`He is going to pay the forfeit: it will be paid in five minutes more. Let him be at peace.'
But the man continuing to exclaim, `Down, Evrémonde!' the face of Evrémonde is for a moment turned towards him. Evrémonde then sees the Spy, and looks attentively at him, and goes his way.
The clocks are on the stroke of three, and the furrow ploughed among the populace is turning round, to come on into the place of execution, and end. The ridges thrown to this side and to that, now crumble in and close behind the last plough as it passes on, for all are following to the Guillotine. In front of it, seated in chairs, as in a garden of public diversion, are a number of women, busily knitting. On one of the foremost chairs, stands The Vengeance, looking about for her friend.
`Thérèse!' she cries, in her shrill tones. `Who has seen her? Thérèse Defarge!'
`She never missed before,' says a knitting-woman of the sisterhood.
`No; nor will site miss now,' cries The Vengeance, petulantly. `Thérèse!'
`Louder,' the woman recommends.
Ay! Louder, Vengeance, much louder, and still site will scarcely hear thee. Louder yet, Vengeance, with a little oath or so added, and yet it will hardly bring her. Send other women up and down to seek her, lingering somewhere; and yet, although the messengers have done dread deeds, it is questionable whether of their own wills they will go far enough to find her!
`Bad Fortune!' cries The Vengeance, stamping her foot in the chair, `and here are the tumbrils! And Evrémonde will be despatched in a wink, and she not here! See her knitting in my hand, and her empty chair ready for her. I cry with `vexation and disappointment!'
As The Vengeance descends from her elevation to do it, the tumbrils begin to discharge their loads. The ministers of Sainte Guillotine are robed and ready. Crash!--A head is held up, and the knitting-women who scarcely lifted their eyes to look at it a moment ago when it could think and speak, count One.
The second tumbril empties and moves on; the third comes up. Crash--And the knitting-women, never faltering or pausing in their work, count Two.
The supposed Evrémonde descends, and the seamstress is lifted out next after him. He has not relinquished her patient hand in getting out, but still holds it as he promised. He gently places her with her back to the crashing engine that constantly whirrs up and falls, and she looks into his face and thanks him.
`But for you, dear stranger, I should not be so composed, for I am naturally a poor little thing, faint of heart; nor should I have been able to raise my thoughts to Him who was put to death, that we might have hope and comfort here to-day. I think you were sent to me by Heaven.
`Or you to me,' says Sydney Carton. `Keep your eyes upon me, dear child, and mind no other object.'
`I mind nothing while I hold your hand. I shall mind nothing when I let it go, if they are rapid.'
`They will be rapid. Fear not!'
The two stand in the fast-thinning throng of victims, but they speak as if they were alone. Eye to eye, voice to voice, hand to hand, heart to heart, these two children of the Universal Mother, else so wide apart and differing, have come together on the dark highway, to repair home together, and to rest in her bosom.
`Brave and generous friend, will you let me ask you one last question? I am very ignorant, and it troubles me--just a little.'
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