Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers
THE SEA STILL RISES
HAGGARD SAINT ANTOINE had had only one exultant week, in
which to soften his modicum of hard and bitter bread to such
extent as he could, with the relish of fraternal embraces and
congratulations, when Madame Defarge sat at her counter, as
usual, presiding over the customers. Madame Defarge wore no
rose in her head, for the great brotherhood of Spies had become,
even in one short week, extremely chary of trusting themselves to
the saint’s mercies. The lamps across his streets had a portentously
elastic swing with them.
Madame Defarge, with her arms folded, sat in the morning light
and heat, contemplating the wine-shop and the street. In both,
there were several knots of loungers, squalid and miserable, but
now with a manifest sense of power enthroned on their distress.
The raggedest nightcap, awry on the wretchedest head, had this
crooked significance in it: “I know how hard it has grown for me,
the wearer of this, to support life in myself; but do you know how
easy it has grown for me, the wearer of this, to destroy life in you?”
Every lean bare arm, that had been without work before, had this
work always ready for it now, that it could strike. The fingers of
the knitting women were vicious, with the experience that they
could tear. There was a change in the appearance of Saint Antoine;
the image had been hammering into this for hundreds of years,
and the last finishing blows had told mightily on the expression.
Madame Defarge sat observing it, with such suppressed approval
as was to be desired in the leader of the Saint Antoine women. One
of her sisterhood knitted beside her. The short, rather plump wife
of a starved grocer, and the mother of two children withal, this
lieutenant had already earned the complimentary name of The
“Hark!” said The Vengeance. “Listen, then! Who comes?” As if a
train of powder laid from the outermost bound of Saint Antoine
Quarter to the wine-shop door, had been suddenly fired, a fast-
spreading murmur came rushing along.
“It is Defarge,” said madame. “Silence, patriots!” Defarge came in
breathless, pulled off a red cap he wore, and looked around him!
“Listen, everywhere!” said madame again. “Listen to him! Defarge
stood, panting, against a background of eager eyes and open
mouths, formed outside the door; all those within the wine-shop
had sprung to their feet.