Book 3, Chapter 13 Notes from A Tale of Two Cities

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A Tale of Two Cities Book 3, Chapter 13

Darnay sits alone in his cell, awaiting his fate. He tries valiantly to steel himself for what he knows is coming, but it is difficult, as he can still see his wife's face. He writes long letters to Lucie and her father, and he writes a letter to Mr. Lorry explaining his worldly affairs. In his writing, he never thinks of Carton. He writes the letters and goes to sleep, knowing that it will be his last night alive. He awakens in the morning and paces his cell as the hours pass. Finally, he hears the clock strike one, knowing he is to be removed from his cell at two. He hears voices outside his cell and hears a man saying in low English that he has never seen him here, and the man tells someone else to go inside and that he will wait near.

The door opens, and Darnay looks up to see Carton. Carton looks so bright, so remarkable, that Darnay believes he might be hallucinating. But Carton begins to speak, and Darnay realizes it is him. He asks Carton if he is a prisoner; Carton says no, and that he came here to bring him a request from his wife. Charles wrings his hands and asks what the request is. Carton tells Darnay that he has no time to ask why he brings this request or what it means. He orders him to remove his boots and to put on Carton's. He orders Darnay to swap clothing with him; Darnay does it quickly and without questions, but he tells him that to try to escape is madness and cannot be attempted. Carton tells him he is not asking him to try to escape. He orders Darnay to sit down and write what he dictates. Darnay sits down, and Carton dictates the following message, which he asks him to address to no one:

"'If you remember the words that passed between us, long ago, you will readily comprehend this when you see it. You do remember them, I know. It is not in your nature to forget them. I am thankful that the time has come, when I can prove them. That I do so is no subject for regret or grief. If it had been otherwise, I never should have used the longer opportunity. If it had been otherwise....'" Book 3, Chapter 13, pp. 349-350

At this point, Darnay's hand begins to drift off, as Carton has been slowly but surely anesthetizing him by putting a chemical on his hand and waving it near Darnay's face as he writes. Darnay puts up a struggle, but finally drifts off. Carton quickly dresses in Charles' clothes, and the Spy enters, imploring Carton to be true to his word and to carry out his part of the bargain. Carton replies that he will be true to the death. The Spy replies that seeing Carton in Darnay's clothes reassures him that the plan will work. He tells the Spy to take Charles to a coach and to tell anyone who asks that he (meaning Carton) has fainted from grief at seeing the prisoner for the last time. He tells the Spy to take Charles to the courtyard they agreed on and to place him into a carriage, and to tell Dr. Manette to use no restorative powers on him other than air. The Spy agrees, then leaves, returning shortly thereafter with two men. They collect the figure, then leave. The Spy turns to Carton and says that time is short. Carton replies that he is aware of this, and he asks them to leave him.

After awhile, the door to his cell is opened, and someone commands Citizen Evrémonde that it is time. Carton follows him, where he is brought to wait with the other fifty-one who are to be executed that day. A young woman approaches him and calls him Citizen Evrémonde; she tells him that they were prisoners together at La Force and that she remembers him. She tells him that she'd heard he was released and that she'd hoped it was true. Carton tells her he was, but he was again captured and condemned. She asks him, if they ride to the guillotine together, if she may take his hand for comfort, and that it would give her more courage. He tells her she can. As she looks at him, a look of astonishment crosses her face, as she realizes that he is not the Citizen Evrémonde she remembered. He quiets her. She asks him if he is dying for Citizen Evrémonde. He replies that he is dying for Citizen Evrémonde, and for his wife and child. The woman asks if she can hold his hand and calls him a brave stranger. He tells her she may hold his hand to the last. At the same time, a coach driving out of Paris is stopped and examined. Mr. Lorry presents papers for himself, Dr. Manette, Lucie, her daughter, and Sydney Carton. After a brief examination, in which they see that "Carton" is passed out from fainting, they are allowed to pass. They travel on, through the night.

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