ONE Of the first considerations which arose in the business mindof Mr. Lorry when business hours came round, was this:- that he had noright to imperil Tellson's by sheltering the wife of an emigrantprisoner under the Bank roof. His own possessions, safety, life, hewould have hazarded for Lucie and her child, without a moment's demur;but the great trust he held was not his own, and as to that businesscharge he was a strict man of business.
At first, his mind reverted to Defarge, and he thought of findingout the wine-shop again and taking counsel with its master inreference to the safest dwelling-place in the distracted state ofthe city. But, the same consideration that suggested him, repudiatedhim; he lived in the most violent Quarter, and doubtless wasinfluential there, and deep in its dangerous workings.
Noon coming, and the Doctor not returning, and every minute'sdelay tending to compromise Tellson's, Mr. Lorry advised with Lucie.She said that her father had spoken of hiring a lodging for a shortterm, in that Quarter, near the Banking-house. As there was nobusiness objection to this, and as he foresaw that even if it were allwell with Charles, and he were to be released, he could not hope toleave the city, Mr. Lorry went out in quest of such a lodging, andfound a suitable one, high up in a removed by-street where theclosed blinds in all the other windows of a high melancholy squareof buildings marked deserted homes.
To this lodging he at once removed Lucie and her child, and MissPross: giving them what comfort he could, and much more than he hadhimself. He left Jerry with them, as a figure to fill a doorway thatwould bear considerable knocking on the head, and returned to hisown occupations. A disturbed and doleful mind he brought to bearupon them, and slowly and heavily the day lagged on with him.
It wore itself out, and wore him out with it, until the Bank closed.He was again alone in his room of the previous night, considering whatto do next, when be heard a foot upon the stair. In a few moments, aman stood in his presence, who, with a keenly observant look at him,addressed him by his name.
"Your servant," said Mr. Lorry. "Do you know me?"
He was a strongly made man with dark curling hair, from forty-fiveto fifty years of age. For answer he repeated, without any change ofemphasis, the words:
"Do you know me?"
"I have seen you somewhere."
"Perhaps at my wine-shop?"
Much interested and agitated, Mr. Lorry said: "You come fromDoctor Manette?"
"Yes. I come from Doctor Manette."
"And what says he? What does he send me?"
Defarge gave into his anxious hand, an open scrap of paper. Itbore the words in the Doctor's writing:
"Charles is safe, but I cannot safely leave this place yet. I haveobtained the favour that the bearer has a short note from Charles tohis wife. Let the bearer see his wife."
It was dated from La Force, within an hour.
"Will you accompany me," said Mr. Lorry, joyfully relieved afterreading this note aloud, "to where his wife resides?"
"Yes," returned Defarge.
Scarcely noticing as yet, in what a curiously reserved andmechanical way Defarge spoke, Mr. Lorry put on his hat and they wentdown into the courtyard. There, they found two women; one, knitting.
"Madame Defarge, surely!" said Mr. Lorry, who had left her inexactly the same attitude some seventeen years ago.
"It is she," observed her husband.
"Does Madame go with us?" inquired Mr. Lorry, seeing that shemoved as they moved.
"Yes. That she may be able to recognise the faces and know thepersons. It is for their safety."
Beginning to be strack by Defarge's manner, Mr. Lorry lookeddubiously at him, and led the way. Both the women followed; the secondwoman being The Vengeance.
They passed through the intervening streets as quickly as theymight, ascended the staircase of the new domicile, were admitted byJerry, and found Lucie weeping, alone. She was thrown into a transportby the tidings Mr. Lorry gave her of her husband, and clasped the handthat delivered his note- little thinking what it had been doing nearhim in the night, and might, but for a chance, have done to him.
"DEAREST,- Take courage. I am well, and your father has influencearound me. You cannot answer this. Kiss our child for me."
That was all the writing. It was so much, however, to her whoreceived it, that she turned from Defarge to his wife, and kissedone of the hands that knitted. It was a passionate, loving,thankful, womanly action, but the hand made no response- droppedcold and heavy, and took to its knitting again.
There was something in its touch that gave Lucie a check. Shestopped in the act of putting the note in her bosom, and, with herhands yet at her neck, looked terrified at Madame Defarge. MadameDefarge met the lifted eyebrows and forehead with a cold, impassivestare.
