internal agitation when he was questioned, and that ponderingor brooding look which made him old, had been upon him, like a heavycloud, ever since. As he passed out, the jury, who had turned back andpaused a moment, spoke, through their foreman.
They were not agreed, and wished to retire. My Lord (perhaps withGeorge Washington on his mind) showed some surprise that they were notagreed, but signified his pleasure that they should retire under watchand ward, and retired himself. The trial had lasted all day, and thelamps in the court were now being lighted. It began to be rumouredthat the jury would be out a long while. The spectators dropped off toget refreshment, and the prisoner withdrew to the back of the dock,and sat down.
Mr. Lorry, who had gone out when the young lady and her fatherwent out, now reappeared, and beckoned to Jerry: who, in the slackenedinterest, could easily get near him.
"Jerry, if you wish to take something to eat, you can. But, keepin the way. You will be sure to hear when the jury come in. Don't be amoment behind them, for I want you to take the verdict back to thebank. You are the quickest messenger I know, and will get to TempleBar long before I can."
Jerry had just enough forehead to knuckle, and he knuckled it inacknowledgment of this communication and a shilling. Mr. Carton cameup at the moment, and touched Mr. Lorry on the arm.
"How is the young lady?"
"She is greatly distressed; but her father is comforting her, andshe feels the better for being out of court."
"I'll tell the prisoner so. It won't do for a respectable bankgentleman like you, to be seen speaking to him publicly, you know."
Mr. Lorry reddened as if he were conscious of having debated thepoint in his mind, and Mr. Carton made his way to the outside of thebar. The way out of court lay in that direction, and Jerry followedhim, all eyes, ears, and spikes.
The prisoner came forward directly.
"You will naturally be anxious to hear of the witness, Miss Manette.She will do very well. You have seen the worst of her agitation."
"I am deeply sorry to have been the cause of it. Could you tellher so for me, with my fervent acknowledgments?"
"Yes, I could. I will, if you ask it."
Mr. Carton's manner was so careless as to be almost insolent. Hestood, half turned from the prisoner, lounging with his elbowagainst the bar.
"I do ask it. Accept my cordial thanks."
"What," said Carton, still only half turned towards him, "do youexpect, Mr. Darnay?"
"It's the wisest thing to expect, and the likeliest. But I thinktheir withdrawing is in your favour."
Loitering on the way out of court not being allowed, Jerry heardno more: but left them- so like each other in feature, so unlikeeach other in manner- standing side by side, both reflected in theglass above them.
An hour and a half limped heavily away in the thief-and-rascalcrowded passages below, even though assisted off with mutton piesand ale. The hoarse messenger, uncomfortably seated on a form aftertaking that refection, had dropped into a doze, when a loud murmur anda rapid tide of people setting up the stairs that led to the court,carried him along with them.
"Jerry! Jerry!" Mr. Lorry was already calling at the door when hegot there.
"Here, sir! It's a fight to get back again. Here I am, sir!"
Mr. Lorry handed him a paper through the throng. "Quick! Have yougot it?"
Hastily written on the paper was the word "AQUITTED."
"If you had sent the message, 'Recalled to Life,' again," mutteredJerry, as he turned, "I should have known what you meant, this time."
He had no opportunity of saying, or so much as thinking, anythingelse, until he was clear of the Old Bailey; for, the crowd camepouring out with a vehemence that nearly took him off his legs, anda loud buzz swept into the street as if the baffled blue-flies weredispersing in search of other carrion.