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THE DREAD TRIBUNAL of five Judges, Public Prosecutor, and
determined Jury, sat every day. Their lists went forth every
evening, and were read out by the gaolers of the various prisons to
their prisoners. The standard gaoler-joke was, “Come out and
listen to the Evening Paper, you inside there!” “Charles
Evremonde, called Darnay!” So at last began the Evening Paper at
When a name was called, its owner stepped apart into a spot
reserved for those who were announced as being thus fatally
recorded. Charles Evremonde, called Darnay, had reason to know
the usage; he had seen hundreds pass away so.
His bloated gaoler, who wore spectacles to read with, glanced over
them to assure himself that he had taken his place, and went
through the list, making a similar short pause at each name. There
were twenty-three names, but only twenty were responded to; for
one of the prisoners so summoned had died in gaol and been
forgotten, and two had already been guillotined and forgotten. The
list was read, in the vaulted chamber where Darnay had seen the
associated prisoners on the night of his arrival. Every one of those
had perished in the massacre; every human creature he had since
cared for and parted with, had died on the scaffold.
There were hurried words of farewell and kindness, but the
parting was soon over. It was the incident of every day, and the
society of La Force were engaged in the preparation of some games
of forfeits and a little concert, for that evening.
They crowded to the grates and shed tears there; but, twenty places
in the projected entertainments had to be refilled, and the time
was, at best, short to the lock-up hour, when the common rooms
and corridors would be delivered over to the great dogs who kept
watch there through the night. The prisoners were far from
insensible or unfeeling; their ways arose out of the condition of the
Similarly, though with a subtle difference, a species of fervour or
intoxication, known, without doubt, to have led some persons to
brave the guillotine unnecessarily, and to die by it, was not mere
boastfulness, but a wild infection of the wildly shaken public mind.
In seasons of pestilence, some of us will have a secret attraction to
the disease-a terrible passing inclination to die of it. And all of us
have like wonders hidden in our breasts, only needing
circumstances to evoke them.