[ocr errors]

Both were thinking of their happy staircase. “ Is it you ?There were summer days at Vélizy — that country a few whispered words in the darkhome they both had dearly loved. ness; then Manette went back into her How happy they had been there !

As own room carrying a large bundle, Vanette grew up her loving intimacy which she flung into her wardrobe. with nature had increased ; she knew A minute after she took Brigette's the worth of that intimacy since she place beside Citizen Andre. “Uncle," had been flung into a life of hideous she said, “would you like to go back riot and confusion. She had been and live at Vélizy ?rather a tom-boy in those days, but her "I shall never go there but in uncle loved her all the better for it. dreams, my poor, dear Nettie.” Ah ! how he had delighted in the rest Well, let us be thankful at least for and peace of their great forest. For pleasant dreams. A pleasant thought the Forest of Mendon was more theirs may give courage on the eve of a dark than the king's, who only passed enterprise. He who dreams. he has through it galloping after his hounds. accomplished a just revenge feels for a

“Don't you remember, Nettie, that moment as if bis band had done it.” evening when they came and told us 66 There — there! You are getting that a great stag lad jusi been killed ? excited. Your cheeks are red, and Poor thing! you had great tears in your eyes are shining. Are you sure your eyes. You always were tender you are quite well, Nettie ? You seem and soft-hearted. It was these evil to me to have fever." times that made you seem for a while Manette protested that she had never harsh and unfeeling. Now, with me, been better in her life. The evening it has been just the other way. I had passed pleasantly. They went on talkDo great benevolence ; I thought I was ing of old times. Brigette brought in as hard as a stone, but trouble has the supper. The old man said he changed me. Al, dear ! — if happier thought he had an appetite, and he tines should ever come, we will go seat for a bottle of old Canary wine, back to Vélizy, and live as we used to such as he only produced on great occado. But now we can only think of our sions. Manette let him pour her out a poor Claude."

glass of the golden liquor and drank it. Manette rose. “I am going to do all After that Citizen Andrey was I can,” she said, “to set him free. longer surprised to see her face was And, uncle, I believe that I can save fushel. Bedtime came at last. She him."

put the old man under Brigette's care. Her eyes shone with a strange bright- “ May God give you a good night's Dess. Her face seemed to reflect some rest, dear uncle,” she said, as she debope within her.

The old man was parted. But she thought, as she said surprised. “Ah, Nettie !” he an- it, that, if God were to send his good swered, “the Scriptures, which I have gifts to them both, to him he would tead so little for the last sixty years, send peaceful sleep, to her good coursay that faith can remove mountains, age. but it will not open prison doors."

Her first care when she went back to “It may open them, uncle."

her own room was to open the drawer The day was growing dark. She left of her bureau whence she had taken the room, and finding Brigette in the gold for Citoyenne Lamblet, and had at passage, sent her to keep the sick man the same moment put in the dagger. company. Then she opened the out. Its sharp, murderous blade gleamed in side door, and stood on the landing. the lamp-light. She stood and gazed at She listened. Suppose the old woman it as she held it in her hand. should fail her ? Waiting in uncer- The house was quiet. The clock uinty was almost insupportable. marked ten. Manette went to her

At last she heard a heavy step ; wardrobe, which stood in a small closet some one was stumbling up the dark adjoining, returned with the bundle,

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

and opened it. The black cloak fell | form grey. Not a star could be seen in out, then the black and white lead- the heavens. bandkerchief, the loose jacket, and the She walked a little way along the printed cotton skirt, striped red and Rue de Bussy. The recollection of the blue, the knitted underskirt, even the last time she had walked that street coarse linen chemise and the blue alone now haunted her. She turned worsted stockings. Citoyenne Lamblet in the other direction, however, along had omitted nothing except the shoes. the Rue de Thionville, and the old Rue Manette smiled. She would hardly des Fossés-Saint-Germain, the very have put them on.

