Happily unconscious of the new calamity at home, Miss Pross threaded her
way along the narrow streets and crossed the river by the bridge of the
Pont-Neuf, reckoning in her mind the number of indispensable purchases she
had to make. Mr. Cruncher, with the basket, walked at her side. They both
looked to the right and to the left into most of the shops they passed,
had a wary eye for all gregarious assemblages of people, and turned out of
their road to avoid any very excited group of talkers. It was a raw
evening, and the misty river, blurred to the eye with blazing lights and
to the ear with harsh noises, showed where the barges were stationed in
which the smiths worked, making guns for the Army of the Republic. Woe to
the man who played tricks with that Army, or got undeserved
promotion in it! Better for him that his beard had never grown, for the
National Razor shaved him close.
Having purchased a few small articles of grocery, and a measure of oil for
the lamp, Miss Pross bethought herself of the wine they wanted. After
peeping into several wine-shops, she stopped at the sign of the Good
Republican Brutus of Antiquity, not far from the National Palace, once
(and twice) the Tuileries, where the aspect of things rather took her
fancy. It had a quieter look than any other place of the same description
they had passed, and, though red with patriotic caps, was not so red as
the rest. Sounding Mr. Cruncher, and finding him of her opinion, Miss
Pross resorted to the Good Republican Brutus of Antiquity, attended by her
Slightly observant of the smoky lights; of the people, pipe in mouth,
playing with limp cards and yellow dominoes; of the one bare-breasted,
bare-armed, soot-begrimed workman reading a journal aloud, and of the
others listening to him; of the weapons worn, or laid aside to be resumed;
of the two or three customers fallen forward asleep, who in the popular
high-shouldered shaggy black spencer looked, in that attitude, like
slumbering bears or dogs; the two outlandish customers approached the
counter, and showed what they wanted.
As their wine was measuring out, a man parted from another man in a
corner, and rose to depart. In going, he had to face Miss Pross. No sooner
did he face her, than Miss Pross uttered a scream, and clapped her hands.
In a moment, the whole company were on their feet. That somebody was
assassinated by somebody vindicating a difference of opinion was the
likeliest occurrence. Everybody looked to see somebody fall, but only saw
a man and a woman standing staring at each other; the man with all the
outward aspect of a Frenchman and a thorough Republican; the woman,
What was said in this disappointing anti-climax, by the disciples of the
Good Republican Brutus of Antiquity, except that it was something very
voluble and loud, would have been as so much Hebrew or Chaldean to Miss
Pross and her protector, though they had been all ears. But, they had no
ears for anything in their surprise. For, it must be recorded, that not
only was Miss Pross lost in amazement and agitation, but, Mr. Cruncher—though
it seemed on his own separate and individual account—was in a state
of the greatest wonder.
"What is the matter?" said the man who had caused Miss Pross to scream;
speaking in a vexed, abrupt voice (though in a low tone), and in English.
"Oh, Solomon, dear Solomon!" cried Miss Pross, clapping her hands again.
"After not setting eyes upon you or hearing of you for so long a time, do
I find you here!"
"Don't call me Solomon. Do you want to be the death of me?" asked the man,
in a furtive, frightened way.
"Brother, brother!" cried Miss Pross, bursting into tears. "Have I ever
been so hard with you that you ask me such a cruel question?"
"Then hold your meddlesome tongue," said Solomon, "and come out, if you
want to speak to me. Pay for your wine, and come out. Who's this man?"
Miss Pross, shaking her loving and dejected head at her by no means
affectionate brother, said through her tears, "Mr. Cruncher."
"Let him come out too," said Solomon. "Does he think me a ghost?"
Apparently, Mr. Cruncher did, to judge from his looks. He said not a word,
however, and Miss Pross, exploring the depths of her reticule through her
tears with great difficulty paid for her wine. As she did so, Solomon
turned to the followers of the Good Republican Brutus of Antiquity, and
offered a few words of explanation in the French language, which caused
them all to relapse into their former places and pursuits.
