A TALE OF TWO CITIES - 3 - 9 in English Moral Stories by Charles Dickens books and stories PDF | A TALE OF TWO CITIES - 3 - 9




By Charles Dickens

The Track of a Storm


The Game Made

While Sydney Carton and the Sheep of the prisons were in the adjoining

dark room, speaking so low that not a sound was heard, Mr. Lorry looked

at Jerry in considerable doubt and mistrust. That honest tradesman's

manner of receiving the look, did not inspire confidence; he changed the

leg on which he rested, as often as if he had fifty of those limbs,

and were trying them all; he examined his finger-nails with a very

questionable closeness of attention; and whenever Mr. Lorry's eye caught

his, he was taken with that peculiar kind of short cough requiring the

hollow of a hand before it, which is seldom, if ever, known to be an

infirmity attendant on perfect openness of character.

“Jerry,” said Mr. Lorry. “Come here.”

Mr. Cruncher came forward sideways, with one of his shoulders in advance

of him.

“What have you been, besides a messenger?”

After some cogitation, accompanied with an intent look at his patron,

Mr. Cruncher conceived the luminous idea of replying, “Agicultooral


“My mind misgives me much,” said Mr. Lorry, angrily shaking a forefinger

at him, “that you have used the respectable and great house of Tellson's

as a blind, and that you have had an unlawful occupation of an infamous

description. If you have, don't expect me to befriend you when you

get back to England. If you have, don't expect me to keep your secret.

Tellson's shall not be imposed upon.”

“I hope, sir,” pleaded the abashed Mr. Cruncher, “that a gentleman like

yourself wot I've had the honour of odd jobbing till I'm grey at it,

would think twice about harming of me, even if it wos so--I don't say it

is, but even if it wos. And which it is to be took into account that if

it wos, it wouldn't, even then, be all o' one side. There'd be two sides

to it. There might be medical doctors at the present hour, a picking

up their guineas where a honest tradesman don't pick up his

fardens--fardens! no, nor yet his half fardens--half fardens! no, nor

yet his quarter--a banking away like smoke at Tellson's, and a cocking

their medical eyes at that tradesman on the sly, a going in and going

out to their own carriages--ah! equally like smoke, if not more so.

Well, that 'ud be imposing, too, on Tellson's. For you cannot sarse the

goose and not the gander. And here's Mrs. Cruncher, or leastways wos

in the Old England times, and would be to-morrow, if cause given,

a floppin' again the business to that degree as is ruinating--stark

ruinating! Whereas them medical doctors' wives don't flop--catch 'em at

it! Or, if they flop, their floppings goes in favour of more patients,

and how can you rightly have one without t'other? Then, wot with

undertakers, and wot with parish clerks, and wot with sextons, and wot

with private watchmen (all awaricious and all in it), a man wouldn't get

much by it, even if it wos so. And wot little a man did get, would never

prosper with him, Mr. Lorry. He'd never have no good of it; he'd want

all along to be out of the line, if he, could see his way out, being

once in--even if it wos so.”

“Ugh!” cried Mr. Lorry, rather relenting, nevertheless, “I am shocked at

the sight of you.”

“Now, what I would humbly offer to you, sir,” pursued Mr. Cruncher,

“even if it wos so, which I don't say it is--”

“Don't prevaricate,” said Mr. Lorry.

“No, I will _not_, sir,” returned Mr. Crunches as if nothing were

further from his thoughts or practice--“which I don't say it is--wot I

would humbly offer to you, sir, would be this. Upon that there stool, at

that there Bar, sets that there boy of mine, brought up and growed up to

be a man, wot will errand you, message you, general-light-job you, till

your heels is where your head is, if such should be your wishes. If it

wos so, which I still don't say it is (for I will not prewaricate to

you, sir), let that there boy keep his father's place, and take care of

his mother; don't blow upon that boy's father--do not do it, sir--and

let that father go into the line of the reg'lar diggin', and make amends

for what he would have undug--if it wos so--by diggin' of 'em in with

a will, and with conwictions respectin' the futur' keepin' of 'em safe.

That, Mr. Lorry,” said Mr. Cruncher, wiping his forehead with his

arm, as an announcement that he had arrived at the peroration of his

discourse, “is wot I would respectfully offer to you, sir. A man don't

see all this here a goin' on dreadful round him, in the way of Subjects

without heads, dear me, plentiful enough fur to bring the price down

to porterage and hardly that, without havin' his serious thoughts of

things. And these here would be mine, if it wos so, entreatin' of you

fur to bear in mind that wot I said just now, I up and said in the good

cause when I might have kep' it back.”

