Book 1. Recalled to Life
It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief,
it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light,
it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope,
it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us, we
had nothing before us, we were all going direct to
Heaven, we were all going direct the other way— in
short, the period was so far like the present
period, that some of its noisiest authorities
insisted on its being received, for good or for
evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
There were a king with a large
jaw and a queen with a plain face, on the throne of
England; there were a king with a large jaw and a
queen with a fair face, on the throne of France. In
both countries it was clearer than crystal to the
lords of the State preserves of loaves and fishes,
that things in general were settled for ever.
It was the year of Our Lord one
thousand seven hundred and seventy-five. Spiritual
revelations were conceded to England at that
favoured period, as at this. Mrs. Southcott had
recently attained her five-and-twentieth blessed
birthday, of whom a prophetic private in the Life
Guards had heralded the sublime appearance by
announcing that arrangements were made for the
swallowing up of London and Westminster. Even the
Cock-lane ghost had been laid only a round dozen of
years, after rapping out its messages, as the
spirits of this very year last past (supernaturally
deficient in originality) rapped out theirs. Mere
messages in the earthly order of events had lately
come to the English Crown and People, from a
congress of British subjects in America: which,
strange to relate, have proved more important to the
human race than any communications yet received
through any of the chickens of the Cock-lane brood.
France, less favoured on the
whole as to matters spiritual than her sister of the
shield and trident, rolled with exceeding smoothness
down hill, making paper money and spending it. Under
the guidance of her Christian pastors, she
entertained herself, besides, with such humane
achievements as sentencing a youth to have his hands
cut off, his tongue torn out with pincers, and his
body burned alive, because he had not kneeled down
in the rain to do honour to a dirty procession of
monks which passed within his view, at a distance of
some fifty or sixty yards. It is likely enough that,
rooted in the woods of France and Norway, there were
growing trees, when that sufferer was put to death,
already marked by the Woodman, Fate, to come down
and be sawn into boards, to make a certain movable
framework with a sack and a knife in it, terrible in
history. It is likely enough that in the rough
outhouses of some tillers of the heavy lands
adjacent to Paris, there were sheltered from the
weather that very day, rude carts, bespattered with
rustic mire, snuffed about by pigs, and roosted in
by poultry, which the Farmer, Death, had already set
apart to be his tumbrils of the Revolution. But that
Woodman and that Farmer, though they work
unceasingly, work silently, and no one heard them as
they went about with muffled tread: the rather,
forasmuch as to entertain any suspicion that they
were awake, was to be atheistical and traitorous.
In England, there was scarcely
an amount of order and protection to justify much
national boasting. Daring burglaries by armed men,
and highway robberies, took place in the capital
itself every night; families were publicly cautioned
not to go out of town without removing their
furniture to upholsterers' warehouses for security;
the highwayman in the dark was a City tradesman in
the light, and, being recognised and challenged by
his fellow-tradesman whom he stopped in his
character of "the Captain," gallantly shot him
through the head and rode away; the mail was waylaid
by seven robbers, and the guard shot three dead, and
then got shot dead himself by the other four, "in
consequence of the failure of his ammunition:" after
which the mail was robbed in peace; that magnificent
potentate, the Lord Mayor of London, was made to
stand and deliver on Turnham Green, by one
highwayman, who despoiled the illustrious creature
in sight of all his retinue; prisoners in London
gaols fought battles with their turnkeys, and the
majesty of the law fired blunderbusses in among
them, loaded with rounds of shot and ball; thieves
snipped off diamond crosses from the necks of noble
lords at Court drawing-rooms; musketeers went into
St. Giles's, to search for contraband goods, and the
mob fired on the musketeers, and the musketeers
fired on the mob, and nobody thought any of these
occurrences much out of the common way. In the midst
of them, the hangman, ever busy and ever worse than
useless, was in constant requisition; now, stringing
up long rows of miscellaneous criminals; now,
hanging a housebreaker on Saturday who had been
taken on Tuesday; now, burning people in the hand at
Newgate by the dozen, and now burning pamphlets at
the door of Westminster Hall; to-day, taking the
life of an atrocious murderer, and to-morrow of a
wretched pilferer who had robbed a farmer's boy of
All these things, and a thousand
like them, came to pass in and close upon the dear
old year one thousand seven hundred and
seventy-five. Environed by them, while the Woodman
and the Farmer worked unheeded, those two of the
large jaws, and those other two of the plain and the
fair faces, trod with stir enough, and carried their
divine rights with a high hand. Thus did the year
one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five conduct
their Greatnesses, and myriads of small
creatures—the creatures of this chronicle among the
rest—along the roads that lay before them.
II. The Mail
It was the Dover road that lay,
on a Friday night late in November, before the first
of the persons with whom this history has business.
The Dover road lay, as to him, beyond the Dover
mail, as it lumbered up Shooter's Hill. He walked up
hill in the mire by the side of the mail, as the
rest of the passengers did; not because they had the
least relish for walking exercise, under the
circumstances, but because the hill, and the
harness, and the mud, and the mail, were all so
heavy, that the horses had three times already come
to a stop, besides once drawing the coach across the
road, with the mutinous intent of taking it back to
Blackheath. Reins and whip and coachman and guard,
however, in combination, had read that article of
war which forbade a purpose otherwise strongly in
favour of the argument, that some brute animals are
endued with Reason; and the team had capitulated and
returned to their duty.
With drooping heads and
tremulous tails, they mashed their way through the
thick mud, floundering and stumbling between whiles,
as if they were falling to pieces at the larger
joints. As often as the driver rested them and
brought them to a stand, with a wary "Wo-ho!
so-ho-then!" the near leader violently shook his
head and everything upon it—like an unusually
emphatic horse, denying that the coach could be got
up the hill. Whenever the leader made this rattle,
the passenger started, as a nervous passenger might,
and was disturbed in mind.
There was a steaming mist in all
the hollows, and it had roamed in its forlornness up
the hill, like an evil spirit, seeking rest and
finding none. A clammy and intensely cold mist, it
made its slow way through the air in ripples that
visibly followed and overspread one another, as the
waves of an unwholesome sea might do. It was dense
enough to shut out everything from the light of the
coach-lamps but these its own workings, and a few
yards of road; and the reek of the labouring horses
steamed into it, as if they had made it all.
Two other passengers, besides
the one, were plodding up the hill by the side of
the mail. All three were wrapped to the cheekbones
and over the ears, and wore jack-boots. Not one of
the three could have said, from anything he saw,
what either of the other two was like; and each was
hidden under almost as many wrappers from the eyes
of the mind, as from the eyes of the body, of his
two companions. In those days, travellers were very
shy of being confidential on a short notice, for
anybody on the road might be a robber or in league
with robbers. As to the latter, when every
posting-house and ale-house could produce somebody
in "the Captain's" pay, ranging from the landlord to
the lowest stable non-descript, it was the likeliest
thing upon the cards. So the guard of the Dover mail
thought to himself, that Friday night in November,
one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five,
lumbering up Shooter's Hill, as he stood on his own
particular perch behind the mail, beating his feet,
and keeping an eye and a hand on the arm-chest
before him, where a loaded blunderbuss lay at the
top of six or eight loaded horse-pistols, deposited
on a substratum of cutlass.
The Dover mail was in its usual
genial position that the guard suspected the
passengers, the passengers suspected one another and
the guard, they all suspected everybody else, and
the coachman was sure of nothing but the horses; as
to which cattle he could with a clear conscience
have taken his oath on the two Testaments that they
were not fit for the journey.
"Wo-ho!" said the coachman. "So,
then! One more pull and you're at the top and be
damned to you, for I have had trouble enough to get
you to it!—Joe!"
"Halloa!" the guard replied.
"What o'clock do you make it,
"Ten minutes, good, past
"My blood!" ejaculated the vexed
coachman, "and not atop of Shooter's yet! Tst! Yah!
Get on with you!"
The emphatic horse, cut short by
the whip in a most decided negative, made a decided
scramble for it, and the three other horses followed
suit. Once more, the Dover mail struggled on, with
the jack-boots of its passengers squashing along by
its side. They had stopped when the coach stopped,
and they kept close company with it. If any one of
the three had had the hardihood to propose to
another to walk on a little ahead into the mist and
darkness, he would have put himself in a fair way of
getting shot instantly as a highwayman.
The last burst carried the mail
to the summit of the hill. The horses stopped to
breathe again, and the guard got down to skid the
wheel for the descent, and open the coach-door to
let the passengers in.
"Tst! Joe!" cried the coachman
in a warning voice, looking down from his box.
"What do you say, Tom?"
They both listened.
"I say a horse at a canter
coming up, Joe."
"I say a horse at a
gallop, Tom," returned the guard, leaving his hold
of the door, and mounting nimbly to his place.
"Gentlemen! In the king's name, all of you!"
With this hurried adjuration, he
cocked his blunderbuss, and stood on the offensive.
The passenger booked by this
history, was on the coach-step, getting in; the two
other passengers were close behind him, and about to
follow. He remained on the step, half in the coach
and half out of; they remained in the road below
him. They all looked from the coachman to the guard,
and from the guard to the coachman, and listened.
The coachman looked back and the guard looked back,
and even the emphatic leader pricked up his ears and
looked back, without contradicting.
The stillness consequent on the
cessation of the rumbling and labouring of the
coach, added to the stillness of the night, made it
very quiet indeed. The panting of the horses
communicated a tremulous motion to the coach, as if
it were in a state of agitation. The hearts of the
passengers beat loud enough perhaps to be heard; but
at any rate, the quiet pause was audibly expressive
of people out of breath, and holding the breath, and
having the pulses quickened by expectation.
