It was raised for a moment, and a very faint voice responded tothe salutation, as if it were at a distance:
"You are still hard at work, I see?"
After a long silence, the head was lifted for another moment, andthe voice replied, "Yes- I am working." This time, a pair of haggardeyes had looked at the questioner, before the face had dropped again.
The faintness of the voice was pitiable and dreadful. It was not thefaintness of physical weakness, though confinement and hard fare nodoubt had their part in it. Its deplorable peculiarity was, that itwas the faintness of solitude and disuse. It was like the lastfeeble echo of a sound made long and long ago. So entirely had it lostthe life and resonance of the human voice, that it affected the senseslike a once beautiful colour faded away into a poor weak stain. Sosunken and suppressed it was, that it was like a voice underground. Soexpressive it was, of a hopeless and lost creature, that a famishedtraveller, wearied out by lonely wandering in a wilderness, would haveremembered home and friends in such a tone before lying down to die.
Some minutes of silent work had passed: and the haggard eyes hadlooked up again: not with any interest or curiosity, but with a dullmechanical perception, beforehand, that the spot where the onlyvisitor they were aware of had stood, was not yet empty.
"I want," said Defarge, who had not removed his gaze from theshoemaker, "to let in a little more light here. You can bear alittle more?"
The shoemaker stopped his work; looked with a vacant air oflistening, at the floor on one side of him; then similarly, at thefloor on the other side of him; then, upward at the speaker.
"What did you say?"
"You can bear a little more light?"
"I must bear it, if you let it in." (Laying the palest shadow of astress upon the second word.)
The opened half-door was opened a little further, and secured atthat angle for the time. A broad ray of light fell into the garret,and showed the workman with an unfinished shoe upon his lap, pausingin his labour. His few common tools and various scraps of leather wereat his feet and on his bench. He had a white beard, raggedly cut,but not very long, a hollow face, and exceedingly bright eyes. Thehollowness and thinness of his face would have caused them to looklarge, under his yet dark eyebrows and his confused white hair, thoughthey had been really otherwise; but, they were naturally large, andlooked unnaturally so. His yellow rags of shirt lay open at thethroat, and showed his body to be withered and worn. He, and his oldcanvas frock, and his loose stockings, and all his poor tatters ofclothes, had, in a long seclusion from direct light and air, fadeddown to such a dull uniformity of parchment-yellow, that it would havebeen hard to say which was which.
He had put up a hand between his eyes and the light, and the verybones of it seemed transparent. So he sat, with a steadfastly vacantgaze, pausing in his work. He never looked at the figure before him,without first looking down on this side of himself, then on that, asif he had lost the habit of associating place with sound; he neverspoke, without first wandering in this manner, and forgetting tospeak.
"Are you going to finish that pair of shoes to-day?" askedDefarge, motioning to Mr. Lorry to come forward.
"What did you say?"
"Do you mean to finish that pair of shoes to-day?"
"I can't say that I mean to. I suppose so. I don't know."
But, the question reminded him of his work, and he bent over itagain.
Mr. Lorry came silently forward, leaving the daughter by the door.When he had stood, for a minute or two, by the side of Defarge, theshoemaker looked up. He showed no surprise at seeing another figure,but the unsteady fingers of one of his hands strayed to his lips as helooked at it (his lips and his nails were of the same palelead-colour), and then the hand dropped to his work, and he oncemore bent over the shoe. The look and the action had occupied but aninstant.
"You have a visitor, you see," said Monsieur Defarge.
"What did you say?"
"Here is a visitor."
The shoemaker looked up as before, but without removing a handfrom his work.
"Come!" said Defarge. "Here is monsieur, who knows a well-madeshoe when he sees one. Show him that shoe you are working at. Take it,monsieur."
Mr. Lorry took it in his hand.
Tell monsieur what kind of shoe it is, and the maker's name."
There was a longer pause than usual, before the shoemaker replied:
"I forget what it was you asked me. What did you say?"
"I said, couldn't you describe the kind of shoe, for monsieur'sinformation?"
"It is a lady's shoe. It is a young lady's walking-shoe. It is inthe present mode. I never saw the mode. I have had a pattern in myhand." He glanced at the shoe with some little passing touch of pride.
"And the maker's name?" said Defarge.
Now that he had no work to hold, he laid the knuckles of the righthand in the hollow of the left, and then the knuckles of the left handin the hollow of the right, and then passed a hand across hisbearded chin, and so on in regular changes, without a moment'sintermission. The task of recalling him from the vagrancy into whichhe always sank when he had spoken, was like recalling some very weakperson from a swoon, or endeavouring, in the hope of somedisclosure, to stay the spirit of a fast-dying man.
"Did you ask me for my name?"
