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In Three Books.



THERE had been earlier drinking than usual
in the wine-shop of Monsieur Defarge. As early
as six o'clock in the morning, sallow faces peeping
through its barred windows had descried
other faces within, bending over measures of
wine. Monsieur Defarge sold a very thin wine
at the best of times, but, it would seem to have
been an unusually thin wine that he sold at this
time. A sour wine, moreover, or a souring,
for its influence on the mood of those who
drank it was to make them gloomy. No
vivacious Bacchanalian flame leaped out of the
pressed grape of Monsieur Defarge; but, a
smouldering fire that burnt in the dark, lay
hidden in the dregs of it.

This had been the third morning in succession,
on which there had been early drinking at
the wine-shop of Monsieur Defarge. It had
begun on Monday, and here was Wednesday
come. There had been more of early brooding
than drinking; for, many men had listened and
whispered and slunk about there from the time
of the opening of the door, who could not have
laid a piece of money on the counter to save
their souls. These were to the full as interested
in the place, however, as if they could have
commanded whole barrels of wine; and they glided
from seat to seat, and from corner to corner,
swallowing talk in lieu of drink, with greedy

Notwithstanding an unusual flow of company,
the master of the wine-shop was not visible. He
was not missed; for, nobody who crossed the
threshold looked for him, nobody asked for
him, nobody wondered to see only Madame
Defarge in her seat, presiding over the distribution
of wine, with a bowl of battered small coins
before her, as much defaced and beaten out of their
original impress as the small coinage of humanity
from whose ragged pockets they had come.

A suspended interest and a prevalent absence
of mind, were perhaps observed by the spies who
looked in at the wine-shop, as they looked in at
every place, high and low, from the king's palace
to the criminal's gaol. Games at cards
languished, players at dominoes musingly built
towers with them, drinkers drew figures on the
tables with spilt drops of wine, Madame
Defarge herself picked out the pattern on her
sleeve with her toothpick, and saw and heard
something inaudible and invisible a long way

Thus, Saint Antoine in this vinous feature of
his, until mid-day. It was high noontide, when
two dusty men passed through his streets and
under his swinging lamps: of whom, one was
Monsieur Defarge: the other, a mender of roads
in a blue cap. All adust and athirst, the two
entered the wine-shop. Their arrival had lighted
a kind of fire in the breast of Saint Antoine, fast
spreading as they came along, which stirred and
flickered in flames of faces at most doors and
windows. Yet, no one had followed them, and
no man spoke when they entered the wine-shop,
though the eyes of every man there were turned
upon them.

"Good day, gentlemen!" said Monsieur

It may have been a signal for loosening the
general tongue. It elicited an answering chorus
of "Good day!"

"It is bad weather, gentlemen," said Defarge,
shaking his head.

Upon which, every man looked at his neighbour,
and then all cast down their eyes and sat
silent. Except one man, who got up and went

"My wife," said Defarge aloud, addressing
Madame Defarge; "I have travelled certain
leagues with this good mender of roads, called
Jacques. I met him by accident a day and a
half's journey out of Paris. He is a good child,
this mender of roads, called Jacques. Give him
to drink, my wife!"

A second man got up and went out. Madame
Defarge set wine before the mender of roads
called Jacques, who doffed his blue cap to the
company, and drank. In the breast of his
blouse, he carried some coarse dark bread; he
ate of this between whiles, and sat munching
and drinking near Madame Defarge's counter.
A third man got up and went out.

Defarge refreshed himself with a draught of
wine but, he took less than was given to the
stranger, as being himself a man to whom it
was no rarity and stood waiting until the
countryman had made his breakfast. He looked
at no one present, and no one now looked at