The sound of a horse at a gallop
came fast and furiously up the hill.
"So-ho!" the guard sang out, as
loud as he could roar. "Yo there! Stand! I shall
The pace was suddenly checked,
and, with much splashing and floundering, a man's
voice called from the mist, "Is that the Dover
"Never you mind what it is!" the
guard retorted. "What are you?"
"Is that the Dover mail?"
"Why do you want to know?"
"I want a passenger, if it is."
"Mr. Jarvis Lorry."
Our booked passenger showed in a
moment that it was his name. The guard, the
coachman, and the two other passengers eyed him
"Keep where you are," the guard
called to the voice in the mist, "because, if I
should make a mistake, it could never be set right
in your lifetime. Gentleman of the name of Lorry
"What is the matter?" asked the
passenger, then, with mildly quavering speech. "Who
wants me? Is it Jerry?"
("I don't like Jerry's voice, if
it is Jerry," growled the guard to himself. "He's
hoarser than suits me, is Jerry.")
"Yes, Mr. Lorry."
"What is the matter?"
"A despatch sent after you from
over yonder. T. and Co."
"I know this messenger, guard,"
said Mr. Lorry, getting down into the road—assisted
from behind more swiftly than politely by the other
two passengers, who immediately scrambled into the
coach, shut the door, and pulled up the window. "He
may come close; there's nothing wrong."
"I hope there ain't, but I can't
make so 'Nation sure of that," said the guard, in
gruff soliloquy. "Hallo you!"
"Well! And hallo you!" said
Jerry, more hoarsely than before.
"Come on at a footpace! d'ye
mind me? And if you've got holsters to that saddle
o' yourn, don't let me see your hand go nigh 'em.
For I'm a devil at a quick mistake, and when I make
one it takes the form of Lead. So now let's look at
The figures of a horse and rider
came slowly through the eddying mist, and came to
the side of the mail, where the passenger stood. The
rider stooped, and, casting up his eyes at the
guard, handed the passenger a small folded paper.
The rider's horse was blown, and both horse and
rider were covered with mud, from the hoofs of the
horse to the hat of the man.
"Guard!" said the passenger, in
a tone of quiet business confidence.
The watchful guard, with his
right hand at the stock of his raised blunderbuss,
his left at the barrel, and his eye on the horseman,
answered curtly, "Sir."
"There is nothing to apprehend.
I belong to Tellson's Bank. You must know Tellson's
Bank in London. I am going to Paris on business. A
crown to drink. I may read this?"
"If so be as you're quick, sir."
He opened it in the light of the
coach-lamp on that side, and read—first to himself
and then aloud: "'Wait at Dover for Mam'selle.' It's
not long, you see, guard. Jerry, say that my answer
was, RECALLED TO LIFE."
Jerry started in his saddle.
"That's a Blazing strange answer, too," said he, at
"Take that message back, and
they will know that I received this, as well as if I
wrote. Make the best of your way. Good night."
With those words the passenger
opened the coach-door and got in; not at all
assisted by his fellow-passengers, who had
expeditiously secreted their watches and purses in
their boots, and were now making a general pretence
of being asleep. With no more definite purpose than
to escape the hazard of originating any other kind
The coach lumbered on again,
with heavier wreaths of mist closing round it as it
began the descent. The guard soon replaced his
blunderbuss in his arm-chest, and, having looked to
the rest of its contents, and having looked to the
supplementary pistols that he wore in his belt,
looked to a smaller chest beneath his seat, in which
there were a few smith's tools, a couple of torches,
and a tinder-box. For he was furnished with that
completeness that if the coach-lamps had been blown
and stormed out, which did occasionally happen, he
had only to shut himself up inside, keep the flint
and steel sparks well off the straw, and get a light
with tolerable safety and ease (if he were lucky) in
"Tom!" softly over the coach
"Did you hear the message?"
"I did, Joe."
"What did you make of it, Tom?"
"Nothing at all, Joe."
"That's a coincidence, too," the
guard mused, "for I made the same of it myself."
Jerry, left alone in the mist
and darkness, dismounted meanwhile, not only to ease
his spent horse, but to wipe the mud from his face,
and shake the wet out of his hat-brim, which might
be capable of holding about half a gallon. After
standing with the bridle over his heavily-splashed
arm, until the wheels of the mail were no longer
within hearing and the night was quite still again,
he turned to walk down the hill.
"After that there gallop from
Temple Bar, old lady, I won't trust your fore-legs
till I get you on the level," said this hoarse
messenger, glancing at his mare. "'Recalled to
life.' That's a Blazing strange message. Much of
that wouldn't do for you, Jerry! I say, Jerry! You'd
be in a Blazing bad way, if recalling to life was to
come into fashion, Jerry!"
III. The Night Shadows
A wonderful fact to reflect
upon, that every human creature is constituted to be
that profound secret and mystery to every other. A
solemn consideration, when I enter a great city by
night, that every one of those darkly clustered
houses encloses its own secret; that every room in
every one of them encloses its own secret; that
every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands of
breasts there, is, in some of its imaginings, a
secret to the heart nearest it! Something of the
awfulness, even of Death itself, is referable to
this. No more can I turn the leaves of this dear
book that I loved, and vainly hope in time to read
it all. No more can I look into the depths of this
unfathomable water, wherein, as momentary lights
glanced into it, I have had glimpses of buried
treasure and other things submerged. It was
appointed that the book should shut with a spring,
for ever and for ever, when I had read but a page.
It was appointed that the water should be locked in
an eternal frost, when the light was playing on its
surface, and I stood in ignorance on the shore. My
friend is dead, my neighbour is dead, my love, the
darling of my soul, is dead; it is the inexorable
consolidation and perpetuation of the secret that
was always in that individuality, and which I shall
carry in mine to my life's end. In any of the
burial-places of this city through which I pass, is
there a sleeper more inscrutable than its busy
inhabitants are, in their innermost personality, to
me, or than I am to them?
As to this, his natural and not
to be alienated inheritance, the messenger on
horseback had exactly the same possessions as the
King, the first Minister of State, or the richest
merchant in London. So with the three passengers
shut up in the narrow compass of one lumbering old
mail coach; they were mysteries to one another, as
complete as if each had been in his own coach and
six, or his own coach and sixty, with the breadth of
a county between him and the next.
The messenger rode back at an
easy trot, stopping pretty often at ale-houses by
the way to drink, but evincing a tendency to keep
his own counsel, and to keep his hat cocked over his
eyes. He had eyes that assorted very well with that
decoration, being of a surface black, with no depth
in the colour or form, and much too near together—as
if they were afraid of being found out in something,
singly, if they kept too far apart. They had a
sinister expression, under an old cocked-hat like a
three-cornered spittoon, and over a great muffler
for the chin and throat, which descended nearly to
the wearer's knees. When he stopped for drink, he
moved this muffler with his left hand, only while he
poured his liquor in with his right; as soon as that
was done, he muffled again.
"No, Jerry, no!" said the
messenger, harping on one theme as he rode. "It
wouldn't do for you, Jerry. Jerry, you honest
tradesman, it wouldn't suit your line of
business! Recalled—! Bust me if I don't think he'd
been a drinking!"
His message perplexed his mind
to that degree that he was fain, several times, to
take off his hat to scratch his head. Except on the
crown, which was raggedly bald, he had stiff, black
hair, standing jaggedly all over it, and growing
down hill almost to his broad, blunt nose. It was so
like Smith's work, so much more like the top of a
strongly spiked wall than a head of hair, that the
best of players at leap-frog might have declined
him, as the most dangerous man in the world to go
While he trotted back with the
message he was to deliver to the night watchman in
his box at the door of Tellson's Bank, by Temple
Bar, who was to deliver it to greater authorities
within, the shadows of the night took such shapes to
him as arose out of the message, and took such
shapes to the mare as arose out of her
private topics of uneasiness. They seemed to be
numerous, for she shied at every shadow on the road.
What time, the mail-coach
lumbered, jolted, rattled, and bumped upon its
tedious way, with its three fellow-inscrutables
inside. To whom, likewise, the shadows of the night
revealed themselves, in the forms their dozing eyes
and wandering thoughts suggested.
Tellson's Bank had a run upon it
in the mail. As the bank passenger—with an arm drawn
through the leathern strap, which did what lay in it
to keep him from pounding against the next
passenger, and driving him into his corner, whenever
the coach got a special jolt—nodded in his place,
with half-shut eyes, the little coach-windows, and
the coach-lamp dimly gleaming through them, and the
bulky bundle of opposite passenger, became the bank,
and did a great stroke of business. The rattle of
the harness was the chink of money, and more drafts
were honoured in five minutes than even Tellson's,
with all its foreign and home connection, ever paid
in thrice the time. Then the strong-rooms
underground, at Tellson's, with such of their
valuable stores and secrets as were known to the
passenger (and it was not a little that he knew
about them), opened before him, and he went in among
them with the great keys and the feebly-burning
candle, and found them safe, and strong, and sound,
and still, just as he had last seen them.
But, though the bank was almost
always with him, and though the coach (in a confused
way, like the presence of pain under an opiate) was
always with him, there was another current of
impression that never ceased to run, all through the
night. He was on his way to dig some one out of a
Now, which of the multitude of
faces that showed themselves before him was the true
face of the buried person, the shadows of the night
did not indicate; but they were all the faces of a
man of five-and-forty by years, and they differed
principally in the passions they expressed, and in
the ghastliness of their worn and wasted state.
Pride, contempt, defiance, stubbornness, submission,
lamentation, succeeded one another; so did varieties
of sunken cheek, cadaverous colour, emaciated hands
and figures. But the face was in the main one face,
and every head was prematurely white. A hundred
times the dozing passenger inquired of this spectre:
"Buried how long?"