"Now," said Solomon, stopping at the dark street corner, "what do you
"How dreadfully unkind in a brother nothing has ever turned my love away
from!" cried Miss Pross, "to give me such a greeting, and show me no
"There. Confound it! There," said Solomon, making a dab at Miss Pross's
lips with his own. "Now are you content?"
Miss Pross only shook her head and wept in silence.
"If you expect me to be surprised," said her brother Solomon, "I am not
surprised; I knew you were here; I know of most people who are here. If
you really don't want to endanger my existence—which I half believe
you do—go your ways as soon as possible, and let me go mine. I am
busy. I am an official."
"My English brother Solomon," mourned Miss Pross, casting up her
tear-fraught eyes, "that had the makings in him of one of the best and
greatest of men in his native country, an official among foreigners, and
such foreigners! I would almost sooner have seen the dear boy lying in his—"
"I said so!" cried her brother, interrupting. "I knew it. You want to be
the death of me. I shall be rendered Suspected, by my own sister. Just as
I am getting on!"
"The gracious and merciful Heavens forbid!" cried Miss Pross. "Far rather
would I never see you again, dear Solomon, though I have ever loved you
truly, and ever shall. Say but one affectionate word to me, and tell me
there is nothing angry or estranged between us, and I will detain you no
Good Miss Pross! As if the estrangement between them had come of any
culpability of hers. As if Mr. Lorry had not known it for a fact, years
ago, in the quiet corner in Soho, that this precious brother had spent her
money and left her!
He was saying the affectionate word, however, with a far more grudging
condescension and patronage than he could have shown if their relative
merits and positions had been reversed (which is invariably the case, all
the world over), when Mr. Cruncher, touching him on the shoulder, hoarsely
and unexpectedly interposed with the following singular question:
"I say! Might I ask the favour? As to whether your name is John Solomon,
or Solomon John?"
The official turned towards him with sudden distrust. He had not
previously uttered a word.
"Come!" said Mr. Cruncher. "Speak out, you know." (Which, by the way, was
more than he could do himself.) "John Solomon, or Solomon John? She calls
you Solomon, and she must know, being your sister. And I know
you're John, you know. Which of the two goes first? And regarding that
name of Pross, likewise. That warn't your name over the water."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I don't know all I mean, for I can't call to mind what your name
was, over the water."
"No. But I'll swear it was a name of two syllables."
"Yes. T'other one's was one syllable. I know you. You was a spy—witness
at the Bailey. What, in the name of the Father of Lies, own father to
yourself, was you called at that time?"
"Barsad," said another voice, striking in.
"That's the name for a thousand pound!" cried Jerry.
The speaker who struck in, was Sydney Carton. He had his hands behind him
under the skirts of his riding-coat, and he stood at Mr. Cruncher's elbow
as negligently as he might have stood at the Old Bailey itself.
"Don't be alarmed, my dear Miss Pross. I arrived at Mr. Lorry's, to his
surprise, yesterday evening; we agreed that I would not present myself
elsewhere until all was well, or unless I could be useful; I present
myself here, to beg a little talk with your brother. I wish you had a
better employed brother than Mr. Barsad. I wish for your sake Mr. Barsad
was not a Sheep of the Prisons."
Sheep was a cant word of the time for a spy, under the gaolers. The spy,
who was pale, turned paler, and asked him how he dared—
"I'll tell you," said Sydney. "I lighted on you, Mr. Barsad, coming out of
the prison of the Conciergerie while I was contemplating the walls, an
hour or more ago. You have a face to be remembered, and I remember faces
well. Made curious by seeing you in that connection, and having a reason,
to which you are no stranger, for associating you with the misfortunes of
a friend now very unfortunate, I walked in your direction. I walked into
the wine-shop here, close after you, and sat near you. I had no difficulty
in deducing from your unreserved conversation, and the rumour openly going
about among your admirers, the nature of your calling. And gradually, what
I had done at random, seemed to shape itself into a purpose, Mr. Barsad."
"What purpose?" the spy asked.
"It would be troublesome, and might be dangerous, to explain in the
street. Could you favour me, in confidence, with some minutes of your
company—at the office of Tellson's Bank, for instance?"
