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  • Book the Third: The Track of a Storm Chapter VIII.

  • A Hand at Cards

  • Happily unconscious of the new calamity at home, Miss Pross threaded her way along the

  • narrow streets and crossed the river by the bridge of the Pont-Neuf, reckoning in her

  • mind the number of indispensable purchases she had to make.

  • Mr. Cruncher, with the basket, walked at her side.

  • They both looked to the right and to the left into most of the shops they passed,

  • had a wary eye for all gregarious assemblages of people, and turned out of

  • their road to avoid any very excited group of talkers.

  • It was a raw evening, and the misty river, blurred to the eye with blazing lights and

  • to the ear with harsh noises, showed where the barges were stationed in which the

  • smiths worked, making guns for the Army of the Republic.

  • Woe to the man who played tricks with _that_ Army, or got undeserved promotion in

  • it!

  • Better for him that his beard had never grown, for the National Razor shaved him

  • close.

  • Having purchased a few small articles of grocery, and a measure of oil for the lamp,

  • Miss Pross bethought herself of the wine they wanted.

  • After peeping into several wine-shops, she stopped at the sign of the Good Republican

  • Brutus of Antiquity, not far from the National Palace, once (and twice) the

  • Tuileries, where the aspect of things rather took her fancy.

  • It had a quieter look than any other place of the same description they had passed,

  • and, though red with patriotic caps, was not so red as the rest.

  • Sounding Mr. Cruncher, and finding him of her opinion, Miss Pross resorted to the

  • Good Republican Brutus of Antiquity, attended by her cavalier.

  • Slightly observant of the smoky lights; of the people, pipe in mouth, playing with

  • limp cards and yellow dominoes; of the one bare-breasted, bare-armed, soot-begrimed

  • workman reading a journal aloud, and of the

  • others listening to him; of the weapons worn, or laid aside to be resumed; of the

  • two or three customers fallen forward asleep, who in the popular high-shouldered

  • shaggy black spencer looked, in that

  • attitude, like slumbering bears or dogs; the two outlandish customers approached the

  • counter, and showed what they wanted.

  • As their wine was measuring out, a man 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.

  • In a moment, the whole company were on their feet.

  • That somebody was assassinated by somebody vindicating a difference of opinion was the

  • likeliest occurrence.

  • Everybody looked to see somebody fall, but only saw a man and a woman standing staring

  • at each other; the man with all the outward aspect of a Frenchman and a thorough

  • Republican; the woman, evidently English.

  • What was said in this disappointing anti- climax, by the disciples of the Good

  • Republican Brutus of Antiquity, except that it was something very voluble and loud,

  • would have been as so much Hebrew or

  • Chaldean to Miss Pross and her protector, though they had been all ears.

  • But, they had no ears for anything in their surprise.

  • For, it must be recorded, that not only was Miss Pross lost in amazement and agitation,

  • but, Mr. Cruncher--though it seemed on his own separate and individual account--was in

  • a state of the greatest wonder.

  • "What is the matter?" said the man who had caused Miss Pross to scream; speaking in a

  • vexed, abrupt voice (though in a low tone), and in English.

  • "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!"

  • "Don't call me Solomon. Do you want to be the death of me?" asked

  • the man, in a furtive, frightened way. "Brother, brother!" cried Miss Pross,

  • bursting into tears.

  • "Have I ever been so hard with you that you ask me such a cruel question?"

  • "Then hold your meddlesome tongue," said Solomon, "and come out, if you want to

  • speak to me.

  • Pay for your wine, and come out. Who's this man?"

  • Miss Pross, shaking her loving and dejected head at her by no means affectionate

  • brother, said through her tears, "Mr. Cruncher."

  • "Let him come out too," said Solomon.

  • "Does he think me a ghost?" Apparently, Mr. Cruncher did, to judge from

  • his looks.

  • He said not a word, however, and Miss Pross, exploring the depths of her reticule

  • through her tears with great difficulty paid for her wine.

  • As she did so, Solomon turned to the followers of the Good Republican Brutus of

  • Antiquity, and offered a few words of explanation in the French language, which

  • caused them all to relapse into their former places and pursuits.

  • "Now," said Solomon, stopping at the dark street corner, "what do you want?"

