Having purchased a few small articles of grocery, and a measure ofoil for the lamp, Miss Pross bethought herself of the wine theywanted. After peeping into several wine-shops, she stopped at the signof the Good Republican Brutus of Antiquity, not far from theNational Palace, once (and twice) the Tuileries, where the aspect ofthings rather took her fancy. It had a quieter look than any otherplace of the same description they had passed, and, though red withpatriotic caps, was not so red as the rest. Sounding Mr. Cruncher, andfinding him of her opinion, Miss Pross resorted to the Good RepublicanBrutus of Antiquity, attended by her cavalier.
Slightly observant of the smoky lights; of the people, pipe inmouth, playing with limp cards and yellow dominoes; of the onebare-breasted, bare-armed, soot-begrimed workman reading a journalaloud, and of the others listening to him; of the weapons worn, orlaid aside to be resumed; of the two or three customers fallen forwardasleep, who in the popular high-shouldered shaggy black spencerlooked, in that attitude, like slumbering bears or dogs; the twooutlandish customers approached the counter, and showed what theywanted.
As their wine was measuring out, a man parted from another man ina 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, andclapped her hands.
In a moment, the whole company were on their feet. That somebody wasassassinated by somebody vindicating a difference of opinion was thelikeliest occurrence. Everybody looked to see somebody fall, butonly saw a man and a woman standing staring at each other; the manwith all the outward aspect of a Frenchman and a thoroughRepublican; the woman, evidently English.
What was said in this disappointing anti-climax, by the disciples ofthe Good Republican Brutus of Antiquity, except that it wassomething very voluble and loud, would have been as so much Hebrewor Chaldean to Miss Pross and her protector, though they had beenall ears. But, they had no ears for anything in their surprise. For,it must be recorded, that not only was Miss Pross lost in amazementand agitation, but, Mr. Cruncher- though it seemed on his own separateand individual account- was in a state of the greatest wonder.
"What is the matter?" said the man who had caused Miss Pross toscream; speaking in a vexed, abrupt voice (though in a low tone),and in English.
"Oh, Solomon, dear Solomon!" cried Miss Pross, clapping her handsagain. "After not setting eyes upon you or hearing of you for solong a time, do I find you here!"
"Don't call me Solomon. Do you want to be the death of me?" askedthe man, in a furtive, frightened way.
"Brother, brother!" cried Miss Pross, bursting into tears. "Have Iever 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'sthis man?"
Miss Pross, shaking her loving and dejected head at her by nomeans 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 aword, however, and Miss Pross, exploring the depths of her reticulethrough her tears with great difficulty paid for her wine. As shedid so, Solomon turned to the followers of the Good RepublicanBrutus of Antiquity, and offered a few words of explanation in theFrench language, which caused them all to relapse into their formerplaces and pursuits.
"Now," said Solomon, stopping at the dark street coriner, "what doyou want?"
"How dreadfully unkind in a brother nothing has ever turned mylove away from!" cried Miss Pross, "to give me such a greeting, andshow me no affection."
"There. Con-found it! There," said Solomon, making a dab at MissPross'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, "Iam not surprised; I knew you were here; I know of most people whoare here. If you really don't want to endanger my existence- which Ihalf believe you do- go your ways as soon as possible, and let me gomine. I am busy. I am an official."
"My English brother Solomon," mourned Miss Pross, casting up hertear-fraught eyes, "that had the makings in him of one of the best andgreatest of men in his native country, an official among foreigners,and such foreigners! I would almost sooner have seen the dear boylying in his--"
"I said so!" cried her brother, interrupting. "I knew it. You wantto be the death of me. I shall be rendered Suspected, by my ownsister. Just as I am getting on!"
"The gracious and merciful Heavens forbid!" cried Miss Pross. "Farrather would I never see you again, dear Solomon, though I have everloved you truly, and ever shall. Say but one affectionate word tome, and tell me there is nothing angry or estranged between us, andI will detain you no longer."
Good Miss Pross! As if the estrangement between them had come of anyculpability 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 hadspent her money and left her!
He was saying the affectionate word, however, with a far moregrudging condescension and patronage than he could have shown if theirrelative merits and positions had been reversed (which is invariablythe case, all the world over), when Mr. Cruncher, touching him onthe shoulder, hoarsely and unexpectedly interposed with thefollowing singular question:
"I say! Might I ask the favour? As to whether your name is JohnSolomon, or Solomon John?"