"Assuredly I did."
"One Hundred and Five, North Tower."
"Is that all?"
"One Hundred and Five, North Tower."
With a weary sound that was not a sigh, nor a groan, he bent to workagain, until the silence was again broken.
"You are not a shoemaker by trade?" said Mr. Lorry, lookingsteadfastly at him.
His haggard eyes turned to Defarge as if he would have transferredthe question to him: but as no help came from that quarter, theyturned back on the questioner when they had sought the ground.
"I am not a shoemaker by trade? No, I was not a shoemaker bytrade. I- I learnt it here. I taught myself. I asked leave to--"
He lapsed away, even for minutes, ringing those measured changeson his hands the whole time. His eyes came slowly back, at last, tothe face from which they had wandered; when they rested on it, hestarted, and resumed, in the manner of a sleeper that moment awake,reverting to a subject of last night.
"I asked leave to teach myself, and I got it with much difficultyafter a long while, and I have made shoes ever since."
As he held out his hand for the shoe that had been taken from him,Mr. Lorry said, still looking steadfastly in his face:
"Monsieur Manette, do you remember nothing of me?"
The shoe dropped to the ground, and he sat looking fixedly at thequestioner.
"Monsieur Manette"; Mr. Lorry laid his hand upon Defarge's arm;"do you remember nothing of this man? Look at him. Look at me. Isthere no old banker, no old business, no old servant, no old time,rising in your mind, Monsieur Manette?"
As the captive of many years sat looking fixedly, by turns, at Mr.Lorry and at Defarge, some long obliterated marks of an activelyintent intelligence in the middle of the forehead, gradually forcedthemselves through the black mist that had fallen on him. They wereoverclouded again, they were fainter, they were gone; but they hadbeen there. And so exactly was the expression repeated on the fairyoung face of her who had crept along the wall to a point where shecould see him, and where she now stood looking at him, with handswhich at first had been only raised in frightened compassion, if noteven to keep him off and shut out the sight of him, but which were nowextending towards him, trembling with eagerness to lay the spectralface upon her warm young breast, and love it back to life and hope- soexactly was the expression repeated (though in stronger characters) onher fair young face, that it looked as though it had passed like amoving light, from him to her.
Darkness had fallen on him in its place. He looked at the two,less and less attentively, and his eyes in gloomy abstraction soughtthe ground and looked about him in the old way. Finally, with a deeplong sigh, he took the shoe up, and resumed his work.
"Have you recognised him, monsieur?" asked Defarge in a whisper.
"Yes; for a moment. At first I thought it quite hopeless, but I haveunquestionably seen, for a single moment, the face that I once knew sowell. Hush! Let us draw further back. Hush!"
She had moved from the wall of the garret. very near to the bench onwhich he sat. There was something awful in his unconsciousness ofthe figure that could have put out its hand and touched him as hestooped over his labour.
Not a word was spoken, not a sound was made. She stood, like aspirit, beside him, and he bent over his work.
It happened, at length, that he had occasion to change theinstrument in his hand, for his shoemaker's knife. It lay on that sideof him which was not the side on which she stood. He had taken itup, and was stooping to work again, when his eyes caught the skirtof her dress. He raised them, and saw her face. The two spectatorsstarted forward, but she stayed them with a motion of her hand. Shehad no fear of his striking at her with the knife, though they had.
He stared at her with a fearful look, and after a while his lipsbegan to form some words, though no sound proceeded from them. Bydegrees, in the pauses of his quick and laboured breathing, he washeard to say:
"What is this?"
With the tears streaming down her face, she put her two hands to herlips, and kissed them to him; then clasped them on her breast, as ifshe laid his ruined head there.
"You are not the gaoler's daughter?"
She sighed "No."
"Who are you?"
Not yet trusting the tones of her voice, she sat down on the benchbeside him. He recoiled, but she laid her hand upon his arm. A strangethrill struck him when she did so, and visibly passed over hisframe; he laid the knife down softly, as he sat staring at her.
Her golden hair, which she wore in long curls, had been hurriedlypushed aside, and fell down over her neck. Advancing his hand bylittle and little, he took it up and looked at it. In the midst of theaction he went astray, and, with another deep sigh, fell to work athis shoemaking.
But not for long. Releasing his ann, she laid her hand upon hisshoulder. After looking doubtfully at it, two or three times, as if tobe sure that it was really there, he laid down his work, put hishand to his neck, and took off a blackened string with a scrap offolded rag attached to it. He opened this, carefully, on his knee, andit contained a very little quantity of hair: not more than one ortwo long golden hairs, which he had, in some old day, wound off uponhis finger.
He took her hair into his hand again, and looked closely at it."It is the same. How can it be! When was it! How was it!"
