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


56

back of his neck; more to be out of his way than for ornament. As
an emotion of the mind will express itself through any covering of
the body, so the paleness which his situation engendered came
through the brown upon his cheek, showing the soul to be
stronger than the sun. He was otherwise quite self-possessed,
bowed to the Judge, and stood quiet.

The sort of interest with which this man was stared and breathed
at, was not a sort that elevated humanity. Had he stood in peril of a
less horrible sentence-had there been a chance of any one of its
savage details being spared-by just so much would he have lost in
his fascination. The form that was to be doomed to be so
shamefully mangled, was the sight; the immortal creature that was
to be so butchered and torn asunder, yielded the sensation.
Whatever gloss the various spectators put upon the interest,
according to their several arts and powers of self-deceit, the
interest was, at the root of it, Ogreish.

Silence in the court! Charles Darnay had yesterday pleaded Not
Guilty to an indictment denouncing him (with infinite jingle and
jangle) for that he was a false traitor to our serene, illustrious,
excellent, and so forth, prince, our Lord the King, by reason of his
having, on divers occasions, and by divers means and ways,
assisted Lewis, the French King, in his wars against our said
serene, illustrious, excellent, and so forth; that was to say, by
coming and going, between the dominions of our said serene,
illustrious, excellent, and so forth, and those of the said French
Lewis, and wickedly, falsely, traitorously, and otherwise evil-
adverbiously, revealing to the said French Lewis what forces our
said serene, illustrious, excellent, and so forth, had in preparation
to send to Canada and North America. This much, Jerry, with his
head becoming more and more spiky as the law terms bristled it,
made out with huge satisfaction, and so arrived circuitously at the
understanding that the aforesaid, and over and over again
aforesaid, Charles Darnay, stood there before him upon his trial;
that the jury were swearing in; and that Mr. Attorney-General was
making ready to speak.

The accused, who was (and who knew he was) being mentally
hanged, beheaded, and quartered, by everybody there, neither
flinched from the situation, nor assumed any theatrical air in it. He
was quiet and attentive; watched the opening proceedings with a
grave interest; and stood with his hands resting on the slab of
wood before him, so composedly, that they had not displaced a
leaf of the herbs with which it was strewn. The court was all
bestrewn with herbs and sprinkled with vinegar, as a precaution
against gaol air and gaol fever.
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