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In Three Books


THE dread Tribunal of five Judges, Public
Prosecutor, and determined Jury, sat every day.
Their lists went forth every evening, and were
read out by the gaolers of the various prisons to
their prisoners. The standard gaoler-joke was,
"Come out and listen to the Evening Paper,
you inside there!"

"Charles Evrémonde, called Darnay!"

So, at last, began the Evening Paper at La

When a name was called, its owner stepped
apart into a spot reserved for those who were
announced as being thus fatally recorded.
Charles Evrémonde, called Darnay, had reason
to know the usage; he had seen hundreds pass
away so.

His bloated gaoler, who wore spectacles to
read with, glanced over them to assure himself
that he had taken his place, and went through
the list, making a similar short pause at each
name. There were twenty-three names, but
only twenty were responded to; for, one of the
prisoners so summoned had died in gaol and
been forgotten, and two had been already
guillotined and forgotten. The list was read, in the
vaulted chamber where Darnay had seen the
associated prisoners on the night of his arrival.
Every one of those had perished in the
massacre; every human creature he had since cared
for and parted with, had died on the scaffold.

There were hurried words of farewell and
kindness, but the parting was soon over. It
was the incident of every day, and the society
of La Force were engaged in the preparation of
some games of forfeits and a little concert, for
that evening. They crowded to the grates and
shed tears there; but, twenty places in the
projected entertainments had to be refilled, and the
time was, at best, short to the lock-up hour,
when the common rooms and corridors would
be delivered over to the great dogs who kept
watch there through the night. The prisoners
were far from insensible or unfeeling; their ways
arose out of the condition of the time.
Similarly, though with a subtle difference, a species
of fervour or intoxication, known, without doubt,
to have led some persons to brave the guillotine
unnecessarily, and to die by it, was not mere
boastfulness, but a wild infection of the wildly
shaken public mind. In seasons of pestilence,
some of us will have a secret attraction to the
diseasea terrible passing inclination to die
of it. And all of us have like wonders hidden
in our breasts, only needing circumstances to
evoke them.

The passage to the Conciergerie was short
and dark; the night in its vermin-haunted cells
was long and cold. Next day, fifteen prisoners
were put to the bar before Charles Darnay's
name was called. All the fifteen were condemned,
and the trials of the whole occupied an hour and
a half.

"Charles Evrémonde, called Darnay," was at
length arraigned.

His Judges sat upon the Bench in feathered
hats; but the rough red cap and tricolored
cockade was the head-dress otherwise prevailing.
Looking at the Jury and the turbulent audience,
he might have thought that the usual order of
things was reversed, and that the felons were
trying the honest men. The lowest, cruelest,
and worst populace of a city, never without its
quantity of low, cruel, and bad, were the
directing spirits of the scene: noisily commenting,
applauding, disapproving, anticipating, and
precipitating the result, without a check. Of
the men, the greater part were armed in
various ways; of the women, some wore knives,
some daggers, some ate and drank as they
looked on, many knitted. Among these last, was
one, with a spare piece of knitting under her arm
as she worked. She was in a front row, by the
side of a man whom he had never seen since his
arrival at the Barrier, but whom he directly
remembered as Defarge. He noticed that she
once or twice whispered in his ear, and that she
seemed to be his wife; but, what he most noticed
in the two figures was, that although they were
posted as close to himself as they could be, they
never looked towards him. They seemed to be
waiting for something with a dogged determination,
and they looked at the Jury, but at nothing
else. Under the President sat Doctor Manette,
in his usual quiet dress. As well as the prisoner
could see, he and Mr. Lorry were the only men
there, unconnected with the Tribunal, who wore
their usual clothes, and had not assumed the
coarse garb of the Carmagnole.

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