The Tale Of Two Cities
The Solitary House, Paris--1763.
SCENE I.--A retired part of the Quay, by the Seine.--Night--music--storm.
Enter BARSAD and GABELLE, R.
Bar. It is the command of Monsieur the Marquis--we must obey our master.
Gab. But how to find out this doctor?
Bar. By a cautious inquiry, perhaps. Stay--here comes a solitary passenger. Let us accost him. (Crosses behind to C.--Music.)
Enter DOCTOR MANETTE, L., hastily, tying up his purse.
Man. There's no satisfying waiters! Five francs I thought very handsome. This storm will blow off, after all. Now for home and Lucy! (Going towards R.)
Bar. (Advancing.) Stop!
Man. (Starting, and thrusting his purse into his pocket.--Aside.) Robbers! and I have no weapons! (Aloud.) What would you?(Putting himself on guard with his cane.)
Bar. We mean you no harm, friend. We would merely ask you if you can tell us where to find Doctor Manette.
Man. Is that all? Why, then, you're not far off the person you seek. I've the honour to bear that appellation.
Bar. How fortunate! Doctor Manette, formerly of Beauvais--the young physician, originally an expert surgeon, who, within the last year or two, has made a rising reputation in Paris?
Man. Gentlemen, I am that Doctor Manette, of whom you speak so graciously.
Bar. We have been sent to your residence, and not being so fortunate as to find you there, and being informed that you were probably walking in this direction, we followed, in the hope of overtaking you. Would you like to earn a large sum of money?
Man. Egad! I think I should, indeed--jump at it!
Bar. Enough! Take this purse, as an earnest of liberality. (Turns up the stage, and beckons on two Servants in livery, R., who bring lock.)
Man. A purse! (Aside.) Well, now, to look at the fellows, I'd have sworn they meant to have taken mine! There's no judging by appearances. (Aloud.) What am I to do for this?
Man. Save a life! (Aside.) I thought they were going to take one!
Bar. Will it please you to follow us, and enter the carriage? (Pointing off, R.)
Man. Gentlemen, pardon me, but I usually inquire who does me the honour to seek my assistance, and what is nature of the case to which I am summoned.
Bar. Doctor, your clients are people of condition, as you perceive. (Pointing to the purse, which he still holds.) As to the nature of the case, confidence in your skill is ample assurance that you will ascertain it for yourself better than we can describe it. But to the purpose. Will you please to enter the carriage?
Man. What, now?
Man. I'm unprepared; I have not my case of instruments with me. Give me your name and address, and I will be wherever you please to appoint as soon as possible.
Bar. We have no time for that. Silence and follow, or--(Seizing him by one arm and showing a pistol--Gabelle also shows one.)
Man. (Aside.) Pistols! What means this mystery? They are not robbers--yet, gracious powers, I am defenceless! Oh, I. . . Lucy, for thy sake I dare not resist! (Aloud.) For pity's sake, gentlemen--"
Bar. Obey, and you're not only safe, but shall be handsomely rewarded--struggle again, and you die!
[Music.--They fling a cloak over him, so as to prevent his seeing, and hurry him out, R., regardless of his cries of "Help! help!"
--An Upper Chamber in a decayed Chateau belonging the Marquis St. Evremonde, outside the Barrier--the room indifferently furnished--some old hangings are nailed up before the windows. An old-fashioned bedstead, beside which is a table on which a lamp is burning, R.--a door, L., and closet near it. Stage dark, but a bright moon, through the holes and openings of the window-hangings, sheds light on the bed. LUCILLE lying on the bed, her eyes dilated and wild, her hair torn and ragged, and her arms bound to her sides with sashes and handkerchiefs.
Enter the MARQUIS and the CHEVALIER ST. EVREMONDE, cautiously, from the side door, R. The Marquis seats himself at table, and takes snuff from a box in his hand in evident indifference--the brother stands on the other side of table.
St. E. I tell you, this course of conduct must be changed. It will bring ruin on you and all of us. Have you thought of my advice?
Marq. Indeed, I have not.
St. E. Think of your last night's exploit--first, the seduction of the sister, and then the murder of her brother.
Marq. Self-preservation required it--the youth was bent upon his ruin.
St. E. And was yonder victim bent upon hers? (Pointing to the bed.)
Marq. No, but I was. As to the crazy dog, her brother--a serf--I was forced to draw upon him, and he has fallen by my sword. We were hand to hand, and I killed him fairly, like a gentleman. Zounds! have I not stated enough?
St. E. Too much!
Marq. (Seriously.) Do you wish me to forget myself?
