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Book III

Chapter 1: In Secret
, wherein the best-laid plans of Charles Darnay go wrong and absolutely no-one is shocked.

Also, we learn that "equipages" (pg. 245) is a very real and not at all made-up word. It's a synonym for "equipment," but I prefer to pretend it means "centaur servant." (Equi-page.)

Anyway.

In autumn of 1792, Charles Darnay is well on his way into France, past the point of no return. He keeps getting stopped at checkpoints and whatnot but with a wave of his magical letter from Gabelle all doors are opened. He encounters few to no problems until one night at an inn, where he is...

pg. 246: Awakened by a timid local functionary and three armed patriots in rough red caps and with pipes in their mouths who sat down on the bed.

If there is no pornographic fanfiction resulting from this scene, I will be very surprised.

As it turns out, they want to escort him to Paris. It's not too bad a trip...

pg. 247: apart from such considerations of present danger as arose from one of the patriots being chronically drunk, and carrying his musket very recklessly

...until they reach the town of Beauvais, where Darnay is accosted by a bloodthirsty crowd of revolutionaries. His escorts barely manage to get him out of harm's way, and he learns that there have been several new decrees lately, like "the crime of being an aristocrat shall be punished by death."

When they finally reach Paris, the audience learns that one of Darnay's escorts was Monsieur Defarge the whole time! and Darnay is interrogated by the new police force.

OFFICER: Is this Evrémonde?
DEFARGE: Yep.
OFFICER: Age?
DARNAY: 37.
OFFICER: Married?
DARNAY: Yes.
OFFICER: Damn. I mean, where's your wife?
DARNAY: England.
OFFICER: Too bad. Off to prison you go!
DARNAY: Wait, what?
OFFICER: You heard me.
DARNAY: Dude, I'm here to save one of you.
OFFICER: Don't care. Bye-bye, now!

Defarge takes Darnay aside, and asks the question everyone is thinking.

pg. 251: "In the name of that sharp female newly born, and called La Guillotine, why did you come to France?"

Why, indeed?

Darnay reasserts that he's never harmed anybody except through neglect and asks that Defarge pass a message on to Mr. Lorry. Defarge is like, hell naw.

And so Darnay is taken into La Force prison, which is full of other aristocrats. They're not looking so great these days.

pg. 254: Charles Darnay seemed to stand in a company of the dead. Ghosts all! The ghost of beauty, the ghost of stateliness, the ghost of elegance, the ghost of pride, the ghost of frivolity, the ghost of wit, the ghost of youth, the ghost of age, al waiting their dismissal from the desolate shore, all turning on him eyes that were changed by the death they had died in coming there.

One of the aristocrats breaks off from the pack to talk to him.

GENTLEMAN: I bid thee welcome and offer my condolences. You're not "in secret," I hope?
DARNAY: Maybe? Yes? I think so?
GENTLEMAN: Well, shit. It was nice knowing you.

Darnay is taken away yet again and put in solitary confinement, where he paces his cell and quietly goes insane.



Chapter 2: The Grindstone

Meanwhile, Mr. Lorry has set up shop at Tellson's bank in Paris. The Paris location is much less dreary than the London one, or at least it was until it got all covered in blood and filth thanks to the revolution.

pg. 258: "Thank God," said Mr. Lorry, clasping his hands, "that no one near and dear to me is in this dreadful town tonight. May He have mercy on all who are in danger!"

It is at this very moment when Lucie and Doctor Manette burst into the room, because lol tragic irony. They inform Mr. Lorry that Charles has been taken prisoner. Mr. Lorry is concerned for the Doctor's safety, but he needn't worry.

pg. 259: The Doctor turned, with his hand upon the fastening of the window, and said, with a cool bold smile:

"My dear friend, I have a charmed life in this city. I have been a Bastille prisoner. There is no patriot in Paris–in Paris? in France–who, knowing me to have been a prisoner in the Bastille, would touch me, except to overwhelm me with embraces, r carry me in triumph.


