A TALE OF TWO CITIES - 3 - 6 in English Moral Stories by Charles Dickens books and stories PDF | A TALE OF TWO CITIES - 3 - 6




By Charles Dickens

The Track of a Storm



The dread tribunal of five Judges, Public Prosecutor, and determined

Jury, sat every day. Their lists went forth every evening, and were

read out by the gaolers of the various prisons to their prisoners. The

standard gaoler-joke was, “Come out and listen to the Evening Paper, you

inside there!”

“Charles Evremonde, called Darnay!”

So at last began the Evening Paper at La Force.

When a name was called, its owner stepped apart into a spot reserved

for those who were announced as being thus fatally recorded. Charles

Evremonde, called Darnay, had reason to know the usage; he had seen

hundreds pass away so.

His bloated gaoler, who wore spectacles to read with, glanced over them

to assure himself that he had taken his place, and went through the

list, making a similar short pause at each name. There were twenty-three

names, but only twenty were responded to; for one of the prisoners so

summoned had died in gaol and been forgotten, and two had already been

guillotined and forgotten. The list was read, in the vaulted chamber

where Darnay had seen the associated prisoners on the night of his

arrival. Every one of those had perished in the massacre; every human

creature he had since cared for and parted with, had died on the


There were hurried words of farewell and kindness, but the parting was

soon over. It was the incident of every day, and the society of La Force

were engaged in the preparation of some games of forfeits and a little

concert, for that evening. They crowded to the grates and shed tears

there; but, twenty places in the projected entertainments had to be

refilled, and the time was, at best, short to the lock-up hour, when the

common rooms and corridors would be delivered over to the great dogs

who kept watch there through the night. The prisoners were far from

insensible or unfeeling; their ways arose out of the condition of the

time. Similarly, though with a subtle difference, a species of fervour

or intoxication, known, without doubt, to have led some persons to

brave the guillotine unnecessarily, and to die by it, was not mere

boastfulness, but a wild infection of the wildly shaken public mind. In

seasons of pestilence, some of us will have a secret attraction to the

disease--a terrible passing inclination to die of it. And all of us have

like wonders hidden in our breasts, only needing circumstances to evoke


The passage to the Conciergerie was short and dark; the night in its

vermin-haunted cells was long and cold. Next day, fifteen prisoners were

put to the bar before Charles Darnay's name was called. All the fifteen

were condemned, and the trials of the whole occupied an hour and a half.

“Charles Evremonde, called Darnay,” was at length arraigned.

His judges sat upon the Bench in feathered hats; but the rough red cap

and tricoloured cockade was the head-dress otherwise prevailing. Looking

at the Jury and the turbulent audience, he might have thought that the

usual order of things was reversed, and that the felons were trying the

honest men. The lowest, cruelest, and worst populace of a city, never

without its quantity of low, cruel, and bad, were the directing

spirits of the scene: noisily commenting, applauding, disapproving,

anticipating, and precipitating the result, without a check. Of the men,

the greater part were armed in various ways; of the women, some wore

knives, some daggers, some ate and drank as they looked on, many

knitted. Among these last, was one, with a spare piece of knitting under

her arm as she worked. She was in a front row, by the side of a man whom

he had never seen since his arrival at the Barrier, but whom he directly

remembered as Defarge. He noticed that she once or twice whispered in

his ear, and that she seemed to be his wife; but, what he most noticed

in the two figures was, that although they were posted as close to

himself as they could be, they never looked towards him. They seemed to

be waiting for something with a dogged determination, and they looked at

the Jury, but at nothing else. Under the President sat Doctor Manette,

in his usual quiet dress. As well as the prisoner could see, he and Mr.

Lorry were the only men there, unconnected with the Tribunal, who

wore their usual clothes, and had not assumed the coarse garb of the


Charles Evremonde, called Darnay, was accused by the public prosecutor

as an emigrant, whose life was forfeit to the Republic, under the decree

which banished all emigrants on pain of Death. It was nothing that the

decree bore date since his return to France. There he was, and there was

the decree; he had been taken in France, and his head was demanded.