"My dear," said Mr. Lorry, striking in to explain; "there arefrequent risings in the streets; and, although it is not likely theywill ever trouble you, Madame Defarge wishes to see those whom she hasthe power to protect at such times, to the end that she may know them-that she may identify them. I believe," said Mr. Lorry, rather haltingin his reassuring words, as the stony manner of an the three impresseditself upon him more and more, "I state the case, Citizen Defarge?"
Defarge looked gloomily at his wife, and gave no other answer than agruff sound of acquiescence.
"You had better, Lucie," said Mr. Lorry, doing all he could topropitiate, by tone and manner, "have the dear child here, and ourgood Pross. Our good Pross, Defarge, is an English lady, and knowsno French."
The lady in question, whose rooted conviction that she was more thana match for any foreigner, was not to be shaken by distress anddanger, appeared with folded arms, and observed in English to TheVengeance, whom her eyes first encountered, "Well, I am sure,Boldface! I hope you are pretty well!" She also bestowed a Britishcough on Madame Defarge; but, neither of the two took much heed ofher.
"Is that his child?" said Madame Defarge, stopping in her work forthe fust time, and pointing her knitting-needle at little Lucie asif it were the finger of Fate.
"Yes, madame," answered Mr. Lorry; "this is our poor prisoner'sdarling daughter, and only child."
The shadow attendant on Madame Defarge and her party seemed tofall so threatening and dark on the child, that her motherinstinctively kneeled on the ground beside her, and held her to herbreast. The shadow attendant on Madame Defarge and her party seemedthen to fall, threatening and dark, on both the mother and the child.
"It is enough, my husband," said Madame Defarge. "I have seenthem. We may go."
But, the suppressed manner had enough of menace in it- not visibleand presented, but indistinct and withheld- to alarm Lucie intosaying, as she laid her appealing hand on Madame Defarge's dress:
"You will be good to my poor husband. You will do him no harm. Youwill help me to see him if you can?"
"Your husband is not my business here," returned Madame Defarge,looking down at her with perfect composure. "It is the daughter ofyour father who is my business here."
"For my sake, then, be merciful to my husband. For my child'ssake! She will put her hands together and pray you to be merciful.We are more afraid of you than of these others."
Madame Defarge received it as a compliment, and looked at herhusband. Defarge, who had been uneasily biting his thumb-nail andlooking at her, collected his face into a sterner expression.
"What is it that your husband says in that little letter?" askedMadame Defarge, with a lowering smile. "Influence; he says somethingtouching influence?"
"That my father," said Lucie, hurriedly taking the paper from herbreast, but with her alarmed eyes on her questioner and not on it,"has much influence around him."
"Surely it will release him!" said Madame Defarge. "Let it do so."
"As a wife and mother," cried Lucie, most earnestly, "I imploreyou to have pity on me and not to exercise any power that you possess,against my innocent husband, but to use it in his behalf. Osister-woman, think of me. As a wife and mother!"
Madame Defarge looked, coldly as ever, at the suppliant, and said,turning to her friend The Vengeance:
"The wives and mothers we have been used to see, since we were aslittle as this child, and much less, have not been greatly considered?We have known their husbands and fathers laid in prison and keptfrom them, often enough? All our lives, we have seen oursister-women suffer, in themselves and in their children, poverty,nakedness, hunger, thirst, sickness, misery, oppression and neglect ofall kinds?"
"We have seen nothing else," returned The Vengeance.
"We have borne this a long time," said Madame Defarge, turning hereyes again upon Lucie. "Judge you! Is it likely that the trouble ofone wife and mother would be much to us now?"
She resumed her knitting and went out. The Vengeance followed.Defarge went last, and closed the door.
"Courage, my dear Lucie," said Mr. Lorry, as he raised her."Courage, courage! So far all goes well with us- much, much betterthan it has of late gone with many poor souls. Cheer up, and have athankful heart."
"I am not thankless, I hope, but that dreadful woman seems tothrow a shadow on me and on all my hopes."
"Tut, tut!" said Mr. Lorry; "what is this despondency in the bravelittle breast? A shadow indeed! No substance in it, Lucie."
But the shadow of the manner of these Defarges was dark uponhimself, for an that, and in his secret mind it troubled him greatly.