A Tale Of Two Cities
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refugee; and This, That, and The Other, all had something disparaging
to say, in French or in English, concerning the Marquis who was not
to be found.
"Nephew, I believe--but in any case degenerate successor--of the
polished Marquis who was murdered," said one. "Happy to say, I never
"A craven who abandoned his post," said another--this Monseigneur
had been got out of Paris, legs uppermost and half suffocated, in a
load of hay--"some years ago."
"Infected with the new doctrines," said a third, eyeing the direction
through his glass in passing; "set himself in opposition to the last
Marquis, abandoned the estates when he inherited them, and left them
to the ruffian herd. They will recompense him now, I hope,
as he deserves."
"Hey?" cried the blatant Stryver. "Did he though? Is that the sort
of fellow? Let us look at his infamous name. D--n the fellow!"
Darnay, unable to restrain himself any longer, touched Mr. Stryver on
the shoulder, and said:
"I know the fellow."
"Do you, by Jupiter?" said Stryver. "I am sorry for it."
"Why, Mr. Darnay? D'ye hear what he did? Don't ask, why,
in these times."
"But I do ask why?"
"Then I tell you again, Mr. Darnay, I am sorry for it. I am sorry to
hear you putting any such extraordinary questions. Here is a fellow,
who, infected by the most pestilent and blasphemous code of devilry
that ever was known, abandoned his property to the vilest scum of the
earth that ever did murder by wholesale, and you ask me why I am
sorry that a man who instructs youth knows him? Well, but I'll
answer you. I am sorry because I believe there is contamination in
such a scoundrel. That's why."
Mindful of the secret, Darnay with great difficulty checked himself,
and said: "You may not understand the gentleman."
"I understand how to put YOU in a corner, Mr. Darnay," said Bully
Stryver, "and I'll do it. If this fellow is a gentleman, I DON'T
understand him. You may tell him so, with my compliments. You may
also tell him, from me, that after abandoning his worldly goods and
position to this butcherly mob, I wonder he is not at the head of them.
But, no, gentlemen," said Stryver, looking all round, and snapping his
fingers, "I know something of human nature, and I tell you that you'll
never find a fellow like this fellow, trusting himself to the mercies
of such precious PROTEGES. No, gentlemen; he'll always show 'em
a clean pair of heels very early in the scuffle, and sneak away."
With those words, and a final snap of his fingers, Mr. Stryver
shouldered himself into Fleet-street, amidst the general approbation
of his hearers. Mr. Lorry and Charles Darnay were left alone at the
desk, in the general departure from the Bank.
"Will you take charge of the letter?" said Mr. Lorry. "You know
where to deliver it?"
"Will you undertake to explain, that we suppose it to have been
addressed here, on the chance of our knowing where to forward it,
and that it has been here some time?"
"I will do so. Do you start for Paris from here?"
"From here, at eight."
"I will come back, to see you off."
Very ill at ease with himself, and with Stryver and most other men,
Darnay made the best of his way into the quiet of the Temple,
opened the letter, and read it. These were its contents:
"Prison of the Abbaye, Paris.
"June 21, 1792.
"MONSIEUR HERETOFORE THE MARQUIS.
"After having long been in danger of my life at the hands of the
village, I have been seized, with great violence and indignity, and
brought a long journey on foot to Paris. On the road I have suffered
a great deal. Nor is that all; my house has been destroyed--razed
to the ground.
"The crime for which I am imprisoned, Monsieur heretofore the
Marquis, and for which I shall be summoned before the tribunal, and
shall lose my life (without your so generous help), is, they tell me,
treason against the majesty of the people, in that I have acted
against them for an emigrant. It is in vain I represent that I have
acted for them, and not against, according to your commands. It is
in vain I represent that, before the sequestration of emigrant
property, I had remitted the imposts they had ceased to pay; that I
had collected no rent; that I had had recourse to no process. The
only response is, that I have acted for an emigrant, and where is
"Ah! most gracious Monsieur heretofore the Marquis, where is that
emigrant? I cry in my sleep where is he? I demand of Heaven, will
he not come to deliver me? No answer. Ah Monsieur heretofore the
Marquis, I send my desolate cry across the sea, hoping it may perhaps
reach your ears through the great bank of Tilson known at Paris!
"For the love of Heaven, of justice, of generosity, of the honour of
your noble name, I supplicate you, Monsieur heretofore the Marquis,
to succour and release me. My fault is, that I have been true to you.
Oh Monsieur heretofore the Marquis, I pray you be you true to me!
"From this prison here of horror, whence I every hour tend nearer
and nearer to destruction, I send you, Monsieur heretofore the Marquis,
the assurance of my dolorous and unhappy service.
The latent uneasiness in Darnay's mind was roused to vigourous life
by this letter. The peril of an old servant and a good one, whose
only crime was fidelity to himself and his family, stared him so
reproachfully in the face, that, as he walked to and fro in the Temple
considering what to do, he almost hid his face from the passersby.