The answer was always the same:
"Almost eighteen years."
"You had abandoned all hope of
being dug out?"
"You know that you are recalled
"They tell me so."
"I hope you care to live?"
"I can't say."
"Shall I show her to you? Will
you come and see her?"
The answers to this question
were various and contradictory. Sometimes the broken
reply was, "Wait! It would kill me if I saw her too
soon." Sometimes, it was given in a tender rain of
tears, and then it was, "Take me to her." Sometimes
it was staring and bewildered, and then it was, "I
don't know her. I don't understand."
After such imaginary discourse,
the passenger in his fancy would dig, and dig,
dig—now with a spade, now with a great key, now with
his hands—to dig this wretched creature out. Got out
at last, with earth hanging about his face and hair,
he would suddenly fan away to dust. The passenger
would then start to himself, and lower the window,
to get the reality of mist and rain on his cheek.
Yet even when his eyes were
opened on the mist and rain, on the moving patch of
light from the lamps, and the hedge at the roadside
retreating by jerks, the night shadows outside the
coach would fall into the train of the night shadows
within. The real Banking-house by Temple Bar, the
real business of the past day, the real strong
rooms, the real express sent after him, and the real
message returned, would all be there. Out of the
midst of them, the ghostly face would rise, and he
would accost it again.
"Buried how long?"
"Almost eighteen years."
"I hope you care to live?"
"I can't say."
Dig—dig—dig—until an impatient
movement from one of the two passengers would
admonish him to pull up the window, draw his arm
securely through the leathern strap, and speculate
upon the two slumbering forms, until his mind lost
its hold of them, and they again slid away into the
bank and the grave.
"Buried how long?"
"Almost eighteen years."
"You had abandoned all hope of
being dug out?"
The words were still in his
hearing as just spoken—distinctly in his hearing as
ever spoken words had been in his life—when the
weary passenger started to the consciousness of
daylight, and found that the shadows of the night
He lowered the window, and
looked out at the rising sun. There was a ridge of
ploughed land, with a plough upon it where it had
been left last night when the horses were unyoked;
beyond, a quiet coppice-wood, in which many leaves
of burning red and golden yellow still remained upon
the trees. Though the earth was cold and wet, the
sky was clear, and the sun rose bright, placid, and
"Eighteen years!" said the
passenger, looking at the sun. "Gracious Creator of
day! To be buried alive for eighteen years!"
IV. The Preparation
When the mail got successfully
to Dover, in the course of the forenoon, the head
drawer at the Royal George Hotel opened the
coach-door as his custom was. He did it with some
flourish of ceremony, for a mail journey from London
in winter was an achievement to congratulate an
adventurous traveller upon.
By that time, there was only one
adventurous traveller left be congratulated: for the
two others had been set down at their respective
roadside destinations. The mildewy inside of the
coach, with its damp and dirty straw, its
disagreeable smell, and its obscurity, was rather
like a larger dog-kennel. Mr. Lorry, the passenger,
shaking himself out of it in chains of straw, a
tangle of shaggy wrapper, flapping hat, and muddy
legs, was rather like a larger sort of dog.
"There will be a packet to
Calais, tomorrow, drawer?"
"Yes, sir, if the weather holds
and the wind sets tolerable fair. The tide will
serve pretty nicely at about two in the afternoon,
sir. Bed, sir?"
"I shall not go to bed till
night; but I want a bedroom, and a barber."
"And then breakfast, sir? Yes,
sir. That way, sir, if you please. Show Concord!
Gentleman's valise and hot water to Concord. Pull
off gentleman's boots in Concord. (You will find a
fine sea-coal fire, sir.) Fetch barber to Concord.
Stir about there, now, for Concord!"
The Concord bed-chamber being
always assigned to a passenger by the mail, and
passengers by the mail being always heavily wrapped
up from head to foot, the room had the odd interest
for the establishment of the Royal George, that
although but one kind of man was seen to go into it,
all kinds and varieties of men came out of it.
Consequently, another drawer, and two porters, and
several maids and the landlady, were all loitering
by accident at various points of the road between
the Concord and the coffee-room, when a gentleman of
sixty, formally dressed in a brown suit of clothes,
pretty well worn, but very well kept, with large
square cuffs and large flaps to the pockets, passed
along on his way to his breakfast.
The coffee-room had no other
occupant, that forenoon, than the gentleman in
brown. His breakfast-table was drawn before the
fire, and as he sat, with its light shining on him,
waiting for the meal, he sat so still, that he might
have been sitting for his portrait.
Very orderly and methodical he
looked, with a hand on each knee, and a loud watch
ticking a sonorous sermon under his flapped
waist-coat, as though it pitted its gravity and
longevity against the levity and evanescence of the
brisk fire. He had a good leg, and was a little vain
of it, for his brown stockings fitted sleek and
close, and were of a fine texture; his shoes and
buckles, too, though plain, were trim. He wore an
odd little sleek crisp flaxen wig, setting very
close to his head: which wig, it is to be presumed,
was made of hair, but which looked far more as
though it were spun from filaments of silk or glass.
His linen, though not of a fineness in accordance
with his stockings, was as white as the tops of the
waves that broke upon the neighbouring beach, or the
specks of sail that glinted in the sunlight far at
sea. A face habitually suppressed and quieted, was
still lighted up under the quaint wig by a pair of
moist bright eyes that it must have cost their
owner, in years gone by, some pains to drill to the
composed and reserved expression of Tellson's Bank.
He had a healthy colour in his cheeks, and his face,
though lined, bore few traces of anxiety. But,
perhaps the confidential bachelor clerks in
Tellson's Bank were principally occupied with the
cares of other people; and perhaps second-hand
cares, like second-hand clothes, come easily off and
Completing his resemblance to a
man who was sitting for his portrait, Mr. Lorry
dropped off to sleep. The arrival of his breakfast
roused him, and he said to the drawer, as he moved
his chair to it:
"I wish accommodation prepared
for a young lady who may come here at any time
to-day. She may ask for Mr. Jarvis Lorry, or she may
only ask for a gentleman from Tellson's Bank. Please
to let me know."
"Yes, sir. Tellson's Bank in
"Yes, sir. We have oftentimes
the honour to entertain your gentlemen in their
travelling backwards and forwards betwixt London and
Paris, sir. A vast deal of travelling, sir, in
Tellson and Company's House."
"Yes. We are quite a French
House, as well as an English one."
"Yes, sir. Not much in the habit
of such travelling yourself, I think, sir?"
"Not of late years. It is
fifteen years since we—since I—came last from
"Indeed, sir? That was before my
time here, sir. Before our people's time here, sir.
The George was in other hands at that time, sir."
"I believe so."
"But I would hold a pretty
wager, sir, that a House like Tellson and Company
was flourishing, a matter of fifty, not to speak of
fifteen years ago?"
"You might treble that, and say
a hundred and fifty, yet not be far from the truth."
Rounding his mouth and both his
eyes, as he stepped backward from the table, the
waiter shifted his napkin from his right arm to his
left, dropped into a comfortable attitude, and stood
surveying the guest while he ate and drank, as from
an observatory or watchtower. According to the
immemorial usage of waiters in all ages.
When Mr. Lorry had finished his
breakfast, he went out for a stroll on the beach.
The little narrow, crooked town of Dover hid itself
away from the beach, and ran its head into the chalk
cliffs, like a marine ostrich. The beach was a
desert of heaps of sea and stones tumbling wildly
about, and the sea did what it liked, and what it
liked was destruction. It thundered at the town, and
thundered at the cliffs, and brought the coast down,
madly. The air among the houses was of so strong a
piscatory flavour that one might have supposed sick
fish went up to be dipped in it, as sick people went
down to be dipped in the sea. A little fishing was
done in the port, and a quantity of strolling about
by night, and looking seaward: particularly at those
times when the tide made, and was near flood. Small
tradesmen, who did no business whatever, sometimes
unaccountably realised large fortunes, and it was
remarkable that nobody in the neighbourhood could
endure a lamplighter.
As the day declined into the
afternoon, and the air, which had been at intervals
clear enough to allow the French coast to be seen,
became again charged with mist and vapour, Mr.
Lorry's thoughts seemed to cloud too. When it was
dark, and he sat before the coffee-room fire,
awaiting his dinner as he had awaited his breakfast,
his mind was busily digging, digging, digging, in
the live red coals.
A bottle of good claret after
dinner does a digger in the red coals no harm,
otherwise than as it has a tendency to throw him out
of work. Mr. Lorry had been idle a long time, and
had just poured out his last glassful of wine with
as complete an appearance of satisfaction as is ever
to be found in an elderly gentleman of a fresh
complexion who has got to the end of a bottle, when
a rattling of wheels came up the narrow street, and
rumbled into the inn-yard.
He set down his glass untouched.
"This is Mam'selle!" said he.
In a very few minutes the waiter
came in to announce that Miss Manette had arrived
from London, and would be happy to see the gentleman
Miss Manette had taken some
refreshment on the road, and required none then, and
was extremely anxious to see the gentleman from
Tellson's immediately, if it suited his pleasure and
The gentleman from Tellson's had
nothing left for it but to empty his glass with an
air of stolid desperation, settle his odd little
flaxen wig at the ears, and follow the waiter to
Miss Manette's apartment. It was a large, dark room,
furnished in a funereal manner with black horsehair,
and loaded with heavy dark tables. These had been
oiled and oiled, until the two tall candles on the
table in the middle of the room were gloomily
reflected on every leaf; as if they were
buried, in deep graves of black mahogany, and no
light to speak of could be expected from them until
they were dug out.
