Book the Third - The Track of a Storm
10. X. The Substance of the Shadow
"I, Alexandre Manette, unfortunate physician, native of Beauvais,
and afterwards resident in Paris, write this melancholy paper in my
doleful cell in the Bastille, during the last month of the year,
1767. I write it at stolen intervals, under every difficulty.
I design to secrete it in the wall of the chimney, where I have
slowly and laboriously made a place of concealment for it. Some
pitying hand may find it there, when I and my sorrows are dust.
"These words are formed by the rusty iron point with which I write
with difficulty in scrapings of soot and charcoal from the chimney,
mixed with blood, in the last month of the tenth year of my captivity.
Hope has quite departed from my breast. I know from terrible
warnings I have noted in myself that my reason will not long remain
unimpaired, but I solemnly declare that I am at this time in the
possession of my right mind--that my memory is exact and
circumstantial--and that I write the truth as I shall answer for
these my last recorded words, whether they be ever read by men or not,
at the Eternal Judgment-seat.
"One cloudy moonlight night, in the third week of December (I think
the twenty-second of the month) in the year 1757, I was walking on a
retired part of the quay by the Seine for the refreshment of the
frosty air, at an hour's distance from my place of residence in the
Street of the School of Medicine, when a carriage came along behind
me, driven very fast. As I stood aside to let that carriage pass,
apprehensive that it might otherwise run me down, a head was put out
at the window, and a voice called to the driver to stop.
"The carriage stopped as soon as the driver could rein in his horses,
and the same voice called to me by my name. I answered. The carriage
was then so far in advance of me that two gentlemen had time to open
the door and alight before I came up with it.
I observed that they were both wrapped in cloaks, and appeared to
conceal themselves. As they stood side by side near the carriage
door, I also observed that they both looked of about my own age, or
rather younger, and that they were greatly alike, in stature, manner,
voice, and (as far as I could see) face too.