A Tale of Two Cities

by: Charles Dickens

  Book 2 Chapter 16

page Book 2 Chapter 16: Still Knitting: Page 5

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“JOHN,” thought madame, checking off her work as her fingers knitted, and her eyes looked at the stranger. “Stay long enough, and I shall knit `BARSAD’ before you go.” John,” Madame Defarge thought as she knit the name into her list and kept looking at the stranger. “If you stay long enough I will have knit ‘Barsad’ before you’ve left.”
“You have a husband, madame?” “Do you have a husband, madame?”
“I have.” “I do.”
“Children?” “Children?”
“No children.” “No children.”
“Business seems bad?” “Business seems bad.”
“Business is very bad; the people are so poor.” “Business is very bad. All the people are poor.”
“Ah, the unfortunate, miserable people! So oppressed, too—as you say.” “Ah, those poor, unlucky people! So oppressed too, like you say.”
“As YOU say,” madame retorted, correcting him, and deftly knitting an extra something into his name that boded him no good. “As you say,” Madame Defarge said, correcting him. She skillfully knit something extra into his name that promised him nothing good.
“Pardon me; certainly it was I who said so, but you naturally think so. Of course.” “Excuse me. Of course it was I who said so, but of course you think so too.”
I think?” returned madame, in a high voice. “I and my husband have enough to do to keep this wine-shop open, without thinking. All we think, here, is how to live. That is the subject WE think of, and it gives us, from morning to night, enough to think about, without embarrassing our heads concerning others. I think for others? No, no.” I think so?” answered Madame Defarge in a high voice. “My husband and I are busy enough keeping this wine shop open. We don’t have time to think. All we think about here is how to survive. That is the subject we think about, and it gives us enough to think about from morning to night, without worrying about other people. I? Think for other people? No, no.”
The spy, who was there to pick up any crumbs he could find or make, did not allow his baffled state to express itself in his sinister face; but, stood with an air of gossiping gallantry, leaning his elbow on Madame Defarge’s little counter, and occasionally sipping his cognac. The spy was there to find any little bits of information he could. He didn’t allow his confusion to show on his face. Instead he stood there looking like he just wanted to gossip casually. He leaned his elbow on Madame Defarge’s little counter, occasionally sipping his cognac.
“A bad business this, madame, of Gaspard’s execution. Ah! the poor Gaspard!” With a sigh of great compassion. “Gaspard’s execution is a shame, madame. Ah! Poor Gaspard!” he sighed sympathetically.
“My faith!” returned madame, coolly and lightly, “if people use knives for such purposes, they have to pay for it. He knew beforehand what the price of his luxury was; he has paid the price.” “My faith!” answered Madame Defarge, casually. “If people stab other people with knives, they need to pay for it. He knew beforehand what the punishment would be. He has paid the price for his crime.”
“I believe,” said the spy, dropping his soft voice to a tone that invited confidence, and expressing an injured revolutionary susceptibility in every muscle of his wicked face: “I believe there is much compassion and anger in this neighbourhood, touching the poor fellow? Between ourselves.” “I believe,” whispered the spy, looking conspiratorial, “I believe there is a lot of sympathy and anger for the poor man in this neighborhood, isn’t there? Between you and me?”
“Is there?” asked madame, vacantly. “Is there?” asked Madame Defarge innocently.
“Is there not?” “Isn’t there?”
“—Here is my husband!” said Madame Defarge. “Here is my husband!” said Madame Defarge.
As the keeper of the wine-shop entered at the door, the spy saluted him by touching his hat, and saying, with an engaging smile, “Good day, Jacques!” Defarge stopped short, and stared at him. As Monsieur Defarge came through the door of the wine shop, the spy saluted him by touching his hat and said with a smile, “Good day, Jacques!” Defarge stopped walking and stared at him.
“Good day, Jacques!” the spy repeated; with not quite so much confidence, or quite so easy a smile under the stare. “Good day, Jacques!” repeated the spy. He didn’t speak quite as confidently or smile quite as easily this time.
“You deceive yourself, monsieur,” returned the keeper of the wine-shop. “You mistake me for another. That is not my name. I am Ernest Defarge.” “You are confused, monsieur,” answered the owner of the wine shop. “You must have confused me for someone else. That’s not my name. I am Ernest Defarge.”
“It is all the same,” said the spy, airily, but discomfited too: “good day!” “Whatever,” said the spy lightheartedly, but a bit uneasily too. “Good day!”
“Good day!” answered Defarge, drily. “Good day!” answered Defarge, coldly.
“I was saying to madame, with whom I had the pleasure of chatting when you entered, that they tell me there is—and no wonder! —much sympathy and anger in Saint Antoine, touching the unhappy fate of poor Gaspard.” “I was telling your wife, whom I had the pleasure of chatting with when you entered, that I hear there is a lot of sympathy and anger in Saint Antoine about the execution of poor Gaspard.”
“No one has told me so,” said Defarge, shaking his head. “I know nothing of it.” “No one has told me that,” said Defarge, shaking his head. “I know nothing about it.”
Having said it, he passed behind the little counter, and stood with his hand on the back of his wife’s chair, looking over that barrier at the person to whom they were both opposed, and whom either of them would have shot with the greatest satisfaction. After he said this he walked behind the little counter and stood with his hand on the back of his wife’s chair. He looked over his wife at the spy, whom either of them would have shot him with the greatest satisfaction.