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In Three Books




HAGGARD Saint Antoine had had only one
exultant week, in which to soften his modicum
of hard and bitter bread to such extent as he
could, with the relish of fraternal embraces and
congratulations, when Madame Defarge sat at
her counter, as usual, presiding over the
customers. Madame Defarge wore no rose in her
head, for the great brotherhood of Spies had
become, even in one short week, extremely
chary of trusting themselves to the saint's
mercies. The lamps across his streets had a
portentously elastic swing with them.

Madame Defarge, with her arms folded, sat in
the morning light and heat, contemplating the
wine-shop and the street. In both, there were
several knots of loungers, squalid and miserable,
but now with a manifest sense of power enthroned
on their distress. The raggedest nightcap,
awry on the wretchedest head, had this
crooked significance in it: "I know how hard it
has grown for me, the wearer of this, to support
life in myself; but do you know how easy it lias
grown for me, the wearer of this, to destroy life
in you?" Every lean bare arm, that had been
without work before, had this work always ready
for it now, that it could strike. The fingers of
the knitting women were vicious, with the
experience that they could tear. There was
change in the appearance of Saint Antoine;
the image had been hammering into this for
hundreds of years, and the last finishing blows
had told mightily on the expression.

Madame Defarge sat observing it, with such
suppressed approval as was to be desired in the
leader of the Saint Antoine women. One of her
sisterhood knitted beside her. The short, rather
plump wife of a starved grocer, and the mother
of two children withal, this lieutenant had
already earned the complimentary name of The

"Hark!" said The Vengeance. "Listen,
then! Who comes?"

As if a train of powder laid from the outermost
bound of the Saint Antoine Quarter to the wineshop
door, had been suddenly fired, a fast-spreading
murmur came rushing along.

"It is Defarge," said madame. " Silence,

Defarge came in breathless, pulled off a
red cap he wore, and looked around him.
"Listen, everywhere!" said madame again.
"Listen to him!" Defarge stood, panting,
against a background of eager eyes and open
mouths, formed outside the door; all those
within the wine-shop had sprung to their feet.

"Say then, my husband. What is it?"

"News from the other world!"

"How, then?" cried madame, contemptuously.
"The other world?"

"Does everybody here recal old Foulon, who
told the famished people that they might eat
grass, and who died, and went to Hell?"

"Everybody!" from all throats.

"The news is of him. He is among us!"

"Among us!" from the universal throat
again. "And dead?"

"Not dead! He feared us so muchand
with reasonthat he caused himself to be
represented as dead, and had a grand mock-
funeral. But they have found him alive, hiding
in the country, and have brought him in. I have
seen him but now, on his way to the Hôtel de
Ville, a prisoner. I have said that he had reason
to fear us. Say all! Had he reason?"

Wretched old sinner of more than threescore
years and ten, if he had never known it yet,
he would have known it in his heart of hearts if
he could have heard the answering cry.

A moment of profound silence followed.
Defarge and his wife looked steadfastly at one
another. The Vengeance stooped, and the jar
of a drum was heard as she moved it at her feet
behind the counter.

"Patriots!" said Defarge, in a determined
voice, "are we ready?"

Instantly Madame Defarge's knife was in her
girdle; the drum was beating in the streets, as
if it and a drummer had flown together by
magic; and The Vengeance, uttering terrific
shrieks, and flinging her arms about her head
like all the forty Furies at once, was tearing
from house to house, rousing the women.

The men were terrible, in the bloody-minded
anger with which they looked from windows,
caught up what arms they had, and came pouring
down into the streets; but, the women were
a sight to chill the boldest. From such