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breed again. All the women knitted. They knitted worthless things;
but, the mechanical work was a mechanical substitute for eating
and drinking; the hands moved for the jaws and the digestive
apparatus: if the bony fingers had been still, the stomachs would
have been more famine-pinched.
But, as the fingers went, the eyes went, and the thoughts. And as
Madame Defarge moved on from group to group, all three went
quicker and fiercer among every little knot of women that she had
spoken with, and left behind.
Her husband smoked at his door, looking after her with
admiration. “A great woman,” said he, “a strong woman, a grand
woman, a frightfully grand woman!” Darkness closed around, and
then came the ringing of church bells and the distant beating of the
military drums in the Palace Courtyard, as the women sat knitting,
knitting. Darkness encompassed them. Another darkness was
closing in as surely, when the church bells, then ringing pleasantly
in many an airy steeple over France, should be melted into
thundering cannon; when the military drums should be beating to
drown a wretched voice, that night all potent as the voice of Power
and Plenty, Freedom and Life. So much was closing in about the
women who sat knitting, knitting, they their very selves were
closing in around a structure yet unbuilt, where they were to sit
knitting, knitting, dropping heads.