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Chapter 5: The Wood-Sawyer

One year and three months later, the situation in France has yet to improve.

pg. 272: Lovely girls; bright women, brown-haired, black-haired, and gray; youths; stalwart men and old; gentle born and peasant born; all red wine for La Guillotine

Despite all this, Lucie Darnay keeps behaving as though all is well and normal.

pg. 272-273: Little Lucie she taught as regularly as if they had all been untied in their English home.


Anyway, Doctor Manette discovers that there is a spot outside the prison walls where a person could be observed by a prisoner at certain times of day. So Lucie and Little Lucie start going out every day to stand there in the hope that Charles can see them and take some comfort in it.

Unfortunately, this certain spot is right next to a wood-sawyer, formerly known as Jacques-mender-of-roads who calls his saw "Little Sainte Guillotine." Not exactly the best of company for the Lucies, but a sight better than this:

pg. 275-276: a throng of people came pouring round the corner by the prison wall, in the midst of whom was the wood-sawyer hand in hand with The Vengeance. There could not be fewer than five hundred people, and they were dancing like five thousand demons. There was no other music than their own singing. They danced to the popular Revolution song, keeping a ferocious time that was like a gnashing of teeth in unison. Men and women danced together, women danced together, men danced together, as hazard had brought them together. At first, they were a mere storm of coarse red caps and coarse woollen rags; but, as they filled the place, and stopped to dance about Lucie, some ghastly apparition of a dance-figure gone raving mad arose among them. They advanced, retreated, struck at one another's hands, clutched at one another's heads, spun round alone, caught one another and spun round in pairs, until many of them dropped. While those were down, the rest linked hand in hand, and all spun round together: then the ring broke, and in separate rings of two and four they turned and turned and turned until they all stopped at once, began again, struck, clutched, and tore, and then reversed the spin, and all spun round another way. Suddenly they stopped again, paused, struck out the time afresh, formed into lines the width of the public way, and, with their heads down low and their hands high up, swooped screaming off. No fight could have been half so terrible as this dance. It was so emphatically a fallen sport–a something once innocent, delivered over to all devilry–a healthy pastime changed into a means of angering the blood, bewildering the senses, and steeling the heart. Such grace as was visible in it made it the uglier, showing how warped and perverted all things good by nature were become. The maidenly bosom bared to this, the pretty almost-child's head thus distracted, the delicate foot mincing in this slough of blood and dirt, were types of the disjointed time.

This was the Carmagnole.

Apparently, it sounds a bit like this.

The dancers pass on, leaving behind Doctor Manette in their wake, who informs Lucie that Charles is summoned to go before the tribunal tomorrow. Together, the Doctor and the Lucies visit Mr. Lorry, and then this happens?

pg. 277-278: Who could that be with Mr. Lorry–the owner of the riding-coat upon the chair–who must not be seen? From whom, newly arrived, did he come out, agitated and surprised, to take his favourite in his arms? To whom did he appear to repeat her faltering words, when, raising his voice and turning his head towards the door of the room from which he had issued, he said: "Removed to the Conciergerie and summoned for to-morrow"?

I dunno, Dickens, you tell me.

Chapter 6: Triumph

pg. 278: 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 there!"

"Charles Evrémonde, called Darnay!"

So at last began the evening paper at La Force.

It's a laugh-a-minute, this Revolution.

Dickens also offers up these words of wisdom as an explanation for why some prisoners are practically throwing themselves at the guillotine.

pg. 279: 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 trials themselves are hella speedy.

pg. 279: 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.

Dickens makes sure to mention that the crowd at the courthouse is made up of "the lowest, cruelest, and worst populace" (pg. 279), in case we have forgotten who we're supposed to root for.

Charles is accused of being an emigrant, which only became a crime after he was arrested in the first place. No matter. Charles argues that he is not exactly an emigrant in the way people think he is, since he fled France not to escape the Revolution but to escape being forced into a position where he would have to exploit others. Furthermore, upon his arrival in England, he remained very French, going so far as to marry a French woman and teach French as his profession.

By the end of his testimony, and the testimony of Doctor Manette (hero of the Revolution!), the entire court loves him.

pg. 282: 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 the crowd swarms Charles and buries him in hugs. Literally. I am not making this up. I am, however, very confused, because we've still got about a hundred pages to go and the main conflict would appear to be over. This is not how I remember the Wishbone version of events going.