As the concentrated expression returned to his forehead, he seemedto become conscious that it was in hers too. He turned her full to thelight, and looked at her.
"She had laid her head upon my shoulder, that night when I wassummoned out- she had a fear of my going, though I had none- andwhen I was brought to the North Tower they found these upon my sleeve.'You will leave me them? They can never help me to escape in the body,though they may in the spirit.' Those were the words I said. Iremember them very well."
He formed this speech with his lips many times before he could utterit. But when he did find spoken words for it, they came to himcoherently, though slowly.
"How was this?- Was it you?"
Once more, the two spectators started, as he turned upon her witha frightful suddenness. But she sat perfectly still in his grasp,and only said, in a low voice, "I entreat you, good gentlemen, donot come near us, do not speak, do not move!"
"Hark!" he exclaimed. "Whose voice was that?"
His hands released her as he uttered this cry, and went up to hiswhite hair, which they tore in a frenzy. It died out, as everythingbut his shoemaking did die out of him, and he refolded his littlepacket and tried to secure it in his breast; but he still looked ather, and gloomily shook his head.
"No, no, no; you are too young, too blooming. It can't be. Seewhat the prisoner is. These are not the hands she knew, this is notthe face she knew, this is not a voice she ever heard. No, no. Shewas- and He was- before the slow years of the North Tower- ages ago.What is your name, my gentle angel?"
Hailing his softened tone and manner, his daughter fell upon herknees before him, with her appealing hands upon his breast.
"O, sir, at another time you shall know my name, and who my motherwas, and who my father, and how I never knew their hard, hard history.But I cannot tell you at this time, and I cannot tell you here. Allthat I may tell you, here and now, is, that I pray to you to touchme and to bless me. Kiss me, kiss me! O my dear, my dear!"
His cold white head mingled with her radiant hair, which warmedand lighted it as though it were the light of Freedom shining on him.
"If you hear in my voice- I don't know that it is so, but I hopeit is- if you hear in my voice any resemblance to a voice that oncewas sweet music in your ears, weep for it, weep for it! If youtouch, in touching my hair, anything that recalls a beloved headthat lay on your breast when you were young and free, weep for it,weep for it! If, when I hint to you of a Home that is before us, whereI will be true to you with all my duty and with all my faithfulservice, I bring back the remembrance of a Home long desolate, whileyour poor heart pined away, weep for it, weep for it!"
She held him closer round the neck, and rocked him on her breastlike a child.
"If, when I tell you, dearest dear, that your agony is over, andthat I have come here to take you from it, and that we go to Englandto he at peace and at rest, I cause you to think of your useful lifelaid waste, and of our native France so wicked to you, weep for it,weep for it! And if, when I shall tell you of my name, and of myfather who is living, and of my mother who is dead, you learn that Ihave to kneel to my honoured father, and implore his pardon for havingnever for his sake striven all day and lain awake and wept allnight, because the love of my poor mother hid his torture from me,weep for it, weep for it! Weep for her, then, and for me! Goodgentlemen, thank God! I feel his sacred tears upon my face, and hissobs strike against my heart. O, see! Thank God for us, thank God!"
He had sunk in her arms, and his face dropped on her breast: a sightso touching, yet so terrible in the tremendous wrong and sufferingwhich had gone before it, that the two beholders covered their faces.
When the quiet of the garret had been long undisturbed, and hisheaving breast and shaken form had long yielded to the calm thatmust follow all storms- emblem to humanity, of the rest and silenceinto which the storm called Life must hush at last- they cameforward to raise the father and daughter from the ground. He hadgradually dropped to the floor, and lay there in a lethargy, worn out.She had nestled down with him, that his head might lie upon her arm;and her hair drooping over him curtained him from the light.
"If, without disturbing him," she said, raising her hand to Mr.Lorry as he stooped over them, after repeated blowings of his nose,"all could be arranged for our leaving Paris at once, so that, fromthe very door, he could be taken away--"
"But, consider. Is he fit for the journey?" asked Mr. Lorry.
"More fit for that, I think, than to remain in this city, sodreadful to him."
"It is true," said Defarge, who was kneeling to look on and hear."More than that; Monsieur Manette is, for all reasons, best out ofFrance. Say, shall I hire a carriage and post-horses?"
"That's business," said Mr. Lorry, resuming on the shortest noticehis methodical manners; "and if business is to be done, I had betterdo it."
"Then be so kind," urged Miss Manette, "as to leave us here. You seehow composed he has become, and you cannot be afraid to leave him withme now. Why should you be? If you will lock the door to secure us frominterruption, I do not doubt that you will find him, when you comeback, as quiet as you leave him. In any case, I will take care ofhim until you return, and then we will remove him straight."
