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A Tale of two Cities

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CHAPTER XVI.
Still Knitting


Madame Defarge and monsieur her husband returned amicably to the bosom of Saint Antoine, while a speck in a blue cap toiled through the darkness, and through the dust, and down the weary miles of avenue by the wayside, slowly tending towards that point of the compass where the chateau of Monsieur the Marquis, now in his grave, listened to the whispering trees. Such ample leisure had the stone faces, now, for listening to the trees and to the fountain, that the few village scarecrows who, in their quest for herbs to eat and fragments of dead stick to burn, strayed within sight of the great stone courtyard and terrace staircase, had it borne in upon their starved fancy that the expression of the faces was altered. A rumour just lived in the village—had a faint and bare existence there, as its people had—that when the knife struck home, the faces changed, from faces of pride to faces of anger and pain; also, that when that dangling figure was hauled up forty feet above the fountain, they changed again, and bore a cruel look of being avenged, which they would henceforth bear for ever. In the stone face over the great window of the bed-chamber where the murder was done, two fine dints were pointed out in the sculptured nose, which everybody recognised, and which nobody had seen of old; and on the scarce occasions when two or three ragged peasants emerged from the crowd to take a hurried peep at Monsieur the Marquis petrified, a skinny finger would not have pointed to it for a minute, before they all started away among the moss and leaves, like the more fortunate hares who could find a living there.

Chateau and hut, stone face and dangling figure, the red stain on the stone floor, and the pure water in the village well—thousands of acres of land—a whole province of France—all France itself—lay under the night sky, concentrated into a faint hair-breadth line. So does a whole world, with all its greatnesses and littlenesses, lie in a twinkling star. And as mere human knowledge can split a ray of light and analyse the manner of its composition, so, sublimer intelligences may read in the feeble shining of this earth of ours, every thought and act, every vice and virtue, of every responsible creature on it.

The Defarges, husband and wife, came lumbering under the starlight, in their public vehicle, to that gate of Paris whereunto their journey naturally tended. There was the usual stoppage at the barrier guardhouse, and the usual lanterns came glancing forth for the usual examination and inquiry. Monsieur Defarge alighted; knowing one or two of the soldiery there, and one of the police. The latter he was intimate with, and affectionately embraced.

When Saint Antoine had again enfolded the Defarges in his dusky wings, and they, having finally alighted near the Saint’s boundaries, were picking their way on foot through the black mud and offal of his streets, Madame Defarge spoke to her husband:

“Say then, my friend; what did Jacques of the police tell thee?”

“Very little to-night, but all he knows. There is another spy commissioned for our quarter. There may be many more, for all that he can say, but he knows of one.”

“Eh well!” said Madame Defarge, raising her eyebrows with a cool business air. “It is necessary to register him. How do they call that man?”

“He is English.”

“So much the better. His name?”

“Barsad,” said Defarge, making it French by pronunciation. But, he had been so careful to get it accurately, that he then spelt it with perfect correctness.

“Barsad,” repeated madame. “Good. Christian name?”

“John.”

“John Barsad,” repeated madame, after murmuring it once to herself. “Good. His appearance; is it known?”

“Age, about forty years; height, about five feet nine; black hair; complexion dark; generally, rather handsome visage; eyes dark, face thin, long, and sallow; nose aquiline, but not straight, having a peculiar inclination towards the left cheek; expression, therefore, sinister.”

“Eh my faith. It is a portrait!” said madame, laughing. “He shall be registered to-morrow.”

They turned into the wine-shop, which was closed (for it was midnight), and where Madame Defarge immediately took her post at her desk, counted the small moneys that had been taken during her absence, examined the stock, went through the entries in the book, made other entries of her own, checked the serving man in every possible way, and finally dismissed him to bed. Then she turned out the contents of the bowl of money for the second time, and began knotting them up in her handkerchief, in a chain of separate knots, for safe keeping through the night. All this while, Defarge, with his pipe in his mouth, walked up and down, complacently admiring, but never interfering; in which condition, indeed, as to the business and his domestic affairs, he walked up and down through life.

The night was hot, and the shop, close shut and surrounded by so foul a neighbourhood, was ill-smelling. Monsieur Defarge’s olfactory sense was by no means delicate, but the stock of wine smelt much stronger than it ever tasted, and so did the stock of rum and brandy and aniseed. He whiffed the compound of scents away, as he put down his smoked-out pipe.

“You are fatigued,” said madame, raising her glance as she knotted the money. “There are only the usual odours.”

“I am a little tired,” her husband acknowledged.

“You are a little depressed, too,” said madame, whose quick eyes had never been so intent on the accounts, but they had had a ray or two for him. “Oh, the men, the men!”

“But my dear!” began Defarge.

“But my dear!” repeated madame, nodding firmly; “but my dear! You are faint of heart to-night, my dear!”