The obscurity was so difficult
to penetrate that Mr. Lorry, picking his way over
the well-worn Turkey carpet, supposed Miss Manette
to be, for the moment, in some adjacent room, until,
having got past the two tall candles, he saw
standing to receive him by the table between them
and the fire, a young lady of not more than
seventeen, in a riding-cloak, and still holding her
straw travelling-hat by its ribbon in her hand. As
his eyes rested on a short, slight, pretty figure, a
quantity of golden hair, a pair of blue eyes that
met his own with an inquiring look, and a forehead
with a singular capacity (remembering how young and
smooth it was), of rifting and knitting itself into
an expression that was not quite one of perplexity,
or wonder, or alarm, or merely of a bright fixed
attention, though it included all the four
expressions—as his eyes rested on these things, a
sudden vivid likeness passed before him, of a child
whom he had held in his arms on the passage across
that very Channel, one cold time, when the hail
drifted heavily and the sea ran high. The likeness
passed away, like a breath along the surface of the
gaunt pier-glass behind her, on the frame of which,
a hospital procession of negro cupids, several
headless and all cripples, were offering black
baskets of Dead Sea fruit to black divinities of the
feminine gender—and he made his formal bow to Miss
"Pray take a seat, sir." In a
very clear and pleasant young voice; a little
foreign in its accent, but a very little indeed.
"I kiss your hand, miss," said
Mr. Lorry, with the manners of an earlier date, as
he made his formal bow again, and took his seat.
"I received a letter from the
Bank, sir, yesterday, informing me that some
"The word is not material, miss;
either word will do."
"—respecting the small property
of my poor father, whom I never saw—so long dead—"
Mr. Lorry moved in his chair,
and cast a troubled look towards the hospital
procession of negro cupids. As if they had
any help for anybody in their absurd baskets!
"—rendered it necessary that I
should go to Paris, there to communicate with a
gentleman of the Bank, so good as to be despatched
to Paris for the purpose."
"As I was prepared to hear,
She curtseyed to him (young
ladies made curtseys in those days), with a pretty
desire to convey to him that she felt how much older
and wiser he was than she. He made her another bow.
"I replied to the Bank, sir,
that as it was considered necessary, by those who
know, and who are so kind as to advise me, that I
should go to France, and that as I am an orphan and
have no friend who could go with me, I should esteem
it highly if I might be permitted to place myself,
during the journey, under that worthy gentleman's
protection. The gentleman had left London, but I
think a messenger was sent after him to beg the
favour of his waiting for me here."
"I was happy," said Mr. Lorry,
"to be entrusted with the charge. I shall be more
happy to execute it."
"Sir, I thank you indeed. I
thank you very gratefully. It was told me by the
Bank that the gentleman would explain to me the
details of the business, and that I must prepare
myself to find them of a surprising nature. I have
done my best to prepare myself, and I naturally have
a strong and eager interest to know what they are."
"Naturally," said Mr. Lorry.
After a pause, he added, again
settling the crisp flaxen wig at the ears, "It is
very difficult to begin."
He did not begin, but, in his
indecision, met her glance. The young forehead
lifted itself into that singular expression—but it
was pretty and characteristic, besides being
singular—and she raised her hand, as if with an
involuntary action she caught at, or stayed some
"Are you quite a stranger to me,
"Am I not?" Mr. Lorry opened his
hands, and extended them outwards with an
Between the eyebrows and just
over the little feminine nose, the line of which was
as delicate and fine as it was possible to be, the
expression deepened itself as she took her seat
thoughtfully in the chair by which she had hitherto
remained standing. He watched her as she mused, and
the moment she raised her eyes again, went on:
"In your adopted country, I
presume, I cannot do better than address you as a
young English lady, Miss Manette?"
"If you please, sir."
"Miss Manette, I am a man of
business. I have a business charge to acquit myself
of. In your reception of it, don't heed me any more
than if I was a speaking machine—truly, I am not
much else. I will, with your leave, relate to you,
miss, the story of one of our customers."
He seemed wilfully to mistake
the word she had repeated, when he added, in a
hurry, "Yes, customers; in the banking business we
usually call our connection our customers. He was a
French gentleman; a scientific gentleman; a man of
great acquirements—a Doctor."
"Not of Beauvais?"
"Why, yes, of Beauvais. Like
Monsieur Manette, your father, the gentleman was of
Beauvais. Like Monsieur Manette, your father, the
gentleman was of repute in Paris. I had the honour
of knowing him there. Our relations were business
relations, but confidential. I was at that time in
our French House, and had been—oh! twenty years."
"At that time—I may ask, at what
"I speak, miss, of twenty years
ago. He married—an English lady—and I was one of the
trustees. His affairs, like the affairs of many
other French gentlemen and French families, were
entirely in Tellson's hands. In a similar way I am,
or I have been, trustee of one kind or other for
scores of our customers. These are mere business
relations, miss; there is no friendship in them, no
particular interest, nothing like sentiment. I have
passed from one to another, in the course of my
business life, just as I pass from one of our
customers to another in the course of my business
day; in short, I have no feelings; I am a mere
machine. To go on—"
"But this is my father's story,
sir; and I begin to think"—the curiously roughened
forehead was very intent upon him—"that when I was
left an orphan through my mother's surviving my
father only two years, it was you who brought me to
England. I am almost sure it was you."
Mr. Lorry took the hesitating
little hand that confidingly advanced to take his,
and he put it with some ceremony to his lips. He
then conducted the young lady straightway to her
chair again, and, holding the chair-back with his
left hand, and using his right by turns to rub his
chin, pull his wig at the ears, or point what he
said, stood looking down into her face while she sat
looking up into his.
"Miss Manette, it was I.
And you will see how truly I spoke of myself just
now, in saying I had no feelings, and that all the
relations I hold with my fellow-creatures are mere
business relations, when you reflect that I have
never seen you since. No; you have been the ward of
Tellson's House since, and I have been busy with the
other business of Tellson's House since. Feelings! I
have no time for them, no chance of them. I pass my
whole life, miss, in turning an immense pecuniary
After this odd description of
his daily routine of employment, Mr. Lorry flattened
his flaxen wig upon his head with both hands (which
was most unnecessary, for nothing could be flatter
than its shining surface was before), and resumed
his former attitude.
"So far, miss (as you have
remarked), this is the story of your regretted
father. Now comes the difference. If your father had
not died when he did—Don't be frightened! How you
She did, indeed, start. And she
caught his wrist with both her hands.
"Pray," said Mr. Lorry, in a
soothing tone, bringing his left hand from the back
of the chair to lay it on the supplicatory fingers
that clasped him in so violent a tremble: "pray
control your agitation—a matter of business. As I
Her look so discomposed him that
he stopped, wandered, and began anew:
"As I was saying; if Monsieur
Manette had not died; if he had suddenly and
silently disappeared; if he had been spirited away;
if it had not been difficult to guess to what
dreadful place, though no art could trace him; if he
had an enemy in some compatriot who could exercise a
privilege that I in my own time have known the
boldest people afraid to speak of in a whisper,
across the water there; for instance, the privilege
of filling up blank forms for the consignment of any
one to the oblivion of a prison for any length of
time; if his wife had implored the king, the queen,
the court, the clergy, for any tidings of him, and
all quite in vain;—then the history of your father
would have been the history of this unfortunate
gentleman, the Doctor of Beauvais."
"I entreat you to tell me more,
"I will. I am going to. You can
"I can bear anything but the
uncertainty you leave me in at this moment."
"You speak collectedly, and you—are
collected. That's good!" (Though his manner was less
satisfied than his words.) "A matter of business.
Regard it as a matter of business—business that must
be done. Now if this doctor's wife, though a lady of
great courage and spirit, had suffered so intensely
from this cause before her little child was born—"
"The little child was a
"A daughter. A-a-matter of
business—don't be distressed. Miss, if the poor lady
had suffered so intensely before her little child
was born, that she came to the determination of
sparing the poor child the inheritance of any part
of the agony she had known the pains of, by rearing
her in the belief that her father was dead—No, don't
kneel! In Heaven's name why should you kneel to me!"
"For the truth. O dear, good,
compassionate sir, for the truth!"
"A—a matter of business. You
confuse me, and how can I transact business if I am
confused? Let us be clear-headed. If you could
kindly mention now, for instance, what nine times
ninepence are, or how many shillings in twenty
guineas, it would be so encouraging. I should be so
much more at my ease about your state of mind."
Without directly answering to
this appeal, she sat so still when he had very
gently raised her, and the hands that had not ceased
to clasp his wrists were so much more steady than
they had been, that she communicated some
reassurance to Mr. Jarvis Lorry.
"That's right, that's right.
Courage! Business! You have business before you;
useful business. Miss Manette, your mother took this
course with you. And when she died—I believe
broken-hearted—having never slackened her unavailing
search for your father, she left you, at two years
old, to grow to be blooming, beautiful, and happy,
without the dark cloud upon you of living in
uncertainty whether your father soon wore his heart
out in prison, or wasted there through many
As he said the words he looked
down, with an admiring pity, on the flowing golden
hair; as if he pictured to himself that it might
have been already tinged with grey.
"You know that your parents had
no great possession, and that what they had was
secured to your mother and to you. There has been no
new discovery, of money, or of any other property;
He felt his wrist held closer,
and he stopped. The expression in the forehead,
which had so particularly attracted his notice, and
which was now immovable, had deepened into one of
pain and horror.
"But he has been—been found. He
is alive. Greatly changed, it is too probable;
almost a wreck, it is possible; though we will hope
the best. Still, alive. Your father has been taken
to the house of an old servant in Paris, and we are
going there: I, to identify him if I can: you, to
restore him to life, love, duty, rest, comfort."