“Take off his head!” cried the audience. “An enemy to the Republic!”

The President rang his bell to silence those cries, and asked the

prisoner whether it was not true that he had lived many years in


Undoubtedly it was.

Was he not an emigrant then? What did he call himself?

Not an emigrant, he hoped, within the sense and spirit of the law.

Why not? the President desired to know.

Because he had voluntarily relinquished a title that was distasteful

to him, and a station that was distasteful to him, and had left

his country--he submitted before the word emigrant in the present

acceptation by the Tribunal was in use--to live by his own industry in

England, rather than on the industry of the overladen people of France.

What proof had he of this?

He handed in the names of two witnesses; Theophile Gabelle, and

Alexandre Manette.

But he had married in England? the President reminded him.

True, but not an English woman.

A citizeness of France?

Yes. By birth.

Her name and family?

“Lucie Manette, only daughter of Doctor Manette, the good physician who

sits there.”

This answer had a happy effect upon the audience. Cries in exaltation

of the well-known good physician rent the hall. So capriciously were

the people moved, that tears immediately rolled down several ferocious

countenances which had been glaring at the prisoner a moment before, as

if with impatience to pluck him out into the streets and kill him.

On these few steps of his dangerous way, Charles Darnay had set his foot

according to Doctor Manette's reiterated instructions. The same cautious

counsel directed every step that lay before him, and had prepared every

inch of his road.

The President asked, why had he returned to France when he did, and not


He had not returned sooner, he replied, simply because he had no means

of living in France, save those he had resigned; whereas, in England,

he lived by giving instruction in the French language and literature.

He had returned when he did, on the pressing and written entreaty of

a French citizen, who represented that his life was endangered by his

absence. He had come back, to save a citizen's life, and to bear his

testimony, at whatever personal hazard, to the truth. Was that criminal

in the eyes of the Republic?

The populace cried enthusiastically, “No!” and the President rang his

bell to quiet them. Which it did not, for they continued to cry “No!”

until they left off, of their own will.

The President required the name of that citizen. The accused explained

that the citizen was his first witness. He also referred with confidence

to the citizen's letter, which had been taken from him at the Barrier,

but which he did not doubt would be found among the papers then before

the President.

The Doctor had taken care that it should be there--had assured him that

it would be there--and at this stage of the proceedings it was produced

and read. Citizen Gabelle was called to confirm it, and did so. Citizen

Gabelle hinted, with infinite delicacy and politeness, that in the

pressure of business imposed on the Tribunal by the multitude of

enemies of the Republic with which it had to deal, he had been slightly

overlooked in his prison of the Abbaye--in fact, had rather passed out

of the Tribunal's patriotic remembrance--until three days ago; when he

had been summoned before it, and had been set at liberty on the Jury's

declaring themselves satisfied that the accusation against him was

answered, as to himself, by the surrender of the citizen Evremonde,

called Darnay.

Doctor Manette was next questioned. His high personal popularity,

and the clearness of his answers, made a great impression; but, as he

proceeded, as he showed that the Accused was his first friend on his

release from his long imprisonment; that, the accused had remained in

England, always faithful and devoted to his daughter and himself in

their exile; that, so far from being in favour with the Aristocrat

government there, he had actually been tried for his life by it, as

the foe of England and friend of the United States--as he brought these

circumstances into view, with the greatest discretion and with the

straightforward force of truth and earnestness, the Jury and the

populace became one. At last, when he appealed by name to Monsieur

Lorry, an English gentleman then and there present, who, like himself,

had been a witness on that English trial and could corroborate his

account of it, the Jury declared that they had heard enough, and that

they were ready with their votes if the President were content to

receive them.

At every vote (the Jurymen voted aloud and individually), the populace

set up a shout of applause. All the voices were in the prisoner's

favour, and the President declared him free.

