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A Tale of Two Cities

Charles Dickens

  Book 2 Chapter 9

page Book 2 Chapter 9: The Gorgon’s Head: Page 6

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“England is very attractive to you, seeing how indifferently you have prospered there,” he observed then, turning his calm face to his nephew with a smile. “You like England a lot. You have done well for yourself there,” he said, smiling calmly at his nephew.
“I have already said, that for my prospering there, I am sensible I may be indebted to you, sir. For the rest, it is my Refuge.” “I have told you already that I may be indebted to you, sir, for my success there. Otherwise, it has been a safe haven for me.”
“They say, those boastful English, that it is the Refuge of many. You know a compatriot who has found a Refuge there? A Doctor?” “Those bragging English say that it is a safe haven for many people. Do you know another Frenchman who has also found safety there? A doctor?”
“Yes.” “Yes.”
“With a daughter?” “With a daughter?”
“Yes.” “Yes.”
“Yes,” said the Marquis. “You are fatigued. Good night!” “Yes,” said the marquis. “You are tired. Good night!”
As he bent his head in his most courtly manner, there was a secrecy in his smiling face, and he conveyed an air of mystery to those words, which struck the eyes and ears of his nephew forcibly. At the same time, the thin straight lines of the setting of the eyes, and the thin straight lips, and the markings in the nose, curved with a sarcasm that looked handsomely diabolic. As the marquis smiled and bowed, there was something suspicious in his face, and there was something mysterious about his last words. The nephew noticed this, and it bothered him. At the same time, the thin lines around the marquis’s eyes, lips, and nose made his expression look handsome and evil.
“Yes,” repeated the Marquis. “A Doctor with a daughter. Yes. So commences the new philosophy! You are fatigued. Good night!” “Yes,” repeated the marquis. “A doctor with a daughter. Yes. So begins the new way of thinking. You are tired. Good night!”
It would have been of as much avail to interrogate any stone face outside the chateau as to interrogate that face of his. The nephew looked at him, in vain, in passing on to the door. It would have been as useful to question the stone faces outside the chateau as it was to question the marquis’s face. The nephew looked at him as he passed him on his way out the door, but he couldn’t tell what he was thinking.
“Good night!” said the uncle. “I look to the pleasure of seeing you again in the morning. Good repose! Light Monsieur my nephew to his chamber there!—And burn Monsieur my nephew in his bed, if you will,” he added to himself, before he rang his little bell again, and summoned his valet to his own bedroom. “Good night!” said the uncle. “I look forward to seeing you again in the morning. Sleep well!” He called to the servants: “Bring a torch and show my nephew to his room!” Then he muttered to himself, “And burn him to death in his bed, if you will.” He rang the little bell again and called his valet to his own bedroom.
The valet come and gone, Monsieur the Marquis walked to and fro in his loose chamber-robe, to prepare himself gently for sleep, that hot still night. Rustling about the room, his softly-slippered feet making no noise on the floor, he moved like a refined tiger:—looked like some enchanted marquis of the impenitently wicked sort, in story, whose periodical change into tiger form was either just going off, or just coming on. After the valet had come and gone, the marquis paced back and forth in his loose robe to prepare himself for sleep on that hot, still night. He was wearing soft slippers on his feet and he moved around the room like an elegant tiger, making no noise at all. He looked like some magical marquis in a story who could change into a tiger, and was either just about to become a tiger or change back from a tiger into a man.
He moved from end to end of his voluptuous bedroom, looking again at the scraps of the day’s journey that came unbidden into his mind; the slow toil up the hill at sunset, the setting sun, the descent, the mill, the prison on the crag, the little village in the hollow, the peasants at the fountain, and the mender of roads with his blue cap pointing out the chain under the carriage. That fountain suggested the Paris fountain, the little bundle lying on the step, the women bending over it, and the tall man with his arms up, crying, “Dead!” He walked from one end of his elegant bedroom to the other, thinking about what had happened to him that day. He thought of the carriage slowly climbing up the hill at sunset. He thought of the sun setting and the carriage traveling down the hill, of the mill, the prison on the rock, the little village in the valley, the peasants at the fountain, and the repairer of roads with his blue hat pointing out the chain under the carriage. The fountain reminded him of the fountain in Paris, and he though of the bundled-up child lying on the step, the women bending over it, and the tall man waving his arms in the air and yelling, “Dead!”
“I am cool now,” said Monsieur the Marquis, “and may go to bed.” “I am cooler now and am ready to go to bed, “ said the marquis.
So, leaving only one light burning on the large hearth, he let his thin gauze curtains fall around him, and heard the night break its silence with a long sigh as he composed himself to sleep. He left only one candle burning on the hearth, and he pulled the thin gauze curtains around the bed. He heard the sound of the wind outside in the night as he settled down to sleep.
The stone faces on the outer walls stared blindly at the black night for three heavy hours; for three heavy hours, the horses in the stables rattled at their racks, the dogs barked, and the owl made a noise with very little resemblance in it to the noise conventionally assigned to the owl by men-poets. But it is the obstinate custom of such creatures hardly ever to say what is set down for them. The stone faces on the chateau’s outer walls looked out at the night. It was quiet and dark for three long hours. For three long hours, the horses rattled in their stables, the dogs barked, and the owl made a noise that sounded very different from the sound poets say they make. But animals are often stubborn and don’t often say the lines written for them.