“Well, then,” said Defarge, as if a thought were wrung out of his breast, “it is a long time.”

“It is a long time,” repeated his wife; “and when is it not a long time? Vengeance and retribution require a long time; it is the rule.”

“It does not take a long time to strike a man with Lightning,” said Defarge.

“How long,” demanded madame, composedly, “does it take to make and store the lightning? Tell me.”

Defarge raised his head thoughtfully, as if there were something in that too.

“It does not take a long time,” said madame, “for an earthquake to swallow a town. Eh well! Tell me how long it takes to prepare the earthquake?”

“A long time, I suppose,” said Defarge.

“But when it is ready, it takes place, and grinds to pieces everything before it. In the meantime, it is always preparing, though it is not seen or heard. That is your consolation. Keep it.”

She tied a knot with flashing eyes, as if it throttled a foe.

“I tell thee,” said madame, extending her right hand, for emphasis, “that although it is a long time on the road, it is on the road and coming. I tell thee it never retreats, and never stops. I tell thee it is always advancing. Look around and consider the lives of all the world that we know, consider the faces of all the world that we know, consider the rage and discontent to which the Jacquerie addresses itself with more and more of certainty every hour. Can such things last? Bah! I mock you.”

“My brave wife,” returned Defarge, standing before her with his head a little bent, and his hands clasped at his back, like a docile and attentive pupil before his catechist, “I do not question all this. But it has lasted a long time, and it is possible—you know well, my wife, it is possible—that it may not come, during our lives.”

“Eh well! How then?” demanded madame, tying another knot, as if there were another enemy strangled.

“Well!” said Defarge, with a half complaining and half apologetic shrug. “We shall not see the triumph.”

“We shall have helped it,” returned madame, with her extended hand in strong action. “Nothing that we do, is done in vain. I believe, with all my soul, that we shall see the triumph. But even if not, even if I knew certainly not, show me the neck of an aristocrat and tyrant, and still I would—”

Then madame, with her teeth set, tied a very terrible knot indeed.

“Hold!” cried Defarge, reddening a little as if he felt charged with cowardice; “I too, my dear, will stop at nothing.”

“Yes! But it is your weakness that you sometimes need to see your victim and your opportunity, to sustain you. Sustain yourself without that. When the time comes, let loose a tiger and a devil; but wait for the time with the tiger and the devil chained—not shown—yet always ready.”

Madame enforced the conclusion of this piece of advice by striking her little counter with her chain of money as if she knocked its brains out, and then gathering the heavy handkerchief under her arm in a serene manner, and observing that it was time to go to bed.

Next noontide saw the admirable woman in her usual place in the wine-shop, knitting away assiduously. A rose lay beside her, and if she now and then glanced at the flower, it was with no infraction of her usual preoccupied air. There were a few customers, drinking or not drinking, standing or seated, sprinkled about. The day was very hot, and heaps of flies, who were extending their inquisitive and adventurous perquisitions into all the glutinous little glasses near madame, fell dead at the bottom. Their decease made no impression on the other flies out promenading, who looked at them in the coolest manner (as if they themselves were elephants, or something as far removed), until they met the same fate. Curious to consider how heedless flies are!—perhaps they thought as much at Court that sunny summer day.

A figure entering at the door threw a shadow on Madame Defarge which she felt to be a new one. She laid down her knitting, and began to pin her rose in her head-dress, before she looked at the figure.

It was curious. The moment Madame Defarge took up the rose, the customers ceased talking, and began gradually to drop out of the wine-shop.

“Good day, madame,” said the new-comer.

“Good day, monsieur.”

She said it aloud, but added to herself, as she resumed her knitting: “Hah! Good day, age about forty, height about five feet nine, black hair, generally rather handsome visage, complexion dark, eyes dark, thin, long and sallow face, aquiline nose but not straight, having a peculiar inclination towards the left cheek which imparts a sinister expression! Good day, one and all!”

“Have the goodness to give me a little glass of old cognac, and a mouthful of cool fresh water, madame.”

Madame complied with a polite air.

“Marvellous cognac this, madame!”

It was the first time it had ever been so complimented, and Madame Defarge knew enough of its antecedents to know better. She said, however, that the cognac was flattered, and took up her knitting. The visitor watched her fingers for a few moments, and took the opportunity of observing the place in general.

“You knit with great skill, madame.”

“I am accustomed to it.”

“A pretty pattern too!”

“You think so?” said madame, looking at him with a smile.

“Decidedly. May one ask what it is for?”

“Pastime,” said madame, still looking at him with a smile while her fingers moved nimbly.

“Not for use?”

“That depends. I may find a use for it one day. If I do—Well,” said madame, drawing a breath and nodding her head with a stern kind of coquetry, “I’ll use it!”

