Checking his steps which had begun to tend towards an object, hetook a turn or two in the already darkening street, and traced thethought in his mind to its possible consequences. His first impressionwas confirmed. "It is best," he said, finally resolved, "that thesepeople should know there is such a man as I here." And he turned hisface towards Saint Antoine.
Defarge had described himself, that day, as the keeper of awine-shop in the Saint Antoine suburb. It was not difficult for onewho knew the city well, to find his house without asking any question.Having ascertained its situation, Carton came out of those closerstreets again, and dined at a place of refreshment and fell soundasleep after dinner. For the first time in many years, he had nostrong drink. Since last night he had taken nothing but a little lightthin wine, and last night he had dropped the brandy slowly down on Mr.Lorry's hearth like a man who had done with it.
It was as late as seven o'clock when he awoke refreshed, and wentout into the streets again. As he passed along towards SaintAntoine, he stopped at a shop-window where there was a mirror, andslightly altered the disordered arrangement of his loose cravat, andhis coat-collar, and his wild hair. This done, he went on direct toDefarge's, and went in.
There happened to be no customer in the shop but Jacques Three, ofthe restless fingers and the croaking voice. This man, whom he hadseen upon the Jury, stood drinking at the little counter, inconversation with the Defarges, man and wife. The Vengeance assistedin the conversation, like a regular member of the establishment.
As Carton walked in, took his seat and asked (in very indifferentFrench) for a small measure of wine, Madame Defarge cast a carelessglance at him, and then a keener, and then a keener, and then advancedto him herself, and asked him what it was he had ordered.
He repeated what he had already said.
"English?" asked Madame Defarge, inquisitively raising her darkeyebrows.
After looking at her, as if the sound of even a single French wordwere slow to express itself to him, he answered, in his formerstrong foreign accent. "Yes, madame, yes. I am English!"
Madame Defarge returned to her counter to get the wine, and, as hetook up a Jacobin journal and feigned to pore over it puzzling out itsmeaning, he heard her say, "I swear to you, like Evremonde!"
Defarge brought him the wine, and gave him Good Evening.
"Oh! Good evening, citizen," filling his glass. "Ah! and goodwine. I drink to the Republic."
Defarge went back to the counter, and said, "Certainly, a littlelike." Madame sternly retorted, "I tell you a good deal like." JacquesThree pacifically remarked, "He is so much in your mind, see you,madame." The amiable Vengeance added, with a laugh, "Yes, my faith!And you are looking forward with so much pleasure to seeing him oncemore to-morrow!"
Carton followed the lines and words of his paper, with a slowforefinger, and with a studious and absorbed face. They were allleaning their arms on the counter close together, speaking low.After a silence of a few moments, during which they all looked towardshim without disturbing his outward attention from the Jacobineditor, they resumed their conversation.
"It is true what madame says," observed Jacques Three. "Why stop?There is great force in that. Why stop?"
"Well, well," reasoned Defarge, "but one must stop somewhere.After all, the question is still where?"
"At extermination," said madame.
"Magnificent!" croaked Jacques Three. The Vengeance, also, highlyapproved.
"Extermination is good doctrine, my wife," said Defarge, rathertroubled; "in general, I say nothing against it. But this Doctor hassuffered much; you have seen him to-day; you have observed his facewhen the paper was read."
"I have observed his face!" repeated madame, contemptuously andangrily. "Yes. I have observed his face. I have observed his face tobe not the face of a true friend of the Republic. Let him take care ofhis face!"
"And you have observed, my wife," said Defarge, in a deprecatorymanner, "the anguish of his daughter, which must be a dreadful anguishto him!"
"I have observed his daughter," repeated madame; "yes, I haveobserved his daughter, more times than one. I have observed herto-day, and I have observed her other days. I have observed her in thecourt, and I have observed her in the street by the prison. Let me butlift my finger--!" She seemed to raise it (the listener's eyes werealways on his paper), and to let it fall with a rattle on the ledgebefore her, as if the axe had dropped.
"The citizeness is superb!" croaked the Juryman.
"She is an Angel!" said The Vengeance, and embraced her.
"As to thee," pursued madame, implacably, addressing her husband,"if it depended on thee- which, happily, it does not- thou wouldstrescue this man even now."
"No!" protested Defarge. "Not if to lift this glass would do it! ButI would leave the matter there. I say, stop there."
"See you then, Jacques," said Madame Defarge, wrathfully; "and seeyou, too, my little Vengeance; see you both! Listen! For othercrimes as tyrants and oppressors, I have this race a long time on myregister, doomed to destruction and extermination. Ask my husband,is that so."
"It is so," assented Defarge, without being asked.
"In the beginning of the great days, when the Bastille falls, hefinds this paper of to-day, and he brings it home, and in the middleof the night when this place is clear and shut, we read it, here onthis spot, by the light of this lamp. Ask him, is that so."
