A TALE OF TWO CITIES - 3 - 7 in English Moral Stories by Charles Dickens books and stories PDF | A TALE OF TWO CITIES - 3 - 7




By Charles Dickens

The Track of a Storm


A Knock at the Door

“I have saved him.” It was not another of the dreams in which he had

often come back; he was really here. And yet his wife trembled, and a

vague but heavy fear was upon her.

All the air round was so thick and dark, the people were so passionately

revengeful and fitful, the innocent were so constantly put to death on

vague suspicion and black malice, it was so impossible to forget that

many as blameless as her husband and as dear to others as he was to

her, every day shared the fate from which he had been clutched, that her

heart could not be as lightened of its load as she felt it ought to be.

The shadows of the wintry afternoon were beginning to fall, and even now

the dreadful carts were rolling through the streets. Her mind pursued

them, looking for him among the Condemned; and then she clung closer to

his real presence and trembled more.

Her father, cheering her, showed a compassionate superiority to this

woman's weakness, which was wonderful to see. No garret, no shoemaking,

no One Hundred and Five, North Tower, now! He had accomplished the task

he had set himself, his promise was redeemed, he had saved Charles. Let

them all lean upon him.

Their housekeeping was of a very frugal kind: not only because that was

the safest way of life, involving the least offence to the people, but

because they were not rich, and Charles, throughout his imprisonment,

had had to pay heavily for his bad food, and for his guard, and towards

the living of the poorer prisoners. Partly on this account, and

partly to avoid a domestic spy, they kept no servant; the citizen and

citizeness who acted as porters at the courtyard gate, rendered them

occasional service; and Jerry (almost wholly transferred to them by

Mr. Lorry) had become their daily retainer, and had his bed there every


It was an ordinance of the Republic One and Indivisible of Liberty,

Equality, Fraternity, or Death, that on the door or doorpost of every

house, the name of every inmate must be legibly inscribed in letters

of a certain size, at a certain convenient height from the ground. Mr.

Jerry Cruncher's name, therefore, duly embellished the doorpost down

below; and, as the afternoon shadows deepened, the owner of that name

himself appeared, from overlooking a painter whom Doctor Manette had

employed to add to the list the name of Charles Evremonde, called


In the universal fear and distrust that darkened the time, all the usual

harmless ways of life were changed. In the Doctor's little household, as

in very many others, the articles of daily consumption that were wanted

were purchased every evening, in small quantities and at various small

shops. To avoid attracting notice, and to give as little occasion as

possible for talk and envy, was the general desire.

For some months past, Miss Pross and Mr. Cruncher had discharged the

office of purveyors; the former carrying the money; the latter, the

basket. Every afternoon at about the time when the public lamps were

lighted, they fared forth on this duty, and made and brought home

such purchases as were needful. Although Miss Pross, through her long

association with a French family, might have known as much of their

language as of her own, if she had had a mind, she had no mind in that

direction; consequently she knew no more of that “nonsense” (as she was

pleased to call it) than Mr. Cruncher did. So her manner of marketing

was to plump a noun-substantive at the head of a shopkeeper without any

introduction in the nature of an article, and, if it happened not to be

the name of the thing she wanted, to look round for that thing, lay hold

of it, and hold on by it until the bargain was concluded. She always

made a bargain for it, by holding up, as a statement of its just price,

one finger less than the merchant held up, whatever his number might be.

“Now, Mr. Cruncher,” said Miss Pross, whose eyes were red with felicity;

“if you are ready, I am.”

Jerry hoarsely professed himself at Miss Pross's service. He had worn

all his rust off long ago, but nothing would file his spiky head down.

“There's all manner of things wanted,” said Miss Pross, “and we shall

have a precious time of it. We want wine, among the rest. Nice toasts

these Redheads will be drinking, wherever we buy it.”

“It will be much the same to your knowledge, miss, I should think,”

retorted Jerry, “whether they drink your health or the Old Un's.”

“Who's he?” said Miss Pross.

Mr. Cruncher, with some diffidence, explained himself as meaning “Old


“Ha!” said Miss Pross, “it doesn't need an interpreter to explain the

meaning of these creatures. They have but one, and it's Midnight Murder,

and Mischief.”

“Hush, dear! Pray, pray, be cautious!” cried Lucie.

“Yes, yes, yes, I'll be cautious,” said Miss Pross; “but I may say

among ourselves, that I do hope there will be no oniony and tobaccoey

smotherings in the form of embracings all round, going on in the

streets. Now, Ladybird, never you stir from that fire till I come back!

Take care of the dear husband you have recovered, and don't move your

pretty head from his shoulder as you have it now, till you see me again!

May I ask a question, Doctor Manette, before I go?”

“I think you may take that liberty,” the Doctor answered, smiling.