“That at least is true,” said Mr. Lorry. “Say no more now. It may be

that I shall yet stand your friend, if you deserve it, and repent in

action--not in words. I want no more words.”

Mr. Cruncher knuckled his forehead, as Sydney Carton and the spy

returned from the dark room. “Adieu, Mr. Barsad,” said the former; “our

arrangement thus made, you have nothing to fear from me.”

He sat down in a chair on the hearth, over against Mr. Lorry. When they

were alone, Mr. Lorry asked him what he had done?

“Not much. If it should go ill with the prisoner, I have ensured access

to him, once.”

Mr. Lorry's countenance fell.

“It is all I could do,” said Carton. “To propose too much, would be

to put this man's head under the axe, and, as he himself said, nothing

worse could happen to him if he were denounced. It was obviously the

weakness of the position. There is no help for it.”

“But access to him,” said Mr. Lorry, “if it should go ill before the

Tribunal, will not save him.”

“I never said it would.”

Mr. Lorry's eyes gradually sought the fire; his sympathy with his

darling, and the heavy disappointment of his second arrest, gradually

weakened them; he was an old man now, overborne with anxiety of late,

and his tears fell.

“You are a good man and a true friend,” said Carton, in an altered

voice. “Forgive me if I notice that you are affected. I could not see my

father weep, and sit by, careless. And I could not respect your

sorrow more, if you were my father. You are free from that misfortune,


Though he said the last words, with a slip into his usual manner, there

was a true feeling and respect both in his tone and in his touch,

that Mr. Lorry, who had never seen the better side of him, was wholly

unprepared for. He gave him his hand, and Carton gently pressed it.

“To return to poor Darnay,” said Carton. “Don't tell Her of this

interview, or this arrangement. It would not enable Her to go to see

him. She might think it was contrived, in case of the worse, to convey

to him the means of anticipating the sentence.”

Mr. Lorry had not thought of that, and he looked quickly at Carton to

see if it were in his mind. It seemed to be; he returned the look, and

evidently understood it.

“She might think a thousand things,” Carton said, “and any of them would

only add to her trouble. Don't speak of me to her. As I said to you when

I first came, I had better not see her. I can put my hand out, to do any

little helpful work for her that my hand can find to do, without that.

You are going to her, I hope? She must be very desolate to-night.”

“I am going now, directly.”

“I am glad of that. She has such a strong attachment to you and reliance

on you. How does she look?”

“Anxious and unhappy, but very beautiful.”


It was a long, grieving sound, like a sigh--almost like a sob. It

attracted Mr. Lorry's eyes to Carton's face, which was turned to the

fire. A light, or a shade (the old gentleman could not have said which),

passed from it as swiftly as a change will sweep over a hill-side on a

wild bright day, and he lifted his foot to put back one of the little

flaming logs, which was tumbling forward. He wore the white riding-coat

and top-boots, then in vogue, and the light of the fire touching their

light surfaces made him look very pale, with his long brown hair,

all untrimmed, hanging loose about him. His indifference to fire was

sufficiently remarkable to elicit a word of remonstrance from Mr. Lorry;

his boot was still upon the hot embers of the flaming log, when it had

broken under the weight of his foot.

“I forgot it,” he said.

Mr. Lorry's eyes were again attracted to his face. Taking note of the

wasted air which clouded the naturally handsome features, and having

the expression of prisoners' faces fresh in his mind, he was strongly

reminded of that expression.

“And your duties here have drawn to an end, sir?” said Carton, turning

to him.

“Yes. As I was telling you last night when Lucie came in so

unexpectedly, I have at length done all that I can do here. I hoped to

have left them in perfect safety, and then to have quitted Paris. I have

my Leave to Pass. I was ready to go.”

They were both silent.

“Yours is a long life to look back upon, sir?” said Carton, wistfully.

“I am in my seventy-eighth year.”

“You have been useful all your life; steadily and constantly occupied;

trusted, respected, and looked up to?”

“I have been a man of business, ever since I have been a man. Indeed, I

may say that I was a man of business when a boy.”

“See what a place you fill at seventy-eight. How many people will miss

you when you leave it empty!”

“A solitary old bachelor,” answered Mr. Lorry, shaking his head. “There

is nobody to weep for me.”

“How can you say that? Wouldn't She weep for you? Wouldn't her child?”

“Yes, yes, thank God. I didn't quite mean what I said.”

“It _is_ a thing to thank God for; is it not?”

“Surely, surely.”

