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Book 3, Chapter 14 Notes from A Tale of Two Cities

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A Tale of Two Cities Book 3, Chapter 14

While the fifty-two prisoners are awaiting their fate, Madame Defarge is meeting with The Vengeance and Jacques Three at the wood-sawyer's shed. She tells them that her husband has a weakness for Dr. Manette, but that she does not. She adds that Dr. Manette, his daughter, and his daughter must be executed as well. The Vengeance and Jacques Three agree heartily and excitedly. She says she can denounce Lucie for making signals to her husband while he was in prison, and that the woodcutter can back her up. The woodcutter agrees that he will do so. She tells them to visit her at eight, and she will give them the necessary information for denunciation. After the woodcutter leaves, she tells Jacques Three and The Vengeance that Lucie will be at home, in mourning, and that she will go to her. She tells The Vengeance to take her knitting and to save her her usual seat to watch the execution. Madame Defarge, by now completely devoid of all pity and human sympathy, walks over to Lucie's, hiding a loaded pistol in her bosom and a sharpened dagger in her dress. Meanwhile, at Lucie's, the entire family has departed in the coach except for Jerry Cruncher and Miss Pross. It had been decided that for everyone to leave at once would be too dangerous, and that these two should follow shortly after. Jerry and Miss Pross decide that Jerry will fetch a coach and take it to the cathedral, where Miss Pross will meet him at three (at which time they will beat a hasty retreat for England). Miss Pross, left alone and afraid, goes to a water basin and splashes her face. When she looks up, she cries out desperately, as she sees the figure of Madame Defarge. Madame looks at her coldly and demands to see Lucie. Miss Pross hastily shuts all the doors, not wanting to give away the fact that the family has fled, and refuses to oblige Madame Defarge. Madame Defarge suggests that the family has fled; she demands to have a look in one of the rooms. They get into an intense argument, and Miss Pross plants herself firmly in front of the door to the room, telling Madame Defarge that she will not budge an inch. The two get into a physical struggle, and Miss Pross grabs Madame Defarge by the waist, refusing to let her go, telling Madame Defarge she will hold her until one of them faints or dies. Madame Defarge stops striking her, and she feels at Miss Pross' waist. Gradually, her hands are at her bosom. Miss Pross looks up and sees that Madame Defarge has a gun, and she reaches up and strikes at it. She hears a loud pop and sees smoke; after it is over, she sees Madame Defarge's body, lifeless on the ground. She composes herself quickly, locks the apartment behind her, then hurries away. She crosses a bridge, dropping a key in the water, then meets Jerry in their coach. She finds that she cannot hear anything he says to her; indeed, she never hears anything again.

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