"Under a threat?"
"Oh! Did I say that?"
"Then, why should I go there?"
"Really, Mr. Barsad, I can't say, if you can't."
"Do you mean that you won't say, sir?" the spy irresolutely asked.
"You apprehend me very clearly, Mr. Barsad. I won't."
Carton's negligent recklessness of manner came powerfully in aid of his
quickness and skill, in such a business as he had in his secret mind, and
with such a man as he had to do with. His practised eye saw it, and made
the most of it.
"Now, I told you so," said the spy, casting a reproachful look at his
sister; "if any trouble comes of this, it's your doing."
"Come, come, Mr. Barsad!" exclaimed Sydney. "Don't be ungrateful. But for
my great respect for your sister, I might not have led up so pleasantly to
a little proposal that I wish to make for our mutual satisfaction. Do you
go with me to the Bank?"
"I'll hear what you have got to say. Yes, I'll go with you."
"I propose that we first conduct your sister safely to the corner of her
own street. Let me take your arm, Miss Pross. This is not a good city, at
this time, for you to be out in, unprotected; and as your escort knows Mr.
Barsad, I will invite him to Mr. Lorry's with us. Are we ready? Come
Miss Pross recalled soon afterwards, and to the end of her life
remembered, that as she pressed her hands on Sydney's arm and looked up in
his face, imploring him to do no hurt to Solomon, there was a braced
purpose in the arm and a kind of inspiration in the eyes, which not only
contradicted his light manner, but changed and raised the man. She was too
much occupied then with fears for the brother who so little deserved her
affection, and with Sydney's friendly reassurances, adequately to heed
what she observed.
They left her at the corner of the street, and Carton led the way to Mr.
Lorry's, which was within a few minutes' walk. John Barsad, or Solomon
Pross, walked at his side.
Mr. Lorry had just finished his dinner, and was sitting before a cheery
little log or two of fire—perhaps looking into their blaze for the
picture of that younger elderly gentleman from Tellson's, who had looked
into the red coals at the Royal George at Dover, now a good many years
ago. He turned his head as they entered, and showed the surprise with
which he saw a stranger.
"Miss Pross's brother, sir," said Sydney. "Mr. Barsad."
"Barsad?" repeated the old gentleman, "Barsad? I have an association with
the name—and with the face."
"I told you you had a remarkable face, Mr. Barsad," observed Carton,
coolly. "Pray sit down."
As he took a chair himself, he supplied the link that Mr. Lorry wanted, by
saying to him with a frown, "Witness at that trial." Mr. Lorry immediately
remembered, and regarded his new visitor with an undisguised look of
"Mr. Barsad has been recognised by Miss Pross as the affectionate brother
you have heard of," said Sydney, "and has acknowledged the relationship. I
pass to worse news. Darnay has been arrested again."
Struck with consternation, the old gentleman exclaimed, "What do you tell
me! I left him safe and free within these two hours, and am about to
return to him!"
"Arrested for all that. When was it done, Mr. Barsad?"
"Just now, if at all."
"Mr. Barsad is the best authority possible, sir," said Sydney, "and I have
it from Mr. Barsad's communication to a friend and brother Sheep over a
bottle of wine, that the arrest has taken place. He left the messengers at
the gate, and saw them admitted by the porter. There is no earthly doubt
that he is retaken."
Mr. Lorry's business eye read in the speaker's face that it was loss of
time to dwell upon the point. Confused, but sensible that something might
depend on his presence of mind, he commanded himself, and was silently
"Now, I trust," said Sydney to him, "that the name and influence of Doctor
Manette may stand him in as good stead to-morrow—you said he would
be before the Tribunal again to-morrow, Mr. Barsad?—"
"Yes; I believe so."
"—In as good stead to-morrow as to-day. But it may not be so. I own
to you, I am shaken, Mr. Lorry, by Doctor Manette's not having had the
power to prevent this arrest."
"He may not have known of it beforehand," said Mr. Lorry.
"But that very circumstance would be alarming, when we remember how
identified he is with his son-in-law."