A shiver ran through her frame,
and from it through his. She said, in a low,
distinct, awe-stricken voice, as if she were saying
it in a dream,
"I am going to see his Ghost! It
will be his Ghost—not him!"
Mr. Lorry quietly chafed the
hands that held his arm. "There, there, there! See
now, see now! The best and the worst are known to
you, now. You are well on your way to the poor
wronged gentleman, and, with a fair sea voyage, and
a fair land journey, you will be soon at his dear
She repeated in the same tone,
sunk to a whisper, "I have been free, I have been
happy, yet his Ghost has never haunted me!"
"Only one thing more," said Mr.
Lorry, laying stress upon it as a wholesome means of
enforcing her attention: "he has been found under
another name; his own, long forgotten or long
concealed. It would be worse than useless now to
inquire which; worse than useless to seek to know
whether he has been for years overlooked, or always
designedly held prisoner. It would be worse than
useless now to make any inquiries, because it would
be dangerous. Better not to mention the subject,
anywhere or in any way, and to remove him—for a
while at all events—out of France. Even I, safe as
an Englishman, and even Tellson's, important as they
are to French credit, avoid all naming of the
matter. I carry about me, not a scrap of writing
openly referring to it. This is a secret service
altogether. My credentials, entries, and memoranda,
are all comprehended in the one line, 'Recalled to
Life;' which may mean anything. But what is the
matter! She doesn't notice a word! Miss Manette!"
Perfectly still and silent, and
not even fallen back in her chair, she sat under his
hand, utterly insensible; with her eyes open and
fixed upon him, and with that last expression
looking as if it were carved or branded into her
forehead. So close was her hold upon his arm, that
he feared to detach himself lest he should hurt her;
therefore he called out loudly for assistance
A wild-looking woman, whom even
in his agitation, Mr. Lorry observed to be all of a
red colour, and to have red hair, and to be dressed
in some extraordinary tight-fitting fashion, and to
have on her head a most wonderful bonnet like a
Grenadier wooden measure, and good measure too, or a
great Stilton cheese, came running into the room in
advance of the inn servants, and soon settled the
question of his detachment from the poor young lady,
by laying a brawny hand upon his chest, and sending
him flying back against the nearest wall.
("I really think this must be a
man!" was Mr. Lorry's breathless reflection,
simultaneously with his coming against the wall.)
"Why, look at you all!" bawled
this figure, addressing the inn servants. "Why don't
you go and fetch things, instead of standing there
staring at me? I am not so much to look at, am I?
Why don't you go and fetch things? I'll let you
know, if you don't bring smelling-salts, cold water,
and vinegar, quick, I will."
There was an immediate dispersal
for these restoratives, and she softly laid the
patient on a sofa, and tended her with great skill
and gentleness: calling her "my precious!" and "my
bird!" and spreading her golden hair aside over her
shoulders with great pride and care.
"And you in brown!" she said,
indignantly turning to Mr. Lorry; "couldn't you tell
her what you had to tell her, without frightening
her to death? Look at her, with her pretty pale face
and her cold hands. Do you call that being a
Mr. Lorry was so exceedingly
disconcerted by a question so hard to answer, that
he could only look on, at a distance, with much
feebler sympathy and humility, while the strong
woman, having banished the inn servants under the
mysterious penalty of "letting them know" something
not mentioned if they stayed there, staring,
recovered her charge by a regular series of
gradations, and coaxed her to lay her drooping head
upon her shoulder.
"I hope she will do well now,"
said Mr. Lorry.
"No thanks to you in brown, if
she does. My darling pretty!"
"I hope," said Mr. Lorry, after
another pause of feeble sympathy and humility, "that
you accompany Miss Manette to France?"
"A likely thing, too!" replied
the strong woman. "If it was ever intended that I
should go across salt water, do you suppose
Providence would have cast my lot in an island?"
This being another question hard
to answer, Mr. Jarvis Lorry withdrew to consider it.
V. The Wine-shop
A large cask of wine had been
dropped and broken, in the street. The accident had
happened in getting it out of a cart; the cask had
tumbled out with a run, the hoops had burst, and it
lay on the stones just outside the door of the
wine-shop, shattered like a walnut-shell.
All the people within reach had
suspended their business, or their idleness, to run
to the spot and drink the wine. The rough, irregular
stones of the street, pointing every way, and
designed, one might have thought, expressly to lame
all living creatures that approached them, had
dammed it into little pools; these were surrounded,
each by its own jostling group or crowd, according
to its size. Some men kneeled down, made scoops of
their two hands joined, and sipped, or tried to help
women, who bent over their shoulders, to sip, before
the wine had all run out between their fingers.
Others, men and women, dipped in the puddles with
little mugs of mutilated earthenware, or even with
handkerchiefs from women's heads, which were
squeezed dry into infants' mouths; others made small
mud-embankments, to stem the wine as it ran; others,
directed by lookers-on up at high windows, darted
here and there, to cut off little streams of wine
that started away in new directions; others devoted
themselves to the sodden and lee-dyed pieces of the
cask, licking, and even champing the moister
wine-rotted fragments with eager relish. There was
no drainage to carry off the wine, and not only did
it all get taken up, but so much mud got taken up
along with it, that there might have been a
scavenger in the street, if anybody acquainted with
it could have believed in such a miraculous
A shrill sound of laughter and
of amused voices—voices of men, women, and
children—resounded in the street while this wine
game lasted. There was little roughness in the
sport, and much playfulness. There was a special
companionship in it, an observable inclination on
the part of every one to join some other one, which
led, especially among the luckier or
lighter-hearted, to frolicsome embraces, drinking of
healths, shaking of hands, and even joining of hands
and dancing, a dozen together. When the wine was
gone, and the places where it had been most abundant
were raked into a gridiron-pattern by fingers, these
demonstrations ceased, as suddenly as they had
broken out. The man who had left his saw sticking in
the firewood he was cutting, set it in motion again;
the women who had left on a door-step the little pot
of hot ashes, at which she had been trying to soften
the pain in her own starved fingers and toes, or in
those of her child, returned to it; men with bare
arms, matted locks, and cadaverous faces, who had
emerged into the winter light from cellars, moved
away, to descend again; and a gloom gathered on the
scene that appeared more natural to it than
The wine was red wine, and had
stained the ground of the narrow street in the
suburb of Saint Antoine, in Paris, where it was
spilled. It had stained many hands, too, and many
faces, and many naked feet, and many wooden shoes.
The hands of the man who sawed the wood, left red
marks on the billets; and the forehead of the woman
who nursed her baby, was stained with the stain of
the old rag she wound about her head again. Those
who had been greedy with the staves of the cask, had
acquired a tigerish smear about the mouth; and one
tall joker so besmirched, his head more out of a
long squalid bag of a nightcap than in it, scrawled
upon a wall with his finger dipped in muddy
The time was to come, when that
wine too would be spilled on the street-stones, and
when the stain of it would be red upon many there.
And now that the cloud settled
on Saint Antoine, which a momentary gleam had driven
from his sacred countenance, the darkness of it was
heavy—cold, dirt, sickness, ignorance, and want,
were the lords in waiting on the saintly
presence—nobles of great power all of them; but,
most especially the last. Samples of a people that
had undergone a terrible grinding and regrinding in
the mill, and certainly not in the fabulous mill
which ground old people young, shivered at every
corner, passed in and out at every doorway, looked
from every window, fluttered in every vestige of a
garment that the wind shook. The mill which had
worked them down, was the mill that grinds young
people old; the children had ancient faces and grave
voices; and upon them, and upon the grown faces, and
ploughed into every furrow of age and coming up
afresh, was the sigh, Hunger. It was prevalent
everywhere. Hunger was pushed out of the tall
houses, in the wretched clothing that hung upon
poles and lines; Hunger was patched into them with
straw and rag and wood and paper; Hunger was
repeated in every fragment of the small modicum of
firewood that the man sawed off; Hunger stared down
from the smokeless chimneys, and started up from the
filthy street that had no offal, among its refuse,
of anything to eat. Hunger was the inscription on
the baker's shelves, written in every small loaf of
his scanty stock of bad bread; at the sausage-shop,
in every dead-dog preparation that was offered for
sale. Hunger rattled its dry bones among the
roasting chestnuts in the turned cylinder; Hunger
was shred into atomics in every farthing porringer
of husky chips of potato, fried with some reluctant
drops of oil.
Its abiding place was in all
things fitted to it. A narrow winding street, full
of offence and stench, with other narrow winding
streets diverging, all peopled by rags and
nightcaps, and all smelling of rags and nightcaps,
and all visible things with a brooding look upon
them that looked ill. In the hunted air of the
people there was yet some wild-beast thought of the
possibility of turning at bay. Depressed and
slinking though they were, eyes of fire were not
wanting among them; nor compressed lips, white with
what they suppressed; nor foreheads knitted into the
likeness of the gallows-rope they mused about
enduring, or inflicting. The trade signs (and they
were almost as many as the shops) were, all, grim
illustrations of Want. The butcher and the porkman
painted up, only the leanest scrags of meat; the
baker, the coarsest of meagre loaves. The people
rudely pictured as drinking in the wine-shops,
croaked over their scanty measures of thin wine and
beer, and were gloweringly confidential together.
