All the air round was so thick and dark, the people were sopassionately revengeful and fitful, the innocent were so constantlyput to death on vague suspicion and black malice, it was so impossibleto forget that many as blameless as her husband and as dear toothers as he was to her, every day shared the fate from which he hadbeen clutched, that her heart could not be as lightened of its load asshe felt it ought to be. The shadows of the wintry afternoon werebeginning to fall, and even now the dreadful carts were rollingthrough the streets. Her mind pursued them, looking for him amongthe Condemned; and then she clung closer to his real presence andtrembled more.
Her father, cheering her, showed a compassionate superiority to thiswoman's weakness, which was wonderful to see. No garret, noshoemaking, no One Hundred and Five, North Tower, now! He hadaccomplished the task he had set himself, his promise was redeemed, hehad saved Charles. Let them all lean upon him.
Their housekeeping was of a very frugal kind: not only becausethat was the safest way of life, involving the least offence to thepeople, but because they were not rich, and Charles, throughout hisimprisonment, had had to pay heavily for his bad food, and for hisguard, and towards the living of the poorer prisoners. Partly onthis account, and partly to avoid a domestic spy, they kept noservant; the citizen and citizeness who acted as porters at thecourtyard gate, rendered them occasional service; and Jerry (almostwholly transferred to them by Mr. Lorry) had become their dailyretainer, and had his bed there every night.
It was an ordinance of the Republic One and Indivisible ofLiberty, Equality, Fraternity, or Death, that on the door ordoorpost of every house, the name of every inmate must be legiblyinscribed in letters of a certain size, at a certain convenient heightfrom the ground. Mr. Jerry Cruncher's name, therefore, dulyembellished the doorpost down below; and, as the afternoon shadowsdeepened, the owner of that name himself appeared, from overlookinga painter whom Doctor Manette had employed to add to the list the nameof Charles Evremonde, called Darnay.
In the universal fear and distrust that darkened the time, all theusual harmless ways of life were changed. In the Doctor's littlehousehold, as in very many others, the articles of daily consumptionthat were wanted were purchased every evening, in small quantities andat various small shops. To avoid attracting notice, and to give aslittle occasion as possible for talk and envy, was the general desire.
For some months past, Miss Pross and Mr. Cruncher had discharged theoffice of purveyors; the former carrying the money; the latter, thebasket. Every afternoon at about the time when the public lamps werelighted, they fared forth on this duty, and made and brought home suchpurchases as were needful. Although Miss Pross, through her longassociation with a French family, might have known as much of theirlanguage as of her own, if she had had a mind, she had no mind in thatdirection; consequently she knew no more of that "nonsense" (as shewas pleased to call it) than Mr. Cruncher did. So her manner ofmarketing was to plump a noun-substantive at the head of ashopkeeper without any introduction in the nature of an article,and, if it happened not to be the name of the thing she wanted, tolook round for that thing, lay hold of it, and hold on by it until thebargain was concluded. She always made a bargain for it, by holdingup, as a statement of its just price, one finger less than themerchant beld up, whatever his number might be.
"Now, Mr. Cruncher," said Miss Pross, whose eyes were red withfelicity; "if you are ready, I am."
Jerry hoarsely professed himself at Miss Pross's service. He hadworn all his rust off long ago, but nothing would file his spikyhead down.
"There's all manner of things wanted," said Miss Pross, "and weshall have a precious time of it. We want wine, among the rest. Nicetoasts these Redheads will be drinking, wherever we buy it."
"It will be much the same to your knowledge, miss, I shouldthink," retorted Jerry, "whether they drink your health or the OldUn's."
"Who's he?" said Miss Pross.
Mr. Cruncher, with some diffidence, explained himself as meaning"Old Nick's."
"Ha!" said Miss Pross, "it doesn't need an interpreter to explainthe meaning of these creatures. They have but one, and it's MidnightMurder, and Mischief."
"Hush, dear! Pray, pray, be cautious!" cried Lucie.
"Yes, yes, yes, I'll be cautious," said Miss Pross; "but I may sayamong ourselves, that I do hope there will be no oniony andtobaccoey smotherings in the form of embracings all round, going on inthe streets. Now, Ladybird, never you stir from that fire till Icome back! Take care of the dear husband you have recovered, and don'tmove your pretty head from his shoulder as you have it now, till yousee me again! May I ask a question, Doctor Manette, before I go?"
"I think you may take that liberty," the Doctor answered, smiling.
"For gracious sake, don't talk about Liberty; we have quite enoughof that," said Miss Pross.
"Hush, dear! Again?" Lucie remonstrated.
