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


250

CHAPTER VIII
A HAND AT CARDS


HAPPILY UNCONSCIOUS of the new calamity at home, Miss
Pross threaded her way along the narrow streets and crossed the
river by the bridge of the Pont-Neuf, reckoning in her mind the
number of indispensable purchases she had to make. Mr.
Cruncher, with the basket, walked at her side. They both looked to
the right and to the left into most of the shops they passed, had a
wary eye for an gregarious assemblages of people, and turned out
of their road to avoid any very excited group of talkers. It was a
raw evening, and the misty river, blurred to the eye with blazing
lights and to the ear with harsh noises, showed where the barges
were stationed in which the smiths worked, making guns for the
Army of the Republic. Woe to the man who played tricks with that
Army, or got undeserved promotion in it! Better for him that his
beard had never grown, for the National Razor shaved him close.
Having purchased a few small articles of grocery, and a measure of
oil for the lamp, Miss Pross bethought herself of the wine they
wanted. After peeping into several wine-shops, she stopped at the
sign of the Good Republican Brutus of Antiquity, not far from the
National Palace, once (and twice) the Tuileries, where the aspect of
things rather took her fancy. It had a quieter look than any other
place of the same description they had passed, and, though red
with patriotic caps, was not so red as the rest. Sounding Mr.
Cruncher, and finding him of her opinion, Miss Pross resorted to
the Good Republican Brutus of Antiquity, attended by her cavalier.
Slightly observant of the smoky lights; of the people, pipe in
mouth, playing with limp cards and yellow dominoes; of the one
bare-breasted, bare-armed, sootbegrimed workman reading a
journal aloud, and of the others listening to him; of the weapons
worn, or laid aside to be resumed; of the two or three customers
fallen forward asleep, who in the popular high-shouldered shaggy
black spencer looked, in that attitude, like slumbering bears or
dogs; the two outlandish customers approached the counter, and
showed what they wanted.

As their wine was measuring out, a man parted from another man
in a corner, and rose to depart. In going, he had to face Miss Pross.
No sooner did he face her, than Miss Pross uttered a scream, and
clapped her hands.

In a moment, the whole company were on their feet. That
somebody was assassinated by somebody vindicating a difference
of opinion was the likeliest occurrence. Everybody looked to see
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