The official turned towards him with sudden distrust. He had notpreviously uttered a word.
"Come!" said Mr. Cruncher. "Speak out, you know." (Which, by theway, was more than he could do himself.) "John Solomon, or SolomonJohn? She calls you Solomon, and she must know, being your sister. AndI know you're John, you know. Which of the two goes first? Andregarding that name of Pross, likewise. That warn't your name over thewater."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I don't know all I mean, for I can't call to mind what yourname was, over the water."
"No. But I'll swear it was a name of two syllables."
"Yes. T'other one's was one syllable. I know you. You was aspy-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 handsbehind 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 OldBailey 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 presentmyself elsewhere until all was well, or unless I could be useful; Ipresent myself here, to beg a little talk with your brother. I wishyou had a better employed brother than Mr. Barsad. I wish for yoursake 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 contemplatingthe walls, an hour or more ago. You have a face to be remembered,and I remember faces well. Made curious by seeing you in thatconnection, and having a reason, to which you are no stranger, forassociating you with the misfortunes of a friend now very unfortunate,I walked in your direction. I walked into the wine-shop here, closeafter you, and sat near you. I had no difficulty in deducing from yourunreserved conversation, and the rumour openly going about amongyour admirers, the nature of your calling. And gradually, what I haddone 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 inthe street. Could you favour me, in confidence, with some minutes ofyour 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 aidof his quickness and skill, in such a business as he had in his secretmind, and with such a man as he had to do with. His practised eyesaw it, and made the most of it.
"Now, I told you so," said the spy, casting a reproachful look athis 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 sopleasantly to a little proposal that I wish to make for our mutualsatisfaction. 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 ofher own street. Let me take your arm, Miss Pross. This is not a goodcity, at this time, for you to be out in, unprotected; and as yourescort knows Mr. Barsad, I will invite him to Mr. Lorry's with us. Arewe ready? Come then!"
Miss Pross recalled soon afterwards, and to the end of her liferemembered, that as she pressed her hands on Sydney's arm and lookedup in his face, imploring him to do no hurt to Solomon, there was abraced purpose in the arm and a kind of inspiration in the eyes, whichnot only contradicted his light manner, but changed and raised theman. She was too much occupied then with fears for the brother whoso little deserved her affection, and with Sydney's friendlyreassurances, adequately to heed what she observed.
They left her at the corner of the street, and Carton led the way toMr. Lorry's, which was within a few minutes' walk. John Barsad, orSolomon Pross, walked at his side.
Mr. Lorry had just finished his dinner, and was sitting before acheery little log or two of fire- perhaps looking into their blaze forthe picture of that younger elderly gentleman from Tellson's, whohad looked into the red coals at the Royal George at Dover, now a goodmany years ago. He turned his head as they entered, and showed thesurprise with which he saw a stranger.
"Miss Pross's brother, sir," said Sydney. "Mr. Barsad."
"Barsad?" repeated the old gentleman, "Barsad? I have an associationwith the name- and with the face."
"I told you you a remarkable face, Mr. Barsad," observed Carton,coolly. "Pray sit down."
As he took a chair himself, he supplied the link that Mr. Lorrywanted, by saying to him with a frown, "Witness at that trial." Mr.Lorry immediately remembered, and regarded his new visitor with anundisguised look of abhorrence.
"Mr. Barsad has been recognised by Miss Pross as the affectionatebrother you have heard of," said Sydney, "and has acknowledged therelationship. I pass to worse news. Darnay has been arrested again."
Struck with consternation, the old gentleman exclaimed, "What do youtell me! I left him safe and free within these two hours, and am aboutto 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 brotherSheep over a bottle of wine, that the arrest has taken place. Heleft the messengers at the gate, and saw them admitted by theporter. There is no earthly doubt that he is retaken."
Mr. Lorry's business eye read in the speaker's face that it was lossof time to dwell upon the point. Confused, but sensible that somethingmight depend on his presence of mind, he commanded himself, and wassilently attentive.
"Now, I trust," said Sydney to him, "that the name and influenceof Doctor Manette may stand him in as good stead to-morrow-you said hewould 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. Iown to you, I am shaken, Mr. Lorry, by Doctor Manette's not having hadthe 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 rememberhow identified he is with his son-in-law."