"That's true," Mr. Lorry acknowledged, with his troubled hand at his chin,
and his troubled eyes on Carton.
"In short," said Sydney, "this is a desperate time, when desperate games
are played for desperate stakes. Let the Doctor play the winning game; I
will play the losing one. No man's life here is worth purchase. Any one
carried home by the people to-day, may be condemned tomorrow. Now, the
stake I have resolved to play for, in case of the worst, is a friend in
the Conciergerie. And the friend I purpose to myself to win, is Mr.
"You need have good cards, sir," said the spy.
"I'll run them over. I'll see what I hold,—Mr. Lorry, you know what
a brute I am; I wish you'd give me a little brandy."
It was put before him, and he drank off a glassful—drank off another
glassful—pushed the bottle thoughtfully away.
"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?"
"Not to understand your play," returned the spy, somewhat 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
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.
"Look over your hand carefully, Mr. Barsad. Take 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.
"You scarcely seem to like your hand," said Sydney, with the greatest
composure. "Do you play?"
"I think, sir," said the spy, in the meanest manner, as he turned to Mr.
Lorry, "I may appeal to a gentleman of your years and benevolence, to put
it to this other gentleman, so much your junior, whether he can under any
circumstances reconcile it to his station to play that Ace of which he has
spoken. I admit that I am a spy, and that it is considered a
discreditable station—though it must be filled by somebody; but this
gentleman is no spy, and why should he so demean himself as to make
"I play my Ace, Mr. Barsad," said Carton, taking the answer on himself,
and looking at his watch, "without any scruple, in a very few minutes."
"I should have hoped, gentlemen both," said the spy, always striving to
hook Mr. Lorry into the discussion, "that your respect for my sister—"
"I could not better testify my respect for your sister than by finally
relieving her of her brother," said Sydney Carton.
"You think not, sir?"
"I have thoroughly made up my mind about it."
The smooth manner of the spy, curiously in dissonance with his
ostentatiously rough dress, and probably with his usual demeanour,
received such a check from the inscrutability of Carton,—who was a
mystery to wiser and honester men than he,—that it faltered here and
failed him. While he was at a loss, Carton said, resuming his former air
of contemplating cards:
"And indeed, now I think again, I have a strong impression that I have
another good card here, not yet enumerated. That friend and fellow-Sheep,
who spoke of himself as pasturing in the country prisons; who was he?"
"French. You don't know him," said the spy, quickly.
"French, eh?" repeated Carton, musing, and not appearing to notice him at
all, though he echoed his word. "Well; he may be."
"Is, I assure you," said the spy; "though it's not important."
"Though it's not important," repeated Carton, in the same mechanical way—"though
it's not important—No, it's not important. No. Yet I know the face."
"I think not. I am sure not. It can't be," said the spy.
"It-can't-be," muttered Sydney Carton, retrospectively, and idling his
glass (which fortunately was a small one) again. "Can't-be. Spoke good
French. Yet like a foreigner, I thought?"
"Provincial," said the spy.
"No. Foreign!" cried Carton, striking his open hand on the table, as a
light broke clearly on his mind. "Cly! Disguised, but the same man. We had
that man before us at the Old Bailey."
"Now, there you are hasty, sir," said Barsad, with a smile that gave his
aquiline nose an extra inclination to one side; "there you really give me
an advantage over you. Cly (who I will unreservedly admit, at this
distance of time, was a partner of mine) has been dead several years. I
attended him in his last illness. He was buried in London, at the church
of Saint Pancras-in-the-Fields. His unpopularity with the blackguard
multitude at the moment prevented my following his remains, but I helped
to lay him in his coffin."
Here, Mr. Lorry became aware, from where he sat, of a most remarkable
goblin shadow on the wall. Tracing it to its source, he discovered it to
be caused by a sudden extraordinary rising and stiffening of all the risen
and stiff hair on Mr. Cruncher's head.