It was remarkable; but, the taste of Saint Antoine seemed to be decidedly opposed to a rose on the head-dress of Madame Defarge. Two men had entered separately, and had been about to order drink, when, catching sight of that novelty, they faltered, made a pretence of looking about as if for some friend who was not there, and went away. Nor, of those who had been there when this visitor entered, was there one left. They had all dropped off. The spy had kept his eyes open, but had been able to detect no sign. They had lounged away in a poverty-stricken, purposeless, accidental manner, quite natural and unimpeachable.

“John,” thought madame, checking off her work as her fingers knitted, and her eyes looked at the stranger. “Stay long enough, and I shall knit ‘barsad’ before you go.”

“You have a husband, madame?”

“I have.”

“Children?”

“No children.”

“Business seems bad?”

“Business is very bad; the people are so poor.”

“Ah, the unfortunate, miserable people! So oppressed, too—as you say.”

“As you say,” madame retorted, correcting him, and deftly knitting an extra something into his name that boded him no good.

“Pardon me; certainly it was I who said so, but you naturally think so. Of course.”

“I think?” returned madame, in a high voice. “I and my husband have enough to do to keep this wine-shop open, without thinking. All we think, here, is how to live. That is the subject we think of, and it gives us, from morning to night, enough to think about, without embarrassing our heads concerning others. I think for others? No, no.”

The spy, who was there to pick up any crumbs he could find or make, did not allow his baffled state to express itself in his sinister face; but, stood with an air of gossiping gallantry, leaning his elbow on Madame Defarge’s little counter, and occasionally sipping his cognac.

“A bad business this, madame, of Gaspard’s execution. Ah! the poor Gaspard!” With a sigh of great compassion.

“My faith!” returned madame, coolly and lightly, “if people use knives for such purposes, they have to pay for it. He knew beforehand what the price of his luxury was; he has paid the price.”

“I believe,” said the spy, dropping his soft voice to a tone that invited confidence, and expressing an injured revolutionary susceptibility in every muscle of his wicked face: “I believe there is much compassion and anger in this neighbourhood, touching the poor fellow? Between ourselves.”

“Is there?” asked madame, vacantly.

“Is there not?”

“—Here is my husband!” said Madame Defarge.

As the keeper of the wine-shop entered at the door, the spy saluted him by touching his hat, and saying, with an engaging smile, “Good day, Jacques!” Defarge stopped short, and stared at him.

“Good day, Jacques!” the spy repeated; with not quite so much confidence, or quite so easy a smile under the stare.

“You deceive yourself, monsieur,” returned the keeper of the wine-shop. “You mistake me for another. That is not my name. I am Ernest Defarge.”

“It is all the same,” said the spy, airily, but discomfited too: “good day!”

“Good day!” answered Defarge, drily.

“I was saying to madame, with whom I had the pleasure of chatting when you entered, that they tell me there is—and no wonder!—much sympathy and anger in Saint Antoine, touching the unhappy fate of poor Gaspard.”

“No one has told me so,” said Defarge, shaking his head. “I know nothing of it.”

Having said it, he passed behind the little counter, and stood with his hand on the back of his wife’s chair, looking over that barrier at the person to whom they were both opposed, and whom either of them would have shot with the greatest satisfaction.

The spy, well used to his business, did not change his unconscious attitude, but drained his little glass of cognac, took a sip of fresh water, and asked for another glass of cognac. Madame Defarge poured it out for him, took to her knitting again, and hummed a little song over it.

“You seem to know this quarter well; that is to say, better than I do?” observed Defarge.

“Not at all, but I hope to know it better. I am so profoundly interested in its miserable inhabitants.”

“Hah!” muttered Defarge.

“The pleasure of conversing with you, Monsieur Defarge, recalls to me,” pursued the spy, “that I have the honour of cherishing some interesting associations with your name.”

“Indeed!” said Defarge, with much indifference.

“Yes, indeed. When Doctor Manette was released, you, his old domestic, had the charge of him, I know. He was delivered to you. You see I am informed of the circumstances?”

“Such is the fact, certainly,” said Defarge. He had had it conveyed to him, in an accidental touch of his wife’s elbow as she knitted and warbled, that he would do best to answer, but always with brevity.

“It was to you,” said the spy, “that his daughter came; and it was from your care that his daughter took him, accompanied by a neat brown monsieur; how is he called?—in a little wig—Lorry—of the bank of Tellson and Company—over to England.”

“Such is the fact,” repeated Defarge.

“Very interesting remembrances!” said the spy. “I have known Doctor Manette and his daughter, in England.”

“Yes?” said Defarge.

“You don’t hear much about them now?” said the spy.

“No,” said Defarge.

“In effect,” madame struck in, looking up from her work and her little song, “we never hear about them. We received the news of their safe arrival, and perhaps another letter, or perhaps two; but, since then, they have gradually taken their road in life—we, ours—and we have held no correspondence.”

