“Good day!” said Monsieur Defarge, looking down at the white head that ben_ow over the shoemaking.
It was raised for a moment, and a very faint voice responded to th_alutation, as if it were at a distance:
“You are still hard at work, I see?”
After a long silence, the head was lifted for another moment, and the voic_eplied, “Yes—I am working.” This time, a pair of haggard eyes had looked a_he questioner, before the face had dropped again.
The faintness of the voice was pitiable and dreadful. It was not the faintnes_f physical weakness, though confinement and hard fare no doubt had their par_n it. Its deplorable peculiarity was, that it was the faintness of solitud_nd disuse. It was like the last feeble echo of a sound made long and lon_go. So entirely had it lost the life and resonance of the human voice, tha_t affected the senses like a once beautiful colour faded away into a poo_eak stain. So sunken and suppressed it was, that it was like a voic_nderground. So expressive it was, of a hopeless and lost creature, that _amished traveller, wearied out by lonely wandering in a wilderness, woul_ave remembered home and friends in such a tone before lying down to die.
Some minutes of silent work had passed: and the haggard eyes had looked u_gain: not with any interest or curiosity, but with a dull mechanica_erception, beforehand, that the spot where the only visitor they were awar_f had stood, was not yet empty.
“I want,” said Defarge, who had not removed his gaze from the shoemaker, “t_et in a little more light here. You can bear a little more?”
The shoemaker stopped his work; looked with a vacant air of listening, at th_loor on one side of him; then similarly, at the floor on the other side o_im; then, upward at the speaker.
“What did you say?”
“You can bear a little more light?”
“I must bear it, if you let it in.” (Laying the palest shadow of a stress upo_he second word.)
The opened half-door was opened a little further, and secured at that angl_or the time. A broad ray of light fell into the garret, and showed th_orkman with an unfinished shoe upon his lap, pausing in his labour. His fe_ommon tools and various scraps of leather were at his feet and on his bench.
He had a white beard, raggedly cut, but not very long, a hollow face, an_xceedingly bright eyes. The hollowness and thinness of his face would hav_aused them to look large, under his yet dark eyebrows and his confused whit_air, though they had been really otherwise; but, they were naturally large, and looked unnaturally so. His yellow rags of shirt lay open at the throat, and showed his body to be withered and worn. He, and his old canvas frock, an_is loose stockings, and all his poor tatters of clothes, had, in a lon_eclusion from direct light and air, faded down to such a dull uniformity o_archment-yellow, that it would have been hard to say which was which.
He had put up a hand between his eyes and the light, and the very bones of i_eemed transparent. So he sat, with a steadfastly vacant gaze, pausing in hi_ork. He never looked at the figure before him, without first looking down o_his side of himself, then on that, as if he had lost the habit of associatin_lace with sound; he never spoke, without first wandering in this manner, an_orgetting to speak.
“Are you going to finish that pair of shoes to-day?” asked Defarge, motionin_o Mr. Lorry to come forward.
“What did you say?”
“Do you mean to finish that pair of shoes to-day?”
“I can’t say that I mean to. I suppose so. I don’t know.”
But, the question reminded him of his work, and he bent over it again.
Mr. Lorry came silently forward, leaving the daughter by the door. When he ha_tood, for a minute or two, by the side of Defarge, the shoemaker looked up.
He showed no surprise at seeing another figure, but the unsteady fingers o_ne of his hands strayed to his lips as he looked at it (his lips and hi_ails were of the same pale lead- colour), and then the hand dropped to hi_ork, and he once more bent over the shoe. The look and the action ha_ccupied but an instant.
“You have a visitor, you see,” said Monsieur Defarge.
“What did you say?”
“Here is a visitor.”
The shoemaker looked up as before, but without removing a hand from his work.
“Come!” said Defarge. “Here is monsieur, who knows a well-made shoe when h_ees one. Show him that shoe you are working at. Take it, monsieur.”
Mr. Lorry took it in his hand.
“Tell monsieur what kind of shoe it is, and the maker’s name.”
There was a longer pause than usual, before the shoemaker replied:
“I forget what it was you asked me. What did you say?”
“I said, couldn’t you describe the kind of shoe, for monsieur’s information?”
“It is a lady’s shoe. It is a young lady’s walking-shoe. It is in the presen_ode. I never saw the mode. I have had a pattern in my hand.” He glanced a_he shoe with some little passing touch of pride.
“And the maker’s name?” said Defarge.
Now that he had no work to hold, he laid the knuckles of the right hand in th_ollow of the left, and then the knuckles of the left hand in the hollow o_he right, and then passed a hand across his bearded chin, and so on i_egular changes, without a moment’s intermission. The task of recalling hi_rom the vagrancy into which he always sank when he had spoken, was lik_ecalling some very weak person from a swoon, or endeavouring, in the hope o_ome disclosure, to stay the spirit of a fast-dying man.
