فصل 07

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فصل 07

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CHAPTER SEVEN

A call for help

The troubles in France continued. The citizens of France had fought to win power, and now they used it. Castles were burned, laws were changed, and the rich and powerful nobles died - their heads cut off by that terrible new machine of death, the Guillotine. In Paris the King was put in prison, and in 1792 the people of France sent him to the Guillotine as well. The French Revolution was now three years old, but there were more years of terror to come.

Not all the rich nobles had died. Some had escaped to England; some had even sent or brought their money to London before the Revolution began. And Tellson’s Bank, which the French emigrants used, had become a meeting- place where they could hear and talk about the latest news from France.

One wet August day Mr Lorry sat at his desk in the bank, talking to Charles Darnay. The years since Charles’s marriage had seen the arrival of a daughter, little Lucie, who was now nine years old. Dr Manette had continued in good health, and at the centre of that warm family circle was always Lucie - a loving daughter, wife, mother, and a kind-hearted friend. Even Sydney Carton, though his old, bad ways were unchanged, was a family friend - and very much a favourite with little Lucie.

But at this moment Charles Darnay was trying very hard to persuade his old friend Mr Lorry not to go to France. ‘It’s too dangerous. The weather is not good, the roads are bad, think of your age,’ he said.

‘My dear Charles,’ said the banker. ‘You think that, at nearly eighty years of age, I’m too old. But that’s exactly why I must go. I have the experience, I know the business. My work is to find and hide papers that might be dangerous to our customers. And anyway, Jerry Cruncher goes with me. He’ll take good care of my old bones.’

‘I wish I could go,’ said Charles restlessly. ‘I feel sorry for the people in France, and perhaps I could help them. Only last night, when I was talking to Lucie-‘

‘Talking to Lucie,’ repeated Mr Lorry. ‘You talk about your lovely wife at the same time as you talk about going to France. You must not go. Your life is here, with your family.’

‘Well, I’m not going to France. But you are, and I’m worried about you.’

Just at that moment a bank clerk put an old, unopened letter on Mr Lorry’s desk, and Darnay happened to see the name on it: The Marquis of Evremonde, at Tellson’s Bank, London. Since his uncle’s death, this was Darnay’s real name. On the morning of his wedding to Lucie he had told Dr Manette, but the Doctor had made him promise to keep his name secret. Not even Lucie or Mr Lorry knew.

‘We can’t find this Marquis,’ said the clerk.

‘I know where to find him,’ said Parnay. ‘Shall I take the letter?’

‘That would be very kind,’ said Mr Lorry.

As soon as he had left the bank, Darnay opened the letter. It was from Monsieur Gabelle, who had been arrested and taken to Paris.

Monsieur, once the Marquis

I am in prison, and I may lose my life, because I worked for a landowner who has left France. You told me to work for the people and not against them, and I have done this. But no one believes me. They say only that I worked for an emigrant, and where is that emigrant? Oh Monsieur, please help me, I beg you!

This cry for help made Darnay very unhappy. After the death of the Marquis, he had told Gabelle to do his best for the people. But now Gabelle was in prison, just because he was employed by a nobleman. It was clear to Darnay that he must go to Paris. He did not think that he would be in danger, as he had done everything he could to help the people of his village. He hoped that he would be able to save his old servant.

That night Charles Darnay sat up late, writing two letters. One was to his wife, Lucie; the other was to her father, Dr Manette. He told them where he had gone and why, and he promised that he would write to them from France. He had left secretly, he wrote, to save them from worrying.

The next day he went out, without saying anything to them of his plans. He kissed his wife and his daughter, and said that he would be back soon. And then he began his journey to Paris.

When he arrived in France, Darnay found that he could travel only very, very slowly towards Paris. The roads were bad and every town, every village had its citizens with guns who stopped all travellers, asked them questions, looked at their papers, made them wait or threw them in prison, turned them back or sent them on their way. And it was all done in the name of freedom - the new Freedom of France.

Darnay soon realized that he could not turn back until he had reached Paris and proved himself to be a good citizen, not an enemy of the people.

On his third night in France he was woken by an official and three other men with guns.

‘Emigrant,’ said the official. ‘These three soldiers will take you to Paris, and you must pay them.’

Darnay could only obey and at three o’clock in the morning he left with three soldiers to guard him. Even with them he was sometimes in danger; the people in the towns and villages all seemed to be very angry with emigrants, but finally they arrived safely at the gates of Paris. Darnay had to wait a long time while officials carefully read his papers, which explained the reasons for his journey. One official, seeing Gabelle’s letter, looked up at Darnay in great surprise, but said nothing. Another official asked roughly, ‘Are you Evremonde?’

‘Yes,’ replied Darnay.

‘You will go to the prison of La Force!’

‘But why?’ asked Darnay. ‘Under what law?’

‘We have new laws, Evremonde,’ said the official sharply, ‘and emigrants have no rights. You will be held in secret. Take him away.’

As Darnay left, the first official said quietly to him, ‘Are you the man who married the daughter of Dr Manette?’

‘Yes,’ replied Darnay in surprise.

‘My name is Defarge and I have a wine-shop in Saint Antoine. Perhaps you have heard of me.’

‘Yes. My wife came to your house to find her father.’

‘Why did you come back to France? It will be very bad for you.’

Darnay was taken to the prison of La Force and put in a cold empty room with a locked door and bars across the windows. He thought of Dr Manette and his many years alone, forgotten, in the Bastille.

‘Now I, too, have been buried alive,’ he thought.

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