"Well, my sweet," said Miss Pross, nodding her head emphatically,"the short and the long of it is, that I am a subject of His MostGracious Majesty King George the Third;" Miss Pross curtseyed at thename; and as such, my maxim is, Confound their politics, Frustratetheir knavish tricks, On him our hopes we fix, God save the King!"
Mr. Cruncher, in an access of loyalty, growlingly repeated the wordsafter Miss Pross, like somebody at church.
"I am glad you have so much of the Englishman in you, though Iwish you had never taken that cold in your voice," said Miss Pross,approvingly. "But the question, Doctor Manette. Is there"- it wasthe good creature's way to affect to make light of anything that was agreat anxiety with them all, and to come at it in this chancemanner- "is there any prospect yet, of our getting out of this place?"
"I fear not yet. It would be dangerous for Charles yet."
"Heigh-ho-hum!" said Miss Pross, cheerfully repressing a sigh as sheglanced at her darling's golden hair in the light of the fire, "thenwe must have patience and wait: that's all. We must hold up ourheads and fight low, as my brother Solomon used to say. Now, Mr.Cruncher!-Don't you move, Ladybird!"
They went out, leaving Lucie, and her husband, her father, and thechild, by a bright fire. Mr. Lorry was expected back presently fromthe Banking House. Miss Pross had lighted the lamp, but had put itaside in a corner, that they might enjoy the fire-light undisturbed.Little Lucie sat by her grandfather with her hands clasped through hisarm: and he, in a tone not rising much above a whisper, began totell her a story of a great and powerful Fairy who had opened aprison-wall and let out a captive who had once done the Fairy aservice. All was subdued and quiet, and Lucie was more at ease thanshe had been.
"What is that?" she cried, all at once.
"My dear!" said her father, stopping in his story, and laying hishand on hers, "command yourself. What a disordered state you are in!The least thing- nothing- startles you! You, your father's daughter!"
"I thought, my father," said Lucie, excusing herself, with a paleface and in a faltering voice, "that I heard strange feet upon thestairs."
"My love, the staircase is as still as Death."
As he said the word, a blow was struck upon the door.
"Oh father, father. What can this be! Hide Charles. Save him!"
"My child," said the Doctor, rising, and laying his hand upon hershoulder, "I have saved him. What weakness is this, my dear! Let me goto the door."
He took the lamp in his hand, crossed the two intervening outerrooms, and opened it. A rude clattering of feet over the floor, andfour rough men in red caps, armed with sabres and pistols, entered theroom.
"The Citizen Evremonde, called Darnay," said the first.
"Who seeks him?" answered Darnay.
"I seek him. We seek him. I know you, Evremonde; I saw you beforethe Tribunal to-day. You are again the prisoner of the Republic."
The four surrounded him, where he stood with his wife and childclinging to him.
"Tell me how and why am I again a prisoner?"
"It is enough that you return straight to the Conciergerie, and willknow to-morrow. You are summoned for to-morrow."
Doctor Manette, whom this visitation had so turned into stone,that he stood with the lamp in his hand, as if he were a statue madeto bold it. moved after these words were spoken, put the lamp down,and confronting the speaker, and taking him, not ungently, by theloose front of his red woollen shirt, said:
"You know him, you have said. Do you know me?"
"Yes, I know you, Citizen Doctor."
"We all know you, Citizen Doctor," said the other three.
He looked abstractedly from one to another, and said, in a lowervoice, after a pause:
"Will you answer his question to me then? How does this happen?"
"Citizen Doctor," said the first, reluctantly, "he has beendenounced to the Section of Saint Antoine. This citizen," pointing outthe second who had entered, 'is from Saint Antoine."
The citizen here indicated nodded his head, and added:
"He is accused by Saint Antoine."
"Of what?" asked the Doctor.
"Citizen Doctor," said the first, with his former reluctance, "askno more. If the Republic demands sacrifices from you, without doubtyou as a good patriot will be happy to make them. The Republic goesbefore all. The People is supreme. Evremonde, we are pressed."
"One word," the Doctor entreated. "Will you tell me who denouncedhim?"
"It is against rule," answered the first; "but you can ask Him ofSaint Antoine here."
The Doctor turned his eyes upon that man. Who moved uneasily onhis feet, rubbed his beard a little, and at length said:
"Well! Truly it is against rule. But he is denounced- and gravely-by the Citizen and Citizeness Defarge. And by one other."
"Do you ask, Citizen Doctor?"
"Then," said he of Saint Antoine, with a strange look, "you willbe answered to-morrow. Now, I am dumb!"