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Responding to his softened manner, Mr. Lorry answered:
"Twenty years back, yes; at this time of my life, no. For, as I draw closer and closer to the end, I travel in the circle, nearer and nearer to the beginning. It seems to be one of the kind smoothings and preparings of the way. My heart is touched now, by many remembrances that had long fallen asleep, of my pretty young mother (and I so old!), and by many associations of the days when what we call the World was not so real with me, and my faults were not confirmed in me."
"I understand the feeling!" exclaimed Carton, with a bright flush. "And you are the better for it?"
"I hope so."
Carton terminated the conversation here, by rising to help him on with his outer coat; "But you," said Mr. Lorry, reverting to the theme, "you are young."
"Yes," said Carton. "I am not old, but my young way was never the way to age. Enough of me."
"And of me, I am sure," said Mr. Lorry. "Are you going out?"
"I'll walk with you to her gate. You know my vagabond and restless habits. If I should prowl about the streets a long time, don't be uneasy; I shall reappear in the morning. You go to the Court to-morrow?"
"I shall be there, but only as one of the crowd. My Spy will find a place for me. Take my arm, sir."
Mr. Lorry did so, and they went down-stairs and out in the streets. A few minutes brought them to Mr. Lorry's destination. Carton left him there; but lingered at a little distance, and turned back to the gate again when it was shut, and touched it. He had heard of her going to the prison every day. "She came out here," he said, looking about him, "turned this way, must have trod on these stones often. Let me follow in her steps."
It was ten o'clock at night when he stood before the prison of La Force, where she had stood hundreds of times. A little wood-sawyer, having closed his shop, was smoking his pipe at his shop-door.
"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.
"But you are not English," said the wood-sawyer, "though you wear English dress?"
"Yes," said Carton, pausing again, and answering over his shoulder.
"You speak like a Frenchman."
"I am an old student here."
"Aha, a perfect Frenchman! Good night, Englishman."
"Good night, citizen."
"But go and see that droll dog," the little man persisted, calling after him. "And take a pipe with you!"
Sydney had not gone far out of sight, when he stopped in the middle of the street under a glimmering lamp, and wrote with his pencil on a scrap of paper. Then, traversing with the decided step of one who remembered the way well, several dark and dirty streets--much dirtier than usual, for the best public thoroughfares remained uncleansed in those times of terror--he stopped at a chemist's shop, which the owner was closing with his own hands. A small, dim, crooked shop, kept in a tortuous, up-hill thoroughfare, by a small, dim, crooked man.
Giving this citizen, too, good night, as he confronted him at his counter, he laid the scrap of paper before him. "Whew!" the chemist whistled softly, as he read it. "Hi! hi! hi!"
Sydney Carton took no heed, and the chemist said:
"For you, citizen?"
"You will be careful to keep them separate, citizen? You know the consequences of mixing them?"
Certain small packets were made and given to him. He put them, one by one, in the breast of his inner coat, counted out the money for them, and deliberately left the shop. "There is nothing more to do," said he, glancing upward at the moon, "until to-morrow. I can't sleep."
It was not a reckless manner, the manner in which he said these words aloud under the fast-sailing clouds, nor was it more expressive of negligence than defiance. It was the settled manner of a tired man, who had wandered and struggled and got lost, but who at length struck into his road and saw its end.
Long ago, when he had been famous among his earliest competitors as a youth of great promise, be had followed his father to the grave. His mother had died, years before. These solemn words, which had been read at his father's grave, arose in his mind as he went down the dark streets, among the heavy shadows, with the moon and the clouds sailing on high above him. "I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die."
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A Tale of Two Cities - Charles DickensBottom Content goes here. Wikipedia content requires these links..... Wikipedia content is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.