Chapter 7: A Knock at the Door

The family is all back together again and celebrating accordingly. The next day, Miss Pross and Jerry Cruncher go out to do the shopping.

pg. 286: So [Miss Pross'] manner of marketing was to plump a noun-substantive at the head of a shopkeeper without any introduction in the nature of an article, and, if it happened not to be the name of the thing she wanted, to look round for that thing, lay hold of it,and hold on by it until the bargain was concluded. She always made a bargain for it, by holding up, as a statement of its just price, one finger less than the merchant held up, whatever his number might be.


They leave behind Doctor Manette, Charles, Lucie, and Little Lucie at the house in Paris.

pg. 287: Little Lucie sat by her grandfather with her hands clasped through his arm: and he, in a tone not rising much above a whisper, began to tell her a story of a great and powerful fairy who had opened a prison-wall and let out a captive who had once done the fairy a service.


But things don't stay super-cute for long. Lucie hears footsteps on the stairs, and for once, it's not an auditory hallucination. It's four well-armed revolutionaries, and they've come to arrest Charles. Again. When asked what he is charged with, they give this cryptic answer:

pg. 289: "Well! Truly it is against rule. But he is denounced–and gravely–by the Citizen and Citizeness Defarge. And by one other."

"What other?"

you ask, Citizen Doctor?"


"Then," said he of Saint Antoine, with a strange look, "you will be answered to-morrow. Now, I am dumb!"

Chapter 8: A Hand at Cards

And now, back to Miss Pross and Jerry Cruncher, who have stopped to buy some wine.

pg. 290: As their wine was measuring out, a pan 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.

Who could it be, to shock Miss Pross so?

pg. 291: "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!"


Okay, I didn't mention this earlier because I swear to God I didn't think it was important, but for pretty much the entire "being stupidly cute in London" portion of this book, Miss Pross went on and on and on about her brother Solomon and what a nice young man he was and what a shame it was he died because he would have made the perfect mate for Lucie. I legitimately assumed it was just more of Miss Pross being a wacky maiden aunt. But apparently it was a super-sneaky plot point?

Um, well done, Dickens.

So, yeah, Solomon is not quite as dead as previously suspected. And he doesn't seem to happy to see his sister. Mostly he wants her to shut up, as there are people listening in on their conversation and he's clearly got some stuff to hide. Jerry Cruncher has other plans.

pg. 292-293: "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?"

Oh snap.

pg. 293: "Barsad," said another voice, striking in.

"That's the name for a thousand pound!" cried Jerry.

The speaker who struck in was Sydney Carton.


Yes, ladies and gentlepersons, the best character has returned to the main narrative. At long last.

Carton explains that he was Mr. Lorry's mystery visitor yesterday evening, and that Solomon Pross/John Barsad is "a sheep of the prisons," aka a spy. Also, he's coming back to Mr. Lorry's place with them whether he likes it or not.

Once they arrive and re-introductions are made, Mr. Lorry recognizes Solomon/John as one of the witnesses against Charles Darnay way back at that treason trial in England. Sydney also informs everyone that, by the way, Charles got arrested again. Mr. Lorry thinks Doctor Manette's influence should be enough to sort things out, but Sydney points out that Doctor Manette's influence, if it were so powerful, should have been enough to prevent Charles from getting re-arrested in the first place.

pg. 295-296: "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 to-morrow. 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 myself to win is Mr. Barsad."

"You need to 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 a little brandy."

It was put before him, and he drank off a glassful–drank off another glassful–pushed the bottle thoughtfully away.

Sydney's cards are as follows:

- Solomon/John is currently a spy for the republican French government, but he used to spy for the aristocratic French government.
- Solomon/John is also still spying for the aristocratic English government.
- Sydney could totally get Solomon/John sent to the guillotine with this information.

But Solomon/John refuses to cave.

pg. 298: "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.

Ooh, burn.

And Sydney has yet another card up his sleeve; he knows Solomon/John is working with yet another English spy, Roger Cly. But Solomon/John says Roger Cly is dead and buried.

pg. 299: "That there Roger Cly, master," said Mr. Cruncher, with a taciturn and iron-bound visage. "So you put him in his coffin?"

"I did."

"Who took him out of it?"

Oh my God.

pg. 299: 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 out for half a guinea."

This... this is awesome.

Remember that chapter way back in the day, where Dickens told us all about Jerry Cruncher's little graverobbing business? Again, much like Miss Pross' poor dead brother Solomon, I assumed Dickens was giving us background on wacky minor characters for shits and giggles. Turns out fucking Jerry Cruncher, of all people, holds the key to catching Solomon/John in his lies.

Mr. Lorry and Sydney are completely baffled as to how Jerry got this information, but it has an immediate and unsettling effect on Solomon/John, so they roll with it.

pg. 300: "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.


