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Chapter 1 In Secret

  • The traveller fared slowly on his way, who fared towards Paris from England i_he autumn of the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety-two. More tha_nough of bad roads, bad equipages, and bad horses, he would have encountere_o delay him, though the fallen and unfortunate King of France had been upo_is throne in all his glory; but, the changed times were fraught with othe_bstacles than these. Every town-gate and village taxing-house had its band o_itizen-patriots, with their national muskets in a most explosive state o_eadiness, who stopped all comers and goers, cross-questioned them, inspecte_heir papers, looked for their names in lists of their own, turned them back, or sent them on, or stopped them and laid them in hold, as their capriciou_udgment or fancy deemed best for the dawning Republic One and Indivisible, o_iberty, Equality, Fraternity, or Death.
  • A very few French leagues of his journey were accomplished, when Charle_arnay began to perceive that for him along these country roads there was n_ope of return until he should have been declared a good citizen at Paris.
  • Whatever might befall now, he must on to his journey's end. Not a mean villag_losed upon him, not a common barrier dropped across the road behind him, bu_e knew it to be another iron door in the series that was barred between hi_nd England. The universal watchfulness so encompassed him, that if he ha_een taken in a net, or were being forwarded to his destination in a cage, h_ould not have felt his freedom more completely gone.
  • This universal watchfulness not only stopped him on the highway twenty time_n a stage, but retarded his progress twenty times in a day, by riding afte_im and taking him back, riding before him and stopping him by anticipation, riding with him and keeping him in charge. He had been days upon his journe_n France alone, when he went to bed tired out, in a little town on the hig_oad, still a long way from Paris.
  • Nothing but the production of the afflicted Gabelle's letter from his priso_f the Abbaye would have got him on so far. His difficulty at the guard-hous_n this small place had been such, that he felt his journey to have come to _risis. And he was, therefore, as little surprised as a man could be, to fin_imself awakened at the small inn to which he had been remitted until morning, in the middle of the night.
  • Awakened by a timid local functionary and three armed patriots in rough re_aps and with pipes in their mouths, who sat down on the bed.
  • "Emigrant," said the functionary, "I am going to send you on to Paris, unde_n escort."
  • "Citizen, I desire nothing more than to get to Paris, though I could dispens_ith the escort."
  • "Silence!" growled a red-cap, striking at the coverlet with the butt-end o_is musket. "Peace, aristocrat!"
  • "It is as the good patriot says," observed the timid functionary. "You are a_ristocrat, and must have an escort—and must pay for it."
  • "I have no choice," said Charles Darnay.
  • "Choice! Listen to him!" cried the same scowling red-cap. "As if it was not _avour to be protected from the lamp-iron!"
  • "It is always as the good patriot says," observed the functionary. "Rise an_ress yourself, emigrant."
  • Darnay complied, and was taken back to the guard-house, where other patriot_n rough red caps were smoking, drinking, and sleeping, by a watch-fire. Her_e paid a heavy price for his escort, and hence he started with it on the wet, wet roads at three o'clock in the morning.
  • The escort were two mounted patriots in red caps and tri-coloured cockades, armed with national muskets and sabres, who rode one on either side of him.
  • The escorted governed his own horse, but a loose line was attached to hi_ridle, the end of which one of the patriots kept girded round his wrist. I_his state they set forth with the sharp rain driving in their faces: clattering at a heavy dragoon trot over the uneven town pavement, and out upo_he mire-deep roads. In this state they traversed without change, except o_orses and pace, all the mire-deep leagues that lay between them and th_apital.
  • They travelled in the night, halting an hour or two after daybreak, and lyin_y until the twilight fell. The escort were so wretchedly clothed, that the_wisted straw round their bare legs, and thatched their ragged shoulders t_eep the wet off. Apart from the personal discomfort of being so attended, an_part from such considerations of present danger as arose from one of th_atriots being chronically drunk, and carrying his musket very recklessly, Charles Darnay did not allow the restraint that was laid upon him to awake_ny serious fears in his breast; for, he reasoned with himself that it coul_ave no reference to the merits of an individual case that was not yet stated, and of representations, confirmable by the prisoner in the Abbaye, that wer_ot yet made.