“For gracious sake, don't talk about Liberty; we have quite enough of

that,” said Miss Pross.

“Hush, dear! Again?” Lucie remonstrated.

“Well, my sweet,” said Miss Pross, nodding her head emphatically, “the

short and the long of it is, that I am a subject of His Most Gracious

Majesty King George the Third;” Miss Pross curtseyed at the name; “and

as such, my maxim is, Confound their politics, Frustrate their knavish

tricks, On him our hopes we fix, God save the King!”

Mr. Cruncher, in an access of loyalty, growlingly repeated the words

after Miss Pross, like somebody at church.

“I am glad you have so much of the Englishman in you, though I wish you

had never taken that cold in your voice,” said Miss Pross, approvingly.

“But the question, Doctor Manette. Is there”--it was the good creature's

way to affect to make light of anything that was a great anxiety

with them all, and to come at it in this chance manner--“is there any

prospect yet, of our getting out of this place?”

“I fear not yet. It would be dangerous for Charles yet.”

“Heigh-ho-hum!” said Miss Pross, cheerfully repressing a sigh as she

glanced at her darling's golden hair in the light of the fire, “then we

must have patience and wait: that's all. We must hold up our heads and

fight low, as my brother Solomon used to say. Now, Mr. Cruncher!--Don't

you move, Ladybird!”

They went out, leaving Lucie, and her husband, her father, and the

child, by a bright fire. Mr. Lorry was expected back presently from the

Banking House. Miss Pross had lighted the lamp, but had put it aside in

a corner, that they might enjoy the fire-light undisturbed. Little Lucie

sat by her grandfather with her hands clasped through his arm: and he,

in a tone not rising much above a whisper, began to tell her a story of

a great and powerful Fairy who had opened a prison-wall and let out

a captive who had once done the Fairy a service. All was subdued and

quiet, and Lucie was more at ease than she had been.

“What is that?” she cried, all at once.

“My dear!” said her father, stopping in his story, and laying his hand

on hers, “command yourself. What a disordered state you are in! The

least thing--nothing--startles you! _You_, your father's daughter!”

“I thought, my father,” said Lucie, excusing herself, with a pale face

and in a faltering voice, “that I heard strange feet upon the stairs.”

“My love, the staircase is as still as Death.”

As he said the word, a blow was struck upon the door.

“Oh father, father. What can this be! Hide Charles. Save him!”

“My child,” said the Doctor, rising, and laying his hand upon her

shoulder, “I _have_ saved him. What weakness is this, my dear! Let me go

to the door.”

He took the lamp in his hand, crossed the two intervening outer rooms,

and opened it. A rude clattering of feet over the floor, and four rough

men in red caps, armed with sabres and pistols, entered the room.

“The Citizen Evremonde, called Darnay,” said the first.

“Who seeks him?” answered Darnay.

“I seek him. We seek him. I know you, Evremonde; I saw you before the

Tribunal to-day. You are again the prisoner of the Republic.”

The four surrounded him, where he stood with his wife and child clinging

to him.

“Tell me how and why am I again a prisoner?”

“It is enough that you return straight to the Conciergerie, and will

know to-morrow. You are summoned for to-morrow.”

Doctor Manette, whom this visitation had so turned into stone, that he

stood with the lamp in his hand, as if he were a statue made to hold it,

moved after these words were spoken, put the lamp down, and confronting

the speaker, and taking him, not ungently, by the loose front of his red

woollen shirt, said:

“You know him, you have said. Do you know me?”

“Yes, I know you, Citizen Doctor.”

“We all know you, Citizen Doctor,” said the other three.

He looked abstractedly from one to another, and said, in a lower voice,

after a pause:

“Will you answer his question to me then? How does this happen?”

“Citizen Doctor,” said the first, reluctantly, “he has been denounced to

the Section of Saint Antoine. This citizen,” pointing out the second who

had entered, “is from Saint Antoine.”

The citizen here indicated nodded his head, and added:

“He is accused by Saint Antoine.”

“Of what?” asked the Doctor.

“Citizen Doctor,” said the first, with his former reluctance, “ask no

more. If the Republic demands sacrifices from you, without doubt you as

a good patriot will be happy to make them. The Republic goes before all.

The People is supreme. Evremonde, we are pressed.”

“One word,” the Doctor entreated. “Will you tell me who denounced him?”

“It is against rule,” answered the first; “but you can ask Him of Saint

Antoine here.”

The Doctor turned his eyes upon that man. Who moved uneasily on his

feet, rubbed his beard a little, and at length said:

“Well! Truly it is against rule. But he is denounced--and gravely--by

the Citizen and Citizeness Defarge. And by one other.”

“What other?”

“Do _you_ ask, Citizen Doctor?”


“Then,” said he of Saint Antoine, with a strange look, “you will be

answered to-morrow. Now, I am dumb!”


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