  • "How dreadfully unkind in a brother nothing has ever turned my love away from!" cried

  • Miss Pross, "to give me such a greeting, and show me no affection."

  • "There.

  • Confound it! There," said Solomon, making a dab at Miss

  • Pross's lips with his own. "Now are you content?"

  • Miss Pross only shook her head and wept in silence.

  • "If you expect me to be surprised," said her brother Solomon, "I am not surprised; I

  • knew you were here; I know of most people who are here.

  • If you really don't want to endanger my existence--which I half believe you do--go

  • your ways as soon as possible, and let me go mine.

  • I am busy.

  • I am an official."

  • "My English brother Solomon," mourned Miss Pross, casting up her tear-fraught eyes,

  • "that had the makings in him of one of the best and greatest of men in his native

  • country, an official among foreigners, and such foreigners!

  • I would almost sooner have seen the dear boy lying in his--"

  • "I said so!" cried her brother, interrupting.

  • "I knew it. You want to be the death of me.

  • I shall be rendered Suspected, by my own sister.

  • Just as I am getting on!" "The gracious and merciful Heavens forbid!"

  • cried Miss Pross.

  • "Far rather would I never see you again, dear Solomon, though I have ever loved you

  • truly, and ever shall.

  • Say but one affectionate word to me, and tell me there is nothing angry or estranged

  • between us, and I will detain you no longer."

  • Good Miss Pross!

  • As if the estrangement between them had come of any culpability of hers.

  • As if Mr. Lorry had not known it for a fact, years ago, in the quiet corner in

  • Soho, that this precious brother had spent her money and left her!

  • He was saying the affectionate word, however, with a far more grudging

  • condescension and patronage than he could have shown if their relative merits and

  • positions had been reversed (which is

  • invariably the case, all the world over), when Mr. Cruncher, touching him on the

  • shoulder, hoarsely and unexpectedly interposed with the following singular

  • question:

  • "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?"

  • "No. But I'll swear it was a name of two syllables."

  • "Indeed?" "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?"

  • "Barsad," said another voice, striking in.

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

  • The speaker who struck in, was Sydney Carton.

  • He had his hands behind him under the skirts of his riding-coat, and he stood at

  • Mr. Cruncher's elbow as negligently as he might have stood at the Old Bailey itself.

  • "Don't be alarmed, my dear Miss Pross.

  • I arrived at Mr. Lorry's, to his surprise, yesterday evening; we agreed that I would

  • not present myself elsewhere until all was well, or unless I could be useful; I

  • present myself here, to beg a little talk with your brother.

  • I wish you had a better employed brother than Mr. Barsad.

  • I wish for your sake Mr. Barsad was not a Sheep of the Prisons."

  • Sheep was a cant word of the time for a spy, under the gaolers.

  • The spy, who was pale, turned paler, and asked him how he dared--

  • "I'll tell you," said Sydney.

  • "I lighted on you, Mr. Barsad, coming out of the prison of the Conciergerie while I

  • was contemplating the walls, an hour or more ago.

  • You have a face to be remembered, and I remember faces well.

  • Made curious by seeing you in that connection, and having a reason, to which

  • you are no stranger, for associating you with the misfortunes of a friend now very

  • unfortunate, I walked in your direction.

  • I walked into the wine-shop here, close after you, and sat near you.

  • I had no difficulty in deducing from your unreserved conversation, and the rumour

  • openly going about among your admirers, the nature of your calling.

  • And gradually, what I had done at random, seemed to shape itself into a purpose, Mr.

  • Barsad." "What purpose?" the spy asked.

  • "It would be troublesome, and might be dangerous, to explain in the street.

  • Could you favour me, in confidence, with some minutes of your company--at the office

  • of Tellson's Bank, for instance?"

  • "Under a threat?" "Oh! Did I say that?"

  • "Then, why should I go there?" "Really, Mr. Barsad, I can't say, if you

  • can't."

  • "Do you mean that you won't say, sir?" the spy irresolutely asked.

  • "You apprehend me very clearly, Mr. Barsad. I won't."

  • Carton's negligent recklessness of manner came powerfully in aid of his quickness and

  • skill, in such a business as he had in his secret mind, and with such a man as he had

  • to do with.