Nothing was represented in a flourishing condition,
save tools and weapons; but, the cutler's knives and
axes were sharp and bright, the smith's hammers were
heavy, and the gunmaker's stock was murderous. The
crippling stones of the pavement, with their many
little reservoirs of mud and water, had no footways,
but broke off abruptly at the doors. The kennel, to
make amends, ran down the middle of the street—when
it ran at all: which was only after heavy rains, and
then it ran, by many eccentric fits, into the
houses. Across the streets, at wide intervals, one
clumsy lamp was slung by a rope and pulley; at
night, when the lamplighter had let these down, and
lighted, and hoisted them again, a feeble grove of
dim wicks swung in a sickly manner overhead, as if
they were at sea. Indeed they were at sea, and the
ship and crew were in peril of tempest.
For, the time was to come, when
the gaunt scarecrows of that region should have
watched the lamplighter, in their idleness and
hunger, so long, as to conceive the idea of
improving on his method, and hauling up men by those
ropes and pulleys, to flare upon the darkness of
their condition. But, the time was not come yet; and
every wind that blew over France shook the rags of
the scarecrows in vain, for the birds, fine of song
and feather, took no warning.
The wine-shop was a corner shop,
better than most others in its appearance and
degree, and the master of the wine-shop had stood
outside it, in a yellow waistcoat and green
breeches, looking on at the struggle for the lost
wine. "It's not my affair," said he, with a final
shrug of the shoulders. "The people from the market
did it. Let them bring another."
There, his eyes happening to
catch the tall joker writing up his joke, he called
to him across the way:
"Say, then, my Gaspard, what do
you do there?"
The fellow pointed to his joke
with immense significance, as is often the way with
his tribe. It missed its mark, and completely
failed, as is often the way with his tribe too.
"What now? Are you a subject for
the mad hospital?" said the wine-shop keeper,
crossing the road, and obliterating the jest with a
handful of mud, picked up for the purpose, and
smeared over it. "Why do you write in the public
streets? Is there—tell me thou—is there no other
place to write such words in?"
In his expostulation he dropped
his cleaner hand (perhaps accidentally, perhaps not)
upon the joker's heart. The joker rapped it with his
own, took a nimble spring upward, and came down in a
fantastic dancing attitude, with one of his stained
shoes jerked off his foot into his hand, and held
out. A joker of an extremely, not to say wolfishly
practical character, he looked, under those
"Put it on, put it on," said the
other. "Call wine, wine; and finish there." With
that advice, he wiped his soiled hand upon the
joker's dress, such as it was—quite deliberately, as
having dirtied the hand on his account; and then
recrossed the road and entered the wine-shop.
This wine-shop keeper was a
bull-necked, martial-looking man of thirty, and he
should have been of a hot temperament, for, although
it was a bitter day, he wore no coat, but carried
one slung over his shoulder. His shirt-sleeves were
rolled up, too, and his brown arms were bare to the
elbows. Neither did he wear anything more on his
head than his own crisply-curling short dark hair.
He was a dark man altogether, with good eyes and a
good bold breadth between them. Good-humoured
looking on the whole, but implacable-looking, too;
evidently a man of a strong resolution and a set
purpose; a man not desirable to be met, rushing down
a narrow pass with a gulf on either side, for
nothing would turn the man.
Madame Defarge, his wife, sat in
the shop behind the counter as he came in. Madame
Defarge was a stout woman of about his own age, with
a watchful eye that seldom seemed to look at
anything, a large hand heavily ringed, a steady
face, strong features, and great composure of
manner. There was a character about Madame Defarge,
from which one might have predicated that she did
not often make mistakes against herself in any of
the reckonings over which she presided. Madame
Defarge being sensitive to cold, was wrapped in fur,
and had a quantity of bright shawl twined about her
head, though not to the concealment of her large
earrings. Her knitting was before her, but she had
laid it down to pick her teeth with a toothpick.
Thus engaged, with her right elbow supported by her
left hand, Madame Defarge said nothing when her lord
came in, but coughed just one grain of cough. This,
in combination with the lifting of her darkly
defined eyebrows over her toothpick by the breadth
of a line, suggested to her husband that he would do
well to look round the shop among the customers, for
any new customer who had dropped in while he stepped
over the way.
The wine-shop keeper accordingly
rolled his eyes about, until they rested upon an
elderly gentleman and a young lady, who were seated
in a corner. Other company were there: two playing
cards, two playing dominoes, three standing by the
counter lengthening out a short supply of wine. As
he passed behind the counter, he took notice that
the elderly gentleman said in a look to the young
lady, "This is our man."
"What the devil do you do
in that galley there?" said Monsieur Defarge to
himself; "I don't know you."
But, he feigned not to notice
the two strangers, and fell into discourse with the
triumvirate of customers who were drinking at the
"How goes it, Jacques?" said one
of these three to Monsieur Defarge. "Is all the
spilt wine swallowed?"
"Every drop, Jacques," answered
When this interchange of
Christian name was effected, Madame Defarge, picking
her teeth with her toothpick, coughed another grain
of cough, and raised her eyebrows by the breadth of
"It is not often," said the
second of the three, addressing Monsieur Defarge,
"that many of these miserable beasts know the taste
of wine, or of anything but black bread and death.
Is it not so, Jacques?"
"It is so, Jacques," Monsieur
At this second interchange of
the Christian name, Madame Defarge, still using her
toothpick with profound composure, coughed another
grain of cough, and raised her eyebrows by the
breadth of another line.
The last of the three now said
his say, as he put down his empty drinking vessel
and smacked his lips.
"Ah! So much the worse! A bitter
taste it is that such poor cattle always have in
their mouths, and hard lives they live, Jacques. Am
I right, Jacques?"
"You are right, Jacques," was
the response of Monsieur Defarge.
This third interchange of the
Christian name was completed at the moment when
Madame Defarge put her toothpick by, kept her
eyebrows up, and slightly rustled in her seat.
"Hold then! True!" muttered her
husband. "Gentlemen—my wife!"
The three customers pulled off
their hats to Madame Defarge, with three flourishes.
She acknowledged their homage by bending her head,
and giving them a quick look. Then she glanced in a
casual manner round the wine-shop, took up her
knitting with great apparent calmness and repose of
spirit, and became absorbed in it.
"Gentlemen," said her husband,
who had kept his bright eye observantly upon her,
"good day. The chamber, furnished bachelor-fashion,
that you wished to see, and were inquiring for when
I stepped out, is on the fifth floor. The doorway of
the staircase gives on the little courtyard close to
the left here," pointing with his hand, "near to the
window of my establishment. But, now that I
remember, one of you has already been there, and can
show the way. Gentlemen, adieu!"
They paid for their wine, and
left the place. The eyes of Monsieur Defarge were
studying his wife at her knitting when the elderly
gentleman advanced from his corner, and begged the
favour of a word.
"Willingly, sir," said Monsieur
Defarge, and quietly stepped with him to the door.
Their conference was very short,
but very decided. Almost at the first word, Monsieur
Defarge started and became deeply attentive. It had
not lasted a minute, when he nodded and went out.
The gentleman then beckoned to the young lady, and
they, too, went out. Madame Defarge knitted with
nimble fingers and steady eyebrows, and saw nothing.
Mr. Jarvis Lorry and Miss
Manette, emerging from the wine-shop thus, joined
Monsieur Defarge in the doorway to which he had
directed his own company just before. It opened from
a stinking little black courtyard, and was the
general public entrance to a great pile of houses,
inhabited by a great number of people. In the gloomy
tile-paved entry to the gloomy tile-paved staircase,
Monsieur Defarge bent down on one knee to the child
of his old master, and put her hand to his lips. It
was a gentle action, but not at all gently done; a
very remarkable transformation had come over him in
a few seconds. He had no good-humour in his face,
nor any openness of aspect left, but had become a
secret, angry, dangerous man.
"It is very high; it is a little
difficult. Better to begin slowly." Thus, Monsieur
Defarge, in a stern voice, to Mr. Lorry, as they
began ascending the stairs.
"Is he alone?" the latter
"Alone! God help him, who should
be with him!" said the other, in the same low voice.
"Is he always alone, then?"
"Of his own desire?"
"Of his own necessity. As he
was, when I first saw him after they found me and
demanded to know if I would take him, and, at my
peril be discreet—as he was then, so he is now."
"He is greatly changed?"
The keeper of the wine-shop
stopped to strike the wall with his hand, and mutter
a tremendous curse. No direct answer could have been
half so forcible. Mr. Lorry's spirits grew heavier
and heavier, as he and his two companions ascended
higher and higher.
Such a staircase, with its
accessories, in the older and more crowded parts of
Paris, would be bad enough now; but, at that time,
it was vile indeed to unaccustomed and unhardened
senses. Every little habitation within the great
foul nest of one high building—that is to say, the
room or rooms within every door that opened on the
general staircase—left its own heap of refuse on its
own landing, besides flinging other refuse from its
own windows. The uncontrollable and hopeless mass of
decomposition so engendered, would have polluted the
air, even if poverty and deprivation had not loaded
it with their intangible impurities; the two bad
sources combined made it almost insupportable.
Through such an atmosphere, by a steep dark shaft of
dirt and poison, the way lay. Yielding to his own
disturbance of mind, and to his young companion's
agitation, which became greater every instant, Mr.
Jarvis Lorry twice stopped to rest. Each of these
stoppages was made at a doleful grating, by which
any languishing good airs that were left
uncorrupted, seemed to escape, and all spoilt and
sickly vapours seemed to crawl in. Through the
rusted bars, tastes, rather than glimpses, were
caught of the jumbled neighbourhood; and nothing
within range, nearer or lower than the summits of
the two great towers of Notre-Dame, had any promise
on it of healthy life or wholesome aspirations.
At last, the top of the
staircase was gained, and they stopped for the third
time. There was yet an upper staircase, of a steeper
inclination and of contracted dimensions, to be
ascended, before the garret story was reached. The
keeper of the wine-shop, always going a little in
advance, and always going on the side which Mr.