"It is so," assented Defarge.
"That night, I tell him, when the paper is read through, and thelamp is burnt out, and the day is gleaming in above those shutters andbetween those iron bars, that I have now a secret to communicate.Ask him, is that so."
"It is so," assented Defarge again.
"I communicate to him that secret. I smite this bosom with these twohands as I smite it now, and I tell him, 'Defarge, I was brought upamong the fishermen of the sea-shore, and that peasant family soinjured by the two Evremonde brothers, as that Bastille paperdescribes, is my family. Defarge, that sister of the mortallywounded boy upon the ground was my sister, that husband was mysister's husband, that unborn child was their child, that brotherwas my brother, that father was my father, those dead are my dead, andthat summons to answer for those things descends to me!' Ask him, isthat so."
"It is so," assented Defarge once more.
"Then tell Wind and Fire where to stop," returned madame; "but don'ttell me."
Both her hearers derived a horrible enjoyment from the deadly natureof her wrath- the listener could feel how white she was, withoutseeing her- and both highly commended it. Defarge, a weak minority,interposed a few words for the memory of the compassionate wife of theMarquis; but only elicited from his own wife a repetition of herlast reply. "Tell the Wind and the Fire where to stop; not me!"
Customers entered, and the group was broken up. The English customerpaid for what he had had, perplexedly counted his change, and asked,as a stranger, to be directed towards the National Palace. MadameDefarge took him to the door, and put her arm on his, in pointingout the road. The English customer was not without his reflectionsthen, that it might be a good deed to seize that arm, lift it, andstrike under it sharp and deep.
But, he went his way, and was soon swallowed up in the shadow of theprison wall. At the appointed hour, he emerged from it to presenthimself in Mr. Lorry's room again, where he found the old gentlemanwalking to and fro in restless anxiety. He said he had been with Lucieuntil just now, and had only left her for a few minutes, to come andkeep his appointment. Her father had not been seen, since he quittedthe banking-house towards four o'clock. She had some faint hopesthat his mediation might save Charles, but they were very slight. Hehad been more than five hours gone: where could he be?
Mr. Lorry waited until ten; but, Doctor Manette not returning, andhe being unwilling to leave Lucie any longer, it was arranged thathe should go back to her, and come to the banking-house again atmidnight. In the meanwhile, Carton would wait alone by the fire forthe Doctor.
He waited and waited, and the clock struck twelve; but DoctorManette did not come back. Mr. Lorry returned, and found no tidings ofhim, and brought none. Where could he be?
They were discussing this question, and were almost building up someweak structure of hope on his prolonged absence, when they heard himon the stairs. The instant he entered the room, it was plain thatall was lost.
Whether he had really been to any one, or whether he had been anthat time traversing the streets, was never known. As he stood staringat them, they asked him no question, for his face told themeverything.
"I cannot find it," said he, "and I must have it. Where is it?"
His head and throat were bare, and, as he spoke with a helpless lookstraying all around, he took his coat off, and let it drop on thefloor.
"Where is my bench? I have been looking everywhere for my bench, andI can't find it. What have they done with my work? Time presses: Imust finish those shoes."
They looked at one another, and their hearts died within them.
"Come, come!" said he, in a whimpering miserable way; "Let me get towork. Give me my work."
Receiving no answer, he tore his hair, and beat his feet upon theground, like a distracted child.
"Don't torture a poor forlorn wretch," he implored them, with adreadful cry; "but give me my work! What is to become of us, ifthose shoes are not done to-night?"
Lost, utterly lost!
It was so clearly beyond hope to reason with him, or try torestore him,- that- as if by agreement- they each put a hand uponhis shoulder, and soothed him to sit down before the fire, with apromise that he should have his work presently. He sank into thechair, and brooded over the embers, and shed tears. As if all that hadhappened since the garret time were a momentary fancy, or a dream, Mr.Lorry saw him shrink into the exact figure that Defarge had had inkeeping.
Affected, and impressed with terror as they both were, by thisspectacle of ruin, it was not a time to yield to such emotions. Hislonely daughter, bereft of her final hope and reliance, appealed tothem both too strongly. Again, as if by agreement, they looked atone another with one meaning in their faces. Carton was the first tospeak:
"The last chance is gone: it was not much. Yes; he had better betaken to her. But, before you go, will you, for a moment, steadilyattend to me? Don't ask me why I make the stipulations I am going tomake, and exact the promise I am going to exact; I have a reason- agood one."
"I do not doubt it," answered Mr. Lorry. "Say on."
The figure in the chair between them, was all the timemonotonously rocking itself to and fro, and moaning. They spoke insuch a tone as they would have used if they had been watching by asick-bed in the night.