  • But when they came to the town of Beauvais—which they did at eventide, whe_he streets were filled with people—he could not conceal from himself that th_spect of affairs was very alarming. An ominous crowd gathered to see hi_ismount of the posting-yard, and many voices called out loudly, "Down wit_he emigrant!"
  • He stopped in the act of swinging himself out of his saddle, and, resuming i_s his safest place, said:
  • "Emigrant, my friends! Do you not see me here, in France, of my own will?"
  • "You are a cursed emigrant," cried a farrier, making at him in a furiou_anner through the press, hammer in hand; "and you are a cursed aristocrat!"
  • The postmaster interposed himself between this man and the rider's bridle (a_hich he was evidently making), and soothingly said, "Let him be; let him be!
  • He will be judged at Paris."
  • "Judged!" repeated the farrier, swinging his hammer. "Ay! and condemned as _raitor." At this the crowd roared approval.
  • Checking the postmaster, who was for turning his horse's head to the yard (th_runken patriot sat composedly in his saddle looking on, with the line roun_is wrist), Darnay said, as soon as he could make his voice heard:
  • "Friends, you deceive yourselves, or you are deceived. I am not a traitor."
  • "He lies!" cried the smith. "He is a traitor since the decree. His life i_orfeit to the people. His cursed life is not his own!"
  • At the instant when Darnay saw a rush in the eyes of the crowd, which anothe_nstant would have brought upon him, the postmaster turned his horse into th_ard, the escort rode in close upon his horse's flanks, and the postmaste_hut and barred the crazy double gates. The farrier struck a blow upon the_ith his hammer, and the crowd groaned; but, no more was done.
  • "What is this decree that the smith spoke of?" Darnay asked the postmaster, when he had thanked him, and stood beside him in the yard.
  • "Truly, a decree for selling the property of emigrants."
  • "When passed?"
  • "On the fourteenth."
  • "The day I left England!"
  • "Everybody says it is but one of several, and that there will be others—i_here are not already-banishing all emigrants, and condemning all to death wh_eturn. That is what he meant when he said your life was not your own."
  • "But there are no such decrees yet?"
  • "What do I know!" said the postmaster, shrugging his shoulders; "there may be, or there will be. It is all the same. What would you have?"
  • They rested on some straw in a loft until the middle of the night, and the_ode forward again when all the town was asleep. Among the many wild change_bservable on familiar things which made this wild ride unreal, not the leas_as the seeming rarity of sleep. After long and lonely spurring over drear_oads, they would come to a cluster of poor cottages, not steeped in darkness, but all glittering with lights, and would find the people, in a ghostly manne_n the dead of the night, circling hand in hand round a shrivelled tree o_iberty, or all drawn up together singing a Liberty song. Happily, however, there was sleep in Beauvais that night to help them out of it and they passe_n once more into solitude and loneliness: jingling through the untimely col_nd wet, among impoverished fields that had yielded no fruits of the eart_hat year, diversified by the blackened remains of burnt houses, and by th_udden emergence from ambuscade, and sharp reining up across their way, o_atriot patrols on the watch on all the roads.
  • Daylight at last found them before the wall of Paris. The barrier was close_nd strongly guarded when they rode up to it.
  • "Where are the papers of this prisoner?" demanded a resolute-looking man i_uthority, who was summoned out by the guard.
  • Naturally struck by the disagreeable word, Charles Darnay requested th_peaker to take notice that he was a free traveller and French citizen, i_harge of an escort which the disturbed state of the country had imposed upo_im, and which he had paid for.
  • "Where," repeated the same personage, without taking any heed of him whatever,
  • "are the papers of this prisoner?"
  • The drunken patriot had them in his cap, and produced them. Casting his eye_ver Gabelle's letter, the same personage in authority showed some disorde_nd surprise, and looked at Darnay with a close attention.
  • He left escort and escorted without saying a word, however, and went into th_uard-room; meanwhile, they sat upon their horses outside the gate. Lookin_bout him while in this state of suspense, Charles Darnay observed that th_ate was held by a mixed guard of soldiers and patriots, the latter fa_utnumbering the former; and that while ingress into the city for peasants'
  • carts bringing in supplies, and for similar traffic and traffickers, was eas_nough, egress, even for the homeliest people, was very difficult. A numerou_edley of men and women, not to mention beasts and vehicles of various sorts, was waiting to issue forth; but, the previous identification was so strict, that they filtered through the barrier very slowly. Some of these people kne_heir turn for examination to be so far off, that they lay down on the groun_o sleep or smoke, while others talked together, or loitered about. The re_ap and tri-colour cockade were universal, both among men and women.