“If you could say, with truth, to your own solitary heart, to-night,

'I have secured to myself the love and attachment, the gratitude or

respect, of no human creature; I have won myself a tender place in no

regard; I have done nothing good or serviceable to be remembered by!'

your seventy-eight years would be seventy-eight heavy curses; would they


“You say truly, Mr. Carton; I think they would be.”

Sydney turned his eyes again upon the fire, and, after a silence of a

few moments, said:

“I should like to ask you:--Does your childhood seem far off? Do the

days when you sat at your mother's knee, seem days of very long ago?”

Responding to his softened manner, Mr. Lorry answered:

“Twenty years back, yes; at this time of my life, no. For, as I draw

closer and closer to the end, I travel in the circle, nearer and

nearer to the beginning. It seems to be one of the kind smoothings and

preparings of the way. My heart is touched now, by many remembrances

that had long fallen asleep, of my pretty young mother (and I so old!),

and by many associations of the days when what we call the World was not

so real with me, and my faults were not confirmed in me.”

“I understand the feeling!” exclaimed Carton, with a bright flush. “And

you are the better for it?”

“I hope so.”

Carton terminated the conversation here, by rising to help him on with

his outer coat; “But you,” said Mr. Lorry, reverting to the theme, “you

are young.”

“Yes,” said Carton. “I am not old, but my young way was never the way to

age. Enough of me.”

“And of me, I am sure,” said Mr. Lorry. “Are you going out?”

“I'll walk with you to her gate. You know my vagabond and restless

habits. If I should prowl about the streets a long time, don't be

uneasy; I shall reappear in the morning. You go to the Court to-morrow?”

“Yes, unhappily.”

“I shall be there, but only as one of the crowd. My Spy will find a

place for me. Take my arm, sir.”

Mr. Lorry did so, and they went down-stairs and out in the streets. A

few minutes brought them to Mr. Lorry's destination. Carton left him

there; but lingered at a little distance, and turned back to the gate

again when it was shut, and touched it. He had heard of her going to

the prison every day. “She came out here,” he said, looking about him,

“turned this way, must have trod on these stones often. Let me follow in

her steps.”

It was ten o'clock at night when he stood before the prison of La Force,

where she had stood hundreds of times. A little wood-sawyer, having

closed his shop, was smoking his pipe at his shop-door.

“Good night, citizen,” said Sydney Carton, pausing in going by; for, the

man eyed him inquisitively.

“Good night, citizen.”

“How goes the Republic?”

“You mean the Guillotine. Not ill. Sixty-three to-day. We shall mount

to a hundred soon. Samson and his men complain sometimes, of being

exhausted. Ha, ha, ha! He is so droll, that Samson. Such a Barber!”

“Do you often go to see him--”

“Shave? Always. Every day. What a barber! You have seen him at work?”


“Go and see him when he has a good batch. Figure this to yourself,

citizen; he shaved the sixty-three to-day, in less than two pipes! Less

than two pipes. Word of honour!”

As the grinning little man held out the pipe he was smoking, to explain

how he timed the executioner, Carton was so sensible of a rising desire

to strike the life out of him, that he turned away.

“But you are not English,” said the wood-sawyer, “though you wear

English dress?”

“Yes,” said Carton, pausing again, and answering over his shoulder.

“You speak like a Frenchman.”

“I am an old student here.”

“Aha, a perfect Frenchman! Good night, Englishman.”

“Good night, citizen.”

“But go and see that droll dog,” the little man persisted, calling after

him. “And take a pipe with you!”

Sydney had not gone far out of sight, when he stopped in the middle of

the street under a glimmering lamp, and wrote with his pencil on a scrap

of paper. Then, traversing with the decided step of one who remembered

the way well, several dark and dirty streets--much dirtier than usual,

for the best public thoroughfares remained uncleansed in those times of

terror--he stopped at a chemist's shop, which the owner was closing with

his own hands. A small, dim, crooked shop, kept in a tortuous, up-hill

thoroughfare, by a small, dim, crooked man.

Giving this citizen, too, good night, as he confronted him at his

counter, he laid the scrap of paper before him. “Whew!” the chemist

whistled softly, as he read it. “Hi! hi! hi!”

Sydney Carton took no heed, and the chemist said:

“For you, citizen?”

“For me.”

“You will be careful to keep them separate, citizen? You know the

consequences of mixing them?”


Certain small packets were made and given to him. He put them, one by

one, in the breast of his inner coat, counted out the money for them,

and deliberately left the shop. “There is nothing more to do,” said he,

glancing upward at the moon, “until to-morrow. I can't sleep.”

