The traveller fared slowly on his way, who fared towards Paris from England in
the autumn of the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety-two. More than
enough of bad roads, bad equipages, and bad horses, he would have encountered to
delay him, though the fallen and unfortunate King of France had been upon his
throne in all his glory; but, the changed times were fraught with other
obstacles than these. Every town-gate and village taxing-house had its band of
citizen-patriots, with their national muskets in a most explosive state of
readiness, who stopped all comers and goers, cross-questioned them, inspected
their 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 capricious
judgment or fancy deemed best for the dawning Republic One and Indivisible, of
Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, or Death.
It took a traveler a long time to go from England to Paris in the fall of
1792. There were many bad roads, bad carriages, and bad horses that would have
delayed him, even though the king of France was still ruling on the throne in
all of his glory. Now that the times had changed, there were even more
obstacles. Citizen-patriots with their muskets ready to fire had taken over
every town gate and village taxing-house. They would stop everyone as they came
and went, question them, examine their papers, and look for their names on their
lists. They would make them turn back or send them on their way, and sometimes
they would stop them and seize them. It all depended on what their impulsive
judgment led them to believe was best for the new Republic, which had the
slogan, “One and Indivisible, with Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, or
A very few French leagues of his journey were accomplished, when Charles
Darnay began to perceive that for him along these country roads there was no
hope 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 village
closed upon him, not a common barrier dropped across the road behind him, but he
knew it to be another iron door in the series that was barred between him and
England. The universal watchfulness so encompassed him, that if he had been
taken in a net, or were being forwarded to his destination in a cage, he could
not have felt his freedom more completely gone.
Charles Darnay had only traveled a few leagues into France when he began to
notice that there was no hope of his going back until he had been declared a
good citizen in Paris. Whatever might happen to him now, he had to continue on
to his destination. He knew that every village and barrier he passed through was
another obstacle between him and England. He was watched so carefully that he
wouldn’t have felt more like a prisoner even if he had been caught in a net, or
were being sent to his destination in a cage.
This universal watchfulness not only stopped him on the highway twenty times
in a stage, but retarded his progress twenty times in a day, by riding after him
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 journey in France
alone, when he went to bed tired out, in a little town on the high road, still a
long way from Paris.
Being watched so carefully not only meant that he was stopped on the highway
twenty times during each leg of his journey, but he was also slowed down twenty
times a day. People would follow him and then make him go back, or they would
ride ahead of him and stop him, or ride with him and keep watch over him. He had
been traveling in France for several days when he went to bed exhausted in a
little town on a road still far away from Paris.
Nothing but the production of the afflicted Gabelle’s letter from his prison
of the Abbaye would have got him on so far. His difficulty at the guard-house in
this small place had been such, that he felt his journey to have come to a
crisis. And he was, therefore, as little surprised as a man could be, to find
himself awakened at the small inn to which he had been remitted until morning,
in the middle of the night.
If he hadn’t shown them poor Gabelle’s letter from Abbaye Prison, he would not
have gotten that far. He had so much trouble at the guardhouse in this small
town that he thought he was in danger. Because of this he was especially
surprised when he was woken up in the small inn where he was staying in the
middle of the night.
Awakened by a timid local functionary and three armed patriots in rough red
caps and with pipes in their mouths, who sat down on the bed.
A timid local official and three armed patriots with rough red caps and pipes
in their mouths woke him. They sat down on the bed.
“Emigrant,” said the functionary, “I am going to send you on to Paris, under
“Emigrant,” said the official, “I am going to send you to Paris with an
“Citizen, I desire nothing more than to get to Paris, though I could dispense
with the escort.”
“Citizen, I want nothing more than to get to Paris, though I don’t need an
“Silence!” growled a red-cap, striking at the coverlet with the butt-end of
his musket. “Peace, aristocrat!”
“Quiet!” said one of the men in the red caps, hitting the bedcover with the
handle of his musket. “Quiet, aristocrat!”