“Did you ask me for my name?”
“Assuredly I did.”
“One Hundred and Five, North Tower.”
“Is that all?”
“One Hundred and Five, North Tower.”
With a weary sound that was not a sigh, nor a groan, he bent to work again, until the silence was again broken.
“You are not a shoemaker by trade?” said Mr. Lorry, looking steadfastly a_im.
His haggard eyes turned to Defarge as if he would have transferred th_uestion to him: but as no help came from that quarter, they turned back o_he questioner when they had sought the ground.
“I am not a shoemaker by trade? No, I was not a shoemaker by trade. I-I learn_t here. I taught myself. I asked leave to—”
He lapsed away, even for minutes, ringing those measured changes on his hand_he whole time. His eyes came slowly back, at last, to the face from whic_hey had wandered; when they rested on it, he started, and resumed, in th_anner of a sleeper that moment awake, reverting to a subject of last night.
“I asked leave to teach myself, and I got it with much difficulty after a lon_hile, and I have made shoes ever since.”
As he held out his hand for the shoe that had been taken from him, Mr. Lorr_aid, still looking steadfastly in his face:
“Monsieur Manette, do you remember nothing of me?”
The shoe dropped to the ground, and he sat looking fixedly at the questioner.
“Monsieur Manette”; Mr. Lorry laid his hand upon Defarge’s arm; “do yo_emember nothing of this man? Look at him. Look at me. Is there no old banker, no old business, no old servant, no old time, rising in your mind, Monsieu_anette?”
As the captive of many years sat looking fixedly, by turns, at Mr. Lorry an_t Defarge, some long obliterated marks of an actively intent intelligence i_he middle of the forehead, gradually forced themselves through the black mis_hat had fallen on him. They were overclouded again, they were fainter, the_ere gone; but they had been there. And so exactly was the expression repeate_n the fair young face of her who had crept along the wall to a point wher_he could see him, and where she now stood looking at him, with hands which a_irst had been only raised in frightened compassion, if not even to keep hi_ff and shut out the sight of him, but which were now extending towards him, trembling with eagerness to lay the spectral face upon her warm young breast, and love it back to life and hope—so exactly was the expression repeated (though in stronger characters) on her fair young face, that it looked a_hough it had passed like a moving light, from him to her.
Darkness had fallen on him in its place. He looked at the two, less and les_ttentively, and his eyes in gloomy abstraction sought the ground and looke_bout him in the old way. Finally, with a deep long sigh, he took the shoe up, and resumed his work.
“Have you recognised him, monsieur?” asked Defarge in a whisper.
“Yes; for a moment. At first I thought it quite hopeless, but I hav_nquestionably seen, for a single moment, the face that I once knew so well.
Hush! Let us draw further back. Hush!”
She had moved from the wall of the garret, very near to the bench on which h_at. There was something awful in his unconsciousness of the figure that coul_ave put out its hand and touched him as he stooped over his labour.
Not a word was spoken, not a sound was made. She stood, like a spirit, besid_im, and he bent over his work.
It happened, at length, that he had occasion to change the instrument in hi_and, for his shoemaker’s knife. It lay on that side of him which was not th_ide on which she stood. He had taken it up, and was stooping to work again, when his eyes caught the skirt of her dress. He raised them, and saw her face.
The two spectators started forward, but she stayed them with a motion of he_and. She had no fear of his striking at her with the knife, though they had.
He stared at her with a fearful look, and after a while his lips began to for_ome words, though no sound proceeded from them. By degrees, in the pauses o_is quick and laboured breathing, he was heard to say:
“What is this?”
With the tears streaming down her face, she put her two hands to her lips, an_issed them to him; then clasped them on her breast, as if she laid his ruine_ead there.
“You are not the gaoler’s daughter?”
She sighed “No.”
“Who are you?”
Not yet trusting the tones of her voice, she sat down on the bench beside him.
He recoiled, but she laid her hand upon his arm. A strange thrill struck hi_hen she did so, and visibly passed over his frame; he laid the knife down’ softly, as he sat staring at her.
Her golden hair, which she wore in long curls, had been hurriedly pushe_side, and fell down over her neck. Advancing his hand by little and little, he took it up and looked at it. In the midst of the action he went astray, and, with another deep sigh, fell to work at his shoemaking.
But not for long. Releasing his arm, she laid her hand upon his shoulder.
After looking doubtfully at it, two or three times, as if to be sure that i_as really there, he laid down his work, put his hand to his neck, and too_ff a blackened string with a scrap of folded rag attached to it. He opene_his, carefully, on his knee, and it contained a very little quantity of hair: not more than one or two long golden hairs, which he had, in some old day, wound off upon his finger.
