The dread tribunal of five Judges, Public Prosecutor, and determined Jury, sa_very day. Their lists went forth every evening, and were read out by th_aolers of the various prisons to their prisoners. The standard gaoler-jok_as, "Come out and listen to the Evening Paper, you inside there!"
"Charles Evremonde, called Darnay!"
So at last began the Evening Paper at La Force.
When a name was called, its owner stepped apart into a spot reserved for thos_ho were announced as being thus fatally recorded. Charles Evremonde, calle_arnay, had reason to know the usage; he had seen hundreds pass away so.
His bloated gaoler, who wore spectacles to read with, glanced over them t_ssure himself that he had taken his place, and went through the list, makin_ similar short pause at each name. There were twenty-three names, but onl_wenty were responded to; for one of the prisoners so summoned had died i_aol and been forgotten, and two had already been guillotined and forgotten.
The list was read, in the vaulted chamber where Darnay had seen the associate_risoners on the night of his arrival. Every one of those had perished in th_assacre; every human creature he had since cared for and parted with, ha_ied on the scaffold.
There were hurried words of farewell and kindness, but the parting was soo_ver. It was the incident of every day, and the society of La Force wer_ngaged in the preparation of some games of forfeits and a little concert, fo_hat evening. They crowded to the grates and shed tears there; but, twent_laces in the projected entertainments had to be refilled, and the time was, at best, short to the lock-up hour, when the common rooms and corridors woul_e delivered over to the great dogs who kept watch there through the night.
The prisoners were far from insensible or unfeeling; their ways arose out o_he condition of the time. Similarly, though with a subtle difference, _pecies of fervour or intoxication, known, without doubt, to have led som_ersons to brave the guillotine unnecessarily, and to die by it, was not mer_oastfulness, but a wild infection of the wildly shaken public mind. I_easons of pestilence, some of us will have a secret attraction to th_isease— a terrible passing inclination to die of it. And all of us have lik_onders hidden in our breasts, only needing circumstances to evoke them.
The passage to the Conciergerie was short and dark; the night in its vermin- haunted cells was long and cold. Next day, fifteen prisoners were put to th_ar before Charles Darnay's name was called. All the fifteen were condemned, and the trials of the whole occupied an hour and a half.
"Charles Evremonde, called Darnay," was at length arraigned.
His judges sat upon the Bench in feathered hats; but the rough red cap an_ricoloured cockade was the head-dress otherwise prevailing. Looking at th_ury and the turbulent audience, he might have thought that the usual order o_hings was reversed, and that the felons were trying the honest men. Th_owest, cruelest, and worst populace of a city, never without its quantity o_ow, cruel, and bad, were the directing spirits of the scene: noisil_ommenting, applauding, disapproving, anticipating, and precipitating th_esult, without a check. Of the men, the greater part were armed in variou_ays; of the women, some wore knives, some daggers, some ate and drank as the_ooked on, many knitted. Among these last, was one, with a spare piece o_nitting under her arm as she worked. She was in a front row, by the side of _an whom he had never seen since his arrival at the Barrier, but whom h_irectly remembered as Defarge. He noticed that she once or twice whispered i_is ear, and that she seemed to be his wife; but, what he most noticed in th_wo figures was, that although they were posted as close to himself as the_ould be, they never looked towards him. They seemed to be waiting fo_omething with a dogged determination, and they looked at the Jury, but a_othing else. Under the President sat Doctor Manette, in his usual quie_ress. As well as the prisoner could see, he and Mr. Lorry were the only me_here, unconnected with the Tribunal, who wore their usual clothes, and ha_ot assumed the coarse garb of the Carmagnole.
Charles Evremonde, called Darnay, was accused by the public prosecutor as a_migrant, whose life was forfeit to the Republic, under the decree whic_anished all emigrants on pain of Death. It was nothing that the decree bor_ate since his return to France. There he was, and there was the decree; h_ad been taken in France, and his head was demanded.
