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
"Charles Evremonde, called Darnay!"
So at last began the Evening Paper at La Force.
When a name was called, its owner stepped apart into a spot reserved for
those who were announced as being thus fatally recorded. Charles
Evremonde, 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 already been 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 disease—a
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 Evremonde, called Darnay," was at length arraigned.
His judges sat upon the Bench in feathered hats; but the rough red cap and
tricoloured 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.
Charles Evremonde, called Darnay, was accused by the public prosecutor as
an emigrant, whose life was forfeit to the Republic, under the decree
which banished all emigrants on pain of Death. It was nothing that the
decree bore date since his return to France. There he was, and there was
the decree; he had been taken in France, and his head was demanded.
"Take off his head!" cried the audience. "An enemy to the Republic!"
The President rang his bell to silence those cries, and asked the prisoner
whether it was not true that he had lived many years in England?
Undoubtedly it was.
Was he not an emigrant then? What did he call himself?
Not an emigrant, he hoped, within the sense and spirit of the law.
Why not? the President desired to know.
Because he had voluntarily relinquished a title that was distasteful to
him, and a station that was distasteful to him, and had left his country—he
submitted before the word emigrant in the present acceptation by the
Tribunal was in use—to live by his own industry in England, rather
than on the industry of the overladen people of France.
What proof had he of this?
He handed in the names of two witnesses; Theophile Gabelle, and Alexandre
But he had married in England? the President reminded him.
True, but not an English woman.
A citizeness of France?
Yes. By birth.
Her name and family?
"Lucie Manette, only daughter of Doctor Manette, the good physician who
This answer had a happy effect upon the audience. Cries in exaltation of
the well-known good physician rent the hall. So capriciously were the
people moved, that tears immediately rolled down several ferocious
countenances which had been glaring at the prisoner a moment before, as if
with impatience to pluck him out into the streets and kill him.
On these few steps of his dangerous way, Charles Darnay had set his foot
according to Doctor Manette's reiterated instructions. The same cautious
counsel directed every step that lay before him, and had prepared every
inch of his road.
The President asked, why had he returned to France when he did, and not
He had not returned sooner, he replied, simply because he had no means of
living in France, save those he had resigned; whereas, in England, he
lived by giving instruction in the French language and literature. He had
returned when he did, on the pressing and written entreaty of a French
citizen, who represented that his life was endangered by his absence. He
had come back, to save a citizen's life, and to bear his testimony, at
whatever personal hazard, to the truth. Was that criminal in the eyes of
The populace cried enthusiastically, "No!" and the President rang his bell
to quiet them. Which it did not, for they continued to cry "No!" until
they left off, of their own will.
The President required the name of that citizen. The accused explained
that the citizen was his first witness. He also referred with confidence
to the citizen's letter, which had been taken from him at the Barrier, but
which he did not doubt would be found among the papers then before the
The Doctor had taken care that it should be there—had assured him
that it would be there—and at this stage of the proceedings it was
produced and read. Citizen Gabelle was called to confirm it, and did so.
Citizen Gabelle hinted, with infinite delicacy and politeness, that in the
pressure of business imposed on the Tribunal by the multitude of enemies
of the Republic with which it had to deal, he had been slightly overlooked
in his prison of the Abbaye—in fact, had rather passed out of the
Tribunal's patriotic remembrance—until three days ago; when he had
been summoned before it, and had been set at liberty on the Jury's
declaring themselves satisfied that the accusation against him was
answered, as to himself, by the surrender of the citizen Evremonde, called
Doctor Manette was next questioned. His high personal popularity, and the
clearness of his answers, made a great impression; but, as he proceeded,
as he showed that the Accused was his first friend on his release from his
long imprisonment; that, the accused had remained in England, always
faithful and devoted to his daughter and himself in their exile; that, so
far from being in favour with the Aristocrat government there, he had
actually been tried for his life by it, as the foe of England and friend
of the United States—as he brought these circumstances into view,
with the greatest discretion and with the straightforward force of truth
and earnestness, the Jury and the populace became one. At last, when he
appealed by name to Monsieur Lorry, an English gentleman then and there
present, who, like himself, had been a witness on that English trial and
could corroborate his account of it, the Jury declared that they had heard
enough, and that they were ready with their votes if the President were
content to receive them.