“Perfectly so, madame,” replied the spy. “She is going to be married.”

“Going?” echoed madame. “She was pretty enough to have been married long ago. You English are cold, it seems to me.”

“Oh! You know I am English.”

“I perceive your tongue is,” returned madame; “and what the tongue is, I suppose the man is.”

He did not take the identification as a compliment; but he made the best of it, and turned it off with a laugh. After sipping his cognac to the end, he added:

“Yes, Miss Manette is going to be married. But not to an Englishman; to one who, like herself, is French by birth. And speaking of Gaspard (ah, poor Gaspard! It was cruel, cruel!), it is a curious thing that she is going to marry the nephew of Monsieur the Marquis, for whom Gaspard was exalted to that height of so many feet; in other words, the present Marquis. But he lives unknown in England, he is no Marquis there; he is Mr. Charles Darnay. D’Aulnais is the name of his mother’s family.”

Madame Defarge knitted steadily, but the intelligence had a palpable effect upon her husband. Do what he would, behind the little counter, as to the striking of a light and the lighting of his pipe, he was troubled, and his hand was not trustworthy. The spy would have been no spy if he had failed to see it, or to record it in his mind.

Having made, at least, this one hit, whatever it might prove to be worth, and no customers coming in to help him to any other, Mr. Barsad paid for what he had drunk, and took his leave: taking occasion to say, in a genteel manner, before he departed, that he looked forward to the pleasure of seeing Monsieur and Madame Defarge again. For some minutes after he had emerged into the outer presence of Saint Antoine, the husband and wife remained exactly as he had left them, lest he should come back.

“Can it be true,” said Defarge, in a low voice, looking down at his wife as he stood smoking with his hand on the back of her chair: “what he has said of Ma’amselle Manette?”

“As he has said it,” returned madame, lifting her eyebrows a little, “it is probably false. But it may be true.”

“If it is—” Defarge began, and stopped.

“If it is?” repeated his wife.

“—And if it does come, while we live to see it triumph—I hope, for her sake, Destiny will keep her husband out of France.”

“Her husband’s destiny,” said Madame Defarge, with her usual composure, “will take him where he is to go, and will lead him to the end that is to end him. That is all I know.”

“But it is very strange—now, at least, is it not very strange”—said Defarge, rather pleading with his wife to induce her to admit it, “that, after all our sympathy for Monsieur her father, and herself, her husband’s name should be proscribed under your hand at this moment, by the side of that infernal dog’s who has just left us?”

“Stranger things than that will happen when it does come,” answered madame. “I have them both here, of a certainty; and they are both here for their merits; that is enough.”

She rolled up her knitting when she had said those words, and presently took the rose out of the handkerchief that was wound about her head. Either Saint Antoine had an instinctive sense that the objectionable decoration was gone, or Saint Antoine was on the watch for its disappearance; howbeit, the Saint took courage to lounge in, very shortly afterwards, and the wine-shop recovered its habitual aspect.

In the evening, at which season of all others Saint Antoine turned himself inside out, and sat on door-steps and window-ledges, and came to the corners of vile streets and courts, for a breath of air, Madame Defarge with her work in her hand was accustomed to pass from place to place and from group to group: a Missionary—there were many like her—such as the world will do well never to breed again. All the women knitted. They knitted worthless things; but, the mechanical work was a mechanical substitute for eating and drinking; the hands moved for the jaws and the digestive apparatus: if the bony fingers had been still, the stomachs would have been more famine-pinched.

But, as the fingers went, the eyes went, and the thoughts. And as Madame Defarge moved on from group to group, all three went quicker and fiercer among every little knot of women that she had spoken with, and left behind.

Her husband smoked at his door, looking after her with admiration. “A great woman,” said he, “a strong woman, a grand woman, a frightfully grand woman!”

Darkness closed around, and then came the ringing of church bells and the distant beating of the military drums in the Palace Courtyard, as the women sat knitting, knitting. Darkness encompassed them. Another darkness was closing in as surely, when the church bells, then ringing pleasantly in many an airy steeple over France, should be melted into thundering cannon; when the military drums should be beating to drown a wretched voice, that night all potent as the voice of Power and Plenty, Freedom and Life. So much was closing in about the women who sat knitting, knitting, that they their very selves were closing in around a structure yet unbuilt, where they were to sit knitting, knitting, counting dropping heads.


CHAPTER XVII.
One Night


Never did the sun go down with a brighter glory on the quiet corner in Soho, than one memorable evening when the Doctor and his daughter sat under the plane-tree together. Never did the moon rise with a milder radiance over great London, than on that night when it found them still seated under the tree, and shone upon their faces through its leaves.

