Happily unconscious of the new calamity at home, Miss Pross threaded her way
along the narrow streets and crossed the river by the bridge of the Pont-Neuf,
reckoning in her mind the number of indispensable purchases she had to make. Mr.
Cruncher, with the basket, walked at her side. They both looked to the right and
to the left into most of the shops they passed, had a wary eye for all
gregarious assemblages of people, and turned out of their road to avoid any very
excited group of talkers. It was a raw evening, and the misty river, blurred to
the eye with blazing lights and to the ear with harsh noises, showed where the
barges were stationed in which the smiths worked, making guns for the Army of
the Republic. Woe to the man who played tricks with THAT Army, or got undeserved
promotion in it! Better for him that his beard had never grown, for the National
Razor shaved him close.
Happily unaware that Charles was being taken back to prison, Miss Pross made
her way along the narrow streets and crossed the river by the Pont-Neuf bridge.
She thought about the number of essential items she needed to buy. Mr. Cruncher
walked beside her carrying the basket, and they both looked to the right and
left into the shops they walked by. They kept an eye out for excited groups of
people. If they saw any, they would leave the road to avoid them. It was a cold
evening. The misty river was blurred with the reflection of blazing lights and
its sound drowned out by the noise of the barges, where the smiths made guns for
the Army of the Republic. Woe to the man who challenged that
army! The guillotine, called the national razor, would shave his head right off.
Having purchased a few small articles of grocery, and a measure of oil for the
lamp, Miss Pross bethought herself of the wine they wanted. After peeping into
several wine-shops, she stopped at the sign of the Good Republican Brutus of
Antiquity, not far from the National Palace, once (and twice) the Tuileries,
where the aspect of things rather took her fancy. It had a quieter look than any
other place of the same description they had passed, and, though red with
patriotic caps, was not so red as the rest. Sounding Mr. Cruncher, and finding
him of her opinion, Miss Pross resorted to the Good Republican Brutus of
Antiquity, attended by her cavalier.
Miss Pross bought a few small grocery items and some lamp oil, then thought
about what wine they wanted. After looking into several wine shops, she stopped
at a shop whose sign was of the Good Republican Brutus of Antiquity. It wasn’t far from the
Tuileries Palace, where the look of everything interested Miss Pross. The wine
shop looked quieter than any other similar place they had passed. Even though
there were many patriotic red caps there, it wasn't as full as some other
places. She asked Mr. Cruncher if he thought they should go inside, and he
agreed, so Miss Pross and her escort entered.
Slightly observant of the smoky lights; of the people, pipe in mouth, playing
with limp cards and yellow dominoes; of the one bare- breasted, bare-armed,
soot-begrimed workman reading a journal aloud, and of the others listening to
him; of the weapons worn, or laid aside to be resumed; of the two or three
customers fallen forward asleep, who in the popular high-shouldered shaggy black
spencer looked, in that attitude, like slumbering bears or dogs; the two
outlandish customers approached the counter, and showed what they wanted.
The lights inside were dim, and people were smoking pipes and playing games
with worn decks of cards and yellow dominoes. One bare-chested, bare-armed
workman was covered in soot and reading a journal out loud. Other people
listened to him. People wore weapons on them, or had set them down nearby where
they could be easily reached. Two or three customers had slumped forward,
asleep. They wore shaggy black spencers that were popular at the time and made them look
like sleeping bears or dogs. Miss Pross and Jerry, looking out of place in this
setting, approached the counter and showed what they wanted.
As their wine was measuring out, a man parted from another man in a corner,
and rose to depart. In going, he had to face Miss Pross. No sooner did he face
her, than Miss Pross uttered a scream, and clapped her hands.
As their wine was being measured out, a man got up from a corner where he had
been sitting with another man and started to leave. As he went out, he came
face-to-face with Miss Pross. As soon as he faced her, Miss Pross screamed and
clapped her hands.
In a moment, the whole company were on their feet. That somebody was
assassinated by somebody vindicating a difference of opinion was the likeliest
occurrence. Everybody looked to see somebody fall, but only saw a man and a
woman standing staring at each other; the man with all the outward aspect of a
Frenchman and a thorough Republican; the woman, evidently English.
Immediately everyone in the shop was standing up. They all assumed there had
been an argument and somebody had been killed. They expected to see somebody
fall down dead, but they only saw a man and a woman standing there, staring at
each other. The man looked like a Frenchman and a patriotic Republican, and the
woman was evidently English.
What was said in this disappointing anti-climax, by the disciples of the Good
Republican Brutus of Antiquity, except that it was something very voluble and
loud, would have been as so much Hebrew or Chaldean to Miss Pross and her
protector, though they had been all ears. But, they had no ears for anything in
their surprise. For, it must be recorded, that not only was Miss Pross lost in
amazement and agitation, but, Mr. Cruncher—though it seemed on his own separate
and individual account—was in a state of the greatest wonder.
The customers were disappointed that this exchange only resulted in talk. The
customers of the Good Republican Brutus of Antiquity wine shop all started
talking loudly. Even though they listened carefully, Miss Pross and Jerry
understood so little of what they were saying that they could have been speaking
Hebrew or Chaldean. Miss Pross and Jerry were too surprised to try to understand any of
this. For not only was Miss Pross amazed and annoyed, but Mr. Cruncher, for his
own reasons, was amazed too.