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A Tale of Two Cities

Charles Dickens

  Book 1 Chapter 5

page Book 1 Chapter 5: The Wine Shop: Page 5

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“You are right, Jacques,” was the response of Monsieur Defarge. “You are right, Jacques,” answered Monsieur Defarge.
This third interchange of the Christian name was completed at the moment when Madame Defarge put her toothpick by, kept her eyebrows up, and slightly rustled in her seat. They completed this third exchange of first names just as Madame Defarge put down her toothpick and shifted slightly in her seat, with her eyebrows still up.
“Hold then! True!” muttered her husband. “Gentlemen—my wife!” “Hold up. Wait,” muttered Monsieur Defarge. “Gentlemen, this is my wife!”
The three customers pulled off their hats to Madame Defarge, with three flourishes. She acknowledged their homage by bending her head, and giving them a quick look. Then she glanced in a casual manner round the wine-shop, took up her knitting with great apparent calmness and repose of spirit, and became absorbed in it. The three customers took off their hats and gestured grandly to Madame Defarge. She acknowledged their respect by bowing her head and giving them a quick look. Then she looked casually around the wine shop and calmly went back to her knitting.
“Gentlemen,” said her husband, who had kept his bright eye observantly upon her, “good day. The chamber, furnished bachelor-fashion, that you wished to see, and were inquiring for when I stepped out, is on the fifth floor. The doorway of the staircase gives on the little courtyard close to the left here,” pointing with his hand, “near to the window of my establishment. But, now that I remember, one of you has already been there, and can show the way. Gentlemen, adieu!” “Good day, gentlemen,” said her husband, who had been watching her carefully. “The apartment you had asked about while I was out is on the fifth floor. The doorway of the staircase opens out onto a little courtyard close to the left here, near the window of my shop,” he said, pointing with his hand. “But now I remember that one of you has been there before and can lead way. Goodbye, gentlemen!”
They paid for their wine, and left the place. The eyes of Monsieur Defarge were studying his wife at her knitting when the elderly gentleman advanced from his corner, and begged the favour of a word. They paid for the wine and left. Monsieur Defarge was watching his wife knit when the old gentleman came over and asked to speak with him.
“Willingly, sir,” said Monsieur Defarge, and quietly stepped with him to the door. “Of course, sir,” Monsieur Defarge said and walked quietly with him to the door.
Their conference was very short, but very decided. Almost at the first word, Monsieur Defarge started and became deeply attentive. It had not lasted a minute, when he nodded and went out. The gentleman then beckoned to the young lady, and they, too, went out. Madame Defarge knitted with nimble fingers and steady eyebrows, and saw nothing. Their conversation was short but to the point. Almost at the first word, Monsieur Defarge jumped to attention. Moments later, he nodded and went out. The gentleman motioned to the young lady, and they also went out. Madame Defarge kept knitting and pretended not to notice.
Mr. Jarvis Lorry and Miss Manette, emerging from the wine-shop thus, joined Monsieur Defarge in the doorway to which he had directed his own company just before. It opened from a stinking little black courtyard, and was the general public entrance to a great pile of houses, inhabited by a great number of people. In the gloomy tile-paved entry to the gloomy tile-paved staircase, Monsieur Defarge bent down on one knee to the child of his old master, and put her hand to his lips. It was a gentle action, but not at all gently done; a very remarkable transformation had come over him in a few seconds. He had no good-humour in his face, nor any openness of aspect left, but had become a secret, angry, dangerous man. Mr. Jarvis Lorry and Miss Manette came out of the wine shop and joined Monsieur Defarge in the doorway he had just directed the three customers to. It opened onto a dark, stinking little courtyard that served as the public entrance to many houses, where a great number of people lived. In the gloomy tiled entry to the gloomy tiled staircase, Monsieur Defarge bent down on one knee in front of the child of his old master and kissed her hand. Though the gesture was kind, he didn't do it kindly. In just a few seconds, he had changed. His face was no longer pleasant or friendly, but had become secretive, angry, and dangerous.
“It is very high; it is a little difficult. Better to begin slowly.” Thus, Monsieur Defarge, in a stern voice, to Mr. Lorry, as they began ascending the stairs. “It is very high up, and a little difficult to get to. It’s best to start slowly,” Monsieur Defarge said in a stern voice to Mr. Lorry as they began to climb the stairs.
“Is he alone?” the latter whispered. “Is he alone?” Mr. Lorry whispered.
“Alone! God help him, who should be with him!” said the other, in the same low voice. “Alone? God help him, who would be with him!” said Monsieur Defarge, in the same quiet voice.
“Is he always alone, then?” “Is he always alone?”
“Yes.” “Yes.”
“Of his own desire?” “By his own choice?”
“Of his own necessity. As he was, when I first saw him after they found me and demanded to know if I would take him, and, at my peril be discreet—as he was then, so he is now.” “He needs to be. He’s been the same since I first saw him—since they found me and asked if I would take care of him in secret.”