Lucie was to be married to-morrow. She had reserved this last evening for her father, and they sat alone under the plane-tree.

“You are happy, my dear father?”

“Quite, my child.”

They had said little, though they had been there a long time. When it was yet light enough to work and read, she had neither engaged herself in her usual work, nor had she read to him. She had employed herself in both ways, at his side under the tree, many and many a time; but, this time was not quite like any other, and nothing could make it so.

“And I am very happy to-night, dear father. I am deeply happy in the love that Heaven has so blessed—my love for Charles, and Charles’s love for me. But, if my life were not to be still consecrated to you, or if my marriage were so arranged as that it would part us, even by the length of a few of these streets, I should be more unhappy and self-reproachful now than I can tell you. Even as it is—”

Even as it was, she could not command her voice.

In the sad moonlight, she clasped him by the neck, and laid her face upon his breast. In the moonlight which is always sad, as the light of the sun itself is—as the light called human life is—at its coming and its going.

“Dearest dear! Can you tell me, this last time, that you feel quite, quite sure, no new affections of mine, and no new duties of mine, will ever interpose between us? I know it well, but do you know it? In your own heart, do you feel quite certain?”

Her father answered, with a cheerful firmness of conviction he could scarcely have assumed, “Quite sure, my darling! More than that,” he added, as he tenderly kissed her: “my future is far brighter, Lucie, seen through your marriage, than it could have been—nay, than it ever was—without it.”

“If I could hope that, my father!—”

“Believe it, love! Indeed it is so. Consider how natural and how plain it is, my dear, that it should be so. You, devoted and young, cannot fully appreciate the anxiety I have felt that your life should not be wasted—”

She moved her hand towards his lips, but he took it in his, and repeated the word.

“—wasted, my child—should not be wasted, struck aside from the natural order of things—for my sake. Your unselfishness cannot entirely comprehend how much my mind has gone on this; but, only ask yourself, how could my happiness be perfect, while yours was incomplete?”

“If I had never seen Charles, my father, I should have been quite happy with you.”

He smiled at her unconscious admission that she would have been unhappy without Charles, having seen him; and replied:

“My child, you did see him, and it is Charles. If it had not been Charles, it would have been another. Or, if it had been no other, I should have been the cause, and then the dark part of my life would have cast its shadow beyond myself, and would have fallen on you.”

It was the first time, except at the trial, of her ever hearing him refer to the period of his suffering. It gave her a strange and new sensation while his words were in her ears; and she remembered it long afterwards.

“See!” said the Doctor of Beauvais, raising his hand towards the moon. “I have looked at her from my prison-window, when I could not bear her light. I have looked at her when it has been such torture to me to think of her shining upon what I had lost, that I have beaten my head against my prison-walls. I have looked at her, in a state so dull and lethargic, that I have thought of nothing but the number of horizontal lines I could draw across her at the full, and the number of perpendicular lines with which I could intersect them.” He added in his inward and pondering manner, as he looked at the moon, “It was twenty either way, I remember, and the twentieth was difficult to squeeze in.”

The strange thrill with which she heard him go back to that time, deepened as he dwelt upon it; but, there was nothing to shock her in the manner of his reference. He only seemed to contrast his present cheerfulness and felicity with the dire endurance that was over.

“I have looked at her, speculating thousands of times upon the unborn child from whom I had been rent. Whether it was alive. Whether it had been born alive, or the poor mother’s shock had killed it. Whether it was a son who would some day avenge his father. (There was a time in my imprisonment, when my desire for vengeance was unbearable.) Whether it was a son who would never know his father’s story; who might even live to weigh the possibility of his father’s having disappeared of his own will and act. Whether it was a daughter who would grow to be a woman.”

She drew closer to him, and kissed his cheek and his hand.

“I have pictured my daughter, to myself, as perfectly forgetful of me—rather, altogether ignorant of me, and unconscious of me. I have cast up the years of her age, year after year. I have seen her married to a man who knew nothing of my fate. I have altogether perished from the remembrance of the living, and in the next generation my place was a blank.”

“My father! Even to hear that you had such thoughts of a daughter who never existed, strikes to my heart as if I had been that child.”

“You, Lucie? It is out of the Consolation and restoration you have brought to me, that these remembrances arise, and pass between us and the moon on this last night.—What did I say just now?”

“She knew nothing of you. She cared nothing for you.”

“So! But on other moonlight nights, when the sadness and the silence have touched me in a different way—have affected me with something as like a sorrowful sense of peace, as any emotion that had pain for its foundations could—I have imagined her as coming to me in my cell, and leading me out into the freedom beyond the fortress. I have seen her image in the moonlight often, as I now see you; except that I never held her in my arms; it stood between the little grated window and the door. But, you understand that that was not the child I am speaking of?”

“The figure was not; the—the—image; the fancy?”