At every vote (the Jurymen voted aloud and individually), the populace set
up a shout of applause. All the voices were in the prisoner's favour, and
the President declared him free.
Then, began one of those extraordinary scenes with which the populace
sometimes gratified their fickleness, or their better impulses towards
generosity and mercy, or which they regarded as some set-off against their
swollen account of cruel rage. No man can decide now to which of these
motives such extraordinary scenes were referable; it is probable, to a
blending of all the three, with the second predominating. No sooner was
the acquittal pronounced, than tears were shed as freely as blood at
another time, and such fraternal embraces were bestowed upon the prisoner
by as many of both sexes as could rush at him, that after his long and
unwholesome confinement he was in danger of fainting from exhaustion; none
the less because he knew very well, that the very same people, carried by
another current, would have rushed at him with the very same intensity, to
rend him to pieces and strew him over the streets.
His removal, to make way for other accused persons who were to be tried,
rescued him from these caresses for the moment. Five were to be tried
together, next, as enemies of the Republic, forasmuch as they had not
assisted it by word or deed. So quick was the Tribunal to compensate
itself and the nation for a chance lost, that these five came down to him
before he left the place, condemned to die within twenty-four hours. The
first of them told him so, with the customary prison sign of Death—a
raised finger—and they all added in words, "Long live the Republic!"
The five had had, it is true, no audience to lengthen their proceedings,
for when he and Doctor Manette emerged from the gate, there was a great
crowd about it, in which there seemed to be every face he had seen in
Court—except two, for which he looked in vain. On his coming out,
the concourse made at him anew, weeping, embracing, and shouting, all by
turns and all together, until the very tide of the river on the bank of
which the mad scene was acted, seemed to run mad, like the people on the
They put him into a great chair they had among them, and which they had
taken either out of the Court itself, or one of its rooms or passages.
Over the chair they had thrown a red flag, and to the back of it they had
bound a pike with a red cap on its top. In this car of triumph, not even
the Doctor's entreaties could prevent his being carried to his home on
men's shoulders, with a confused sea of red caps heaving about him, and
casting up to sight from the stormy deep such wrecks of faces, that he
more than once misdoubted his mind being in confusion, and that he was in
the tumbril on his way to the Guillotine.
In wild dreamlike procession, embracing whom they met and pointing him
out, they carried him on. Reddening the snowy streets with the prevailing
Republican colour, in winding and tramping through them, as they had
reddened them below the snow with a deeper dye, they carried him thus into
the courtyard of the building where he lived. Her father had gone on
before, to prepare her, and when her husband stood upon his feet, she
dropped insensible in his arms.
As he held her to his heart and turned her beautiful head between his face
and the brawling crowd, so that his tears and her lips might come together
unseen, a few of the people fell to dancing. Instantly, all the rest fell
to dancing, and the courtyard overflowed with the Carmagnole. Then, they
elevated into the vacant chair a young woman from the crowd to be carried
as the Goddess of Liberty, and then swelling and overflowing out into the
adjacent streets, and along the river's bank, and over the bridge, the
Carmagnole absorbed them every one and whirled them away.
After grasping the Doctor's hand, as he stood victorious and proud before
him; after grasping the hand of Mr. Lorry, who came panting in breathless
from his struggle against the waterspout of the Carmagnole; after kissing
little Lucie, who was lifted up to clasp her arms round his neck; and
after embracing the ever zealous and faithful Pross who lifted her; he
took his wife in his arms, and carried her up to their rooms.
"Lucie! My own! I am safe."
"O dearest Charles, let me thank God for this on my knees as I have prayed
They all reverently bowed their heads and hearts. When she was again in
his arms, he said to her:
"And now speak to your father, dearest. No other man in all this France
could have done what he has done for me."
She laid her head upon her father's breast, as she had laid his poor head
on her own breast, long, long ago. He was happy in the return he had made
her, he was recompensed for his suffering, he was proud of his strength.
"You must not be weak, my darling," he remonstrated; "don't tremble so. I
have saved him."