  • When he had sat in his saddle some half-hour, taking note of these things, Darnay found himself confronted by the same man in authority, who directed th_uard to open the barrier. Then he delivered to the escort, drunk and sober, _eceipt for the escorted, and requested him to dismount. He did so, and th_wo patriots, leading his tired horse, turned and rode away without enterin_he city.
  • He accompanied his conductor into a guard-room, smelling of common wine an_obacco, where certain soldiers and patriots, asleep and awake, drunk an_ober, and in various neutral states between sleeping and waking, drunkennes_nd sobriety, were standing and lying about. The light in the guard-house, half derived from the waning oil-lamps of the night, and half from th_vercast day, was in a correspondingly uncertain condition. Some register_ere lying open on a desk, and an officer of a coarse, dark aspect, preside_ver these.
  • "Citizen Defarge," said he to Darnay's conductor, as he took a slip of pape_o write on. "Is this the emigrant Evremonde?"
  • "This is the man."
  • "Your age, Evremonde?"
  • "Thirty-seven."
  • "Married, Evremonde?"
  • "Yes."
  • "Where married?"
  • "In England."
  • "Without doubt. Where is your wife, Evremonde?"
  • "In England."
  • "Without doubt. You are consigned, Evremonde, to the prison of La Force."
  • "Just Heaven!" exclaimed Darnay. "Under what law, and for what offence?"
  • The officer looked up from his slip of paper for a moment.
  • "We have new laws, Evremonde, and new offences, since you were here." He sai_t with a hard smile, and went on writing.
  • "I entreat you to observe that I have come here voluntarily, in response t_hat written appeal of a fellow-countryman which lies before you. I demand n_ore than the opportunity to do so without delay. Is not that my right?"
  • "Emigrants have no rights, Evremonde," was the stolid reply. The officer wrot_ntil he had finished, read over to himself what he had written, sanded it, and handed it to Defarge, with the words "In secret."
  • Defarge motioned with the paper to the prisoner that he must accompany him.
  • The prisoner obeyed, and a guard of two armed patriots attended them.
  • "Is it you," said Defarge, in a low voice, as they went down the guardhous_teps and turned into Paris, "who married the daughter of Doctor Manette, onc_ prisoner in the Bastille that is no more?"
  • "Yes," replied Darnay, looking at him with surprise.
  • "My name is Defarge, and I keep a wine-shop in the Quarter Saint Antoine.
  • Possibly you have heard of me."
  • "My wife came to your house to reclaim her father? Yes!"
  • The word "wife" seemed to serve as a gloomy reminder to Defarge, to say wit_udden impatience, "In the name of that sharp female newly-born, and called L_uillotine, why did you come to France?"
  • "You heard me say why, a minute ago. Do you not believe it is the truth?"
  • "A bad truth for you," said Defarge, speaking with knitted brows, and lookin_traight before him.
  • "Indeed I am lost here. All here is so unprecedented, so changed, so sudde_nd unfair, that I am absolutely lost. Will you render me a little help?"
  • "None." Defarge spoke, always looking straight before him.
  • "Will you answer me a single question?"
  • "Perhaps. According to its nature. You can say what it is."
  • "In this prison that I am going to so unjustly, shall I have some fre_ommunication with the world outside?"
  • "You will see."
  • "I am not to be buried there, prejudged, and without any means of presentin_y case?"
  • "You will see. But, what then? Other people have been similarly buried i_orse prisons, before now."
  • "But never by me, Citizen Defarge."
  • Defarge glanced darkly at him for answer, and walked on in a steady and se_ilence. The deeper he sank into this silence, the fainter hope there was—o_o Darnay thought—of his softening in any slight degree. He, therefore, mad_aste to say:
  • "It is of the utmost importance to me (you know, Citizen, even better than I, of how much importance), that I should be able to communicate to Mr. Lorry o_ellson's Bank, an English gentleman who is now in Paris, the simple fact, without comment, that I have been thrown into the prison of La Force. Will yo_ause that to be done for me?"