Both Mr. Lorry and Defarge were rather disinclined to this course,and in favour of one of them remaining. But, as there were not onlycarriage and horses to be seen to, but travelling papers; and astime pressed, for the day was drawing to an end, it came at last totheir hastily dividing the business that was necessary to be done, andhurrying away to do it.
Then, as the darkness closed in, the daughter laid her head downon the hard ground close at the father's side, and watched him. Thedarkness deepened and deepened, and they both lay quiet, until a lightgleamed through the chinks in the wall.
Mr. Lorry and Monsieur Defarge had made all ready for the journey,and had brought with them, besides travelling cloaks and wrappers,bread and meat, wine, and hot coffee. Monsieur Defarge put thisprovender, and the lamp he carried, on the shoemaker's bench (therewas nothing else in the garret but a pallet bed), and he and Mr. Lorryroused the captive, and assisted him to his feet.
No human intelligence could have read the mysteries of his mind,in the scared blank wonder of his face. Whether he knew what hadhappened, whether he recollected what they had said to him, whether heknew that he was free, were questions which no sagacity could havesolved. They tried speaking to him; but, he was so confused, and sovery slow to answer, that they took fright at his bewilderment, andagreed for the time to tamper with him no more. He had a wild, lostmanner of occasionally clasping his head in his hands, that had notbeen seen in him before; yet, he had some pleasure in the mere soundof his daughter's voice, and invariably turned to it when she spoke.
In the submissive way of one long accustomed to obey under coercion,he ate and drank what they gave him to eat and drink, and put on thecloak and other wrappings, that they gave him to wear. He readilyresponded to his daughter's drawing her arm through his, and took- andkept- her hand in both his own.
They began to descend; Monsieur Defarge going first with the lamp,Mr. Lorry closing the little procession. They had not traversed manysteps of the long main staircase when he stopped, and stared at theroof and round at the walls.
"You remember the place, my father? You remember coming up here?"
"What did you say?"
But, before she could repeat the question, he murmured an answeras if she had repeated it.
"Remember? No, I don't remember. It was so very long ago."
That he had no recollection whatever of his having been brought fromhis prison to that house, was apparent to them. They heard him mutter,"One Hundred and Five, North Tower;" and when he looked about him,it evidently was for the strong fortress-walls which had longencompassed him. On their reaching the courtyard he instinctivelyaltered his tread, as being in expectation of a drawbridge; and whenthere was no drawbridge, and he saw the carriage waiting in the openstreet, he dropped his daughter's hand and clasped his head again.
No crowd was about the door; no people were discernible at any ofthe many windows; not even a chance passer-by was in the street. Anunnatural silence and desertion reigned there. Only one soul was to beseen, and that was Madame Defarge- who leaned against the door-post,knitting, and saw nothing.
The prisoner had got into a coach, and his daughter had followedhim, when Mr. Lorry's feet were arrested on the step by his asking,miserably, for his shoemaking tools and the unfinished shoes. MadameDefarge immediately called to her husband that she would get them, andwent, knitting, out of the lamplight, through the courtyard. Shequickly brought them down and handed them in;- and immediatelyafterwards leaned against the door-post, knitting, and saw nothing.
Defarge got upon the box, and gave the word "To the Barrier!" Thepostilion cracked his whip, and they clattered away under the feebleoverswinging lamps.
Under the over-swinging lamps- swinging ever brighter in thebetter streets, and ever dimmer in the worse- and by lighted shops,gay crowds, illuminated coffee-houses, and theatre-doors, to one ofthe city gates. Soldiers with lanterns, at the guard-house there."Your papers, travellers!" "See here then, Monsieur the Officer," saidDefarge, getting down, and taking him gravely apart, "these are thepapers of monsieur inside, with the white head. They were consigned tome, with him, at the--" He dropped his voice, there was a flutteramong the military lanterns, and one of them being handed into thecoach by an arm in uniform, the eyes connected with the arm looked,not an every day or an every night look, at monsieur with the whitehead. "It is well. Forward!" from the uniform. "Adieu!" fromDefarge. And so, under a short grove of feebler and feeblerover-swinging lamps, out under the great grove of stars.
Beneath that arch of unmoved and eternal lights; some, so remotefrom this little earth that the learned tell us it is doubtful whethertheir rays have even yet discovered it, as a point in space whereanything is suffered or done: the shadows of the night were broadand black. All through the cold and restless interval, until dawn,they once more whispered in the ears of Mr. Jarvis Lorry- sittingopposite the buried man who had been dug out, and wondering whatsubtle powers were for ever lost to him, and what were capable ofrestoration- the old inquiry:
"I hope you care to be recalled to life?"
And the old answer:
"I can't say."
THE END OF THE FIRST BOOK.