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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library - A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens


211

Awakened by a timid local functionary and three armed patriots in
rough red caps and with pipes in their mouths, who sat down on
the bed.

“Emigrant,” said the functionary, “I am going to send you on to
Paris, under an escort.” “Citizen, I desire nothing more than to get
to Paris, though I could dispense with the escort.”

“Silence!” growled a red-cap, striking at the coverlet with the butt-
end of his musket. “Peace, aristocrat!” “It is as the good patriot
says,” observed the timid functionary. “You are an aristocrat, and
must have an escort-and must pay for it.” “I have no choice,” said
Charles Darnay.

“Choice! Listen to him!” cried the same scowling red-cap. “As if it
was not a favour to be protected from the lamp-iron!” “It is always
as the good patriot says,” observed the functionary. “Rise and
dress yourself, emigrant.” Darnay complied, and was taken back to
the guard-house, where other patriots in rough red caps were
smoking, drinking, and sleeping, by a watch-fire. Here he paid a
heavy price for his escort, and hence he started with it on the wet,
wet roads at three o’clock in the morning.

The escort were two mounted patriots in red caps and tri-coloured
cockades, armed with national muskets and sabres, who rode one
on either side of him.

The escorted governed his own horse, but a loose line was attached
to his bridle, the end of which one of the patriots kept girded
round his wrist. In this state they set forth with the sharp rain
driving in their faces: clattering at a heavy dragoon trot over the
uneven town pavement, and out upon the mire-deep roads. In this
state they traversed without change, except of horses and pace, all
the miredeep leagues that lay between them and the capital.

They travelled in the night, halting an hour or two after daybreak,
and lying by until the twilight fell. The escort were so wretchedly
clothed, that they twisted straw round their bare legs, and thatched
their ragged shoulders to keep the wet off. Apart from the personal
discomfort of being so attended, and apart from such
considerations of present danger as arose from one of the patriots
being chronically drunk, and carrying his musket very recklessly,
Charles Darnay did not allow the restraint that was laid upon him
to awaken any serious fears in his breast; for, be reasoned with
himself that it could have no reference to the merits of an
individual case that was not yet stated, and of representations,
confirmable by the prisoner in the Abbaye, that were not yet made.
But when they came to the town of Beauvais-which they did at
eventide, when the streets were filled with people-he could not
conceal from himself that the aspect of affairs was very alarming.
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