  • "I will do," Defarge doggedly rejoined, "nothing for you. My duty is to m_ountry and the People. I am the sworn servant of both, against you. I will d_othing for you."
  • Charles Darnay felt it hopeless to entreat him further, and his pride wa_ouched besides. As they walked on in silence, he could not but see how use_he people were to the spectacle of prisoners passing along the streets. Th_ery children scarcely noticed him. A few passers turned their heads, and _ew shook their fingers at him as an aristocrat; otherwise, that a man in goo_lothes should be going to prison, was no more remarkable than that a laboure_n working clothes should be going to work. In one narrow, dark, and dirt_treet through which they passed, an excited orator, mounted on a stool, wa_ddressing an excited audience on the crimes against the people, of the kin_nd the royal family. The few words that he caught from this man's lips, firs_ade it known to Charles Darnay that the king was in prison, and that th_oreign ambassadors had one and all left Paris. On the road (except a_eauvais) he had heard absolutely nothing. The escort and the universa_atchfulness had completely isolated him.
  • That he had fallen among far greater dangers than those which had develope_hemselves when he left England, he of course knew now. That perils ha_hickened about him fast, and might thicken faster and faster yet, he o_ourse knew now. He could not but admit to himself that he might not have mad_his journey, if he could have foreseen the events of a few days. And yet hi_isgivings were not so dark as, imagined by the light of this later time, the_ould appear. Troubled as the future was, it was the unknown future, and i_ts obscurity there was ignorant hope. The horrible massacre, days and night_ong, which, within a few rounds of the clock, was to set a great mark o_lood upon the blessed garnering time of harvest, was as far out of hi_nowledge as if it had been a hundred thousand years away. The "sharp femal_ewly-born, and called La Guillotine," was hardly known to him, or to th_enerality of people, by name. The frightful deeds that were to be soon done, were probably unimagined at that time in the brains of the doers. How coul_hey have a place in the shadowy conceptions of a gentle mind?
  • Of unjust treatment in detention and hardship, and in cruel separation fro_is wife and child, he foreshadowed the likelihood, or the certainty; but, beyond this, he dreaded nothing distinctly. With this on his mind, which wa_nough to carry into a dreary prison courtyard, he arrived at the prison of L_orce.
  • A man with a bloated face opened the strong wicket, to whom Defarge presented
  • "The Emigrant Evremonde."
  • "What the Devil! How many more of them!" exclaimed the man with the bloate_ace.
  • Defarge took his receipt without noticing the exclamation, and withdrew, wit_is two fellow-patriots.
  • "What the Devil, I say again!" exclaimed the gaoler, left with his wife. "Ho_any more!"
  • The gaoler's wife, being provided with no answer to the question, merel_eplied, "One must have patience, my dear!" Three turnkeys who entere_esponsive to a bell she rang, echoed the sentiment, and one added, "For th_ove of Liberty;" which sounded in that place like an inappropriat_onclusion.
  • The prison of La Force was a gloomy prison, dark and filthy, and with _orrible smell of foul sleep in it. Extraordinary how soon the noisome flavou_f imprisoned sleep, becomes manifest in all such places that are ill care_or!
  • "In secret, too," grumbled the gaoler, looking at the written paper. "As if _as not already full to bursting!"
  • He stuck the paper on a file, in an ill-humour, and Charles Darnay awaited hi_urther pleasure for half an hour: sometimes, pacing to and fro in the stron_rched room: sometimes, resting on a stone seat: in either case detained to b_mprinted on the memory of the chief and his subordinates.
  • "Come!" said the chief, at length taking up his keys, "come with me, emigrant."
  • Through the dismal prison twilight, his new charge accompanied him by corrido_nd staircase, many doors clanging and locking behind them, until they cam_nto a large, low, vaulted chamber, crowded with prisoners of both sexes. Th_omen were seated at a long table, reading and writing, knitting, sewing, an_mbroidering; the men were for the most part standing behind their chairs, o_ingering up and down the room.
  • In the instinctive association of prisoners with shameful crime and disgrace, the new-comer recoiled from this company. But the crowning unreality of hi_ong unreal ride, was, their all at once rising to receive him, with ever_efinement of manner known to the time, and with all the engaging graces an_ourtesies of life.
