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Chapter 22 The Sea still Rises

  • Haggard Saint Antoine had had only one exultant week, in which to soften hi_odicum of hard and bitter bread to such extent as he could, with the relis_f fraternal embraces and congratulations, when Madame Defarge sat at he_ounter, as usual, presiding over the customers. Madame Defarge wore no ros_n her head, for the great brotherhood of Spies had become, even in one shor_eek, extremely chary of trusting themselves to the saint’s mercies. The lamp_cross his streets had a portentously elastic swing with them.
  • Madame Defarge, with her arms folded, sat in the morning light and heat,
  • contemplating the wine-shop and the street. In both, there were several knot_f loungers, squalid and miserable, but now with a manifest sense of powe_nthroned on their distress. The raggedest nightcap, awry on the wretchedes_ead, had this crooked significance in it: “I know how hard it has grown fo_e, the wearer of this, to support life in myself; but do you know how easy i_as grown for me, the wearer of this, to destroy life in you?” Every lean bar_rm, that had been without work before, had this work always ready for it now,
  • that it could strike. The fingers of the knitting women were vicious, with th_xperience that they could tear. There was a change in the appearance of Sain_ntoine; the image had been hammering into this for hundreds of years, and th_ast finishing blows had told mightily on the expression.
  • Madame Defarge sat observing it, with such suppressed approval as was to b_esired in the leader of the Saint Antoine women. One of her sisterhoo_nitted beside her. The short, rather plump wife of a starved grocer, and th_other of two children withal, this lieutenant had already earned th_omplimentary name of The Vengeance.
  • “Hark!” said The Vengeance. “Listen, then! Who comes?”
  • As if a train of powder laid from the outermost bound of Saint Antoine Quarte_o the wine-shop door, had been suddenly fired, a fast-spreading murmur cam_ushing along.
  • “It is Defarge,” said madame. “Silence, patriots!”
  • Defarge came in breathless, pulled off a red cap he wore, and looked aroun_im! “Listen, everywhere!” said madame again. “Listen to him!” Defarge stood,
  • panting, against a background of eager eyes and open mouths, formed outsid_he door; all those within the wine-shop had sprung to their feet.
  • “Say then, my husband. What is it?”
  • “News from the other world!”
  • “How, then?” cried madame, contemptuously. “The other world?”
  • “Does everybody here recall old Foulon, who told the famished people that the_ight eat grass, and who died, and went to Hell?”
  • “Everybody!” from all throats.
  • “The news is of him. He is among us!”
  • “Among us!” from the universal throat again. “And dead?”
  • “Not dead! He feared us so much—and with reason—that he caused himself to b_epresented as dead, and had a grand mock-funeral. But they have found hi_live, hiding in the country, and have brought him in. I have seen him bu_ow, on his way to the Hotel de Ville, a prisoner. I have said that he ha_eason to fear us. Say all! Had he reason?”
  • Wretched old sinner of more than threescore years and ten, if he had neve_nown it yet, he would have known it in his heart of hearts if he could hav_eard the answering cry.
  • A moment of profound silence followed. Defarge and his wife looked steadfastl_t one another. The Vengeance stooped, and the jar of a drum was heard as sh_oved it at her feet behind the counter.
  • “Patriots!” said Defarge, in a determined voice, “are we ready?”
  • Instantly Madame Defarge’s knife was in her girdle; the drum was beating i_he streets, as if it and a drummer had flown together by magic; and Th_engeance, uttering terrific shrieks, and flinging her arms about her hea_ike all the forty Furies at once, was tearing from house to house, rousin_he women.
  • The men were terrible, in the bloody-minded anger with which they looked fro_indows, caught up what arms they had, and came pouring down into the streets;
  • but, the women were a sight to chill the boldest. From such househol_ccupations as their bare poverty yielded, from their children, from thei_ged and their sick crouching on the bare ground famished and naked, they ra_ut with streaming hair, urging one another, and themselves, to madness wit_he wildest cries and actions. Villain Foulon taken, my sister! Old Foulo_aken, my mother! Miscreant Foulon taken, my daughter! Then, a score of other_an into the midst of these, beating their breasts, tearing their hair, an_creaming, Foulon alive! Foulon who told the starving people they might ea_rass! Foulon who told my old father that he might eat grass, when I had n_read to give him! Foulon who told my baby it might suck grass, when thes_reasts where dry with want! O mother of God, this Foulon! O Heaven ou_uffering! Hear me, my dead baby and my withered father: I swear on my knees,
  • on these stones, to avenge you on Foulon! Husbands, and brothers, and youn_en, Give us the blood of Foulon, Give us the head of Foulon, Give us th_eart of Foulon, Give us the body and soul of Foulon, Rend Foulon to pieces,
  • and dig him into the ground, that grass may grow from him! With these cries,
  • numbers of the women, lashed into blind frenzy, whirled about, striking an_earing at their own friends until they dropped into a passionate swoon, an_ere only saved by the men belonging to them from being trampled under foot.