“No. That was another thing. It stood before my disturbed sense of sight, but it never moved. The phantom that my mind pursued, was another and more real child. Of her outward appearance I know no more than that she was like her mother. The other had that likeness too—as you have—but was not the same. Can you follow me, Lucie? Hardly, I think? I doubt you must have been a solitary prisoner to understand these perplexed distinctions.”

His collected and calm manner could not prevent her blood from running cold, as he thus tried to anatomise his old condition.

“In that more peaceful state, I have imagined her, in the moonlight, coming to me and taking me out to show me that the home of her married life was full of her loving remembrance of her lost father. My picture was in her room, and I was in her prayers. Her life was active, cheerful, useful; but my poor history pervaded it all.”

“I was that child, my father, I was not half so good, but in my love that was I.”

“And she showed me her children,” said the Doctor of Beauvais, “and they had heard of me, and had been taught to pity me. When they passed a prison of the State, they kept far from its frowning walls, and looked up at its bars, and spoke in whispers. She could never deliver me; I imagined that she always brought me back after showing me such things. But then, blessed with the relief of tears, I fell upon my knees, and blessed her.”

“I am that child, I hope, my father. O my dear, my dear, will you bless me as fervently to-morrow?”

“Lucie, I recall these old troubles in the reason that I have to-night for loving you better than words can tell, and thanking God for my great happiness. My thoughts, when they were wildest, never rose near the happiness that I have known with you, and that we have before us.”

He embraced her, solemnly commended her to Heaven, and humbly thanked Heaven for having bestowed her on him. By-and-bye, they went into the house.

There was no one bidden to the marriage but Mr. Lorry; there was even to be no bridesmaid but the gaunt Miss Pross. The marriage was to make no change in their place of residence; they had been able to extend it, by taking to themselves the upper rooms formerly belonging to the apocryphal invisible lodger, and they desired nothing more.

Doctor Manette was very cheerful at the little supper. They were only three at table, and Miss Pross made the third. He regretted that Charles was not there; was more than half disposed to object to the loving little plot that kept him away; and drank to him affectionately.

So, the time came for him to bid Lucie good night, and they separated. But, in the stillness of the third hour of the morning, Lucie came downstairs again, and stole into his room; not free from unshaped fears, beforehand.

All things, however, were in their places; all was quiet; and he lay asleep, his white hair picturesque on the untroubled pillow, and his hands lying quiet on the coverlet. She put her needless candle in the shadow at a distance, crept up to his bed, and put her lips to his; then, leaned over him, and looked at him.

Into his handsome face, the bitter waters of captivity had worn; but, he covered up their tracks with a determination so strong, that he held the mastery of them even in his sleep. A more remarkable face in its quiet, resolute, and guarded struggle with an unseen assailant, was not to be beheld in all the wide dominions of sleep, that night.

She timidly laid her hand on his dear breast, and put up a prayer that she might ever be as true to him as her love aspired to be, and as his sorrows deserved. Then, she withdrew her hand, and kissed his lips once more, and went away. So, the sunrise came, and the shadows of the leaves of the plane-tree moved upon his face, as softly as her lips had moved in praying for him.


CHAPTER XVIII.
Nine Days


The marriage-day was shining brightly, and they were ready outside the closed door of the Doctor’s room, where he was speaking with Charles Darnay. They were ready to go to church; the beautiful bride, Mr. Lorry, and Miss Pross—to whom the event, through a gradual process of reconcilement to the inevitable, would have been one of absolute bliss, but for the yet lingering consideration that her brother Solomon should have been the bridegroom.

“And so,” said Mr. Lorry, who could not sufficiently admire the bride, and who had been moving round her to take in every point of her quiet, pretty dress; “and so it was for this, my sweet Lucie, that I brought you across the Channel, such a baby! Lord bless me! How little I thought what I was doing! How lightly I valued the obligation I was conferring on my friend Mr. Charles!”

“You didn’t mean it,” remarked the matter-of-fact Miss Pross, “and therefore how could you know it? Nonsense!”

“Really? Well; but don’t cry,” said the gentle Mr. Lorry.

“I am not crying,” said Miss Pross; “you are.”

“I, my Pross?” (By this time, Mr. Lorry dared to be pleasant with her, on occasion.)

“You were, just now; I saw you do it, and I don’t wonder at it. Such a present of plate as you have made ’em, is enough to bring tears into anybody’s eyes. There’s not a fork or a spoon in the collection,” said Miss Pross, “that I didn’t cry over, last night after the box came, till I couldn’t see it.”

“I am highly gratified,” said Mr. Lorry, “though, upon my honour, I had no intention of rendering those trifling articles of remembrance invisible to any one. Dear me! This is an occasion that makes a man speculate on all he has lost. Dear, dear, dear! To think that there might have been a Mrs. Lorry, any time these fifty years almost!”