He took her hair into his hand again, and looked closely at it. “It is th_ame. How can it be! When was it! How was it!”
As the concentrated expression returned to his forehead, he seemed to becom_onscious that it was in hers too. He turned her full to the light, and looke_t her.
“She had laid her head upon my shoulder, that night when I was summone_ut—she had a fear of my going, though I had none—and when I was brought t_he North Tower they found these upon my sleeve. ‘You will leave me them? The_an never help me to escape in the body, though they may in the spirit.’ Thos_ere the words I said. I remember them very well.”
He formed this speech with his lips many times before he could utter it. Bu_hen he did find spoken words for it, they came to him coherently, thoug_lowly.
“How was this?—Was it you?”
Once more, the two spectators started, as he turned upon her with a frightfu_uddenness. But she sat perfectly still in his grasp, and only said, in a lo_oice, “I entreat you, good gentlemen, do not come near us, do not speak, d_ot move!”
“Hark!” he exclaimed. “Whose voice was that?”
His hands released her as he uttered this cry, and went up to his white hair, which they tore in a frenzy. It died out, as everything but his shoemaking di_ie out of him, and he refolded his little packet and tried to secure it i_is breast; but he still looked at her, and gloomily shook his head.
“No, no, no; you are too young, too blooming. It can’t be. See what th_risoner is. These are not the hands she knew, this is not the face she knew, this is not a voice she ever heard. No, no. She was—and He was—before the slo_ears of the North Tower—ages ago. What is your name, my gentle angel?”
Hailing his softened tone and manner, his daughter fell upon her knees befor_im, with her appealing hands upon his breast.
“O, sir, at another time you shall know my name, and who my mother was, an_ho my father, and how I never knew their hard, hard history. But I canno_ell you at this time, and I cannot tell you here. All that I may tell you, here and now, is, that I pray to you to touch me and to bless me. Kiss me, kiss me! O my dear, my dear!”
His cold white head mingled with her radiant hair, which warmed and lighted i_s though it were the light of Freedom shining on him.
“If you hear in my voice—I don’t know that it is so, but I hope it is—if yo_ear in my voice any resemblance to a voice that once was sweet music in you_ars, weep for it, weep for it! If you touch, in touching my hair, anythin_hat recalls a beloved head that lay on your breast when you were young an_ree, weep for it, weep for it! If, when I hint to you of a Home that i_efore us, where I will be true to you with all my duty and with all m_aithful service, I bring back the remembrance of a Home long desolate, whil_our poor heart pined away, weep for it, weep for it!”
She held him closer round the neck, and rocked him on her breast like a child.
“If, when I tell you, dearest dear, that your agony is over, and that I hav_ome here to take you from it, and that we go to England to be at peace and a_est, I cause you to think of your useful life laid waste, and of our nativ_rance so wicked to you, weep for it, weep for it! And if, when I shall tel_ou of my name, and of my father who is living, and of my mother who is dead, you learn that I have to kneel to my honoured father, and implore his pardo_or having never for his sake striven all day and lain awake and wept al_ight, because the love of my poor mother hid his torture from me, weep fo_t, weep for it! Weep for her, then, and for me! Good gentlemen, thank God! _eel his sacred tears upon my face, and his sobs strike against my heart. O, see! Thank God for us, thank God!”
He had sunk in her arms, and his face dropped on her breast: a sight s_ouching, yet so terrible in the tremendous wrong and suffering which had gon_efore it, that the two beholders covered their faces.
When the quiet of the garret had been long undisturbed, and his heaving breas_nd shaken form had long yielded to the calm that must follow al_torms—emblem to humanity, of the rest and silence into which the storm calle_ife must hush at last—they came forward to raise the father and daughter fro_he ground. He had gradually dropped to the floor, and lay there in _ethargy, worn out. She had nestled down with him, that his head might li_pon her arm; and her hair drooping over him curtained him from the light.
“If, without disturbing him,” she said, raising her hand to Mr. Lorry as h_tooped over them, after repeated blowings of his nose, “all could be arrange_or our leaving Paris at once, so that, from the, very door, he could be take_way—”
“But, consider. Is he fit for the journey?” asked Mr. Lorry.
“More fit for that, I think, than to remain in this city, so dreadful to him.”
“It is true,” said Defarge, who was kneeling to look on and hear. “More tha_hat; Monsieur Manette is, for all reasons, best out of France. Say, shall _ire a carriage and post-horses?”
“That’s business,” said Mr. Lorry, resuming on the shortest notice hi_ethodical manners; “and if business is to be done, I had better do it.”
“Then be so kind,” urged Miss Manette, “as to leave us here. You see ho_omposed he has become, and you cannot be afraid to leave him with me now. Wh_hould you be? If you will lock the door to secure us from interruption, I d_ot doubt that you will find him, when you come back, as quiet as you leav_im. In any case, I will take care of him until you return, and then we wil_emove him straight.”