He knew very well, that in his horror of the deed which had culminated
the bad deeds and bad reputation of the old family house, in his
resentful suspicions of his uncle, and in the aversion with which his
conscience regarded the crumbling fabric that he was supposed to
uphold, he had acted imperfectly. He knew very well, that in his love
for Lucie, his renunciation of his social place, though by no means
new to his own mind, had been hurried and incomplete. He knew that
he ought to have systematically worked it out and supervised it, and
that he had meant to do it, and that it had never been done.
The happiness of his own chosen English home, the necessity of being
always actively employed, the swift changes and troubles of the time
which bad followed on one another so fast, that the events of this
week annihilated the immature plans of last week, and the events of
the week following made all new again; he knew very well, that to the
force of these circumstances he had yielded:--not without disquiet,
but still without continuous and accumulating resistance. That he
had watched the times for a time of action, and that they had shifted
and struggled until the time had gone by, and the nobility were
trooping from France by every highway and byway, and their property
was in course of confiscation and destruction, and their very names
were blotting out, was as well known to himself as it could be to any
new authority in France that might impeach him for it.
But, he had oppressed no man, he had imprisoned no man; he was so far
from having harshly exacted payment of his dues, that he had
relinquished them of his own will, thrown himself on a world with no
favour in it, won his own private place there, and earned his own
bread. Monsieur Gabelle had held the impoverished and involved estate
on written instructions, to spare the people, to give them what little
there was to give--such fuel as the heavy creditors would let them
have in the winter, and such produce as could be saved from the same
grip in the summer--and no doubt he had put the fact in plea and proof,
for his own safety, so that it could not but appear now.
This favoured the desperate resolution Charles Darnay had begun to make,
that he would go to Paris.
Yes. Like the mariner in the old story, the winds and streams had
driven him within the influence of the Loadstone Rock, and it was
drawing him to itself, and he must go. Everything that arose before
his mind drifted him on, faster and faster, more and more steadily,
to the terrible attraction. His latent uneasiness had been, that bad
aims were being worked out in his own unhappy land by bad instruments,
and that he who could not fail to know that he was better than they,
was not there, trying to do something to stay bloodshed, and assert
the claims of mercy and humanity. With this uneasiness half stifled,
and half reproaching him, he had been brought to the pointed comparison
of himself with the brave old gentleman in whom duty was so strong;
upon that comparison (injurious to himself) had instantly followed
the sneers of Monseigneur, which had stung him bitterly, and those of
Stryver, which above all were coarse and galling, for old reasons.
Upon those, had followed Gabelle's letter: the appeal of an innocent
prisoner, in danger of death, to his justice, honour, and good name.
His resolution was made. He must go to Paris.
Yes. The Loadstone Rock was drawing him, and he must sail on, until
he struck. He knew of no rock; he saw hardly any danger. The
intention with which he had done what he had done, even although he
had left it incomplete, presented it before him in an aspect that
would be gratefully acknowledged in France on his presenting himself
to assert it. Then, that glorious vision of doing good, which is so
often the sanguine mirage of so many good minds, arose before him,
and he even saw himself in the illusion with some influence to guide
this raging Revolution that was running so fearfully wild.
As he walked to and fro with his resolution made, he considered that
neither Lucie nor her father must know of it until he was gone.
Lucie should be spared the pain of separation; and her father, always
reluctant to turn his thoughts towards the dangerous ground of old,
should come to the knowledge of the step, as a step taken, and not in
the balance of suspense and doubt. How much of the incompleteness of
his situation was referable to her father, through the painful
anxiety to avoid reviving old associations of France in his mind, he
did not discuss with himself. But, that circumstance too,
had had its influence in his course.
He walked to and fro, with thoughts very busy, until it was time to
return to Tellson's and take leave of Mr. Lorry. As soon as he
arrived in Paris he would present himself to this old friend, but he
must say nothing of his intention now.
A carriage with post-horses was ready at the Bank door, and Jerry
was booted and equipped.
"I have delivered that letter," said Charles Darnay to Mr. Lorry.
"I would not consent to your being charged with any written answer,
but perhaps you will take a verbal one?"
"That I will, and readily," said Mr. Lorry, "if it is not dangerous."
"Not at all. Though it is to a prisoner in the Abbaye."
"What is his name?" said Mr. Lorry, with his open pocket-book in his hand.
"Gabelle. And what is the message to the unfortunate Gabelle in prison?"
"Simply, `that he has received the letter, and will come.'"
"Any time mentioned?"
"He will start upon his journey to-morrow night."
"Any person mentioned?"
He helped Mr. Lorry to wrap himself in a number of coats and cloaks,
and went out with him from the warm atmosphere of the old Bank, into
the misty air of Fleet-street. "My love to Lucie, and to little
Lucie," said Mr. Lorry at parting, "and take precious care of them
till I come back." Charles Darnay shook his head and doubtfully smiled,
as the carriage rolled away.
That night--it was the fourteenth of August--he sat up late, and
wrote two fervent letters; one was to Lucie, explaining the strong
obligation he was under to go to Paris, and showing her, at length,
the reasons that he had, for feeling confident that he could become