And so Solomon/John is convinced to help Sydney out. But what does Sydney have planned for him?

pg. 301: 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, rising:

"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."

Chapter 9: The Game Made

While Sydney and Solomon/John are talking in the next room, Mr. Lorry and Jerry have a conversation that can be summarized very quickly.

MR LORRY: You're totally a graverobber, aren't you.

When Sydney returns, he reveals a bit of his plan for Solomon/John.

pg. 303: "Not much. If it should go ill with the prisoner, I have ensured access to him, once."

Sydney asks Mr. Lorry not to tell Lucie about this night's events, then gets existential.

pg. 305-306: "Yours is a long lie to look back upon, sir?" said Carton, wistfully.

"I am in my seventy-eighth year."

"You have been useful all your life; steadily and constantly occupied; trusted, respected, and looked up to?"

"I have been a man of business, ever since I have been a man. Indeed, I may say that I was a man of business when I was a boy."

"See what a place you fill at seventy-eight. How many people will miss you when you leave it empty!"

"A solitary old bachelor," answered Mr. Lorry, shaking his head. "There is nobody to weep for me."

"How can you say that? Wouldn't
she weep for you? Wouldn't her child?"

"Yes, yes, thank God. I didn't quite mean what I said."

is a thing to thank God for; is it not?"

"Surely, surely."

"If you could say, with truth, to your own solitary heart, to-night, 'I have secured to myself the love and attachment, the gratitude or respect, of no human creature; I have won myself a tender place in no regard; I have done nothing good or serviceable to be remembered by'; your seventy-eight years would be seventy-eight heavy curses; would they not?"

"You say truly, Mr. Carton; I think they would be."

Sydney leaves, walking Mr. Lorry to Lucie's house before leaving and following in what he perceives as Lucie's footsteps. Purely by chance, he meets Jacques-formerly-known-as-a-mender-of-roads.

pg. 307: "Good night, citizen," said Sydney Carton, pausing in going by; for the man eyed him inquisitively.

"Good night, citizen."

"How goes the republic?"

"You mean the Guillotine. Not ill. Sixty-three to-day. We shall mount to a hundred soon. Samson and his men complain sometimes, of being exhausted. Ha, ha, ha! He is so droll, that Samson. Such a barber!"

"Do you often go to see him–"

"Shave? Always. Every day. What a barber! You have seen him at work?"


"Go and see him when he has a good batch. Figure this to yourself, citizen; he shaved the sixty-three to-day, in less than two pipes! Less than two pipes. Word of honour!"

As the grinning little man held out the pipe he was smoking, to explain how he timed the executioner, Carton was so sensible of a rising desire to strike the life out of him, that he turned away.

Sydney moves on to a chemist's shop, where he places an order.

pg. 308: "Whew!" the chemist whistled softly, as he read it. "Hi! hi! hi!"

Sydney Carton took no heed, and the chemist said:

"For you, citizen?"

"For me."

"You will be careful to keep them separate, citizen? You know the consequences of mixing them?"


Sydney, darling, what are you planning?

At any rate, he continues on his midnight stroll, taking in Paris at night.

pg. 309: Few coaches were abroad, for riders in coaches were liable to be suspected, and gentility hid its head in red nightcaps, and put on heavy shoes, and trudged. But the theatres were all well filled, and the people poured cheerfully out as he passed, and when chatting home. At one of the theatre doors, there was a little girl with a mother, looking for a way across the street through the mud. He carried the child over, and before the timid arm was loosed from his neck asked her for a kiss.


He goes down to the bank of the Seine to hang out for a bit.

pg. 310: watching an eddy that turned and turned purposeless, until the stream absorbed it, and carried it on to the sea.–"Like me!"


Morning arrives eventually, and we go to Charles' third trial. He's charged with being a member of an aristocratic family.

pg. 311: The President asked, was the accused openly denounced or secretly?

"Openly, President."

"By whom?"

"Three voices. Ernest Defarge, wine-vendor of Saint Antoine."


"Thérèse Defarge, his wife."


"Alexandre Manette, physician."

The fuck?

Doctor Manette denies this, saying it has to be some sort of fraud, but Ernest Defarge says otherwise. He tells the court that on the day the Bastille fell, he went into Doctor Manette's old cell and found a letter written in Doctor Manette's hand. What did it say?

idk chapter end lol


For more Dickens, check out the Rant of Two Cities tag. Alternatively, you can start from the beginning.


ambrmerlinus: Portrait of a young white man with a flowing blond mohawk, in profile. (Default)

February 2012

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