St. E. (Interrupting him.) Did you hesitate to forget yourself when you imposed upon the innocence of your tenant's child?
Marq. My tenants know nothing of this affair--no one witnessed it but you; and, should it come to light, I have power with the State for pardon.
St. E. Be not over sure of that. Your return to the village has already been the signal for a general departure.
Marq. (Looking off, as door opens, L.) Ha! they come! Here are the servants, with the doctor. (Music.)
Enter BARSAD, through door, with GABELLE, leading in DOCTOR MANETTE, who is blindfolded. They advance to front, C.
Man. Where am I now? Am I never to see the light again?
St. E. Remove his bandage. (They take off the handkerchief, and exeunt by doorway, L.)
Man. Where am I? Who are you?
St. E. Questions are idle. Do what you are commanded, and you will not repent obedience.
Man. That's as it may happen--this is a very suspicious beginning.
St. E. Fear nothing, I tell you. Obey orders, and you shall be safely conveyed back to the spot where you were found.
Man. Quick, then; tell me what I am to do, for my dear wife must be in a fine fidget.
St. E. There is your patient. (Pointing to the bed.)
Man. (Looking around.) Is it a pressing case?
St. E. You had better see--'tis, I fear, fever of the brain. (The Doctor advances to the bedside.)
Man. How long has this lasted?
St. E. Since about this hour last night. (The Doctor releases her arms, and feels her pulse.)
Man. See, gentlemen, how useless I am as you have brought me! If I had known what I was coming to see, I could have come provided. As it is, time must be lost--there are no medicines to be obtained in this lonely place.
Marq. There is a case of medicines here. (Pointing to the closet. Doctor Manette goes to it, opens one or two bottles, and smells the contents.)
Man. Narcotic medicines! poisons in themselves!
Marq. Do you doubt them?
Man. They are so far right in this case that I am going to use them. (Music.--He mixes a draught, which he takes to the bedside--he raises Lucille in his arms, whilst he pours it down her throat--she opens her eyes, and glares wildly round the room.)
Luc. My husband--my father--my brother--blood--murdered! (Falling back.)
Man. She has a husband, a father, and a brother--
St. E. A brother.
Man. I do not address her brother?
St. E. No.
Man. Humph! I don't like the business--I tell you plainly it has a bad look; but I can't help myself, and, if anything is wrong, you will have to answer for the consequences.
St. E. Ay, ay! I take the responsibility upon myself. Doctor Manette, finding my brother in this difficulty, I recommended that your aid should be invited. Your reputation is high, and, as a young man with your fortune to make, you are probably mindful of your interest. What you see here, are matters to be seen and not spoken of. (The doctor appearing lost in thought, St. Evremonde continues.) Do you honour me with your attention, doctor?
Man. Monsieur, in my profession, the communications of patients are always received in confidence.
Marq. For the present, we leave you with your patient. When this delirium subsides, we will return. Bear this in mind--she has brought this fever upon herself--one in her state will talk wildly--(significantly)--as if intoxicated. Take no heed of what she says, and you will find a liberal patron.
Exeunt the Marquis and St. Evremonde by the door, R.
Man. (Aside.) I should rather say it was madness or remorse--intoxication never has such fearful visions of blood and murder. (Lucille raises herself from the bed, and the doctor goes up to her.) At length we are alone, my young patient--I am a physician, and will administer to your wants.
Luc. I do not seek your aid--all will be over soon--the stern glance of my persecutors will no longer follow, to awe and chill me, then.
Man. Let me pray you not to indulge in such fancies--they will kill you.
Luc.. They have well nigh done their work already; I feel death here, here, gnawing like a worm at my heart. And be it so; I do not wish to live--or only to know that my sister is safe. Oh, my sister! They will not tear you from your home, also!
Man. Talk not so sadly--you will soon be better--I am sure you will. I shall soon conquer this malady, I hope.
Luc. You are wrong--the bitterness of death is upon me. I feel his icy clutch, and even my burning heart grows cold. Stranger, should you ever escape the Brothers St. Evremonde--the murderers--why that start?--Should you come across my father, give him this--(handing paper from her bosom)--my dying confession of my shame, and their villainy! Tell him how his daughter perished, and likewise say that my last accents were in prayer for revenge--revenge on these haughty nobles! Tell him to preserve my sister from their clutches! Oh, that pang-- I die! (Falling back, exhausted.)
Man. Poor creature! Would that I had the power to save her!
Luc. (Again slightly raising herself.) But hush! do not let us be overheard, or the lash will leave you in a bath of blood, as it did my brother.
