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A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities


by Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities Book the Third: The Track of a Storm
Volume III, Chapter One – In Secret Summary

  • In 1792, traveling through France is pretty slow going.
  • Okay: traveling in the 1700s was pretty slow all the time. We know that. But now it’s extra slow. Even slower than before. Sloooooooow.
  • Charles, of course, happens to be traveling in 1792.
  • He’s not getting too far.
  • Everywhere he goes, he’s stopped. People have to check his papers. Then they have to re-check them.
  • Meanwhile, Charles waits for several hours.
  • This happens over and over. And over.
  • Finally, in the middle of the night, he’s taken prisoner by a group of patriots.
  • They deliver him to the local authorities, who decide that he’s an emigrant and must be sent to Paris immediately.
  • When Charles tries to protest, he gets smacked around for a while. Apparently folks have figured out that he’s an aristocrat.
  • Needless to say, they’re not too happy about the news.
  • Bundled into a carriage, Charles begins the halting, slow journey to the capital.
  • The patriots force him to pay for an armed escort into the capital. After all, anything could happen to him on the road.
  • On the way, a man screams out that a decree has been passed: the property of all emigrants can be confiscated by the Republic.
  • Charles begins to realize that his trip might just be a bit more complicated than he’d planned.
  • The crowds aren’t all that pleased to see him pass.
  • Some even threaten to kill the aristocrat. Others mutter that he’ll be judged when he gets to Paris.
  • Friendly country, huh?
  • At the gates of the city, a guardsman asks for the papers of the prisoner.
  • Charles isn’t too excited about the fact that he’s gone from being a traveler to an emigrant to a prisoner.
  • Sure enough, he’s taken to the prison.
  • Defarge is there. He identifies Charles as "Citizen Evrémonde."
  • The officer holding Charles’s papers looks at him, nods, and condemns him to prison.
  • Aghast, Charles wants to know why.
  • He’s done nothing wrong—nothing against the law.
  • The man smiles grimly. He informs Charles that there are new laws now.
  • In fact, under these laws, emigrants have no rights at all.
  • As they walk away, Defarge quietly asks Charles if he’s Doctor Manette’s son-in-law.
  • Charles says he is.
  • Desperate, Charles turns to Defarge and begs for help.
  • Defarge refuses. It’s not in his power.
  • Charles asks if he’ll be imprisoned without trial or any attention to justice.
  • Sniffing a bit, Defarge says that many people have been unfairly imprisoned before.
  • Charles responds, "But not by me."
  • Defarge looks darkly at him for a minute, then walks in silence.
  • Charles asks for one favor: that Defarge would tell Mr. Lorry that Charles has been imprisoned in La Force.
  • Refusing, Defarge declares that he’s a patriot. He can do nothing to help aristocrats.
  • With that, Defarge turns Charles over to the gaoler of La Force.
  • The prison isn’t that great a place to be. It’s smelly and dark and all-around disgusting.
  • Within the prison, Charles is greeted by faded aristocrats who crowd against him in the small rooms.
  • They’re almost ghostly; their courtly manners are… just a bit creepy in this dismal location.
  • Charles ends up in a small tower. He begs the gaoler to sell him a pen and paper.
  • The gaoler refuses. At present, the only thing Charles can buy is food.
  • Left alone in his cell, Charles begins to pace frantically.

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