No crowd was about the door; no people were discernible at any of the many
windows; not even a chance passerby was in the street. An unnatural silence and
desertion reigned there. Only one soul was to be seen, and that was Madame
Defarge—who leaned against the door-post, knitting, and saw nothing.
No crowd was gathered around the door. No one could be seen at any of the many
windows. No one even happened to be walking by on the street. Everything was
strangely silent. Only one person could be seen, and that was Madame Defarge.
She leaned against the doorframe, knitting and pretending to see 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 his
shoemaking tools and the unfinished shoes. Madame Defarge immediately called to
her husband that she would get them, and went, knitting, out of the lamplight,
through the courtyard. She quickly brought them down and handed them in;—and
immediately afterwards leaned against the door-post, knitting, and saw
Monsieur Manette got into a coach and his daughter followed him. Mr. Lorry was
about to get in when the old man asked pitifully for his shoemaking tools and
unfinished shoes. Madame Defarge yelled to her husband that she would get them.
Still knitting, she went out of the lamplight and through the courtyard. She
brought them back quickly and passed them into the coach, and then she
immediately went back to leaning against the doorframe, knitting and pretending
to see nothing.
Defarge got upon the box, and gave the word “To the Barrier!” The postilion
cracked his whip, and they clattered away under the feeble over-swinging
Defarge climbed up on the coach and yelled, “To the barrier!” The driver
cracked his whip, and the coach drove off under the dim swinging streetlamps.
Under the over-swinging lamps--swinging ever brighter in the better streets,
and ever dimmer in the worse—and by lighted shops, gay crowds, illuminated
coffee-houses, and theatre-doors, to one of the city gates. Soldiers with
lanterns, at the guard-house there. “Your papers, travellers!” “See here then,
Monsieur the Officer,” said Defarge, getting down, and taking him gravely apart,
“these are the papers of monsieur inside, with the white head. They were
consigned to me, with him, at the—” He dropped his voice, there was a flutter
among the military lanterns, and one of them being handed into the coach by an
arm in uniform, the eyes connected with the arm looked, not an every day or an
every night look, at monsieur with the white head. “It is well. Forward!” from
the uniform. “Adieu!” from Defarge. And so, under a short grove of feebler and
feebler over-swinging lamps, out under the great grove of stars.
They drove through the streets under the swinging streetlamps, which were
brighter in the richer neighborhoods and dimmer in the poorer ones. They passed
well-lit shops and coffee houses, festive crowds, and theaters, until they
arrived at one of the city gates. There they came upon some soldiers with
lanterns at a guardhouse. “Give us your papers, travelers!” “See here then,
Monsieur Officer,” said Defarge, getting down from the coach and taking the
soldier aside. “These papers belong to the white-haired man inside. They were
put in my care, along with the man, at the—” He lowered his voice. There was
some movement among the soldiers’ lanterns, and one of the soldiers shined his
lantern inside the coach. The soldier looked carefully at the white-haired old
man. “It’s all right. Move on!” said the soldier. “Goodbye” said Defarge. And so
they continued on, under a short line of streetlamps that grew dimmer and
dimmer, until they were out under the stars.
Beneath that arch of unmoved and eternal lights; some, so remote from this
little earth that the learned tell us it is doubtful whether their rays have
even yet discovered it, as a point in space where anything is suffered or done:
the shadows of the night were broad and black. All through the cold and restless
interval, until dawn, they once more whispered in the ears of Mr. Jarvis
Lorry—sitting opposite the buried man who had been dug out, and wondering what
subtle powers were for ever lost to him, and what were capable of
restoration—the old inquiry:
Beneath the stars—some so far from earth that experts tell us their light may
not have even reached us yet—the shadows of the night were large and black. All
through the cold and restless night they whispered in the ears of Mr. Jarvis
Lorry, as he sat across from the man who had been buried and then dug out. He
wondered how much of Monsieur Manette’s senses had been lost forever, and how
much of them he could get back. The shadows whispered the same question as
“I hope you care to be recalled to life?”
“Don’t you want to be brought back to life?”
And the old answer:
And he got the same answer as before:
“I can’t say.”
“I don’t know.”
The end of the first book.
The end of Book One.