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A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities


by Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities Volume III, Chapter Twelve – Darkness Summary

  • Sydney wanders through the streets of Paris, contemplating life.
  • He’s trying to work out his plan in his mind. Finally, he decides it will be best if the Defarges know what he looks like.
  • Accordingly, he scouts out the wine shop in Saint Antoine.
  • Once he finds it, he has dinner and takes a nap. At seven, he heads over to the wine shop.
  • Madame Defarge, of course, is sitting at the till.
  • Sydney heads over to the bar and asks for some wine.
  • His French is suddenly really bad.
  • Wait… didn’t he speak almost perfect French a few chapters ago? What’s going on here?
  • Madame Defarge stares at him curiously and asks if he’s English.
  • He says that he is.
  • As she pours out the wine, he overhears her muttering to herself that he looks just like Evrémonde.
  • Defarge enters the shop; he apparently thinks the same thing.
  • He starts when he sees Sydney at the counter, then walks over to confer with his wife.
  • She and Jacques Three are discussing when the revolution will be over.
  • Defarge notes that the violence will have to stop somewhere. The question, of course, is where.
  • Madame Defarge has an answer to that: they’ll stop when all of the aristocrats are exterminated.
  • Defarge doesn’t quite agree. After all, they all saw how Doctor Manette suffered when his son-in-law’s verdict was read.
  • Come to think of it, Madame Defarge is not so sure that Doctor Manette is a true patriot.
  • Defarge continues: Doctor Manette’s daughter, that sweet, innocent girl, was devastated by the trial today.
  • Madame Defarge snaps at her husband. She’s been watching Lucie.
  • In fact, all she has to do is lift her finger... and Lucie’s life would be over.
  • Jacques Three thinks that Madame Defarge is magnificent.
  • Apparently power (of any sort) always attracts followers.
  • Madame Defarge goes on an angry tirade. As she says, she was with Defarge when he found Doctor Manette’s letter.
  • Moreover, she is the younger sister of the woman who was raped and kidnapped.
  • She’ll never stop pursuing her revenge against the Evrémondes.
  • Her listeners are fascinated by the deadly heat of her wrath. Even Defarge stops trying to talk her into being merciful.
  • Sydney Carton listens to all of the conversation, then leaves.
  • It’s almost nine. He meets Mr. Lorry at his office.
  • They wait until midnight, but Doctor Manette still doesn’t return.
  • Finally, he walks into the office.
  • He’s a broken man. He asks immediately where his workbench is: he’s been looking for it all afternoon.
  • Dismayed, Mr. Lorry rushes to help him.
  • Sydney agrees that Doctor Manette should be taken to Lucie. Before he lets them go, though, he tells Mr. Lorry about the conversation he overheard.
  • Lucie and Doctor Manette are no longer safe in Paris.
  • Quickly, Sydney lays out his plans: Mr. Lorry will gather money and traveling papers for the Manettes.
  • He should also arrange for a coach to take them to the border.
  • Sydney hands Mr. Lorry his own traveling papers. He says that Mr. Lorry should only wait until Sydney’s place in the coach is filled.
  • As soon as that happens, the entire family must leave at once.
  • He makes Mr. Lorry promise that they won’t stop for any reason.
  • Once Mr. Lorry promises, Sydney goes out into the night.

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