Both Mr. Lorry and Defarge were rather disinclined to this course, and i_avour of one of them remaining. But, as there were not only carriage an_orses to be seen to, but travelling papers; and as time pressed, for the da_as drawing to an end, it came at last to their hastily dividing the busines_hat was necessary to be done, and hurrying away to do it.
Then, as the darkness closed in, the daughter laid her head down on the har_round close at the father’s side, and watched him. The darkness deepened an_eepened, and they both lay quiet, until a light gleamed through the chinks i_he wall.
Mr. Lorry and Monsieur Defarge had made all ready for the journey, and ha_rought with them, besides travelling cloaks and wrappers, bread and meat, wine, and hot coffee. Monsieur Defarge put this provender, and the lamp h_arried, on the shoemaker’s bench (there was nothing else in the garret but _allet bed), and he and Mr. Lorry roused the captive, and assisted him to hi_eet.
No human intelligence could have read the mysteries of his mind, in the scare_lank wonder of his face. Whether he knew what had happened, whether h_ecollected what they had said to him, whether he knew that he was free, wer_uestions which no sagacity could have solved. They tried speaking to him; but, he was so confused, and so very slow to answer, that they took fright a_is bewilderment, and agreed for the time to tamper with him no more. He had _ild, lost manner of occasionally clasping his head in his hands, that had no_een seen in him before; yet, he had some pleasure in the mere sound of hi_aughter’s voice, and invariably turned to it when she spoke.
In the submissive way of one long accustomed to obey under coercion, he at_nd drank what they gave him to eat and drink, and put on the cloak and othe_rappings, that they gave him to wear. He readily responded to his daughter’_rawing her arm through his, and took—and kept—her hand in both his own.
They began to descend; Monsieur Defarge going first with the lamp, Mr. Lorr_losing the little procession. They had not traversed many steps of the lon_ain staircase when he stopped, and stared at the roof and round at the wails.
“You remember the place, my father? You remember coming up here?”
“What did you say?”
But, before she could repeat the question, he murmured an answer as if she ha_epeated it.
“Remember? No, I don’t remember. It was so very long ago.”
That he had no recollection whatever of his having been brought from hi_rison to that house, was apparent to them. They heard him mutter, “On_undred and Five, North Tower;” and when he looked about him, it evidently wa_or the strong fortress-walls which had long encompassed him. On thei_eaching the courtyard he instinctively altered his tread, as being i_xpectation of a drawbridge; and when there was no drawbridge, and he saw th_arriage waiting in the open street, he dropped his daughter’s hand an_lasped his head again.
No crowd was about the door; no people were discernible at any of the man_indows; not even a chance passerby was in the street. An unnatural silenc_nd desertion reigned there. Only one soul was to be seen, and that was Madam_efarge—who leaned against the door-post, knitting, and saw nothing.
The prisoner had got into a coach, and his daughter had followed him, when Mr.
Lorry’s feet were arrested on the step by his asking, miserably, for hi_hoemaking tools and the unfinished shoes. Madame Defarge immediately calle_o her husband that she would get them, and went, knitting, out of th_amplight, through the courtyard. She quickly brought them down and hande_hem in;—and immediately afterwards leaned against the door-post, knitting, and saw nothing.
Defarge got upon the box, and gave the word “To the Barrier!” The postilio_racked his whip, and they clattered away under the feeble over-swingin_amps.
Under the over-swinging lamps—swinging ever brighter in the better streets, and ever dimmer in the worse—and by lighted shops, gay crowds, illuminate_offee-houses, and theatre-doors, to one of the city gates. Soldiers wit_anterns, at the guard-house there. “Your papers, travellers!” “See here then, Monsieur the Officer,” said Defarge, getting down, and taking him gravel_part, “these are the papers of monsieur inside, with the white head. The_ere consigned to me, with him, at the—” He dropped his voice, there was _lutter among the military lanterns, and one of them being handed into th_oach by an arm in uniform, the eyes connected with the arm looked, not a_very day or an every night look, at monsieur with the white head. “It i_ell. Forward!” from the uniform. “Adieu!” from Defarge. And so, under a shor_rove of feebler and feebler over-swinging lamps, out under the great grove o_tars.
Beneath that arch of unmoved and eternal lights; some, so remote from thi_ittle earth that the learned tell us it is doubtful whether their rays hav_ven yet discovered it, as a point in space where anything is suffered o_one: the shadows of the night were broad and black. All through the cold an_estless interval, until dawn, they once more whispered in the ears of Mr.
Jarvis Lorry—sitting opposite the buried man who had been dug out, an_ondering what subtle powers were for ever lost to him, and what were capabl_f restoration—the old inquiry: