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Charles Dickens > A Tale Of Two Cities > Book 3 - 9

A Tale Of Two Cities

Book 3 - 9

The Game Made

While Sydney Carton and the Sheep of the prisons were in the
adjoining dark room, speaking so low that not a sound was heard,
Mr. Lorry looked at Jerry in considerable doubt and mistrust. That
honest tradesman's manner of receiving the look, did not inspire
confidence; he changed the leg on which he rested, as often as if he
had fifty of those limbs, and were trying them all; he examined his
finger-nails with a very questionable closeness of attention; and
whenever Mr. Lorry's eye caught his, he was taken with that peculiar
kind of short cough requiring the hollow of a hand before it, which
is seldom, if ever, known to be an infirmity attendant on perfect
openness of character.

"Jerry," said Mr. Lorry. "Come here."

Mr. Cruncher came forward sideways, with one of his shoulders in
advance of him.

"What have you been, besides a messenger?"

After some cogitation, accompanied with an intent look at his patron,
Mr. Cruncher conceived the luminous idea of replying, "Agicultooral

"My mind misgives me much," said Mr. Lorry, angrily shaking a
forefinger at him, "that you have used the respectable and great
house of Tellson's as a blind, and that you have had an unlawful
occupation of an infamous description. If you have, don't expect me
to befriend you when you get back to England. If you have, don't
expect me to keep your secret. Tellson's shall not be imposed upon."

"I hope, sir," pleaded the abashed Mr. Cruncher, "that a gentleman
like yourself wot I've had the honour of odd jobbing till I'm grey at
it, would think twice about harming of me, even if it wos so--I don't
say it is, but even if it wos. And which it is to be took into
account that if it wos, it wouldn't, even then, be all o' one side.
There'd be two sides to it. There might be medical doctors at the
present hour, a picking up their guineas where a honest tradesman
don't pick up his fardens--fardens! no, nor yet his half fardens--
half fardens! no, nor yet his quarter--a banking away like smoke at
Tellson's, and a cocking their medical eyes at that tradesman on the
sly, a going in and going out to their own carriages--ah! equally
like smoke, if not more so. Well, that 'ud be imposing, too, on
Tellson's. For you cannot sarse the goose and not the gander.
And here's Mrs. Cruncher, or leastways wos in the Old England times,
and would be to-morrow, if cause given, a floppin' again the business
to that degree as is ruinating--stark ruinating! Whereas them medical
doctors' wives don't flop--catch 'em at it! Or, if they flop, their
toppings goes in favour of more patients, and how can you rightly
have one without t'other? Then, wot with undertakers, and wot with
parish clerks, and wot with sextons, and wot with private watchmen
(all awaricious and all in it), a man wouldn't get much by it, even
if it wos so. And wot little a man did get, would never prosper with
him, Mr. Lorry. He'd never have no good of it; he'd want all along
to be out of the line, if he, could see his way out, being once in--
even if it wos so."

"Ugh!" cried Mr. Lorry, rather relenting, nevertheless, "I am shocked
at the sight of you."

"Now, what I would humbly offer to you, sir," pursued Mr. Cruncher,
"even if it wos so, which I don't say it is--"

"Don't prevaricate," said Mr. Lorry.

"No, I will NOT, sir," returned Mr. Crunches as if nothing were
further from his thoughts or practice--"which I don't say it is--wot
I would humbly offer to you, sir, would be this. Upon that there
stool, at that there Bar, sets that there boy of mine, brought up and
growed up to be a man, wot will errand you, message you, general-
light-job you, till your heels is where your head is, if such should
be your wishes. If it wos so, which I still don't say it is (for I
will not prewaricate to you, sir), let that there boy keep his
father's place, and take care of his mother; don't blow upon that
boy's father--do not do it, sir--and let that father go into the line
of the reg'lar diggin', and make amends for what he would have
undug--if it wos so-by diggin' of 'em in with a will, and with
conwictions respectin' the futur' keepin' of 'em safe. That,
Mr. Lorry," said Mr. Cruncher, wiping his forehead with his arm, as
an announcement that he had arrived at the peroration of his
discourse, "is wot I would respectfully offer to you, sir. A man
don't see all this here a goin' on dreadful round him, in the way of
Subjects without heads, dear me, plentiful enough fur to bring the
price down to porterage and hardly that, without havin' his serious
thoughts of things. And these here would be mine, if it wos so,
entreatin' of you fur to bear in mind that wot I said just now, I up
and said in the good cause when I might have kep' it back."