Lorry took, as though he dreaded to be asked any
question by the young lady, turned himself about
here, and, carefully feeling in the pockets of the
coat he carried over his shoulder, took out a key.
"The door is locked then, my
friend?" said Mr. Lorry, surprised.
"Ay. Yes," was the grim reply of
"You think it necessary to keep
the unfortunate gentleman so retired?"
"I think it necessary to turn
the key." Monsieur Defarge whispered it closer in
his ear, and frowned heavily.
"Why! Because he has lived so
long, locked up, that he would be
frightened—rave—tear himself to pieces—die—come to I
know not what harm—if his door was left open."
"Is it possible!" exclaimed Mr.
"Is it possible!" repeated
Defarge, bitterly. "Yes. And a beautiful world we
live in, when it is possible, and when many
other such things are possible, and not only
possible, but done—done, see you!—under that sky
there, every day. Long live the Devil. Let us go
This dialogue had been held in
so very low a whisper, that not a word of it had
reached the young lady's ears. But, by this time she
trembled under such strong emotion, and her face
expressed such deep anxiety, and, above all, such
dread and terror, that Mr. Lorry felt it incumbent
on him to speak a word or two of reassurance.
"Courage, dear miss! Courage!
Business! The worst will be over in a moment; it is
but passing the room-door, and the worst is over.
Then, all the good you bring to him, all the relief,
all the happiness you bring to him, begin. Let our
good friend here, assist you on that side. That's
well, friend Defarge. Come, now. Business,
They went up slowly and softly.
The staircase was short, and they were soon at the
top. There, as it had an abrupt turn in it, they
came all at once in sight of three men, whose heads
were bent down close together at the side of a door,
and who were intently looking into the room to which
the door belonged, through some chinks or holes in
the wall. On hearing footsteps close at hand, these
three turned, and rose, and showed themselves to be
the three of one name who had been drinking in the
"I forgot them in the surprise
of your visit," explained Monsieur Defarge. "Leave
us, good boys; we have business here."
The three glided by, and went
There appearing to be no other
door on that floor, and the keeper of the wine-shop
going straight to this one when they were left
alone, Mr. Lorry asked him in a whisper, with a
"Do you make a show of Monsieur
"I show him, in the way you have
seen, to a chosen few."
"Is that well?"
"I think it is well."
"Who are the few? How do you
"I choose them as real men, of
my name—Jacques is my name—to whom the sight is
likely to do good. Enough; you are English; that is
another thing. Stay there, if you please, a little
With an admonitory gesture to
keep them back, he stooped, and looked in through
the crevice in the wall. Soon raising his head
again, he struck twice or thrice upon the
door—evidently with no other object than to make a
noise there. With the same intention, he drew the
key across it, three or four times, before he put it
clumsily into the lock, and turned it as heavily as
The door slowly opened inward
under his hand, and he looked into the room and said
something. A faint voice answered something. Little
more than a single syllable could have been spoken
on either side.
He looked back over his
shoulder, and beckoned them to enter. Mr. Lorry got
his arm securely round the daughter's waist, and
held her; for he felt that she was sinking.
"A-a-a-business, business!" he
urged, with a moisture that was not of business
shining on his cheek. "Come in, come in!"
"I am afraid of it," she
"Of it? What?"
"I mean of him. Of my father."
Rendered in a manner desperate,
by her state and by the beckoning of their
conductor, he drew over his neck the arm that shook
upon his shoulder, lifted her a little, and hurried
her into the room. He sat her down just within the
door, and held her, clinging to him.
Defarge drew out the key, closed
the door, locked it on the inside, took out the key
again, and held it in his hand. All this he did,
methodically, and with as loud and harsh an
accompaniment of noise as he could make. Finally, he
walked across the room with a measured tread to
where the window was. He stopped there, and faced
The garret, built to be a
depository for firewood and the like, was dim and
dark: for, the window of dormer shape, was in truth
a door in the roof, with a little crane over it for
the hoisting up of stores from the street: unglazed,
and closing up the middle in two pieces, like any
other door of French construction. To exclude the
cold, one half of this door was fast closed, and the
other was opened but a very little way. Such a
scanty portion of light was admitted through these
means, that it was difficult, on first coming in, to
see anything; and long habit alone could have slowly
formed in any one, the ability to do any work
requiring nicety in such obscurity. Yet, work of
that kind was being done in the garret; for, with
his back towards the door, and his face towards the
window where the keeper of the wine-shop stood
looking at him, a white-haired man sat on a low
bench, stooping forward and very busy, making shoes.
VI. The Shoemaker
"Good day!" said Monsieur
Defarge, looking down at the white head that bent
low over the shoemaking.
It was raised for a moment, and
a very faint voice responded to the salutation, as
if it were at a distance:
"You are still hard at work, I
After a long silence, the head
was lifted for another moment, and the voice
replied, "Yes—I am working." This time, a pair of
haggard eyes had looked at the questioner, before
the face had dropped again.
The faintness of the voice was
pitiable and dreadful. It was not the faintness of
physical weakness, though confinement and hard fare
no doubt had their part in it. Its deplorable
peculiarity was, that it was the faintness of
solitude and disuse. It was like the last feeble
echo of a sound made long and long ago. So entirely
had it lost the life and resonance of the human
voice, that it affected the senses like a once
beautiful colour faded away into a poor weak stain.
So sunken and suppressed it was, that it was like a
voice underground. So expressive it was, of a
hopeless and lost creature, that a famished
traveller, wearied out by lonely wandering in a
wilderness, would have remembered home and friends
in such a tone before lying down to die.
Some minutes of silent work had
passed: and the haggard eyes had looked up again:
not with any interest or curiosity, but with a dull
mechanical perception, beforehand, that the spot
where the only visitor they were aware of had stood,
was not yet empty.
"I want," said Defarge, who had
not removed his gaze from the shoemaker, "to let in
a little more light here. You can bear a little
The shoemaker stopped his work;
looked with a vacant air of listening, at the floor
on one side of him; then similarly, at the floor on
the other side of him; then, upward at the speaker.
"What did you say?"
"You can bear a little more
"I must bear it, if you let it
in." (Laying the palest shadow of a stress upon the
The opened half-door was opened
a little further, and secured at that angle for the
time. A broad ray of light fell into the garret, and
showed the workman with an unfinished shoe upon his
lap, pausing in his labour. His few common tools and
various scraps of leather were at his feet and on
his bench. He had a white beard, raggedly cut, but
not very long, a hollow face, and exceedingly bright
eyes. The hollowness and thinness of his face would
have caused them to look large, under his yet dark
eyebrows and his confused white hair, though they
had been really otherwise; but, they were naturally
large, and looked unnaturally so. His yellow rags of
shirt lay open at the throat, and showed his body to
be withered and worn. He, and his old canvas frock,
and his loose stockings, and all his poor tatters of
clothes, had, in a long seclusion from direct light
and air, faded down to such a dull uniformity of
parchment-yellow, that it would have been hard to
say which was which.
He had put up a hand between his
eyes and the light, and the very bones of it seemed
transparent. So he sat, with a steadfastly vacant
gaze, pausing in his work. He never looked at the
figure before him, without first looking down on
this side of himself, then on that, as if he had
lost the habit of associating place with sound; he
never spoke, without first wandering in this manner,
and forgetting to speak.
"Are you going to finish that
pair of shoes to-day?" asked Defarge, 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 it again.
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, the
shoemaker looked up. He showed no surprise at seeing
another figure, but the unsteady fingers of one of
his hands strayed to his lips as he looked at it
(his lips and his nails were of the same pale
lead-colour), and then the hand dropped to his work,
and he once more bent over the shoe. The look and
the action had occupied but an instant.
"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 hand from his work.
"Come!" said Defarge. "Here is
monsieur, who knows a well-made shoe when he sees
one. Show him that shoe you are working at. Take it,
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's information?"
"It is a lady's shoe. It is a
young lady's walking-shoe. It is in the present
mode. I never saw the mode. I have had a pattern in
my hand." He glanced at the shoe with some little
passing touch of pride.
"And the maker's name?" said
Now that he had no work to hold,
he laid the knuckles of the right hand in the hollow
of the left, and then the knuckles of the left hand
in the hollow of the right, and then passed a hand
across his bearded chin, and so on in regular
changes, without a moment's intermission. The task
of recalling him from the vagrancy into which he
always sank when he had spoken, was like recalling
some very weak person from a swoon, or endeavouring,
in the hope of some disclosure, to stay the spirit
of a fast-dying man.
"Did you ask me for my name?"
"Assuredly I did."
"One Hundred and Five, North
"Is that all?"
"One Hundred and Five, North
With a weary sound that was not
a sigh, nor a groan, he bent to work again, until
the silence was again broken.
"You are not a shoemaker by
trade?" said Mr. Lorry, looking steadfastly at him.
His haggard eyes turned to
Defarge as if he would have transferred the question
to him: but as no help came from that quarter, they
turned back on the questioner when they had sought
"I am not a shoemaker by trade?
No, I was not a shoemaker by trade. I-I learnt it
here. I taught myself. I asked leave to—"
He lapsed away, even for
minutes, ringing those measured changes on his hands
the whole time. His eyes came slowly back, at last,
to the face from which they had wandered; when they
rested on it, he started, 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 difficulty after 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 the questioner.