It was not a reckless manner, the manner in which he said these words

aloud under the fast-sailing clouds, nor was it more expressive of

negligence than defiance. It was the settled manner of a tired man, who

had wandered and struggled and got lost, but who at length struck into

his road and saw its end.

Long ago, when he had been famous among his earliest competitors as a

youth of great promise, he had followed his father to the grave. His

mother had died, years before. These solemn words, which had been

read at his father's grave, arose in his mind as he went down the dark

streets, among the heavy shadows, with the moon and the clouds sailing

on high above him. “I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord:

he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and

whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die.”

In a city dominated by the axe, alone at night, with natural sorrow

rising in him for the sixty-three who had been that day put to death,

and for to-morrow's victims then awaiting their doom in the prisons,

and still of to-morrow's and to-morrow's, the chain of association that

brought the words home, like a rusty old ship's anchor from the deep,

might have been easily found. He did not seek it, but repeated them and

went on.

With a solemn interest in the lighted windows where the people were

going to rest, forgetful through a few calm hours of the horrors

surrounding them; in the towers of the churches, where no prayers

were said, for the popular revulsion had even travelled that length

of self-destruction from years of priestly impostors, plunderers, and

profligates; in the distant burial-places, reserved, as they wrote upon

the gates, for Eternal Sleep; in the abounding gaols; and in the streets

along which the sixties rolled to a death which had become so common and

material, that no sorrowful story of a haunting Spirit ever arose among

the people out of all the working of the Guillotine; with a solemn

interest in the whole life and death of the city settling down to its

short nightly pause in fury; Sydney Carton crossed the Seine again for

the lighter streets.

Few coaches were abroad, for riders in coaches were liable to be

suspected, and gentility hid its head in red nightcaps, and put on heavy

shoes, and trudged. But, the theatres were all well filled, and the

people poured cheerfully out as he passed, and went chatting home. At

one of the theatre doors, there was a little girl with a mother, looking

for a way across the street through the mud. He carried the child over,

and before the timid arm was loosed from his neck asked her for a kiss.

“I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth

in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and

believeth in me, shall never die.”

Now, that the streets were quiet, and the night wore on, the words

were in the echoes of his feet, and were in the air. Perfectly calm

and steady, he sometimes repeated them to himself as he walked; but, he

heard them always.

The night wore out, and, as he stood upon the bridge listening to the

water as it splashed the river-walls of the Island of Paris, where the

picturesque confusion of houses and cathedral shone bright in the light

of the moon, the day came coldly, looking like a dead face out of the

sky. Then, the night, with the moon and the stars, turned pale and died,

and for a little while it seemed as if Creation were delivered over to

Death's dominion.

But, the glorious sun, rising, seemed to strike those words, that burden

of the night, straight and warm to his heart in its long bright rays.

And looking along them, with reverently shaded eyes, a bridge of light

appeared to span the air between him and the sun, while the river

sparkled under it.

The strong tide, so swift, so deep, and certain, was like a congenial

friend, in the morning stillness. He walked by the stream, far from the

houses, and in the light and warmth of the sun fell asleep on the

bank. When he awoke and was afoot again, he lingered there yet a little

longer, watching an eddy that turned and turned purposeless, until the

stream absorbed it, and carried it on to the sea.--“Like me.”

A trading-boat, with a sail of the softened colour of a dead leaf, then

glided into his view, floated by him, and died away. As its silent track

in the water disappeared, the prayer that had broken up out of his heart

for a merciful consideration of all his poor blindnesses and errors,

ended in the words, “I am the resurrection and the life.”

Mr. Lorry was already out when he got back, and it was easy to surmise

where the good old man was gone. Sydney Carton drank nothing but a

little coffee, ate some bread, and, having washed and changed to refresh

himself, went out to the place of trial.

The court was all astir and a-buzz, when the black sheep--whom many fell

away from in dread--pressed him into an obscure corner among the crowd.

Mr. Lorry was there, and Doctor Manette was there. She was there,

sitting beside her father.

When her husband was brought in, she turned a look upon him, so

sustaining, so encouraging, so full of admiring love and pitying

tenderness, yet so courageous for his sake, that it called the healthy

blood into his face, brightened his glance, and animated his heart. If

there had been any eyes to notice the influence of her look, on Sydney

Carton, it would have been seen to be the same influence exactly.

Before that unjust Tribunal, there was little or no order of procedure,

ensuring to any accused person any reasonable hearing. There could have

been no such Revolution, if all laws, forms, and ceremonies, had not

first been so monstrously abused, that the suicidal vengeance of the

Revolution was to scatter them all to the winds.