"That at least is true," said Mr. Lorry. "Say no more now. It may be
that I shall yet stand your friend, if you deserve it, and repent in
action--not in words. I want no more words."

Mr. Cruncher knuckled his forehead, as Sydney Carton and the spy
returned from the dark room. "Adieu, Mr. Barsad," said the former;
"our arrangement thus made, you have nothing to fear from me."

He sat down in a chair on the hearth, over against Mr. Lorry.
When they were alone, Mr. Lorry asked him what he had done?

"Not much. If it should go ill with the prisoner, I have ensured
access to him, once."

Mr. Lorry's countenance fell.

"It is all I could do," said Carton. "To propose too much, would be
to put this man's head under the axe, and, as he himself said,
nothing worse could happen to him if he were denounced. It was
obviously the weakness of the position. There is no help for it."

"But access to him," said Mr. Lorry, "if it should go ill before the
Tribunal, will not save him."

"I never said it would."

Mr. Lorry's eyes gradually sought the fire; his sympathy with his
darling, and the heavy disappointment of his second arrest, gradually
weakened them; he was an old man now, overborne with anxiety of late,
and his tears fell.

"You are a good man and a true friend," said Carton, in an altered
voice. "Forgive me if I notice that you are affected. I could not
see my father weep, and sit by, careless. And I could not respect
your sorrow more, if you were my father. You are free from that
misfortune, however."

Though he said the last words, with a slip into his usual manner,
there was a true feeling and respect both in his tone and in his
touch, that Mr. Lorry, who had never seen the better side of him,
was wholly unprepared for. He gave him his hand, and Carton gently
pressed it.

"To return to poor Darnay," said Carton. "Don't tell Her of this
interview, or this arrangement. It would not enable Her to go to see
him. She might think it was contrived, in case of the worse, to
convey to him the means of anticipating the sentence."

Mr. Lorry had not thought of that, and he looked quickly at Carton to
see if it were in his mind. It seemed to be; he returned the look,
and evidently understood it.

"She might think a thousand things," Carton said, "and any of them
would only add to her trouble. Don't speak of me to her. As I said
to you when I first came, I had better not see her. I can put my
hand out, to do any little helpful work for her that my hand can find
to do, without that. You are going to her, I hope? She must be very
desolate to-night."

"I am going now, directly."

"I am glad of that. She has such a strong attachment to you and
reliance on you. How does she look?"

"Anxious and unhappy, but very beautiful."


It was a long, grieving sound, like a sigh--almost like a sob. It
attracted Mr. Lorry's eyes to Carton's face, which was turned to the
fire. A light, or a shade (the old gentleman could not have said
which), passed from it as swiftly as a change will sweep over a
hill-side on a wild bright day, and he lifted his foot to put back
one of the little flaming logs, which was tumbling forward. He wore
the white riding-coat and top-boots, then in vogue, and the light of
the fire touching their light surfaces made him look very pale, with
his long brown hair, all untrimmed, hanging loose about him. His
indifference to fire was sufficiently remarkable to elicit a word of
remonstrance from Mr. Lorry; his boot was still upon the hot embers
of the flaming log, when it had broken under the weight of his foot.

"I forgot it," he said.

Mr. Lorry's eyes were again attracted to his face. Taking note of
the wasted air which clouded the naturally handsome features, and
having the expression of prisoners' faces fresh in his mind, he was
strongly reminded of that expression.

"And your duties here have drawn to an end, sir?" said Carton,
turning to him.

"Yes. As I was telling you last night when Lucie came in so
unexpectedly, I have at length done all that I can do here. I hoped
to have left them in perfect safety, and then to have quitted Paris.
I have my Leave to Pass. I was ready to go."

They were both silent.

"Yours is a long life to look back upon, sir?" said Carton, wistfully.

"I am in my seventy-eighth year."

"You have been useful all your life; steadily and constantly occupied;
trusted, respected, and looked up to?"

"I have been a man of business, ever since I have been a man.
indeed, I may say that I was a man of business when a boy."

"See what a place you fill at seventy-eight. How many people will
miss you when you leave it empty!"

"A solitary old bachelor," answered Mr. Lorry, shaking his
head. "There is nobody to weep for me."

"How can you say that? Wouldn't She weep for you? Wouldn't her child?"

"Yes, yes, thank God. I didn't quite mean what I said."

"It IS a thing to thank God for; is it not?"

"Surely, surely."