"Monsieur Manette"; Mr. Lorry
laid his hand upon Defarge's arm; "do you remember
nothing of this man? Look at him. Look at me. Is
there no old banker, no old business, no old
servant, no old time, rising in your mind, Monsieur
As the captive of many years sat
looking fixedly, by turns, at Mr. Lorry and at
Defarge, some long obliterated marks of an actively
intent intelligence in the middle of the forehead,
gradually forced themselves through the black mist
that had fallen on him. They were overclouded again,
they were fainter, they were gone; but they had been
there. And so exactly was the expression repeated on
the fair young face of her who had crept along the
wall to a point where she could see him, and where
she now stood looking at him, with hands which at
first had been only raised in frightened compassion,
if not even to keep him off and shut out the sight
of him, but which were now extending towards him,
trembling with eagerness to lay the spectral face
upon her warm young breast, and love it back to life
and hope—so exactly was the expression repeated
(though in stronger characters) on her fair young
face, that it looked as though it had passed like a
moving 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
sought the ground and looked about him in the old
way. Finally, with a deep long 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 have unquestionably
seen, for a single moment, the face that I once knew
so well. Hush! Let us draw further back. Hush!"
She had moved from the wall of
the garret, very near to the bench on which he sat.
There was something awful in his unconsciousness of
the figure that could have put out its hand and
touched him as he stooped over his labour.
Not a word was spoken, not a
sound was made. She stood, like a spirit, beside
him, and he bent over his work.
It happened, at length, that he
had occasion to change the instrument in his hand,
for his shoemaker's knife. It lay on that side of
him which was not the side on which she stood. He
had taken it up, and was stooping to work again,
when his eyes caught the skirt of her dress. He
raised them, and saw her face. The two spectators
started forward, but she stayed them with a motion
of her hand. She had 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 lips began to form some
words, though no sound proceeded from them. By
degrees, in the pauses of his quick and laboured
breathing, he was heard to say:
"What is this?"
With the tears streaming down
her face, she put her two hands to her lips, and
kissed them to him; then clasped them on her breast,
as if she laid his ruined head there.
"You are not the gaoler's
She sighed "No."
"Who are you?"
Not yet trusting the tones of
her voice, she sat down on the bench beside him. He
recoiled, but she laid her hand upon his arm. A
strange thrill struck him when she did so, and
visibly passed over his frame; he laid the knife
down softly, as he sat staring at her.
Her golden hair, which she wore
in long curls, had been hurriedly pushed aside, and
fell down over her neck. Advancing his hand by
little and little, he took it up and looked at it.
In the midst of the action he went astray, and, with
another deep sigh, fell to work at his shoemaking.
But not for long. Releasing his
arm, she laid her hand upon his shoulder. After
looking doubtfully at it, two or three times, as if
to be sure that it was really there, he laid down
his work, put his hand to his neck, and took off a
blackened string with a scrap of folded rag attached
to it. He opened this, carefully, on his knee, and
it contained a very little quantity of hair: not
more than one or two long golden hairs, which he
had, in some old day, wound off upon his 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 seemed to become
conscious that it was in hers too. He turned her
full to the light, and looked at her.
"She had laid her head upon my
shoulder, that night when I was summoned out—she had
a fear of my going, though I had none—and when 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. I remember
them very well."
He formed this speech with his
lips many times before he could utter it. But when
he did find spoken words for it, they came to him
coherently, though slowly.
"How was this?—Was it you?"
Once more, the two spectators
started, as he turned upon her with a frightful
suddenness. But she sat perfectly still in his
grasp, and only said, in a low voice, "I entreat
you, good gentlemen, do not 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 his white hair,
which they tore in a frenzy. It died out, as
everything but his shoemaking did die out of him,
and he refolded his little packet and tried to
secure it in his breast; but he still looked at her,
and gloomily shook his head.
"No, no, no; you are too young,
too blooming. It can't be. See what the prisoner is.
These are not the hands she knew, this is not the
face she knew, this is not a voice she ever heard.
No, no. She was—and He was—before the slow years of
the North Tower—ages ago. What is your name, my
Hailing his softened tone and
manner, his daughter fell upon her knees before him,
with her appealing hands upon his breast.
"O, sir, at another time you
shall know my name, and who my mother was, 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. All that I may tell you, here
and now, is, that I pray to you to touch me and to
bless me. Kiss me, kiss me! O my dear, my dear!"
His cold white head mingled with
her radiant hair, which warmed and 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 hope it is—if you hear in
my voice any resemblance to a voice that once was
sweet music in your ears, weep for it, weep for it!
If you touch, in touching my hair, anything that
recalls a beloved head that 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,
where I will be true to you with all my duty and
with all my faithful service, I bring back the
remembrance of a Home long desolate, while your poor
heart pined away, weep for it, weep for it!"
She held him closer round the
neck, and rocked him on her breast like a child.
"If, when I tell you, dearest
dear, that your agony is over, and that I have come
here to take you from it, and that we go to England
to be at peace and at rest, I cause you to think of
your useful life laid 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 my
father who is living, and of my mother who is dead,
you learn that I have to kneel to my honoured
father, and implore his pardon for having never for
his sake striven all day and lain awake and wept all
night, 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! Good gentlemen, thank God! I
feel his sacred tears upon my face, and his sobs
strike against my heart. O, see! Thank God for us,
He had sunk in her arms, and his
face dropped on her breast: a sight so touching, yet
so terrible in the tremendous wrong and suffering
which had gone before it, that the two beholders
covered their faces.
When the quiet of the garret had
been long undisturbed, and his heaving breast and
shaken form had long yielded to the calm that must
follow all storms—emblem to humanity, of the rest
and silence into which the storm called Life must
hush at last—they came forward to raise the father
and daughter from the ground. He had gradually
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, from the very door, he could be
"But, consider. Is he fit for
the journey?" asked Mr. Lorry.
"More fit for that, I think,
than to remain in this city, so dreadful 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 of
France. Say, shall I hire a carriage and
"That's business," said Mr.
Lorry, resuming on the shortest notice his
methodical manners; "and if business is to be done,
I had better do it."
"Then be so kind," urged Miss
Manette, "as to leave us here. You see how composed
he has become, and you cannot be afraid to leave him
with me now. Why should you be? If you will lock the
door to secure us from interruption, I do not doubt
that you will find him, when you come back, as quiet
as you leave him. In any case, I will take care of
him until you return, and then we will remove him
Both Mr. Lorry and Defarge were
rather disinclined to this course, and in favour of
one of them remaining. But, as there were not only
carriage and horses to be seen to, but travelling
papers; and as time pressed, for the day was drawing
to an end, it came at last to their hastily dividing
the business that was necessary to be done, and
hurrying away to do it.
Then, as the darkness closed in,
the daughter laid her head down on the hard ground
close at the father's side, and watched him. The
darkness deepened and deepened, and they both lay
quiet, until a light gleamed through the chinks in
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 this provender, and the lamp he carried,
on the shoemaker's bench (there was nothing else in
the garret but a pallet bed), and he and Mr. Lorry
roused 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 had
happened, whether he recollected what they had said
to him, whether he knew that he was free, were
questions which no sagacity could have solved. They
tried speaking to him; but, he was so confused, and
so very slow to answer, that they took fright at his
bewilderment, and agreed for the time to tamper with
him no more. He had a wild, lost manner of
occasionally clasping his head in his hands, that
had not been seen in him before; yet, he had some
pleasure in the mere sound of 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 the cloak and other wrappings, that they gave him
to wear. He readily responded to his daughter's
drawing her arm through his, and took—and kept—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 many
steps of the long main staircase when he stopped,
and stared at the roof 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 answer as if she had
"Remember? No, I don't remember.
It was so very long ago."
That he had no recollection
whatever of his having been brought from his 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 long encompassed
him. On their reaching the courtyard he
instinctively altered his tread, as being in
expectation of a drawbridge; and when there was no
drawbridge, and he saw the carriage waiting in the
open street, he dropped his daughter's hand and
clasped his head again.
No crowd was about the door; no
people were discernible at any of the many windows;
not even a chance passerby was in the street. An
unnatural silence and desertion reigned there. Only
one soul was to be seen, 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 followed him, when Mr.
Lorry's feet were arrested on the step by his
asking, miserably, for his shoemaking tools and the
unfinished shoes. Madame Defarge immediately called
to her husband that she would get them, and went,
knitting, out of the lamplight, through the
courtyard. She quickly brought them down and handed
them in;—and immediately afterwards leaned against
the door-post, knitting, and saw nothing.
Defarge got upon the box, and
gave the word "To the Barrier!" The postilion
cracked his whip, and they clattered away under the
feeble over-swinging lamps.
Under the over-swinging
lamps—swinging ever brighter in the better streets,
and ever dimmer in the worse—and by lighted shops,
gay crowds, illuminated coffee-houses, and
theatre-doors, to one of the city gates. Soldiers
with lanterns, at the guard-house there. "Your
papers, travellers!" "See here then, Monsieur the
Officer," said Defarge, getting down, and taking him
gravely apart, "these are the papers of monsieur
inside, with the white head. They were consigned to
me, with him, at the—" He dropped his voice, there
was a flutter among the military lanterns, and one
of them being handed into the coach 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 white head. "It is well. Forward!" from the
uniform. "Adieu!" from Defarge. And so, under a
short grove of feebler and feebler over-swinging
lamps, out under the great grove of stars.
Beneath that arch of unmoved and
eternal lights; some, so remote from this little
earth that the learned tell us it is doubtful
whether their rays have even yet discovered it, as a
point in space where anything is suffered or done:
the shadows of the night were broad and black. All
through the cold and restless interval, until dawn,
they once more whispered in the ears of Mr. Jarvis
Lorry—sitting opposite the buried man who had been
dug out, and wondering what subtle powers were for
ever lost to him, and what were capable of
restoration—the old inquiry:
"I hope you care to be recalled
And the old answer:
"I can't say."