+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

retrospect towards which he foresaw he might
be tending.

To Mr. Lorry, he commended them all, and
explained his worldly affairs. That done, with
many added sentences of grateful friendship and
warm attachment, all was done. He never
thought of Carton. His mind was so full of
the others, that he never once thought of him.

He had time to finish these letters before the
lights were put out. When he lay down on his
straw bed, he thought he had done with this

But, it beckoned him back in his sleep, and
showed itself in shining forms. Free and happy,
back in the old house in Soho (though it had
nothing in it like the real house), unaccountably
released and light of heart, he was with Lucie
again, and she told him it was all a dream, and
he had never gone away. A pause of
forgetfulness, and then he had even suffered, and had
come back to her, dead and at peace, and yet there
was no difference in him. Another pause of oblivion,
and he awoke in the sombre morning,
unconscious where he was or what had happened,
until it flashed upon his mind, "this is the day
of my death!"

Thus, had he come through the hours, to the
day when the fifty-two heads were to fall. And
now, while he was composed, and hoped that he
could meet the end with quiet heroism, a new
action began in his waking thoughts, which was
very difficult to master.

He had never seen the instrument that was
to terminate his life. How high it was from
the ground, how many steps it had, where he
would be stood, how he would be touched,
whether the touching hands would be dyed red,
which way his face would be turned, whether
he would be the first, or might be the last; these
and many similar questions, in no wise directed
by his will, obtruded themselves over and over
again, countless times. Neither were they
connected with fear: he was conscious of no fear.
Rather, they originated in a strange besetting
desire to know what to do when the time came;
a desire gigantically disproportionate to the
few swift moments to which it referred; a
wondering that was more like the wondering of
some other spirit within his, than his own.

The hours went on as he walked to and fro,
and the clocks struck the numbers he would
never hear again. Nine gone for ever, ten gone
for ever, eleven gone for ever, twelve coming
on to pass away. After a hard contest with that
eccentric action of thought which had last
perplexed him, he had got the better of it. He
walked up and down, softly repeating their names
to himself. The worst of the strife was over.
He could walk up and down, free from distracting
fancies, praying for himself and for them.

Twelve gone for ever.

He had been apprised that the final hour was
Three, and he knew he would be summoned
some time earlier, inasmuch as the tumbrils
jolted heavily and slowly through the streets.
Therefore, he resolved to keep Two before his
mind, as the hour, and so to strengthen himself
in the interval that he might be able, after that
time, to strengthen others.

Walking regularly to and fro with his arms
folded on his breast, a very different man from
the prisoner who had walked to and fro at La
Force, he heard One struck away from him,
without surprise. The hour had measured like
most other hours. Devoutly thankful to Heaven
for his recovered self-possession, he thought,
"There is but another now," and turned to
walk again.

Footsteps in the stone passage, outside the
door. He stopped.

The key was put in the lock, and turned.
Before the door was opened, or as it opened, a
man said in, a low voice, in English: "He has
never seen me here; I have kept out of his way.
Go you in alone; I wait near. Lose no time!"

The door was quickly opened and closed, and
there stood before him face to face, quiet, intent
upon him, with the light of a smile on his
features and a cautionary finger on his lip, Sydney

There was something so bright and remarkable
in his look, that, for the first moment, the
prisoner misdoubted him to be an apparition of
his own imagining. But, he spoke, and it was
his voice; he took the prisoner's hand, and it
was his real grasp.

"Of all the people upon earth, you least
expected to see me!" he said.

"I could not believe it to be you. I can
scarcely believe it now. You are not"—the
apprehension came suddenly into his mind
"a prisoner?"

"No. I am accidentally possessed of a
power over one of the keepers here, and in
virtue of it I stand before you. I come from her
your wife, dear Darnay."

The prisoner wrung his hand.

"I bring you a request from her."

"What is it?"

"A most earnest, pressing, and emphatic
entreaty, addressed to you in the most pathetic
tones of the voice so dear to you, that you well

The prisoner turned his face partly aside.

"You have no time to ask me why I bring
it, or what it means; I have no time to tell
you. You must comply with ittake off those
boots you wear, and draw on these of mine."

There was a chair against the wall of the cell,
behind the prisoner. Carton, pressing forward,
had already, with the speed of lightning, got him
down into it, and stood over him barefoot.

"Draw on these boots of mine. Put your
hands to them; put your will to them. Quick!"

"Carton, there is no escaping from this
place; it never can be done. You will only die
with me. It is madness."

"It would be madness if I asked you to
escape; but do I? When I ask you to pass out
at that door, tell me it is madness and remain
here. Change that cravat for this of mine, that
coat for this of mine. While you do it, let me
take this ribbon from your hair, and shake out
your hair like this of mine!"