  • So strangely clouded were these refinements by the prison manners and gloom, so spectral did they become in the inappropriate squalor and misery throug_hich they were seen, that Charles Darnay seemed to stand in a company of th_ead. Ghosts all! The ghost of beauty, the ghost of stateliness, the ghost o_legance, the ghost of pride, the ghost of frivolity, the ghost of wit, th_host of youth, the ghost of age, all waiting their dismissal from th_esolate shore, all turning on him eyes that were changed by the death the_ad died in coming there.
  • It struck him motionless. The gaoler standing at his side, and the othe_aolers moving about, who would have been well enough as to appearance in th_rdinary exercise of their functions, looked so extravagantly coars_ontrasted with sorrowing mothers and blooming daughters who were there—wit_he apparitions of the coquette, the young beauty, and the mature woma_elicately bred—that the inversion of all experience and likelihood which th_cene of shadows presented, was heightened to its utmost. Surely, ghosts all.
  • Surely, the long unreal ride some progress of disease that had brought him t_hese gloomy shades!
  • "In the name of the assembled companions in misfortune," said a gentleman o_ourtly appearance and address, coming forward, "I have the honour of givin_ou welcome to La Force, and of condoling with you on the calamity that ha_rought you among us. May it soon terminate happily! It would be a_mpertinence elsewhere, but it is not so here, to ask your name an_ondition?"
  • Charles Darnay roused himself, and gave the required information, in words a_uitable as he could find.
  • "But I hope," said the gentleman, following the chief gaoler with his eyes, who moved across the room, "that you are not in secret?"
  • "I do not understand the meaning of the term, but I have heard them say so."
  • "Ah, what a pity! We so much regret it! But take courage; several members o_ur society have been in secret, at first, and it has lasted but a shor_ime." Then he added, raising his voice, "I grieve to inform the society—i_ecret."
  • There was a murmur of commiseration as Charles Darnay crossed the room to _rated door where the gaoler awaited him, and many voices—among which, th_oft and compassionate voices of women were conspicuous—gave him good wishe_nd encouragement. He turned at the grated door, to render the thanks of hi_eart; it closed under the gaoler's hand; and the apparitions vanished fro_is sight forever.
  • The wicket opened on a stone staircase, leading upward. When they bad ascende_orty steps (the prisoner of half an hour already counted them), the gaole_pened a low black door, and they passed into a solitary cell. It struck col_nd damp, but was not dark.
  • "Yours," said the gaoler.
  • "Why am I confined alone?"
  • "How do I know!"
  • "I can buy pen, ink, and paper?"
  • "Such are not my orders. You will be visited, and can ask then. At present, you may buy your food, and nothing more."
  • There were in the cell, a chair, a table, and a straw mattress. As the gaole_ade a general inspection of these objects, and of the four walls, befor_oing out, a wandering fancy wandered through the mind of the prisoner leanin_gainst the wall opposite to him, that this gaoler was so unwholesomel_loated, both in face and person, as to look like a man who had been drowne_nd filled with water. When the gaoler was gone, he thought in the sam_andering way, "Now am I left, as if I were dead." Stopping then, to look dow_t the mattress, he turned from it with a sick feeling, and thought, "And her_n these crawling creatures is the first condition of the body after death."
  • "Five paces by four and a half, five paces by four and a half, five paces b_our and a half." The prisoner walked to and fro in his cell, counting it_easurement, and the roar of the city arose like muffled drums with a wil_well of voices added to them. "He made shoes, he made shoes, he made shoes."
  • The prisoner counted the measurement again, and paced faster, to draw his min_ith him from that latter repetition. "The ghosts that vanished when th_icket closed. There was one among them, the appearance of a lady dressed i_lack, who was leaning in the embrasure of a window, and she had a ligh_hining upon her golden hair, and she looked like * * * * Let us ride o_gain, for God's sake, through the illuminated villages with the people al_wake! * * * * He made shoes, he made shoes, he made shoes. * * * * Five pace_y four and a half." With such scraps tossing and rolling upward from th_epths of his mind, the prisoner walked faster and faster, obstinatel_ounting and counting; and the roar of the city changed to this extent—that i_till rolled in like muffled drums, but with the wail of voices that he knew, in the swell that rose above them.