A Tale of Two Cities  双城记

"Charles Evremonde, called Darnay!"


So at last began the Evening Paper at La Force.


When a name was called, its owner stepped apart into a spot reservedfor those who were announced as being thus fatally recorded. CharlesEvremonde, called Darnay, had reason to know the usage; he had seenhundreds pass away so.


His bloated gaoler, who wore spectacles to read with, glanced overthem to assure himself that he had taken his place, and went throughthe list, making a similar short pause at each name. There weretwenty-three names, but only twenty were responded to; for one ofthe prisoners so summoned had died in gaol and been forgotten, and twohad already been guillotined and forgotten. The list was read, inthe vaulted chamber where Darnay had seen the associated prisonerson the night of his arrival. Every one of those had perished in themassacre; every human creature he had since cared for and parted with,had died on the scaffold.


There were hurried words of farewell and kindness, but the partingwas soon over. It was the incident of every day, and the society of LaForce were engaged in the preparation of some games of forfeits anda little concert, for that evening. They crowded to the grates andshed tears there; but, twenty places in the projected entertainmentshad to be refilled, and the time was, at best, short to the lock-uphour, when the common rooms and corridors would be delivered over tothe great dogs who kept watch there through the night. The prisonerswere far from insensible or unfeeling; their ways arose out of thecondition of the time. Similarly, though with a subtle difference, aspecies of fervour or intoxication, known, without doubt, to haveled some persons to brave the guillotine unnecessarily, and to dieby it, was not mere boastfulness, but a wild infection of the wildlyshaken public mind. In seasons of pestilence, some of us will have asecret attraction to the disease-a terrible passing inclination to dieof it. And all of us have like wonders hidden in our breasts, onlyneeding circumstances to evoke them.


The passage to the Conciergerie was short and dark; the night in itsvermin-haunted cells was long and cold. Next day, fifteen prisonerswere put to the bar before Charles Darnay's name was called. All thefifteen were condemned, and the trials of the whole occupied an hourand a half.


"Charles Evremonde, called Darnay," was at length arraigned.


His judges sat upon the Bench in feathered hats; but the rough redcap and tricoloured cockade was the head-dress otherwise prevailing.Looking at the Jury and the turbulent audience, he might havethought that the usual order of things was reversed, and that thefelons were trying the honest men. The lowest, cruelest, and worstpopulace of a city, never without its quantity of low, cruel, and bad,were the directing spirits of the scene: noisily commenting,applauding, disapproving, anticipating, and precipitating theresult, without a check. Of the men, the greater part were armed invarious ways; of the women, some wore knives, some daggers, some ateand drank as they looked on, many knitted. Among these last, wasone, with a spare piece of knitting under her arm as she worked. Shewas in a front row, by the side of a man whom he had never seensince his arrival at the Barrier, but whom he directly remembered asDefarge. He noticed that she once or twice whispered in his ear, andthat she seemed to be his wife; but, what he most noticed in the twofigures was, that although they were posted as close to himself asthey could be, they never looked towards him. They seemed to bewaiting for something with a dogged determination, and they lookedat the Jury, but at nothing else. Under the President sat DoctorManette, in his usual quiet dress. As well as the prisoner couldsee, he and Mr. Lorry were the only men there, unconnected with theTribunal, who wore their usual clothes, and had not assumed the coarsegarb of the Carmagnole.


Charles Evremonde, called Darnay, was accused by the publicprosecutor as an emigrant, whose life was forfeit to the Republic,under the decree which banished all emigrants on pain of Death. It wasnothing that the decree bore date since his return to France. There hewas, and there was the decree; he had been taken in France, and hishead was demanded.


"Take off his head!" cried the audience. "An enemy to the Republic!"


The President rang his bell to silence those cries, and asked theprisoner whether it was not true that he had lived many years inEngland?


Undoubtedly it was.


Was he not an emigrant then? What did he call himself?


Not an emigrant, he hoped, within the sense and spirit of the law.


Why not? the President desired to know.


Because he had voluntarily relinquished a title that was distastefulto him, and a station that was distasteful to him, and had left hiscountry- he submitted before the word emigrant in the presentacceptation by the Tribunal was in use- to live by his own industry inEngland, rather than on the industry of the overladen people ofFrance.


What proof had he of this?


He handed in the names of two witnesses; Theophile Gabelle, andAlexandre Manette.


But he had married in England? the President reminded him.


True, but not an English woman.


A citizeness of France?


Yes. By birth.


Her name and family", "Lucie Manette, only daughter of DoctorManette, the good physician who sits there."


This answer had a happy effect upon the audience. Cries inexaltation of the well-known good physician rent the hall. Socapriciously were the people moved, that tears immediately rolled downseveral ferocious countenances which had been glaring at theprisoner a moment before, as if with impatience to pluck him outinto the streets and kill him.


On these few steps of his dangerous way, Charles Darnay had sethis foot according to Doctor Manette's reiterated instructions. Thesame cautious counsel directed every step that lay before him, and hadprepared every inch of his road.


The President asked, why had he returned to France when he did,and not sooner?


He had not returned sooner, he replied, simply because he had nomeans of living in France, save those he had resigned; whereas, inEngland, he lived by giving instruction in the French language andliterature. He had returned when he did, on the pressing and writtenentreaty of a French citizen, who represented that his life wasendangered by his absence. He had come back, to save a citizen's life,and to bear his testimony, at whatever personal hazard, to thetruth. Was that criminal in the eyes of the Republic?


The populace cried enthusiastically, "No!" and the President ranghis bell to quiet them. Which it did not, for they continued to cry"No!" untill they left off, of their own will.