"Let us be reasonable," said the spy, "and let us be fair. To show you how
mistaken you are, and what an unfounded assumption yours is, I will lay
before you a certificate of Cly's burial, which I happened to have carried
in my pocket-book," with a hurried hand he produced and opened it, "ever
since. There it is. Oh, look at it, look at it! You may take it in your
hand; it's no forgery."
Here, Mr. Lorry perceived the reflection on the wall to elongate, and Mr.
Cruncher rose and stepped forward. His hair could not have been more
violently on end, if it had been that moment dressed by the Cow with the
crumpled horn in the house that Jack built.
Unseen by the spy, Mr. Cruncher stood at his side, and touched him on the
shoulder like a ghostly bailiff.
"That there Roger Cly, master," said Mr. Cruncher, with a taciturn and
iron-bound visage. "So you put him in his coffin?"
"Who took him out of it?"
Barsad leaned back in his chair, and stammered, "What do you mean?"
"I mean," said Mr. Cruncher, "that he warn't never in it. No! Not he! I'll
have my head took off, if he was ever in it."
The spy looked round at the two gentlemen; they both looked in unspeakable
astonishment at Jerry.
"I tell you," said Jerry, "that you buried paving-stones and earth in that
there coffin. Don't go and tell me that you buried Cly. It was a take in.
Me and two more knows it."
"How do you know it?"
"What's that to you? Ecod!" growled Mr. Cruncher, "it's you I have got a
old grudge again, is it, with your shameful impositions upon tradesmen!
I'd catch hold of your throat and choke you for half a guinea."
Sydney Carton, who, with Mr. Lorry, had been lost in amazement at this
turn of the business, here requested Mr. Cruncher to moderate and explain
"At another time, sir," he returned, evasively, "the present time is
ill-conwenient for explainin'. What I stand to, is, that he knows well wot
that there Cly was never in that there coffin. Let him say he was, in so
much as a word of one syllable, and I'll either catch hold of his throat
and choke him for half a guinea;" Mr. Cruncher dwelt upon this as quite a
liberal offer; "or I'll out and announce him."
"Humph! I see one thing," said Carton. "I hold another card, Mr. Barsad.
Impossible, here in raging Paris, with Suspicion filling the air, for you
to outlive denunciation, when you are in communication with another
aristocratic spy of the same antecedents as yourself, who, moreover, has
the mystery about him of having feigned death and come to life again! A
plot in the prisons, of the foreigner against the Republic. A strong card—a
certain Guillotine card! Do you play?"
"No!" returned the spy. "I throw up. I confess that we were so unpopular
with the outrageous mob, that I only got away from England at the risk of
being ducked to death, and that Cly was so ferreted up and down, that he
never would have got away at all but for that sham. Though how this man
knows it was a sham, is a wonder of wonders to me."
"Never you trouble your head about this man," retorted the contentious Mr.
Cruncher; "you'll have trouble enough with giving your attention to that
gentleman. And look here! Once more!"—Mr. Cruncher could not be
restrained from making rather an ostentatious parade of his liberality—"I'd
catch hold of your throat and choke you for half a guinea."
The Sheep of the prisons turned from him to Sydney Carton, and said, with
more decision, "It has come to a point. I go on duty soon, and can't
overstay my time. You told me you had a proposal; what is it? Now, it is
of no use asking too much of me. Ask me to do anything in my office,
putting my head in great extra danger, and I had better trust my life to
the chances of a refusal than the chances of consent. In short, I should
make that choice. You talk of desperation. We are all desperate here.
Remember! I may denounce you if I think proper, and I can swear my way
through stone walls, and so can others. Now, what do you want with me?"
"Not very much. You are a turnkey at the Conciergerie?"
"I tell you once for all, there is no such thing as an escape possible,"
said the spy, firmly.
"Why need you tell me what I have not asked? You are a turnkey at the
"I am sometimes."
"You can be when you choose?"
"I can pass in and out when I choose."
Sydney Carton filled another glass with brandy, poured it slowly out upon
the hearth, and watched it as it dropped. It being all spent, he said,
"So far, we have spoken before these two, because it was as well that the
merits of the cards should not rest solely between you and me. Come into
the dark room here, and let us have one final word alone."