  • Nevertheless, not a moment was lost; not a moment! This Foulon was at th_otel de Ville, and might be loosed. Never, if Saint Antoine knew his ow_ufferings, insults, and wrongs! Armed men and women flocked out of th_uarter so fast, and drew even these last dregs after them with such a forc_f suction, that within a quarter of an hour there was not a human creature i_aint Antoine’s bosom but a few old crones and the wailing children.
  • No. They were all by that time choking the Hall of Examination where this ol_an, ugly and wicked, was, and overflowing into the adjacent open space an_treets. The Defarges, husband and wife, The Vengeance, and Jacques Three,
  • were in the first press, and at no great distance from him in the Hall.
  • “See!” cried madame, pointing with her knife. “See the old villain bound wit_opes. That was well done to tie a bunch of grass upon his back. Ha, ha! Tha_as well done. Let him eat it now!” Madame put her knife under her arm, an_lapped her hands as at a play.
  • The people immediately behind Madame Defarge, explaining the cause of he_atisfaction to those behind them, and those again explaining to others, an_hose to others, the neighbouring streets resounded with the clapping o_ands. Similarly, during two or three hours of drawl, and the winnowing o_any bushels of words, Madame Defarge’s frequent expressions of impatienc_ere taken up, with marvellous quickness, at a distance: the more readily,
  • because certain men who had by some wonderful exercise of agility climbed u_he external architecture to look in from the windows, knew Madame Defarg_ell, and acted as a telegraph between her and the crowd outside the building.
  • At length the sun rose so high that it struck a kindly ray as of hope o_rotection, directly down upon the old prisoner’s head. The favour was to_uch to bear; in an instant the barrier of dust and chaff that had stoo_urprisingly long, went to the winds, and Saint Antoine had got him!
  • It was known directly, to the furthest confines of the crowd. Defarge had bu_prung over a railing and a table, and folded the miserable wretch in a deadl_mbrace—Madame Defarge had but followed and turned her hand in one of th_opes with which he was tied—The Vengeance and Jacques Three were not yet u_ith them, and the men at the windows had not yet swooped into the Hall, lik_irds of prey from their high perches—when the cry seemed to go up, all ove_he city, “Bring him out! Bring him to the lamp!”
  • Down, and up, and head foremost on the steps of the building; now, on hi_nees; now, on his feet; now, on his back; dragged, and struck at, and stifle_y the bunches of grass and straw that were thrust into his face by hundred_f hands; torn, bruised, panting, bleeding, yet always entreating an_eseeching for mercy; now full of vehement agony of action, with a small clea_pace about him as the people drew one another back that they might see; now,
  • a log of dead wood drawn through a forest of legs; he was hauled to th_earest street corner where one of the fatal lamps swung, and there Madam_efarge let him go—as a cat might have done to a mouse—and silently an_omposedly looked at him while they made ready, and while he besought her: th_omen passionately screeching at him all the time, and the men sternly callin_ut to have him killed with grass in his mouth. Once, he went aloft, and th_ope broke, and they caught him shrieking; twice, he went aloft, and the rop_roke, and they caught him shrieking; then, the rope was merciful, and hel_im, and his head was soon upon a pike, with grass enough in the mouth for al_aint Antoine to dance at the sight of.
  • Nor was this the end of the day’s bad work, for Saint Antoine so shouted an_anced his angry blood up, that it boiled again, on hearing when the da_losed in that the son-in-law of the despatched, another of the people’_nemies and insulters, was coming into Paris under a guard five hundre_trong, in cavalry alone. Saint Antoine wrote his crimes on flaring sheets o_aper, seized him—would have torn him out of the breast of an army to bea_oulon company—set his head and heart on pikes, and carried the three spoil_f the day, in Wolf-procession through the streets.
  • Not before dark night did the men and women come back to the children, wailin_nd breadless. Then, the miserable bakers’ shops were beset by long files o_hem, patiently waiting to buy bad bread; and while they waited with stomach_aint and empty, they beguiled the time by embracing one another on th_riumphs of the day, and achieving them again in gossip. Gradually, thes_trings of ragged people shortened and frayed away; and then poor lights bega_o shine in high windows, and slender fires were made in the streets, at whic_eighbours cooked in common, afterwards supping at their doors.
  • Scanty and insufficient suppers those, and innocent of meat, as of most othe_auce to wretched bread. Yet, human fellowship infused some nourishment int_he flinty viands, and struck some sparks of cheerfulness out of them. Father_nd mothers who had had their full share in the worst of the day, playe_ently with their meagre children; and lovers, with such a world around the_nd before them, loved and hoped.
  • It was almost morning, when Defarge’s wine-shop parted with its last knot o_ustomers, and Monsieur Defarge said to madame his wife, in husky tones, whil_astening the door:
  • “At last it is come, my dear!”
  • “Eh well!” returned madame. “Almost.”
  • Saint Antoine slept, the Defarges slept: even The Vengeance slept with he_tarved grocer, and the drum was at rest. The drum’s was the only voice i_aint Antoine that blood and hurry had not changed. The Vengeance, a_ustodian of the drum, could have wakened him up and had the same speech ou_f him as before the Bastille fell, or old Foulon was seized; not so with th_oarse tones of the men and women in Saint Antoine’s bosom.