way along which they had driven MaShe quickly undressed herself, and demoiselle Corday when they took her when she had taken off everything she to the Abbaye — to the gate of death. slipped on the chemise. Its rough- She had killed, and she was killed. ness, as it touched the tender skin, Surely that was better than to live made her give a little shiver. She put when all life's hopes and happiness on the stockings, and selected a pair of were over ! stout, soft leather shoes which she had Manette walked very fast. Her pace kept at Vélizy for her forest rambles. was almost a run. She went through It was rather difficult to tie on the the same streets that she had traversed head-handkerchief en marmotte ; she twelve days before, with her uncle and did not wish to show a single hair. Citizen Grégoire, when they went to The jacket was much too large, but visit Cilly. On reaching the Pont that was of no consequence, the cloak Neuf she found that the darkness would hide it when she put it on. seemed to settle down on her, the Then she took the dagger, slipped it up water swashed against the arches of her sleeve, and made sure that by one the bridge, and puffs of wind came quick movement she could grasp it furiously from the east, making her firmly.

face tingle, as if she had been struck by After she was all prepared she stood tiny hail-stones. But she did not feel a moment before the great glass over it. Men passed her, crossing over to her mantelpiece. She wore the popu- the left bank, but so insignificant a lar livery, which she hoped would citoyenne did not attract their notice. enable her after dark to avoid being One only remarked, in reference to her stopped by any patrol, or group of pace, that “ she must have a good pair patriotic citizens. She wanted to make of legs.” sure that her face betrayed no sign of Manette Cézaron, the wife of the her emotion. It did not seem to her prisoner at St. Lazare, did not walk the that she was Manette Cézaron or Ma- streets that night. She pushed fornette Andrey. She was a woman about ward — she ran ; she felt as a soldier to do a terrible thing. Yes ! — it was might feel when ordered to charge. terrible. She looked at herself curi- The new spirit that animated her ously. She was pale, but the light her now that she had settled the question uncle had remarked was in her eyes. which had made her suffer so much, She was glad of it. That light must now nerved her to the supreme effort, not go out. If it did it would be a sign and Citizen Andrey had been right; that her strength was failing her, the her heart, as her uncle had described fire of her purpose would be extinct. his own in the past, was now a heart

She made a gesture which expressed of stone. that she was fully resolved. She left A bad place in the pavement caused her room ; with great precaution she her to trip slightly, and this jerked the unclosed the outside door, and shut it dagger in her sleeve. Its point ran after her.

into her arm. She put her finger up When she was in the street the cold her sleeve to restore it to its place. of the night seemed less severe than The finger was wet when she withdrew she expected, but the sky was a uni-l it. She gave a sudden 'exclamation,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

better go


but it was not a cry of pain. On the storm. They had no eyes for anycontrary, the knowledge that it was her thing, and they passed on. own blood seemed to give her encour- The woman who was there — not a agement.

murderess but an executioner, as she Nevertheless this mishap .warned her deemed herself — bent forward through to be prudent. She felt that she had the falling whiteness. She met 10

slowly, especially more obstacles. She went along the through the streets around the Halles, Faubourg. At the corner of the Rue the markets of the city. It was so cold des Petites-Ecurées, she was met by and the wind was so keen, that, hap- another little whirlwind. The snow pily for her, few people were abroad. blinded her, and she took refuge for a There were

no lights except in the moment under the lee of a shed. But wine-shops, whose doors were all her resolution did not falter.

" It is closed. In the long street re-named for Claude's sake,” she kept on repeatNoot Marat, there was the same lone- ivg. 66 It is for Claude's sake! perliness, the same silence, broken only haps I may save him, too, and Emilie ; by the creaking of the street lamps but for Claude's sake, most for hung across the street, as the wind Claude's sake! God — he knows." slowly swung them to and fro on their At that moment she perceived the chains. Instinctively, she here quick-little door that led into the garden of ened her pace almost to a run. When Cilly's mansion. It looked like a black she reached the old Porte de Mont- hole in the whiteness of the wall, and martre she paused, and drew breath. the whiteness of the snow that filled

Before her lay the Boulevard. It the air, and lay upon the pavement. was not lighted. It was a long avenue He must come along that street. He of trees and darkness. The bare trees could take no other road in coming clashed their boughs against each from the sitting of the section, which other, stirred by the wintry wind. was held in the Church of St. Lazare