"Take off his head!" cried the audience. "An enemy to the Republic!"
The President rang his bell to silence those cries, and asked the prisone_hether it was not true that he had lived many years in England?
Undoubtedly it was.
Was he not an emigrant then? What did he call himself?
Not an emigrant, he hoped, within the sense and spirit of the law.
Why not? the President desired to know.
Because he had voluntarily relinquished a title that was distasteful to him, and a station that was distasteful to him, and had left his country—h_ubmitted before the word emigrant in the present acceptation by the Tribuna_as in use—to live by his own industry in England, rather than on the industr_f the overladen people of France.
What proof had he of this?
He handed in the names of two witnesses; Theophile Gabelle, and Alexandr_anette.
But he had married in England? the President reminded him.
True, but not an English woman.
A citizeness of France?
Yes. By birth.
Her name and family?
"Lucie Manette, only daughter of Doctor Manette, the good physician who sit_here."
This answer had a happy effect upon the audience. Cries in exaltation of th_ell-known good physician rent the hall. So capriciously were the peopl_oved, that tears immediately rolled down several ferocious countenances whic_ad been glaring at the prisoner a moment before, as if with impatience t_luck him out into the streets and kill him.
On these few steps of his dangerous way, Charles Darnay had set his foo_ccording to Doctor Manette's reiterated instructions. The same cautiou_ounsel directed every step that lay before him, and had prepared every inc_f his road.
The President asked, why had he returned to France when he did, and no_ooner?
He had not returned sooner, he replied, simply because he had no means o_iving in France, save those he had resigned; whereas, in England, he lived b_iving instruction in the French language and literature. He had returned whe_e did, on the pressing and written entreaty of a French citizen, wh_epresented that his life was endangered by his absence. He had come back, t_ave a citizen's life, and to bear his testimony, at whatever personal hazard, to the truth. Was that criminal in the eyes of the Republic?
The populace cried enthusiastically, "No!" and the President rang his bell t_uiet them. Which it did not, for they continued to cry "No!" until they lef_ff, of their own will.
The President required the name of that citizen. The accused explained tha_he citizen was his first witness. He also referred with confidence to th_itizen's letter, which had been taken from him at the Barrier, but which h_id not doubt would be found among the papers then before the President.
The Doctor had taken care that it should be there—had assured him that i_ould be there—and at this stage of the proceedings it was produced and read.
Citizen Gabelle was called to confirm it, and did so. Citizen Gabelle hinted, with infinite delicacy and politeness, that in the pressure of busines_mposed on the Tribunal by the multitude of enemies of the Republic with whic_t had to deal, he had been slightly overlooked in his prison of the Abbaye—i_act, had rather passed out of the Tribunal's patriotic remembrance—unti_hree days ago; when he had been summoned before it, and had been set a_iberty on the Jury's declaring themselves satisfied that the accusatio_gainst him was answered, as to himself, by the surrender of the citize_vremonde, called Darnay.
Doctor Manette was next questioned. His high personal popularity, and th_learness of his answers, made a great impression; but, as he proceeded, as h_howed that the Accused was his first friend on his release from his lon_mprisonment; that, the accused had remained in England, always faithful an_evoted to his daughter and himself in their exile; that, so far from being i_avour with the Aristocrat government there, he had actually been tried fo_is life by it, as the foe of England and friend of the United States—as h_rought these circumstances into view, with the greatest discretion and wit_he straightforward force of truth and earnestness, the Jury and the populac_ecame one. At last, when he appealed by name to Monsieur Lorry, an Englis_entleman then and there present, who, like himself, had been a witness o_hat English trial and could corroborate his account of it, the Jury declare_hat they had heard enough, and that they were ready with their votes if th_resident were content to receive them.
At every vote (the Jurymen voted aloud and individually), the populace set u_ shout of applause. All the voices were in the prisoner's favour, and th_resident declared him free.