Well, that's good. Unfortunately there's still the small matter of the grindstone in the courtyard of Tellson's, and the absolutely massive crowd of revolutionaries that have shown up to use it. Lucie, Mr. Lorry, and the Doctor watch through the window.

pg. 260: The grindstone had a double handle, and turning at it madly were two men, whose faces, as their long hair flapped back when the whirlings of the grindstone brought their faces up, were more horrible and cruel than the visages of the wildest savages in their most barbarous disguise. False eyebrows and false moustaches were stuck upon them, and their hideous countenances were all bloody and sweaty, and and all awry with howling, and all staring and glaring with beastly excitement and want of sleep. As these ruffians turned and turned, their matted locks now flung forward over their eyes, now flung backward over their necks, some women held wine to their mouths that they might drink; and what with dropping blood, and what with dropping wine, and what with the stream of sparks struck out of the stone, all their wicked atmosphere seemed gore and fire. The eye could not detect one creature in the group free from the smear of blood. Shouldering one another to get next at the sharpening-stone were men stripped to the waist, with the stain all over their limbs and bodies; men in all sorts of rags, with the stain upon those rags; men devilishly set off with spoils of women's lace and silk and ribbon, wit the stain dyeing those trifles through and through. Hatchets, knives, bayonets, swords, all brought to be sharpened, were all red with it. Some of the hacked swords were tied to the wrists of o those who carried them, with strips of linen and fragments of dress: ligatures various in kind, but all deep of the one colour. And as the frantic wielders of these weapons snatched them from the stream of sparks and tore away into the streets, the same red hue was red in their frenzied eyes–eyes which any unbrutalised beholder would have given twenty years of life to petrify with a well-directioned gun.

Brütal.

This crowd is responsible for dragging aristocrats out of prison and murdering them in the street. It is feared that they will kill Charles unless somebody does something. Doctor Manette is just enough of a badass to try.

pg. 261: His streaming white hair, his remarkable face, and the impetuous confidence of his manner, as he put the weapons aside like water, carried him in an instant to the heart of the concourse at the stone. For a few moments there was a pause, and a hurry, and a murmur, and the unintelligible sound of his voice; and then Mr. Lorry saw him, surrounded by all, and in the midst of a line of twenty men long, all linked shoulder to shoulder, and hand to shoulder, hurried out with cries of–"Live the Bastille prisoner! Help for the Bastille prisoner's kindred in La Force! Room for the Bastille prisoner in front there! Save the prisoner Evrémonde at La Force!" and a thousand answering shouts.

That seems to be going well. Mr. Lorry turns back to address Miss Pross, Lucie, and her daughter.

Wait, what?

pg. 261: [Mr. Lorry] found [Lucie's] child and Miss Pross with her.

I'm sorry, WHAT?

Does ANYONE in this family have any critical thinking skills whatsoever? Why the bloody FUCK would you bring a CHILD into what is essentially a WAR ZONE!?

Lest we forget, may I remind you that the little Lucie Darnay is six years old at this point in the narrative. SIX. YEARS. OLD. And her mother, nurse, and grandfather think to themselves, "Hmm. You know who we should bring to Paris? The six-year-old child!"

WHY DIDN'T THEY JUST LEAVE HER IN LONDON WITH MISS PROSS. SIMPLE. SOLUTION.

If that kid isn't dead by the end of the novel I am calling shenanigans.



Chapter 3: The Shadow

pg. 262: One of the first considerations which arose in the business mind of Mr. Lorry when business hours came round, was this–that he had no right to imperil Tellson's by sheltering the wife of an emigrant prisoner under the Bank roof. His own possessions, safety, life, he would 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 business charge he was a strict man of business.

...Seriously?

So Mr. Lorry sets Miss Pross, Lucie, and child!Lucie up in a house down the street, and leaves Jerry Cruncher with them for protection.