Manette hesitated. Now at last she in the Faubourg du Nord. In such was afraid. Not afraid of the deed she weather the flatterers and parasites of

there to accomplish, but the monster would not be likely to see afraid of the darkuess, of those skele- him home. He would be alone; ton trees, of the probability that she blinded by the snowstorm. might run against some night prowler, She tightened her grasp upon the and that he might mar her purpose. hilt of her dagger. Her weakness did not last long. She put her hand on her dagger, and felt

XXIV. prepared to defend herself.

BRIGETTE. the vext morning went But she met no one. She heard no quietly about the house as usual. She sound but the beat of her own feet had been very much astonished to find upon the frozen ground. She found wet spots in the passage, the traces herself at last in the Faubourg Pois- seemingly of feet that had been walksonière. As she turned into it a sharp ing in the snow which had been falling blast came against her like a whirlwind. all night long. Madame Manette was The snow began to fall. At the same generally an early riser, being glad to moment a party of sectionaries entered get out of a bed in which she could not the Faubourg

She hid behind a tree sleep, as soon as it was daylight. Brito escape notice. There was the click gette this morning, however, went out of weapons.

A lantern, held by one of before she made her appearance. Brithe men, might have shown them a gette had, as usual, to go and stand in Toman abroad alone by night. But the queue before the butcher's shop. the man who held it was struggling This had to be done every morning. with the wind, and half blinded by the When she came back it was midday. snowflakes ; bis companions, like him- Citizen Andrey called to her, and she self, were making head against the came into his room with more eagerLIVING AGE. VOL. II. 70

had come

[ocr errors]


ness than usual. Her face showed He said this in a blunt, off-hand way, satisfaction. She was eager to tell him for an old habit of rallying all his that a report was in circulation that the strength and his resources in the prespresident of the Section Poissonière ence of danger, had now taken posseshad been killed.

sion of him. Citizen Andrey, when he heard the He straightened himself. His face news, cried out at once : “ That may resumed its old expression of strong be a good thing for Claude."

will, as he stood by the bedside of his It was proof of the change in him, piece listening intently to the incohowever, that he added : “I am sorry herent words that dropped from her for Cilly."

fevered lips while she lay back ou her Brigette protested against this speech pillows. Brigette, with clasped hands, at once :“Oh! that Cilly had his eye kept on saying “Oh, dear !” and on madame, too, but in another fash- “ Alas !” at intervals. All of a sud

den her eyes fell on the hearth. She The old man looked at her in great uttered an exclamation and rushed up surprise. What could she mean ? to the fireplace. Manette had never said anything on What she saw there were Manette's the subject to him. He asked if ma- wet shoes. The poor thing had had dame had been told what had hap- time to take off all her clothes and put pened. He was answered that she was out of sight the things once belonging still asleep. Well, then, Brigette must to Citoyenne Lamblet, but the shoes, help him to dress as quickly as possible ; placed to dry before the dying embers he must go and carry her the news — on the hearth, had been forgotten, the lazy-bones! Brigette made haste, when, overcome by mental suffering and was the first to enter Manette's and bodily fatigue, she had laid down chamber. She rushed back, fright- upon her bed. Pain and weariness ened : “ Madame was in a high fever had mastered her resolution. and did not seem to know her ! "

66 Could madame have been out last bi Come – come !" she said.

night ? " the servant said. She re-entered the room, and Citizen “ And suppose she had been ?” anAndrey followed her. Manette, with swered the old man roughly, turning her face bright red and her eyes wild, towards Brigette as he spoke. “Suplay tossing on her bed. The old man pose that last night she had attempted beut over her. She was delirious, and to do a very dreadful thing a dreadful raving. He listened to what she was thing, mind you ! Suppose she had saying.

done it? Suppose that her love for Brigette was in despair. “I must her husband made her risk losing her run and get a doctor," she said. own life, and involving ours in her

“Wait !” he said imperatively. The peril ? old servant wanted to lean over her Mon Dieu !cried the old woman, mistress in her turn, but he waved her " what can she have done ? She who away with his hand, saying: “No - 10 used to be so gentle, so tender.” — we want no doctor here."