"If you could say, with truth, to your own solitary heart, to-night,
'I have secured to myself the love and attachment, the gratitude or
respect, of no human creature; I have won myself a tender place in no
regard; I have done nothing good or serviceable to be remembered by!'
your seventy-eight years would be seventy-eight heavy curses; would
they not?"

"You say truly, Mr. Carton; I think they would be."

Sydney turned his eyes again upon the fire, and, after a silence of a
few moments, said:

"I should like to ask you:--Does your childhood seem far off? Do the
days when you sat at your mother's knee, seem days of very long ago?"

Responding to his softened manner, Mr. Lorry answered:

"Twenty years back, yes; at this time of my life, no. For, as I draw
closer and closer to the end, I travel in the circle, nearer and
nearer to the beginning. It seems to be one of the kind smoothings
and preparings of the way. My heart is touched now, by many
remembrances that had long fallen asleep, of my pretty young mother
(and I so old!), and by many associations of the days when what we
call the World was not so real with me, and my faults were not
confirmed in me."

"I understand the feeling!" exclaimed Carton, with a bright flush.
"And you are the better for it?"

"I hope so."

Carton terminated the conversation here, by rising to help him on
with his outer coat; "But you," said Mr. Lorry, reverting to the theme,
"you are young."

"Yes," said Carton. "I am not old, but my young way was never the
way to age. Enough of me."

"And of me, I am sure," said Mr. Lorry. "Are you going out?"

"I'll walk with you to her gate. You know my vagabond and restless
habits. If I should prowl about the streets a long time, don't be
uneasy; I shall reappear in the morning. You go to the Court to-morrow?"

"Yes, unhappily."

"I shall be there, but only as one of the crowd. My Spy will find a
place for me. Take my arm, sir."

Mr. Lorry did so, and they went down-stairs and out in the streets.
A few minutes brought them to Mr. Lorry's destination. Carton left
him there; but lingered at a little distance, and turned back to the
gate again when it was shut, and touched it. He had heard of her
going to the prison every day. "She came out here," he said, looking
about him, "turned this way, must have trod on these stones often.
Let me follow in her steps."

It was ten o'clock at night when he stood before the prison of La
Force, where she had stood hundreds of times. A little wood-sawyer,
having closed his shop, was smoking his pipe at his shop-door.

"Good night, citizen," said Sydney Carton, pausing in going by;
for, the man eyed him inquisitively.

"Good night, citizen."

"How goes the Republic?"

"You mean the Guillotine. Not ill. Sixty-three to-day. We shall
mount to a hundred soon. Samson and his men complain sometimes, of
being exhausted. Ha, ha, ha! He is so droll, that Samson.
Such a Barber!"

"Do you often go to see him--"

"Shave? Always. Every day. What a barber! You have seen him at work?"


"Go and see him when he has a good batch. Figure this to yourself,
citizen; he shaved the sixty-three to-day, in less than two pipes!
Less than two pipes. Word of honour!"

As the grinning little man held out the pipe he was smoking, to
explain how he timed the executioner, Carton was so sensible of a
rising desire to strike the life out of him, that he turned away.

"But you are not English," said the wood-sawyer, "though you wear
English dress?"

"Yes," said Carton, pausing again, and answering over his shoulder.

"You speak like a Frenchman."

"I am an old student here."

"Aha, a perfect Frenchman! Good night, Englishman."

"Good night, citizen."

"But go and see that droll dog," the little man persisted, calling
after him. "And take a pipe with you!"

Sydney had not gone far out of sight, when he stopped in the middle
of the street under a glimmering lamp, and wrote with his pencil on a
scrap of paper. Then, traversing with the decided step of one who
remembered the way well, several dark and dirty streets--much dirtier
than usual, for the best public thoroughfares remained uncleansed in
those times of terror--he stopped at a chemist's shop, which the
owner was closing with his own hands. A small, dim, crooked shop,
kept in a tortuous, up-hill thoroughfare, by a small, dim, crooked man.

Giving this citizen, too, good night, as he confronted him at his
counter, he laid the scrap of paper before him. "Whew!" the chemist
whistled softly, as he read it. "Hi! hi! hi!"

Sydney Carton took no heed, and the chemist said:

"For you, citizen?"

"For me."

"You will be careful to keep them separate, citizen? You know the
consequences of mixing them?"


Certain small packets were made and given to him. He put them, one
by one, in the breast of his inner coat, counted out the money for
them, and deliberately left the shop. "There is nothing more to do,"
said he, glancing upward at the moon, "until to-morrow. I can't sleep."