"That's true," Mr. Lorry acknowledged, with his troubled hand at hischin, and his troubled eyes on Carton.
"In short," said Sydney, "this is a desperate time, when desperategames are played for desperate stakes. Let the Doctor play the winninggame; I will play the losing one. No man's life here is worthpurchase. Any one carried home by the people to-day, may becondemned tomorrow. Now, the stake I have resolved to play for, incase of the worst, is a friend in the Conciergerie. And the friend Ipurpose to myself to win, is Mr. Barsad."
"You need have good cards, sir," said the spy.
"I'll ran them over. I'll see what I hold,- Mr. Lorry, you know whata 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 anotherglassful- pushed the bottle thoughtfully away.
"Mr. Barsad," he went on, in the tone of one who really waslooking over a hand at cards: "Sheep of the prisons, emissary ofRepublican committees, now turnkey, now prisoner, always spy andsecret informer, so much the more valuable here for being English thatan Englishman is less open to suspicion of subornation in thosecharacters than a Frenchman, represents himself to his employers undera false name. That's a very good card. Mr. Barsad, now in the employof the republican French government, was formerly in the employ of thearistocratic English government, the enemy of France and freedom.That's an excellent card. Inference clear as day in this region ofsuspicion, that Mr. Barsad, still in the pay of the aristocraticEnglish government, is the spy of Pitt, the treacherous foe of theRepublic crouching in its bosom, the English traitor and agent ofall mischief so much spoken of and so difficult to find. That's a cardnot 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 SectionCommittee. 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 drinkinghimself into a fit state for the immediate denunciation of him. Seeingit, 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 losingcards in it that Sydney Carton knew nothing of. Thrown out of hishonourable employment in England, through too much unsuccessful hardswearing there- not because he was not wanted there; our Englishreasons for vaunting our superiority to secrecy and spies are ofvery modern date- he knew that he had crossed the Channel, andaccepted service in France: first, as a tempter and an eavesdropperamong his own countrymen there: gradually, as a tempter and aneavesdropper among the natives. He knew that under the overthrowngovernment he had been a spy upon Saint Antoine and Defarge'swine-shop; had received from the watchful police such heads ofinformation concerning Doctor Manette's imprisonment, release, andhistory, as should serve him for an introduction to familiarconversation with the Defarges; and tried them on Madame Defarge,and had broken down with them signally. He always remembered with fearand trembling, that that terrible woman had knitted when he talkedwith her, and had looked ominously at him as her fingers moved. He hadsince seen her, in the Section of Saint Antoine, over and over againproduce her knitted registers, and denounce people whose lives theguillotine then surely swallowed up. He knew, as every one employed ashe was did, that he was never safe; that flight was impossible; thathe was tied fast under the shadow of the axe; and that in spite of hisutmost tergiversation and treachery in furtherance of the reigningterror, a word might bring it down upon him. Once denounced, and onsuch grave grounds as had just now been suggested to his mind, heforesaw that the dreadful woman of whose unrelenting character hehad seen many proofs, would produce against him that fatal register,and would quash his last chance of life. Besides that all secret menare men soon terrified, here were surely cards enough of one blacksuit, to justify the holder in growing rather livid as he turnedthem over.
"You scarcely seem to like your hand," said Sydney, with thegreatest composure. "Do you play?"
"I think, sir," said the spy, in the meanest manner, as he turned toMr. 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 canunder any circumstances reconcile it to his station to play that Aceof which he has spoken. I admit that I am a spy, and that it isconsidered a discreditable station- though it must be filled bysomebody; but this gentleman is no spy, and why should he so demeanhimself as to make himself one?"
"I play my Ace, Mr. Barsad," said Carton, taking the answer onhimself, and looking at his watch, "without any scruple, in a very fewminutes."
"I should have hoped, gentlemen both," said the spy, always strivingto hook Mr. Lorry into the discussion, "that your respect for mysister--"
"I could not better testify my respect for your sister than byfinally 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 hisostentatiously rough dress, and probably with his usual demeanour,received such a check from the inscrutability of Carton,- who was amystery to wiser and honester men than he,- that it faltered hereand failed him. While he was at a loss, Carton said, resuming hisformer air of contemplating cards:
"And indeed, now I think again, I have a strong impression that Ihave another good card here, not yet enumerated. That friend andfellow-Sheep, who spoke of himself as pasturing in the countryprisons; who was he?"