  • His practised eye saw it, and made the most of it.

  • "Now, I told you so," said the spy, casting a reproachful look at his sister; "if any

  • trouble comes of this, it's your doing."

  • "Come, come, Mr. Barsad!" exclaimed Sydney. "Don't be ungrateful.

  • But for my great respect for your sister, I might not have led up so pleasantly to a

  • little proposal that I wish to make for our mutual satisfaction.

  • Do you go with me to the Bank?"

  • "I'll hear what you have got to say. Yes, I'll go with you."

  • "I propose that we first conduct your sister safely to the corner of her own

  • street.

  • Let me take your arm, Miss Pross. This is not a good city, at this time, for

  • you to be out in, unprotected; and as your escort knows Mr. Barsad, I will invite him

  • to Mr. Lorry's with us.

  • Are we ready? Come then!"

  • Miss Pross recalled soon afterwards, and to the end of her life remembered, that as she

  • pressed her hands on Sydney's arm and looked up in his face, imploring him to do

  • no hurt to Solomon, there was a braced

  • purpose in the arm and a kind of inspiration in the eyes, which not only

  • contradicted his light manner, but changed and raised the man.

  • She was too much occupied then with fears for the brother who so little deserved her

  • affection, and with Sydney's friendly reassurances, adequately to heed what she

  • observed.

  • They left her at the corner of the street, and Carton led the way to Mr. Lorry's,

  • which was within a few minutes' walk. John Barsad, or Solomon Pross, walked at

  • his side.

  • Mr. Lorry had just finished his dinner, and was sitting before a cheery little log or

  • two of fire--perhaps looking into their blaze for the picture of that younger

  • elderly gentleman from Tellson's, who had

  • looked into the red coals at the Royal George at Dover, now a good many years ago.

  • He turned his head as they entered, and showed the surprise with which he saw a

  • stranger.

  • "Miss Pross's brother, sir," said Sydney. "Mr. Barsad."

  • "Barsad?" repeated the old gentleman, "Barsad?

  • I have an association with the name--and with the face."

  • "I told you you had a remarkable face, Mr. Barsad," observed Carton, coolly.

  • "Pray sit down."

  • As he took a chair himself, he supplied the link that Mr. Lorry wanted, by saying to

  • him with a frown, "Witness at that trial."

  • Mr. Lorry immediately remembered, and regarded his new visitor with an

  • undisguised look of abhorrence.

  • "Mr. Barsad has been recognised by Miss Pross as the affectionate brother you have

  • heard of," said Sydney, "and has acknowledged the relationship.

  • I pass to worse news.

  • Darnay has been arrested again." Struck with consternation, the old

  • gentleman exclaimed, "What do you tell me! I left him safe and free within these two

  • hours, and am about to return to him!"

  • "Arrested for all that. When was it done, Mr. Barsad?"

  • "Just now, if at all."

  • "Mr. Barsad is the best authority possible, sir," said Sydney, "and I have it from Mr.

  • Barsad's communication to a friend and brother Sheep over a bottle of wine, that

  • the arrest has taken place.

  • He left the messengers at the gate, and saw them admitted by the porter.

  • There is no earthly doubt that he is retaken."

  • Mr. Lorry's business eye read in the speaker's face that it was loss of time to

  • dwell upon the point.

  • Confused, but sensible that something might depend on his presence of mind, he

  • commanded himself, and was silently attentive.

  • "Now, I trust," said Sydney to him, "that the name and influence of Doctor Manette

  • may stand him in as good stead to-morrow-- you said he would be before the Tribunal

  • again to-morrow, Mr. Barsad?--"

  • "Yes; I believe so." "--In as good stead to-morrow as to-day.

  • But it may not be so.

  • I own to you, I am shaken, Mr. Lorry, by Doctor Manette's not having had the power

  • to prevent this arrest." "He may not have known of it beforehand,"

  • said Mr. Lorry.

  • "But that very circumstance would be alarming, when we remember how identified

  • he is with his son-in-law."

  • "That's true," Mr. Lorry acknowledged, with his troubled hand at his chin, and his

  • troubled eyes on Carton.

  • "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 tomorrow.

  • Now, the stake I have resolved to play for, in case of the worst, is a friend in the