“Not at all!” From Miss Pross.

“You think there never might have been a Mrs. Lorry?” asked the gentleman of that name.

“Pooh!” rejoined Miss Pross; “you were a bachelor in your cradle.”

“Well!” observed Mr. Lorry, beamingly adjusting his little wig, “that seems probable, too.”

“And you were cut out for a bachelor,” pursued Miss Pross, “before you were put in your cradle.”

“Then, I think,” said Mr. Lorry, “that I was very unhandsomely dealt with, and that I ought to have had a voice in the selection of my pattern. Enough! Now, my dear Lucie,” drawing his arm soothingly round her waist, “I hear them moving in the next room, and Miss Pross and I, as two formal folks of business, are anxious not to lose the final opportunity of saying something to you that you wish to hear. You leave your good father, my dear, in hands as earnest and as loving as your own; he shall be taken every conceivable care of; during the next fortnight, while you are in Warwickshire and thereabouts, even Tellson’s shall go to the wall (comparatively speaking) before him. And when, at the fortnight’s end, he comes to join you and your beloved husband, on your other fortnight’s trip in Wales, you shall say that we have sent him to you in the best health and in the happiest frame. Now, I hear Somebody’s step coming to the door. Let me kiss my dear girl with an old-fashioned bachelor blessing, before Somebody comes to claim his own.”

For a moment, he held the fair face from him to look at the well-remembered expression on the forehead, and then laid the bright golden hair against his little brown wig, with a genuine tenderness and delicacy which, if such things be old-fashioned, were as old as Adam.

The door of the Doctor’s room opened, and he came out with Charles Darnay. He was so deadly pale—which had not been the case when they went in together—that no vestige of colour was to be seen in his face. But, in the composure of his manner he was unaltered, except that to the shrewd glance of Mr. Lorry it disclosed some shadowy indication that the old air of avoidance and dread had lately passed over him, like a cold wind.

He gave his arm to his daughter, and took her down-stairs to the chariot which Mr. Lorry had hired in honour of the day. The rest followed in another carriage, and soon, in a neighbouring church, where no strange eyes looked on, Charles Darnay and Lucie Manette were happily married.

Besides the glancing tears that shone among the smiles of the little group when it was done, some diamonds, very bright and sparkling, glanced on the bride’s hand, which were newly released from the dark obscurity of one of Mr. Lorry’s pockets. They returned home to breakfast, and all went well, and in due course the golden hair that had mingled with the poor shoemaker’s white locks in the Paris garret, were mingled with them again in the morning sunlight, on the threshold of the door at parting.

It was a hard parting, though it was not for long. But her father cheered her, and said at last, gently disengaging himself from her enfolding arms, “Take her, Charles! She is yours!”

And her agitated hand waved to them from a chaise window, and she was gone.

The corner being out of the way of the idle and curious, and the preparations having been very simple and few, the Doctor, Mr. Lorry, and Miss Pross, were left quite alone. It was when they turned into the welcome shade of the cool old hall, that Mr. Lorry observed a great change to have come over the Doctor; as if the golden arm uplifted there, had struck him a poisoned blow.

He had naturally repressed much, and some revulsion might have been expected in him when the occasion for repression was gone. But, it was the old scared lost look that troubled Mr. Lorry; and through his absent manner of clasping his head and drearily wandering away into his own room when they got up-stairs, Mr. Lorry was reminded of Defarge the wine-shop keeper, and the starlight ride.

“I think,” he whispered to Miss Pross, after anxious consideration, “I think we had best not speak to him just now, or at all disturb him. I must look in at Tellson’s; so I will go there at once and come back presently. Then, we will take him a ride into the country, and dine there, and all will be well.”

It was easier for Mr. Lorry to look in at Tellson’s, than to look out of Tellson’s. He was detained two hours. When he came back, he ascended the old staircase alone, having asked no question of the servant; going thus into the Doctor’s rooms, he was stopped by a low sound of knocking.

“Good God!” he said, with a start. “What’s that?”

Miss Pross, with a terrified face, was at his ear. “O me, O me! All is lost!” cried she, wringing her hands. “What is to be told to Ladybird? He doesn’t know me, and is making shoes!”

Mr. Lorry said what he could to calm her, and went himself into the Doctor’s room. The bench was turned towards the light, as it had been when he had seen the shoemaker at his work before, and his head was bent down, and he was very busy.

“Doctor Manette. My dear friend, Doctor Manette!”

The Doctor looked at him for a moment—half inquiringly, half as if he were angry at being spoken to—and bent over his work again.

He had laid aside his coat and waistcoat; his shirt was open at the throat, as it used to be when he did that work; and even the old haggard, faded surface of face had come back to him. He worked hard—impatiently—as if in some sense of having been interrupted.

