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Book 2, Chapter 24 Notes from A Tale of Two Cities

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A Tale of Two Cities Book 2, Chapter 24

Three more years pass, and the raging storm in France continues. The people have become even more desperate and, as a consequence, more vengeful. But the class of Monseigneur has retreated in haste. Royalty has been removed, having been besieged in its palace and suspended. By August 1792, Monseigneur was scattered across the land.

Topic Tracking: Oppression/Class Struggle 10

But "Monseigneur" has reappeared at Tellson's in London, as Tellson's extends great courtesy to its longtime customers who have fallen from their lofty stations. The fleeing, dispatched nobility has transferred its property to Tellson's, and all newcomers from France who were once members of this class there report immediately to Tellson's upon their arrival in London. As a result, Tellson's has also become a source of information about the conflict. One afternoon, Darnay is talking to Mr. Lorry , trying to persuade Mr. Lorry not to travel to Paris on business, telling him it is too dangerous. Someone hands Mr. Lorry a letter that is addressed to Tellson's on behalf of a Marquis St. Evrémonde, of France; the letter reads that its contents are "very pressing." Darnay had kept his promise to Dr. Manette and revealed to him on the morning of his wedding to Lucie that this is his true name, and that no one else is to know of it but Dr. Manette. Mr. Lorry says to the messenger that he has searched high and low but cannot find any trace of Marquis St. Evrémonde.

Mr. Lorry asks Darnay to take charge of the letter and deliver it. Darnay takes it and tells Mr. Lorry that he will come to Tellson's at eight to see him off to Paris. He leaves and reads the letter. It is a plea from Gabelle telling Darnay that he has been seized and taken to Paris to be imprisoned, and that his house has been destroyed. He tells him he is going to be tried and murdered for treason because he has acted against them for an emigrant. He writes passionately:

"'Ah! Most gracious Monsieur heretofore the Marquis, where is that emigrant? I cry in my sleep, where is he? I demand of Heaven, will he not come to deliver me? No answer. Ah, Monsieur heretofore the Marquis, I send my desolate cry across the sea, hoping it may perhaps reach your ears through the great bank of Tellson, known at Paris!

For the love of Heaven, of justice, of generosity, of the honour of your noble name, I supplicate you, Monsieur heretofore the Marquis, to succour and release me. My fault is that I have been true to you. Oh, Monsieur heretofore the Marquis, I pray you be true to me!'" Book 2, Chapter 24, pg. 237

Darnay realizes that he must travel to Paris, and though he knows it will be dangerous and that he may never get out alive, he can hardly see the severity of the danger that lies before him:

"The Loadstone Rock was drawing him, and he must sail on, until he struck. He knew of no rock; he saw hardly any danger. The intention with which he had done what he had done, even although he had left it incomplete, presented it before him in an aspect that would be gratefully acknowledged in France on his presenting himself to assert it. Then, that glorious vision of doing good, which is so often the sanguine mirage of so many good minds, arose before him, and he even saw himself in the illusion with some influence to guide this raging Revolution that was running so fearfully wild." Book 2, Chapter 24, pg. 239

Topic Tracking: Fate 7

He decides that Lucie and her father cannot know until after he is gone, to spare Lucie the pain of separation and her father the pain of old memories. He returns to Tellson's and tells Mr. Lorry that he has delivered a letter, and that the party requested that Mr. Lorry deliver a message in France: to go to a prisoner in the Abbaye named Gabelle. He is to tell Gabelle that the party has received the letter and will come. Mr. Lorry asks if there is any time mentioned; Darnay says to tell the prisoner that the party will start his journey tomorrow night. That night, August 14, 1792, he stays awake and writes two intense letters--one to Lucie, telling her that he is going to Paris under a personal obligation and that he will be safe, and another, to Dr. Manette, asking him to take care of Lucie and their daughter. He leaves the letters with a porter to be delivered half an hour before midnight. He takes a horse to Dover and begins his journey.

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