It was not a reckless manner, the manner in which he said these words
aloud under the fast-sailing clouds, nor was it more expressive of
negligence than defiance. It was the settled manner of a tired man,
who had wandered and struggled and got lost, but who at length struck
into his road and saw its end.

Long ago, when he had been famous among his earliest competitors as a
youth of great promise, he had followed his father to the grave.
His mother had died, years before. These solemn words, which had
been read at his father's grave, arose in his mind as he went down
the dark streets, among the heavy shadows, with the moon and the
clouds sailing on high above him. "I am the resurrection and the
life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead,
yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall
never die."

In a city dominated by the axe, alone at night, with natural sorrow
rising in him for the sixty-three who had been that day put to death,
and for to-morrow's victims then awaiting their doom in the prisons,
and still of to-morrow's and to-morrow's, the chain of association
that brought the words home, like a rusty old ship's anchor from the
deep, might have been easily found. He did not seek it, but repeated
them and went on.

With a solemn interest in the lighted windows where the people were
going to rest, forgetful through a few calm hours of the horrors
surrounding them; in the towers of the churches, where no prayers
were said, for the popular revulsion had even travelled that length
of self-destruction from years of priestly impostors, plunderers, and
profligates; in the distant burial-places, reserved, as they wrote
upon the gates, for Eternal Sleep; in the abounding gaols; and in the
streets along which the sixties rolled to a death which had become so
common and material, that no sorrowful story of a haunting Spirit
ever arose among the people out of all the working of the Guillotine;
with a solemn interest in the whole life and death of the city
settling down to its short nightly pause in fury; Sydney Carton
crossed the Seine again for the lighter streets.

Few coaches were abroad, for riders in coaches were liable to be
suspected, and gentility hid its head in red nightcaps, and put on
heavy shoes, and trudged. But, the theatres were all well filled,
and the people poured cheerfully out as he passed, and went chatting
home. At one of the theatre doors, there was a little girl with a
mother, looking for a way across the street through the mud.
He carried the child over, and before, the timid arm was loosed from
his neck asked her for a kiss.

"I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that
believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and
whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die."

Now, that the streets were quiet, and the night wore on, the words
were in the echoes of his feet, and were in the air. Perfectly calm
and steady, he sometimes repeated them to himself as he walked; but,
he heard them always.

The night wore out, and, as he stood upon the bridge listening to the
water as it splashed the river-walls of the Island of Paris, where
the picturesque confusion of houses and cathedral shone bright in the
light of the moon, the day came coldly, looking like a dead face out
of the sky. Then, the night, with the moon and the stars, turned pale
and died, and for a little while it seemed as if Creation were
delivered over to Death's dominion.

But, the glorious sun, rising, seemed to strike those words, that
burden of the night, straight and warm to his heart in its long
bright rays. And looking along them, with reverently shaded eyes,
a bridge of light appeared to span the air between him and the sun,
while the river sparkled under it.

The strong tide, so swift, so deep, and certain, was like a congenial
friend, in the morning stillness. He walked by the stream, far from
the houses, and in the light and warmth of the sun fell asleep on the
bank. When he awoke and was afoot again, he lingered there yet a
little longer, watching an eddy that turned and turned purposeless,
until the stream absorbed it, and carried it on to the sea.--"Like me."

A trading-boat, with a sail of the softened colour of a dead leaf,
then glided into his view, floated by him, and died away. As its
silent track in the water disappeared, the prayer that had broken up
out of his heart for a merciful consideration of all his poor
blindnesses and errors, ended in the words, "I am the resurrection
and the life."

Mr. Lorry was already out when he got back, and it was easy to
surmise where the good old man was gone. Sydney Carton drank nothing
but a little coffee, ate some bread, and, having washed and changed
to refresh himself, went out to the place of trial.

The court was all astir and a-buzz, when the black sheep--whom many
fell away from in dread--pressed him into an obscure corner among the
crowd. Mr. Lorry was there, and Doctor Manette was there. She was
there, sitting beside her father.

When her husband was brought in, she turned a look upon him, so
sustaining, so encouraging, so full of admiring love and pitying
tenderness, yet so courageous for his sake, that it called the
healthy blood into his face, brightened his glance, and animated his
heart. If there had been any eyes to notice the influence of her
look, on Sydney Carton, it would have been seen to be the same
influence exactly.