Mr. Lorry glanced at the work in his hand, and observed that it was a shoe of the old size and shape. He took up another that was lying by him, and asked what it was.

“A young lady’s walking shoe,” he muttered, without looking up. “It ought to have been finished long ago. Let it be.”

“But, Doctor Manette. Look at me!”

He obeyed, in the old mechanically submissive manner, without pausing in his work.

“You know me, my dear friend? Think again. This is not your proper occupation. Think, dear friend!”

Nothing would induce him to speak more. He looked up, for an instant at a time, when he was requested to do so; but, no persuasion would extract a word from him. He worked, and worked, and worked, in silence, and words fell on him as they would have fallen on an echoless wall, or on the air. The only ray of hope that Mr. Lorry could discover, was, that he sometimes furtively looked up without being asked. In that, there seemed a faint expression of curiosity or perplexity—as though he were trying to reconcile some doubts in his mind.

Two things at once impressed themselves on Mr. Lorry, as important above all others; the first, that this must be kept secret from Lucie; the second, that it must be kept secret from all who knew him. In conjunction with Miss Pross, he took immediate steps towards the latter precaution, by giving out that the Doctor was not well, and required a few days of complete rest. In aid of the kind deception to be practised on his daughter, Miss Pross was to write, describing his having been called away professionally, and referring to an imaginary letter of two or three hurried lines in his own hand, represented to have been addressed to her by the same post.

These measures, advisable to be taken in any case, Mr. Lorry took in the hope of his coming to himself. If that should happen soon, he kept another course in reserve; which was, to have a certain opinion that he thought the best, on the Doctor’s case.

In the hope of his recovery, and of resort to this third course being thereby rendered practicable, Mr. Lorry resolved to watch him attentively, with as little appearance as possible of doing so. He therefore made arrangements to absent himself from Tellson’s for the first time in his life, and took his post by the window in the same room.

He was not long in discovering that it was worse than useless to speak to him, since, on being pressed, he became worried. He abandoned that attempt on the first day, and resolved merely to keep himself always before him, as a silent protest against the delusion into which he had fallen, or was falling. He remained, therefore, in his seat near the window, reading and writing, and expressing in as many pleasant and natural ways as he could think of, that it was a free place.

Doctor Manette took what was given him to eat and drink, and worked on, that first day, until it was too dark to see—worked on, half an hour after Mr. Lorry could not have seen, for his life, to read or write. When he put his tools aside as useless, until morning, Mr. Lorry rose and said to him:

“Will you go out?”

He looked down at the floor on either side of him in the old manner, looked up in the old manner, and repeated in the old low voice:

“Out?”

“Yes; for a walk with me. Why not?”

He made no effort to say why not, and said not a word more. But, Mr. Lorry thought he saw, as he leaned forward on his bench in the dusk, with his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands, that he was in some misty way asking himself, “Why not?” The sagacity of the man of business perceived an advantage here, and determined to hold it.

Miss Pross and he divided the night into two watches, and observed him at intervals from the adjoining room. He paced up and down for a long time before he lay down; but, when he did finally lay himself down, he fell asleep. In the morning, he was up betimes, and went straight to his bench and to work.

On this second day, Mr. Lorry saluted him cheerfully by his name, and spoke to him on topics that had been of late familiar to them. He returned no reply, but it was evident that he heard what was said, and that he thought about it, however confusedly. This encouraged Mr. Lorry to have Miss Pross in with her work, several times during the day; at those times, they quietly spoke of Lucie, and of her father then present, precisely in the usual manner, and as if there were nothing amiss. This was done without any demonstrative accompaniment, not long enough, or often enough to harass him; and it lightened Mr. Lorry’s friendly heart to believe that he looked up oftener, and that he appeared to be stirred by some perception of inconsistencies surrounding him.

When it fell dark again, Mr. Lorry asked him as before:

“Dear Doctor, will you go out?”

As before, he repeated, “Out?”

“Yes; for a walk with me. Why not?”

This time, Mr. Lorry feigned to go out when he could extract no answer from him, and, after remaining absent for an hour, returned. In the meanwhile, the Doctor had removed to the seat in the window, and had sat there looking down at the plane-tree; but, on Mr. Lorry’s return, he slipped away to his bench.

The time went very slowly on, and Mr. Lorry’s hope darkened, and his heart grew heavier again, and grew yet heavier and heavier every day. The third day came and went, the fourth, the fifth. Five days, six days, seven days, eight days, nine days.

With a hope ever darkening, and with a heart always growing heavier and heavier, Mr. Lorry passed through this anxious time. The secret was well kept, and Lucie was unconscious and happy; but he could not fail to observe that the shoemaker, whose hand had been a little out at first, was growing dreadfully skilful, and that he had never been so intent on his work, and that his hands had never been so nimble and expert, as in the dusk of the ninth evening.