Every eye was turned to the jury. The same determined patriots and good

republicans as yesterday and the day before, and to-morrow and the day

after. Eager and prominent among them, one man with a craving face, and

his fingers perpetually hovering about his lips, whose appearance

gave great satisfaction to the spectators. A life-thirsting,

cannibal-looking, bloody-minded juryman, the Jacques Three of St.

Antoine. The whole jury, as a jury of dogs empannelled to try the deer.

Every eye then turned to the five judges and the public prosecutor.

No favourable leaning in that quarter to-day. A fell, uncompromising,

murderous business-meaning there. Every eye then sought some other eye

in the crowd, and gleamed at it approvingly; and heads nodded at one

another, before bending forward with a strained attention.

Charles Evremonde, called Darnay. Released yesterday. Reaccused and

retaken yesterday. Indictment delivered to him last night. Suspected and

Denounced enemy of the Republic, Aristocrat, one of a family of tyrants,

one of a race proscribed, for that they had used their abolished

privileges to the infamous oppression of the people. Charles Evremonde,

called Darnay, in right of such proscription, absolutely Dead in Law.

To this effect, in as few or fewer words, the Public Prosecutor.

The President asked, was the Accused openly denounced or secretly?

“Openly, President.”

“By whom?”

“Three voices. Ernest Defarge, wine-vendor of St. Antoine.”


“Therese Defarge, his wife.”


“Alexandre Manette, physician.”

A great uproar took place in the court, and in the midst of it, Doctor

Manette was seen, pale and trembling, standing where he had been seated.

“President, I indignantly protest to you that this is a forgery and

a fraud. You know the accused to be the husband of my daughter. My

daughter, and those dear to her, are far dearer to me than my life. Who

and where is the false conspirator who says that I denounce the husband

of my child!”

“Citizen Manette, be tranquil. To fail in submission to the authority of

the Tribunal would be to put yourself out of Law. As to what is dearer

to you than life, nothing can be so dear to a good citizen as the


Loud acclamations hailed this rebuke. The President rang his bell, and

with warmth resumed.

“If the Republic should demand of you the sacrifice of your child

herself, you would have no duty but to sacrifice her. Listen to what is

to follow. In the meanwhile, be silent!”

Frantic acclamations were again raised. Doctor Manette sat down, with

his eyes looking around, and his lips trembling; his daughter drew

closer to him. The craving man on the jury rubbed his hands together,

and restored the usual hand to his mouth.

Defarge was produced, when the court was quiet enough to admit of his

being heard, and rapidly expounded the story of the imprisonment, and of

his having been a mere boy in the Doctor's service, and of the release,

and of the state of the prisoner when released and delivered to him.

This short examination followed, for the court was quick with its work.

“You did good service at the taking of the Bastille, citizen?”

“I believe so.”

Here, an excited woman screeched from the crowd: “You were one of the

best patriots there. Why not say so? You were a cannonier that day

there, and you were among the first to enter the accursed fortress when

it fell. Patriots, I speak the truth!”

It was The Vengeance who, amidst the warm commendations of the audience,

thus assisted the proceedings. The President rang his bell; but, The

Vengeance, warming with encouragement, shrieked, “I defy that bell!”

wherein she was likewise much commended.

“Inform the Tribunal of what you did that day within the Bastille,


“I knew,” said Defarge, looking down at his wife, who stood at the

bottom of the steps on which he was raised, looking steadily up at him;

“I knew that this prisoner, of whom I speak, had been confined in a cell

known as One Hundred and Five, North Tower. I knew it from himself. He

knew himself by no other name than One Hundred and Five, North Tower,

when he made shoes under my care. As I serve my gun that day, I resolve,

when the place shall fall, to examine that cell. It falls. I mount to

the cell, with a fellow-citizen who is one of the Jury, directed by a

gaoler. I examine it, very closely. In a hole in the chimney, where a

stone has been worked out and replaced, I find a written paper. This is

that written paper. I have made it my business to examine some specimens

of the writing of Doctor Manette. This is the writing of Doctor Manette.

I confide this paper, in the writing of Doctor Manette, to the hands of

the President.”

“Let it be read.”

In a dead silence and stillness--the prisoner under trial looking

lovingly at his wife, his wife only looking from him to look with

solicitude at her father, Doctor Manette keeping his eyes fixed on the

reader, Madame Defarge never taking hers from the prisoner, Defarge

never taking his from his feasting wife, and all the other eyes there

intent upon the Doctor, who saw none of them--the paper was read, as