Before that unjust Tribunal, there was little or no order of
procedure, ensuring to any accused person any reasonable hearing.
There could have been no such Revolution, if all laws, forms, and
ceremonies, had not first been so monstrously abused, that the
suicidal vengeance of the Revolution was to scatter them all to the

Every eye was turned to the jury. The same determined patriots and
good republicans as yesterday and the day before, and to-morrow and
the day after. Eager and prominent among them, one man with a
craving face, and his fingers perpetually hovering about his lips,
whose appearance gave great satisfaction to the spectators. A life-
thirsting, cannibal-looking, bloody-minded juryman, the Jacques Three
of St. Antoine. The whole jury, as a jury of dogs empannelled to try
the deer.

Every eye then turned to the five judges and the public prosecutor.
No favourable leaning in that quarter to-day. A fell, uncompromising,
murderous business-meaning there. Every eye then sought some other
eye in the crowd, and gleamed at it approvingly; and heads nodded at
one another, before bending forward with a strained attention.

Charles Evremonde, called Darnay. Released yesterday. Reaccused and
retaken yesterday. Indictment delivered to him last night. Suspected
and Denounced enemy of the Republic, Aristocrat, one of a family of
tyrants, one of a race proscribed, for that they had used their
abolished privileges to the infamous oppression of the people.
Charles Evremonde, called Darnay, in right of such proscription,
absolutely Dead in Law.

To this effect, in as few or fewer words, the Public Prosecutor.

The President asked, was the Accused openly denounced or secretly?

"Openly, President."

"By whom?"

"Three voices. Ernest Defarge, wine-vendor of St. Antoine."


"Therese Defarge, his wife."


"Alexandre Manette, physician."

A great uproar took place in the court, and in the midst of it,
Doctor Manette was seen, pale and trembling, standing where he had
been seated.

"President, I indignantly protest to you that this is a forgery and a
fraud. You know the accused to be the husband of my daughter. My
daughter, and those dear to her, are far dearer to me than my life.
Who and where is the false conspirator who says that I denounce the
husband of my child!"

"Citizen Manette, be tranquil. To fail in submission to the
authority of the Tribunal would be to put yourself out of Law.
As to what is dearer to you than life, nothing can be so dear to a
good citizen as the Republic."

Loud acclamations hailed this rebuke. The President rang his bell,
and with warmth resumed.

"If the Republic should demand of you the sacrifice of your child
herself, you would have no duty but to sacrifice her. Listen to what
is to follow. In the meanwhile, be silent!"

Frantic acclamations were again raised. Doctor Manette sat down,
with his eyes looking around, and his lips trembling; his daughter
drew closer to him. The craving man on the jury rubbed his hands
together, and restored the usual hand to his mouth.

Defarge was produced, when the court was quiet enough to admit of his
being heard, and rapidly expounded the story of the imprisonment, and
of his having been a mere boy in the Doctor's service, and of the
release, and of the state of the prisoner when released and delivered
to him. This short examination followed, for the court was quick
with its work.

"You did good service at the taking of the Bastille, citizen?"

"I believe so."

Here, an excited woman screeched from the crowd: "You were one of the
best patriots there. Why not say so? You were a cannoneer that day
there, and you were among the first to enter the accursed fortress
when it fell. Patriots, I speak the truth!"

It was The Vengeance who, amidst the warm commendations of the
audience, thus assisted the proceedings. The President rang his
bell; but, The Vengeance, warming with encouragement, shrieked,
"I defy that bell!" wherein she was likewise much commended.

"Inform the Tribunal of what you did that day within the Bastille,

"I knew," said Defarge, looking down at his wife, who stood at the
bottom of the steps on which he was raised, looking steadily up at
him; "I knew that this prisoner, of whom I speak, had been confined
in a cell known as One Hundred and Five, North Tower. I knew it from
himself. He knew himself by no other name than One Hundred and Five,
North Tower, when he made shoes under my care. As I serve my gun
that day, I resolve, when the place shall fall, to examine that cell.
It falls. I mount to the cell, with a fellow-citizen who is one of
the Jury, directed by a gaoler. I examine it, very closely. In a
hole in the chimney, where a stone has been worked out and replaced,
I find a written paper. This is that written paper. I have made it
my business to examine some specimens of the writing of Doctor
Manette. This is the writing of Doctor Manette. I confide this
paper, in the writing of Doctor Manette, to the hands of the President."

"Let it be read."

In a dead silence and stillness--the prisoner under trial looking
lovingly at his wife, his wife only looking from him to look with
solicitude at her father, Doctor Manette keeping his eyes fixed on
the reader, Madame Defarge never taking hers from the prisoner,
Defarge never taking his from his feasting wife, and all the other
eyes there intent upon the Doctor, who saw none of them--the paper
was read, as follows.

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