The President required the name of that citizen. The accusedexplained that the citizen was his first witness. He also referredwith confidence to the citizen's letter, which had been taken from himat the Barrier, but which he did not doubt would be found among thepapers then before the President.


The Doctor had taken care that it should be there- had assured himthat it would be there- and at this stage of the proceedings it wasproduced and read. Citizen Gabelle was called to confirm it, and didso. Citizen Gabelle hinted, with infinite delicacy and politeness,that in the pressure of business imposed on the Tribunal by themultitude of enemies of the Republic with which it had to deal, he hadbeen slightly overlooked in his prison of the Abbaye- in fact, hadrather passed out of the Tribunal's patriotic remembrance- until threedays ago; when he had been summoned before it, and had been set atliberty on the Jury's declaring themselves satisfied that theaccusation against him was answered, as to himself, by the surrenderof the citizen Evremonde, called Darnay.


Doctor Manette was next questioned. His high personal popularity,and the cleanness of his answers, made a great impression; but, ashe proceeded, as he showed that the Accused was his first friend onhis release from his long imprisonment; that, the accused had remainedin England, always faithful and devoted to his daughter and himself intheir exile; that, so far from being in favour with the Aristocratgovernment there, he had actually been tried for his life by it, asthe foe of England and friend of the United States- as he broughtthese circumstances into view, with the greatest discretion and withthe straightforward force of truth and earnestness, the Jury and thepopulace became one. At last, when he appealed by name to MonsieurLorry, an English gentleman then and there present, who, like himself,had been a witness on that English trial and could corroborate hisaccount of it, the Jury declared that they had heard enough, andthat they were ready with their votes if the President were content toreceive them.


At every vote (the Jurymen voted aloud and individually), thepopulace set up a shout of applause. All the voices were in theprisoner's favour, and the President declared him free.


Then, began one of those extraordinary scenes with which thepopulace sometimes gratified their fickleness, or their betterimpulses towards generosity and mercy, or which they regarded assome set-off against their swollen account of cruel rage. No man candecide now to which of these motives such extraordinary scenes werereferable; it is probable, to a blending of all the three, with thesecond predominating. No sooner was the acquittal pronounced, thantears were shed as freely as blood at another time, and such fraternalembraces were bestowed upon the prisoner by as many of both sexes ascould rush at him, that after his long and unwholesome confinementhe was in danger of fainting from exhaustion; none the less because heknew very well, that the very same people, carried by another current,would have rushed at him with the very same intensity, to rend himto pieces and strew him over the streets.


His removal, to make way for other accused persons who were to betried, rescued him from these caresses for the moment. Five were to betried together, next, as enemies of the Republic, forasmuch as theyhad not assisted it by word or deed. So quick was the Tribunal tocompensate itself and the nation for a chance lost, that these fivecame down to him before he left the place, condemned to die withintwenty-four hours. The first of them told him so, with the customaryprison sign of Death- a raised finger- and they all added in words,"Long live the Republic!"


The five had had, it is true, no audience to lengthen theirproceedings, for when he and Doctor Manette emerged from the gate,there was a great crowd about it, in which there seemed to be everyface he had seen in Court- except two, for which he looked in vain. Onhis coming out, the concourse made at him anew, weeping, embracing,and shouting, all by turns and all together, until the very tide ofthe river on the bank of which the mad scene was acted, seemed torun mad, like the people on the shore.


They put him into a great chair they had among them, and whichthey had taken either out of the Court itself, or one of its roomsor passages. Over the chair they had thrown a red flag, and to theback of it they had bound a pike with a red cap on its top. In thiscar of triumph, not even the Doctor's entreaties could prevent hisbeing carried to his home on men's shoulders, with a confused sea ofred caps heaving about him, and casting up to sight from the stormydeep such wrecks of faces, that he more than once misdoubted hismind being in confusion, and that he was in the tumbril on his wayto the Guillotine


In wild dreamlike procession, embracing whom they met and pointinghim out, they carried him on. Reddening the snowy streets with theprevailing Republican colour, in winding and tramping through them, asthey had reddened them below the snow with a deeper dye, theycarried him thus into the courtyard of the building where he lived.Her father had gone on before, to prepare her, and when her husbandstood upon his feet, she dropped insensible in his arms.


As he held her to his heart and turned her beautiful head betweenhis face and the brawling crowd, so that his tears and her lipsmight come together unseen, a few of the people fell to dancing.Instantly, all the rest fell to dancing, and the courtyardoverflowed with the Carmagnole. Then, they elevated into the vacantchair a young woman from the crowd to be carried as the Goddess ofLiberty, and then swelling and overflowing out into the adjacentstreets, and along the river's bank, and over the bridge, theCarmagnole absorbed them every one and whirled them away.


After grasping the Doctor's hand, as he stood victorious and proudbefore him; after grasping the hand of Mr. Lorry, who came pantingin breathless from his struggle against the waterspout of theCarmagnole; after kissing little Lucie, who was lifted up to clasp herarms round his neck; and after embracing the ever zealous and faithfulPross who lifted her; he took his wife in his arms, and carried her upto their rooms.


"Lucie! My own! I am safe."


"O dearest Charles, let me thank God for this on my knees as Ihave prayed to Him."


They all reverently bowed their heads and hearts. When she was againin his arms, he said to her:


"And now speak to your father, dearest. No other man in all thisFrance could have done what he has done for me."


She laid her head upon her father's breast, as she had laid his poorhead on her own breast, long, long ago. He was happy in the returnhe had made her, he was recompensed for his suffering, he was proud ofhis strength. "You must not be weak, my darling," he remonstrated;"don't tremble so. I have saved him."