Book the Third - The Track of a Storm
6. VI. Triumph
The passage to the Conciergerie was short and dark; the night in its
vermin-haunted cells was long and cold. Next day, fifteen prisoners
were put to the bar before Charles Darnay's name was called. All the
fifteen were condemned, and the trials of the whole occupied an hour
and a half.
"Charles Evremonde, called Darnay," was at length arraigned.
His judges sat upon the Bench in feathered hats; but the rough red
cap and tricoloured cockade was the head-dress otherwise prevailing.
Looking at the Jury and the turbulent audience, he might have thought
that the usual order of things was reversed, and that the felons were
trying the honest men. The lowest, cruelest, and worst populace of a
city, never without its quantity of low, cruel, and bad, were the
directing spirits of the scene: noisily commenting, applauding,
disapproving, anticipating, and precipitating the result, without a
check. Of the men, the greater part were armed in various ways; of
the women, some wore knives, some daggers, some ate and drank as they
looked on, many knitted. Among these last, was one, with a spare
piece of knitting under her arm as she worked. She was in a front
row, by the side of a man whom he had never seen since his arrival at
the Barrier, but whom he directly remembered as Defarge. He noticed
that she once or twice whispered in his ear, and that she seemed to
be his wife; but, what he most noticed in the two figures was, that
although they were posted as close to himself as they could be, they
never looked towards him. They seemed to be waiting for something
with a dogged determination, and they looked at the Jury, but at
nothing else. Under the President sat Doctor Manette, in his usual
quiet dress. As well as the prisoner could see, he and Mr. Lorry
were the only men there, unconnected with the Tribunal, who wore their
usual clothes, and had not assumed the coarse garb of the Carmagnole.
Charles Evremonde, called Darnay, was accused by the public
prosecutor as an emigrant, whose life was forfeit to the Republic,
under the decree which banished all emigrants on pain of Death.
It was nothing that the decree bore date since his return to France.
There he was, and there was the decree; he had been taken in France,
and his head was demanded.