Soon after, Mr. Lorry is visited by Monsieur Defarge, who bears a message from Doctor Manette.

pg. 263: "Charles is safe, but I cannot safely leave this place yet. I have obtained the favour that the bearer has a short note from Charles to his wife. Let the bearer see his wife.

Mr. Lorry, Monsieur Defarge, Madame Defarge, and The Vengeance all trot off to see Lucie. Charles' note to her basically amounts to "<3 <3 <3." Of greater interest is Mme. Defarge's reaction when Lucie begs Mme. Defarge for mercy in her dealings with Charles.

pg. 266: 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 as little as this child, and much less, have not been greatly considered? We have known
their husbands and fathers laid in prison and kept from them, often enough? All our lives, we have seen our sister-women suffer, in themselves and in their children, poverty, nakedness, hunger, thirst, sickness, misery, oppression and neglect of all kinds?"

"We have seen nothing else," returned The Vengeance.

"We have borne this a long time," said Madame Defarge, turning her eyes again upon Lucie. "Judge you! Is it likely that the trouble of one wife and mother would be much to us now?"


Can't say I blame her.



Chapter 4: Calm in Storm

Lucie, Miss Pross, and Lucie Junior stay in Paris, completely oblivious to the fact that...

pg. 267: eleven hundred defenceless prisoners of both sexes and all ages had ben killed by the populace; that four days and nights had been darkeened by this deed of horror.

That seems a little excessive.

Mr. Lorry, however, gets to hear all about the proceedings from Doctor Manette. Each prisoner got a brief trial in front of Monsieur Defarge and a few other revolutionaries. The Doctor was able to intervene at Charles' trial and convince them to spare his life, on the condition that Charles remain imprisoned. None of the other prisoners fared as well; the one guy the Doctor saw go free was stabbed anyway as soon as he reached the street.

pg. 268-269: As Mr. Lorry received these confidences, and as he watched the face of his friend, now sixty-two years of age, a misgiving arose with him that such dread experiences would revive the old danger. But , he had never seen his friend in his present aspect: he had never at all known him in his present character. For the first time the Doctor felt, now, that his suffering was strength and power. For the first time he felt that in the sharp fire he had slowly forged the iron which could break the prison door of his daughter's husband, and deliver him "It all tended to a good end, my friend; it was not mere waste and ruin. As my beloved child was helpful in restoring me to myself, I will be helpful now in restoring the dearest part of herself to her; by the aid of Heaven I will do it!" Thus, Doctor Manette. And when Jarvis Lorry saw the kindled eyes, the resolute face, the calm strong look and bearing of the man whose life always seemed to him to have been stopped, like a clock, for so many ears, ad then set going again with an energy which had lain dormant during the cessation of its usefulness, he believed.

tl;dr - Doctor Manette has gained a level in badass. But in the face of the French Revolution, this badassery might not be enough.

pg. 270: three hundred thousand men, summoned to rise against the tyrants of the earth, rose from all the varying soils of France, as if the dragon's teeth had been sown broadcast, and had yielded fruit equally on hill and plain

There's also this to contend with.

pg. 271: Above all, one hideous figure grew as familiar as if it had been before the general gaze from the foundations of the world–the figure of the sharp female called La Guillotine.

It was the popular theme for jests; it was the best cure for headache, it infallibly prevented the hair from turning gray, it imparted a peculiar delicacy to the complexion, it was the National Razor which shaved close: who kissed La Guillotine looked through the little window and sneezed into the sack. It was the sign of the regeneration of the human race. It superseded the Cross. Models of it were worn on breasts from which the Cross was discarded, and it was bowed down to and believed in where the Cross was denied.


And so a year and three months go by. Charles Darnay is still in prison. His preteen daughter is still living in a war zone. Because for some reason, that seems like a great idea to her parents and guardians.

What the hell.

---

For more Dickens, check out the Rant of Two Cities tag. Alternatively, you can start from the beginning.
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ambrmerlinus: Portrait of a young white man with a flowing blond mohawk, in profile. (Default)
ambrmerlinus

February 2012

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