"French. You don't know him," said the spy, quickly.
"French, eh?" repeated Carton, musing, and not appearing to noticehim 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 mechanicalway- "though it's not important- No, it's not important. No. Yet Iknow the face."
"I think not. I am sure not. It can't be," said the spy.
"It- can't- be," muttered Sydney Carton, retrospectively, andfilling 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, asa light broke clearly on his mind. "Cly! Disguised, but the sameman. We had that man before us at the Old Bailey."
"Now, there you are hasty, sir," said Barsad, with a smile that gavehis aquiline nose an extra inclination to one side; "there youreally give me an advantage over you. Cly (who I will unreservedlyadmit, at this distance of time, was a partner of mine) has beendead several years. I attended him in his last illness. He wasburied in London, at the church of Saint Pancras-in-the-Fields. Hisunpopularity with the blackguard multitude at the moment preventedmy following his remains, but I helped to lay him in his coffin."
Here, Mr. Lorry became aware, from where he sat, of a mostremarkable goblin shadow on the wall. Tracing it to its source, hediscovered it to be caused by a sudden extraordinary rising andstiffening 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 showyou how mistaken you are, and what an unfounded assumption yours is, Iwill lay before you a certificate of Cly's burial, which I happened tohave carried in my pocket-book," with a hurried hand he produced andopened it, "ever since. There it is. Oh, look at it, look at it! Youmay 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 havebeen more violently on end, if it had been that moment dressed bythe Cow with the crumpled horn in the house that Jack built.
Unseen by the spy, Mr. Cruncher stood at his side, and touched himon the shoulder like a ghostly bailiff.
"That there Roger Cly, master," said Mr. Cruncher, with a taciturnand iron-bound visage. "So you put him in his coffin?"
"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! Nothe! I'll have my head took off, if he was ever in it."
The spy looked round at the two gentlemen; they both looked inunspeakable astonishment at Jerry.
"I tell you," said Jerry, "that you buried paving-stones and earthin that there coffin. Don't go and tell me that you buried Cly. It wasa 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 havegot a old grudge again, is it, with your shameful impositions upontradesmen! I'd catch hold of your throat and choke you for half aguinea."
Sydney Carton, who, with Mr. Lorry, had been lost in amazement atthis turn of the business, here requested Mr. Cruncher to moderate andexplain himself.
"At another time, sir," he returned, evasively, "the present time isillconwenient for explainin'. What I stand to, is, that he knowswell wot that there Cly was never in that there coffin. Let him say hewas, in so much as a word of one syllable, and I'll either catchhold of his throat and choke him for half a guinea;" Mr. Cruncherdwelt upon this as quite a liberal offer; "or I'll out and announcehim."
"Humph! I see one thing," said Carton. "I hold another card, Mr.Barsad. Impossible, here in raging Paris, with Suspicion filling theair, for you to outlive denunciation, when you are in communicationwith another aristocratic spy of the same antecedents as yourself,who, moreover, has the mystery about him of having feigned death andcome to life again! A plot in the prisons, of the foreigner againstthe Republic. A strong card- a certain Guillotine card! Do you play?"
"No!" returned the spy. "I throw up. I confess that we were sounpopular with the outrageous mob, that I only got away from Englandat the risk of being ducked to death, and that Cly was so ferretedup and down, that he never would have got away at all but for thatsham. Though how this man knows it was a sham, is a wonder ofwonders to me."
"Never you trouble your head about this man," retorted thecontentious Mr. Cruncher; "you'll have trouble enough with giving yourattention to that gentleman. And look here! Once more!"- Mr.Cruncher could not be restrained from making rather an ostentatiousparade of his liberality- "I'd catch hold of your throat and choke youfor 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, andcan'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 inmy office, putting my head in great extra danger, and I had bettertrust 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 areall 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 escapepossible," said the spy, firmly.
"Why need you tell me what I have not asked? You are a turnkey atthe 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 outupon 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 wellthat the merits of the cards should not rest solely between you andme. Come into the dark room here, and let us have one final wordalone."