Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers
“Alone! God help him, who should be with him!” said the other, in
the same low voice.
“Is he always alone, then?” “Yes.” “Of his own desire?” “Of his
own necessity. As he was, when I first saw him after they found
me and demanded to know if I would take him, and, at my peril be
discreet-as he was then, so he is now.” “He is greatly changed?”
“Changed!” The keeper of the wine-shop stopped to strike the wall
with his hand, and mutter a tremendous curse. No direct answer
could have been half so forcible. Mr. Lorry’s spirits grew heavier
and heavier, as he and his two companions ascended higher and
Such a staircase, with its accessories, in the older and more
crowded parts of Paris, would be bad enough now; but, at that
time, it was vile indeed to unaccustomed and unhardened senses.
Every little habitation within the great foul nest of one high
building-that is to say, the room or rooms within every door that
opened on the general staircase-left its own heap of refuse on its
own landing, besides flinging other refuse from its own windows.
The uncontrollable and hopeless mass of decomposition so
engendered, would have polluted the air, even if poverty and
deprivation had not loaded it with their intangible impurities; the
two bad sources combined made it almost insupportable. Through
such an atmosphere, by a steep dark shaft of dirt and poison, the
way lay. Yielding to his own disturbance of mind, and to his young
companion’s agitation, which became greater every instant, Mr.
Jarvis Lorry twice stopped to rest. Each of these stoppages was
made at a doleful grating, by which any languishing good airs that
were left uncorrupted, seemed to escape, and all spoilt and sickly
vapours seemed to crawl in. Through the rusted bars, tastes, rather
than glimpses, were caught of the jumbled neighbourhood; and
nothing within range, nearer or lower than the summits of the two
great towers of Notre-Dame, had any promise on it of healthy life
or wholesome aspirations.
At last, the top of the staircase was gained, and they stopped for
the third time. There was yet an upper staircase, of a steeper
inclination and of contracted dimensions, to be ascended, before
the garret story was reached. The keeper of the wine-shop, always
going a little in advance, and always going on the side which Mr.
Lorry took, as though he dreaded to be asked any question by the
young lady, turned himself about here, and, carefully feeling in the
pockets of the coat he carried over his shoulder, took out a key.
“The door is locked then, my friend?” said Mr. Lorry, surprised.
“Ay. Yes,” was the grim reply of Monsieur Defarge.