Then, began one of those extraordinary scenes with which the populace

sometimes gratified their fickleness, or their better impulses towards

generosity and mercy, or which they regarded as some set-off against

their swollen account of cruel rage. No man can decide now to which of

these motives such extraordinary scenes were referable; it is probable,

to a blending of all the three, with the second predominating. No sooner

was the acquittal pronounced, than tears were shed as freely as blood

at another time, and such fraternal embraces were bestowed upon the

prisoner by as many of both sexes as could rush at him, that after

his long and unwholesome confinement he was in danger of fainting from

exhaustion; none the less because he knew very well, that the very same

people, carried by another current, would have rushed at him with

the very same intensity, to rend him to pieces and strew him over the


His removal, to make way for other accused persons who were to be tried,

rescued him from these caresses for the moment. Five were to be tried

together, next, as enemies of the Republic, forasmuch as they had not

assisted it by word or deed. So quick was the Tribunal to compensate

itself and the nation for a chance lost, that these five came down to

him before he left the place, condemned to die within twenty-four

hours. The first of them told him so, with the customary prison sign

of Death--a raised finger--and they all added in words, “Long live the


The five had had, it is true, no audience to lengthen their proceedings,

for when he and Doctor Manette emerged from the gate, there was a great

crowd about it, in which there seemed to be every face he had seen in

Court--except two, for which he looked in vain. On his coming out, the

concourse made at him anew, weeping, embracing, and shouting, all by

turns and all together, until the very tide of the river on the bank of

which the mad scene was acted, seemed to run mad, like the people on the


They put him into a great chair they had among them, and which they had

taken either out of the Court itself, or one of its rooms or passages.

Over the chair they had thrown a red flag, and to the back of it they

had bound a pike with a red cap on its top. In this car of triumph, not

even the Doctor's entreaties could prevent his being carried to his home

on men's shoulders, with a confused sea of red caps heaving about him,

and casting up to sight from the stormy deep such wrecks of faces, that

he more than once misdoubted his mind being in confusion, and that he

was in the tumbril on his way to the Guillotine.

In wild dreamlike procession, embracing whom they met and pointing

him out, they carried him on. Reddening the snowy streets with the

prevailing Republican colour, in winding and tramping through them, as

they had reddened them below the snow with a deeper dye, they carried

him thus into the courtyard of the building where he lived. Her father

had gone on before, to prepare her, and when her husband stood upon his

feet, she dropped insensible in his arms.

As he held her to his heart and turned her beautiful head between his

face and the brawling crowd, so that his tears and her lips might come

together unseen, a few of the people fell to dancing. Instantly, all the

rest fell to dancing, and the courtyard overflowed with the Carmagnole.

Then, they elevated into the vacant chair a young woman from the

crowd to be carried as the Goddess of Liberty, and then swelling and

overflowing out into the adjacent streets, and along the river's bank,

and over the bridge, the Carmagnole absorbed them every one and whirled

them away.

After grasping the Doctor's hand, as he stood victorious and proud

before him; after grasping the hand of Mr. Lorry, who came panting in

breathless from his struggle against the waterspout of the Carmagnole;

after kissing little Lucie, who was lifted up to clasp her arms round

his neck; and after embracing the ever zealous and faithful Pross who

lifted her; he took his wife in his arms, and carried her up to their


“Lucie! My own! I am safe.”

“O dearest Charles, let me thank God for this on my knees as I have

prayed to Him.”

They all reverently bowed their heads and hearts. When she was again in

his arms, he said to her:

“And now speak to your father, dearest. No other man in all this France

could have done what he has done for me.”

She laid her head upon her father's breast, as she had laid his poor

head on her own breast, long, long ago. He was happy in the return he

had made her, he was recompensed for his suffering, he was proud of his

strength. “You must not be weak, my darling,” he remonstrated; “don't

tremble so. I have saved him.”


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