Then, began one of those extraordinary scenes with which the populac_ometimes gratified their fickleness, or their better impulses toward_enerosity and mercy, or which they regarded as some set-off against thei_wollen account of cruel rage. No man can decide now to which of these motive_uch extraordinary scenes were referable; it is probable, to a blending of al_he three, with the second predominating. No sooner was the acquitta_ronounced, than tears were shed as freely as blood at another time, and suc_raternal embraces were bestowed upon the prisoner by as many of both sexes a_ould rush at him, that after his long and unwholesome confinement he was i_anger of fainting from exhaustion; none the less because he knew very well, that the very same people, carried by another current, would have rushed a_im with the very same intensity, to rend him to pieces and strew him over th_treets.
His removal, to make way for other accused persons who were to be tried, rescued him from these caresses for the moment. Five were to be trie_ogether, next, as enemies of the Republic, forasmuch as they had not assiste_t by word or deed. So quick was the Tribunal to compensate itself and th_ation for a chance lost, that these five came down to him before he left th_lace, condemned to die within twenty-four hours. The first of them told hi_o, with the customary prison sign of Death—a raised finger—and they all adde_n words, "Long live the Republic!"
The five had had, it is true, no audience to lengthen their proceedings, fo_hen he and Doctor Manette emerged from the gate, there was a great crow_bout it, in which there seemed to be every face he had seen in Court—excep_wo, for which he looked in vain. On his coming out, the concourse made at hi_new, weeping, embracing, and shouting, all by turns and all together, unti_he very tide of the river on the bank of which the mad scene was acted, seemed to run mad, like the people on the shore.
They put him into a great chair they had among them, and which they had take_ither out of the Court itself, or one of its rooms or passages. Over th_hair they had thrown a red flag, and to the back of it they had bound a pik_ith a red cap on its top. In this car of triumph, not even the Doctor'_ntreaties could prevent his being carried to his home on men's shoulders, with a confused sea of red caps heaving about him, and casting up to sigh_rom the stormy deep such wrecks of faces, that he more than once misdoubte_is mind being in confusion, and that he was in the tumbril on his way to th_uillotine.
In wild dreamlike procession, embracing whom they met and pointing him out, they carried him on. Reddening the snowy streets with the prevailin_epublican colour, in winding and tramping through them, as they had reddene_hem below the snow with a deeper dye, they carried him thus into th_ourtyard of the building where he lived. Her father had gone on before, t_repare her, and when her husband stood upon his feet, she dropped insensibl_n his arms.
As he held her to his heart and turned her beautiful head between his face an_he brawling crowd, so that his tears and her lips might come together unseen, a few of the people fell to dancing. Instantly, all the rest fell to dancing, and the courtyard overflowed with the Carmagnole. Then, they elevated into th_acant chair a young woman from the crowd to be carried as the Goddess o_iberty, and then swelling and overflowing out into the adjacent streets, an_long the river's bank, and over the bridge, the Carmagnole absorbed the_very one and whirled them away.
After grasping the Doctor's hand, as he stood victorious and proud before him; after grasping the hand of Mr. Lorry, who came panting in breathless from hi_truggle against the waterspout of the Carmagnole; after kissing little Lucie, who was lifted up to clasp her arms round his neck; and after embracing th_ver zealous and faithful Pross who lifted her; he took his wife in his arms, and carried her up to their rooms.
"Lucie! My own! I am safe."
"O dearest Charles, let me thank God for this on my knees as I have prayed t_im."
They all reverently bowed their heads and hearts. When she was again in hi_rms, he said to her:
"And now speak to your father, dearest. No other man in all this France coul_ave done what he has done for me."
She laid her head upon her father's breast, as she had laid his poor head o_er own breast, long, long ago. He was happy in the return he had made her, h_as recompensed for his suffering, he was proud of his strength. "You must no_e weak, my darling," he remonstrated; "don't tremble so. I have saved him."