A Tale of Two Cities – Day 24 of 141

“At what hour did he come on board?”

“At a little after midnight.”

“In the dead of the night. Was he the only passenger who came on board at that untimely hour?”

“He happened to be the only one.”

“Never mind about ‘happening,’ Mr. Lorry. He was the only passenger who came on board in the dead of the night?”

“He was.”

“Were you travelling alone, Mr. Lorry, or with any companion?”

“With two companions. A gentleman and lady. They are here.”

“They are here. Had you any conversation with the prisoner?”

“Hardly any. The weather was stormy, and the passage long and rough, and I lay on a sofa, almost from shore to shore.”

“Miss Manette!”

The young lady, to whom all eyes had been turned before, and were now turned again, stood up where she had sat. Her father rose with her, and kept her hand drawn through his arm.

“Miss Manette, look upon the prisoner.”

To be confronted with such pity, and such earnest youth and beauty, was far more trying to the accused than to be confronted with all the crowd. Standing, as it were, apart with her on the edge of his grave, not all the staring curiosity that looked on, could, for the moment, nerve him to remain quite still. His hurried right hand parcelled out the herbs before him into imaginary beds of flowers in a garden; and his efforts to control and steady his breathing shook the lips from which the colour rushed to his heart. The buzz of the great flies was loud again.

“Miss Manette, have you seen the prisoner before?”

“Yes, sir.”


“On board of the packet-ship just now referred to, sir, and on the same occasion.”

“You are the young lady just now referred to?”

“O! most unhappily, I am!”

The plaintive tone of her compassion merged into the less musical voice of the Judge, as he said something fiercely: “Answer the questions put to you, and make no remark upon them.”

“Miss Manette, had you any conversation with the prisoner on that passage across the Channel?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Recall it.”

In the midst of a profound stillness, she faintly began: “When the gentleman came on board–“

“Do you mean the prisoner?” inquired the Judge, knitting his brows.

“Yes, my Lord.”

“Then say the prisoner.”

“When the prisoner came on board, he noticed that my father,” turning her eyes lovingly to him as he stood beside her, “was much fatigued and in a very weak state of health. My father was so reduced that I was afraid to take him out of the air, and I had made a bed for him on the deck near the cabin steps, and I sat on the deck at his side to take care of him. There were no other passengers that night, but we four. The prisoner was so good as to beg permission to advise me how I could shelter my father from the wind and weather, better than I had done. I had not known how to do it well, not understanding how the wind would set when we were out of the harbour. He did it for me. He expressed great gentleness and kindness for my father’s state, and I am sure he felt it. That was the manner of our beginning to speak together.”

“Let me interrupt you for a moment. Had he come on board alone?”


“How many were with him?”

“Two French gentlemen.”

“Had they conferred together?”

“They had conferred together until the last moment, when it was necessary for the French gentlemen to be landed in their boat.”

“Had any papers been handed about among them, similar to these lists?”

“Some papers had been handed about among them, but I don’t know what papers.”

“Like these in shape and size?”

“Possibly, but indeed I don’t know, although they stood whispering very near to me: because they stood at the top of the cabin steps to have the light of the lamp that was hanging there; it was a dull lamp, and they spoke very low, and I did not hear what they said, and saw only that they looked at papers.”

“Now, to the prisoner’s conversation, Miss Manette.”

“The prisoner was as open in his confidence with me–which arose out of my helpless situation–as he was kind, and good, and useful to my father. I hope,” bursting into tears, “I may not repay him by doing him harm to-day.”

Buzzing from the blue-flies.

“Miss Manette, if the prisoner does not perfectly understand that you give the evidence which it is your duty to give–which you must give–and which you cannot escape from giving–with great unwillingness, he is the only person present in that condition. Please to go on.”

“He told me that he was travelling on business of a delicate and difficult nature, which might get people into trouble, and that he was therefore travelling under an assumed name. He said that this business had, within a few days, taken him to France, and might, at intervals, take him backwards and forwards between France and England for a long time to come.”

“Did he say anything about America, Miss Manette? Be particular.”

“He tried to explain to me how that quarrel had arisen, and he said that, so far as he could judge, it was a wrong and foolish one on England’s part. He added, in a jesting way, that perhaps George Washington might gain almost as great a name in history as George the Third. But there was no harm in his way of saying this: it was said laughingly, and to beguile the time.”

Any strongly marked expression of face on the part of a chief actor in a scene of great interest to whom many eyes are directed, will be unconsciously imitated by the spectators. Her forehead was painfully anxious and intent as she gave this evidence, and, in the pauses when she stopped for the Judge to write it down, watched its effect upon the counsel for and against. Among the lookers-on there was the same expression in all quarters of the court; insomuch, that a great majority of the foreheads there, might have been mirrors reflecting the witness, when the Judge looked up from his notes to glare at that tremendous heresy about George Washington.

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