Carton stooped to pick up the coat, which lay almost entanglinghis feet. As he did so, a small case in which the Doctor wasaccustomed to carry the lists of his day's duties, fell lightly on thefloor. Carton took it up, and there was a folded paper in it. "Weshould look at this!" he said. Mr. Lorry nodded his consent. He openedit, and exclaimed, "Thank GOD!"
"What is it?" asked Mr. Lorry, O eagerly
"A moment! Let me speak of it in its place. First," he put hishand in his coat, and took another paper from it, "that is thecertificate which enables me to pass out of this city. Look at it. Yousee- Sydney Carton, an Englishman?"
Mr. Lorry held it open in his hand, gazing in his earnest face.
"Keep it for me until to-morrow. I shall see him to-morrow, youremember, and I had better not take it into the prison."
"I don't know; I prefer not to do so. Now, take this paper thatDoctor Manette has carried about him. It is a similar certificate,enabling him and his daughter and her child, at any time, to passthe barrier and the frontier! You see?"
"Perhaps he obtained it as his last and utmost precaution againstevil, yesterday. When is it dated? But no matter; don't stay tolook; put it up carefully with mine and your own. Now, observe! Inever doubted until within this hour or two, that he had, or couldhave such a paper. It is good, until recalled. But it may be soonrecalled, and, I have reason to think, will be."
"They are not in danger?"
"They are in great danger. They are in danger of denunciation byMadame Defarge. I know it from her own lips. I have overheard words ofthat woman's, to-night, which have presented their danger to me instrong colours. I have lost no time, and since then, I have seen thespy. He confirms me. He knows that a wood-sawyer, living by the prisonwall, is under the control of the Defarges, and has been rehearsedby Madame Defarge as to his having seen Her"- he never mentionedLucie's name- "making signs and signals to prisoners. It is easy toforesee that the pretence will be the common one, a prison plot, andthat it will involve her life- and perhaps her child's- and perhapsher father's- for both have been seen with her at that place. Don'tlook so horrified. You will save them all."
"Heaven grant I may, Carton! But how?"
"I am going to tell you how. It will depend on you, and it coulddepend on no better man. This new denunciation will certainly not takeplace until after to-morrow; probably not until two or three daysafterwards; more probably a week afterwards. You know it is acapital crime, to mourn for, or sympathise with, a victim of theGuillotine. She and her father would unquestionably be guilty ofthis crime, and this woman (the inveteracy of whose pursuit cannotbe described) would wait to add that strength to her case, and makeherself doubly sure. You follow me?"
"So attentively, and with so much confidence in what you say, thatfor the moment I lose sight," touching the back of the Doctor's chair,"even of this distress."
"You have money, and can buy the means of travelling to the seacoastas quickly as the journey can be made. Your preparations have beencompleted for some days, to return to England. Early to-morrow haveyour horses ready, so that they may be in starting trim at two o'clockin the afternoon."
"It shall be done!"
His manner was so fervent and inspiring, that Mr. Lorry caught theflame, and was as quick as youth.
"You are a noble heart. Did I say we could depend upon no betterman? Tell her, to-night, what you know of her danger as involvingher child and her father. Dwell upon that, for she would lay her ownfair head beside her husband's cheerfully." He faltered for aninstant; then went on as before. "For the sake of her child and herfather, press upon her the necessity of leaving Paris, with them andyou, at that hour. Tell her that it was her husband's lastarrangement. Tell her that more depends upon it than she dare believe,or hope. You think that her father, even in this sad state, willsubmit himself to her; do you not?"
"I am sure of it."
"I thought so. Quietly and steadily have all these arrangements madein the courtyard here, even to the taking of your own seat in thecarriage. The moment I come to you, take me in, and drive away."
"I understand that I wait for you under all circumstances?"
"You have my certificate in your hand with the rest, you know, andwill reserve my place. Wait for nothing but to have my place occupied,and then for England!"
"Why, then," said Mr. Lorry, grasping his eager but so firm andsteady hand, "it does not all depend on one old man, but I shallhave a young and ardent man at my side."
"By the help of Heaven you shall! Promise me solemnly that nothingwill influence you to alter the course on which we now stand pledgedto one another."
"Remember these words to-morrow: change the course, or delay init- for any reason- and no life can possibly be saved, and manylives must inevitably be sacrificed."
"I will remember them. I hope to do my part faithfully."
"And I hope to do mine. Now, good bye!"
Though he said it with a grave smile of earnestness, and though heeven put the old man's hand to his lips, he did not part from himthen. He helped him so far to arouse the rocking figure before thedying embers, as to get a cloak and hat put upon it, and to tempt itforth to find where the bench and work were hidden that it stillmoaningly besought to have. He walked on the other side of it andprotected it to the courtyard of the house where the afflictedheart- so happy in the memorable time when he had revealed his owndesolate heart to it- outwatched the awful night. He entered thecourtyard and remained there for a few moments alone, looking up atthe light in the window of her room. Before he went away, hebreathed a blessing towards it, and a Farewell.