Used to be — yes ! But dov't ask Brigette seemed very much surprised. me any questions. I know nothing as “My good woman,'

? he said,

• for- yet. I am afraid to understand. And, merly no doctor could practise without Brigette, it will not do to be afraid.” having passed his examinations. Now “You know I would be cut in little any one who chooses can. Some ass bits for her sake!” might come here and kill the dear child “ Yes — yes, I know that. But if by his ignorance. I will look after her some one conies here and threatens us ? myself. I learned a great deal about the sectionaries walk into people's medicine when I was at sea. I am houses, they show their warrant and quite capable of dealing with this case. carry off everybody. You I know to I know all about fevers."

be a brave, good woman. Help me to

[ocr errors]


care for her. Don't bring any doctor | Could Cilly have menaced that man, here. He might betray us.”

too ? He had done wisely in speaking thus Then he recalled the tone in which to the old servant. What would have she had said the night before, “ Uncle, been the use of trying to couceal from Claude shall be free ! ” She had done her what she could not fail to discover. the deed for Claude's sake, — for no It was far better to let her share the other. It was for Claude ! secret. She was to be trusted. Citi- Claude's wife for Claude's sake had zen Andrey had become the man he triumphed over her woman's nature. had been thirty years before, when The strain must have been frightful, danger was familiar to him, and prompt and the result lay on the bed before decision necessary. By his orders Bri- him. So young! So beautiful! Tears gette set to work to prepare mustard came into his old eyes. Poor Claude ! plasters, to be put on the patient's feet. He had been good, and kiud, and paShe was

to be careful to keep wet tient, tender, loving, and true. She cloths to her head constantly, and a was impulsive, uncompromisingly honlittle opium was to be given her in est, strong of will. The current phrases

sort of home-made infusion. of sham patriotism were to her abhorThere was no need to send to an apoth- rent. Had they been man and wife in ecary for anything to quiet the nerves. happier times each might have supplied Not long before there had been another what was wanting in the other. But sick womau in the house who needed in the days in which they lived the difall such remedies, and a cupboard was ference in their temperaments made full of phials.

them look on everything about them While Brigette went to prepare what from a different point of view. They was needed in the kitchen, the old man must have taken opposite sides in all passed his arm under Manette's head, things while the conflict still went on. and his ear was near her mouth. He Laverdac, perhaps, was a man who saw caught scraps of sentences, phrases things as she saw them. There might eagerly repeated, accompanied by cries have been that bond between their of anguish and distress.

souls. He spoke to her soothingly. “Come, As the old man tried to remember all come! you are fighting an imaginary he could about Laverdac, suddenly he spectre. It is your turn now to be recollected that he had been in that afraid - poor soul! Who would have room and looked out of those windows thought that pretty white hand could when the woman who had killed Marat bave done it? And yet I am not sur- was carried past to prison. Perhaps prised. I always recognized in you my the thought of taking such vengeance brother's child. Blood of our blood ! upon Cilly had then come to that other

!! Don't think, dear, I would blame you, woman. if you could understand.”

At that moment Brigette came in But here he made a slight movement. with a letter. A man had left it, and The aching head dropped from his arm, had run away. It was from Claude. and rolled in anguish on the pillow. The old man broke the seal, while BriHe heard a name fall from her lips, gette applied the mustard plasters. that nothing had prepared him to It ran thus : hear. A new idea presented itself. "Oh, my beloved, I am to see you in idea that had never occurred to no more in my prison. I am to receive him before.

none of your letters. I am not to be Laurent de Laverdac ! What ! allowed the consolation of writing to that man ?

Oh, Manette ! But he you. The compassion of one of my had never come but once to the Rue de jailers permits me to send you these Bussy, and she had never mentioned few last lines. Orders have come for bis name !

our solitary confinement. Night and The old man continued to listen. 'day I am to be shut up in the cell once

[ocr errors]

« ElőzőTovább »