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“Mr. Barsad,” he went on, in the tone of one who really was looking over a hand at cards: “Sheep of the prisons, emissary of Republican committees, now turnkey, now prisoner, always spy and secret informer, so much the more valuable here for being English that an Englishman is less open to suspicion of subornation in those characters than a Frenchman, represents himself to his employers under a false name. That’s a very good card. Mr. Barsad, now in the employ of the republican French government, was formerly in the employ of the aristocratic English government, the enemy of France and freedom. That’s an excellent card. Inference clear as day in this region of suspicion, that Mr. Barsad, still in the pay of the aristocratic English government, is the spy of Pitt, the treacherous foe of the Republic crouching in its bosom, the English traitor and agent of all mischief so much spoken of and so difficult to find. That’s a card not to be beaten. Have you followed my hand, Mr. Barsad?” “Mr. Barsad,” he continued, as if he really were looking over a hand of cards. “You are a prison spy and a representative of Republican committees. You’ve been at one time a prison guard and at one time a prisoner. You’ve always been a spy and secret informer. You are much more valuable here in France for being English because an Englishman is less likely to be suspected of corruption than a Frenchman is. You present yourself to your employers under a false name. That’s a very good card. Mr. Barsad, now employed by the Republican French government, was formerly employed by the aristocratic English government, which was the enemy of France and freedom. That’s an excellent card. Everyone is so suspicious in Paris these days that it would be easy to suggest that Mr. Barsad is still in the pay of the aristocratic English government and is a spy for


William Pitt the Younger, who was prime minister of England at the time

. I could accuse you of being an enemy of the Republic working right in the middle of it. I could accuse you of being an English traitor and a spy. Everyone says that there are traitors and spies around, although they are so difficult to actually find. That’s a card that beats all. Are you following me, Mr. Barsad?”
“Not to understand your play,” returned the spy, somewhat uneasily. “I don’t understand what you plan to do,” answered Barsad, uneasily.
“I play my Ace, Denunciation of Mr. Barsad to the nearest Section Committee. Look over your hand, Mr. Barsad, and see what you have. Don’t hurry.” “I plan to play my ace and denounce you, Mr. Barsad, to the closest Section Committee. Look over your hand, Mr. Barsad, and see what cards you have to play. Take your time.”
He drew the bottle near, poured out another glassful of brandy, and drank it off. He saw that the spy was fearful of his drinking himself into a fit state for the immediate denunciation of him. Seeing it, he poured out and drank another glassful. Mr. Carton pulled the bottle of brandy toward him, poured himself another glass, and drank it. He saw that Barsad was worried he would get drunk and want to denounce Barsad immediately. Seeing this, Carton poured another glass and drank it.
“Look over your hand carefully, Mr. Barsad. Take time.” “Look over your cards carefully, Mr. Barsad. Take your time.”
It was a poorer hand than he suspected. Mr. Barsad saw losing cards in it that Sydney Carton knew nothing of. Thrown out of his honourable employment in England, through too much unsuccessful hard swearing there—not because he was not wanted there; our English reasons for vaunting our superiority to secrecy and spies are of very modern date—he knew that he had crossed the Channel, and accepted service in France: first, as a tempter and an eavesdropper among his own countrymen there: gradually, as a tempter and an eavesdropper among the natives. He knew that under the overthrown government he had been a spy upon Saint Antoine and Defarge’s wine-shop; had received from the watchful police such heads of information concerning Doctor Manette’s imprisonment, release, and history, as should serve him for an introduction to familiar conversation with the Defarges; and tried them on Madame Defarge, and had broken down with them signally. He always remembered with fear and trembling, that that terrible woman had knitted when he talked with her, and had looked ominously at him as her fingers moved. He had since seen her, in the Section of Saint Antoine, over and over again produce her knitted registers, and denounce people whose lives the guillotine then surely swallowed up. He knew, as every one employed as he was did, that he was never safe; that flight was impossible; that he was tied fast under the shadow of the axe; and that in spite of his utmost tergiversation and treachery in furtherance of the reigning terror, a word might bring it down upon him. Once denounced, and on such grave grounds as had just now been suggested to his mind, he foresaw that the dreadful woman of whose unrelenting character he had seen many proofs, would produce against him that fatal register, and would quash his last chance of life. Besides that all secret men are men soon terrified, here were surely cards enough of one black suit, to justify the holder in growing rather livid as he turned them over. Barsad’s cards were worse than he thought. Mr. Barsad had losing cards in his hand that Sydney Carton didn’t even know about. He had been thrown out of his job as a spy in England after much unsuccessful hard work—not because he was not wanted there (our English ideas about how much better the English are at secrecy and spying are the same as they are today). He had crossed the Channel and taken a job in France. First he had baited Englishmen in France into incriminating themselves and had listened in on their conversations. Then he started doing the same among the French. He knew that he had worked for the now-overthrown French government spying on the people of Saint Antoine and on Defarge’s wine shop. He heard news from the police about Dr. Manette’s imprisonment, release, and his personal history. This information had helped him get to know Monsieur and Madame Defarge. He had tried to use this information on Madame Defarge, but it hadn’t worked. He always remembered with fear and trembling that Madame Defarge had been knitting while she talked with him, and she had stared threateningly at him while she knitted. He had seen her since then in that section of Saint Antoine, showing the list of names she had knitted and denouncing people, who shortly after died on the guillotine. He knew, as all spies knew, that he was never safe. It was impossible to run away. He was stuck there and in danger for his life. He knew that, despite the fact that he had switched sides and now helped the Republic, one word against him might lead to his downfall. He foresaw that once he was denounced and in the dilemma Mr. Carton had just described, Madame Defarge would present her list against him, and it would surely lead to his death. All men that live secret lives are easily terrified. He had enough bad cards to make him furious as he looked them over.