Man. And did they--
Luc. Yes; through love of me he fell, the victim of a murderer!
Man. A murderer!
Luc. Yes: my brother! Oh, to see the blood spouting from his heart! It gushed hot upon me, and made all things seem crimson to my eyes. The sight curdled every vital drop in my frame. It drew from me wild shrieks--they were the maddening peals that precede phrenzy! I have a father--could he have beheld it he would have gone mad, as I did. (Falls back.)
Man. Poor unfortunate! who can she be who has thus fallen a victim to these insatiate aristocrats. Let me raise her, and wipe the clammy damps from off her brow. (Lifts her up.) Oh, merciful saints, she is dead!
(During this exclamation, re-enter the MARQUIS and ST. EVREMONDE, by door R.)
Marq. At last! Congratulate me, brother. Doctor, here is your fee. (Throwing a purse of gold upon the table.) You are now free to depart, but remember this is to purchase silence as to the events of to-night. (The doctor appears confounded.) Well, man, what are you staring at? You look as if you had never seen so much gold before. Take it--'tis yours.
Man. Pray excuse me--under the circumstances, no.
(The brothers exchange significant signs of surprise and alarm.)
Marq. What has produced this strange conduct of yours? Tell us, pray.
(The Doctor casts a look towards them, and then at the dead Lucille.)
Man. Need you ask? (Pointing to the bed.)
Marq. No one can regret this event more than my brother and myself. But remember to whom you speak. (Proudly.) The patronage of a Marquis of France should be very differently requited.
Man. (Shuddering.--Aside.) A Marquis! then he is the Marquis St. Evremonde.
Marq. In what have we offended? what is our crime?
Man. (Greatly exasperated.) Dare you ask--inhuman! Dare you ask what is your crime? Oh, monstrous hypocrisy! Oh, guilt beyond belief!--She is dead--she is dead! and still dare you ask, "in what have you offended?"
St. E. 'Tis in vain that--
Marq. Silence, brother! (With calm dignity.) Hear me, Doctor Manette. 'Tis plain that your senses are disordered, and I therefore listen to these insults without resentment--insults which I have so little deserved from you. But I know well that this injustice proceeds not from your heart, and when the paroxysm of delirium is past---
Man. Delirium! No, no! do not hope it. I see you now in your true colours; in all the horrors of your atrocious guilt! Your hour is arrived; your cup is full, and the abyss already yawns beneath your feet, which within an hour shall bury you in its womb for ever. (Going, L.)
Marq. Yet stay, Doctor Manette! You must not--you shall not leave us thus. What means this talk of guilt--of vengeance? Declare to us what troubles you. I boldly challenge an immediate explanation.
Man. (Furiously.) What! you brave me! Ha! Read--read, then, monster! (Handing him the Letter, which he received from Lucille, but immediately afterwards, becoming aware of his imprudence, he endeavours to regain it.)
Ah! What have I done?
Marq. (To his brother, calmly, after examining the Letter.) Everything is discovered: we are betrayed.
St. E. How?
Marq. What must be done? We are lost!
St. E. But one moment is still ours.
Marq. (To his brother.) There is but one chance of escape--silence. (Advancing to Manette, and in a firm, decided tone.) Those words, in which you threatened our destruction, have assured your own. You have no doubt heard of our beloved monarch's lettres de cachet, and that, though signed by the King, they are often used without his sanction. Every minister and court favourite finds it necessary; to be provided with a certain number, in which a blank is left for the name of the victim. Our dangerous secret must be buried for ever in the dungeons of the Bastille.
(Drawing from his side-pocket a pencil, and writing as he speaks. While so occupied, St. Evremonde rings a bell.)
Enter BARSAD and Servants, by door, L.
Seize him, and bear him hence!
(Dr. Manette, who is struck with consternation, is seized by the servants. The Marquis puts the lettre-de-cachet in the hand of Barsad.)
Man. (Struggling, and calling out.) Inhuman monsters! my wife! my child! Oh, heaven! My friends!--help! save me!
Mar. Stifle his shrieks! Away with him to the Bastille.
(The Servants surround him; a handkerchief is thrown over his face, and he sinks into their arms exhausted--they convey him towards the door, L., followed by St. Evremonde--the Marquis points to Dr. Manette, with a look of triumphant vengeance, at the same time burning the paper in the lamp, and extinguishing the ashes with his foot.)
SCENE I.--Interior of the Wine-House of Ernest Defarge, in the Rue St. Antoine. Counter, R., with wine-bottles, barrels, glasses, cups, &c., large window, L. C., door, C. Under the window a table and form--a small table and two seats, L. C. The scene is backed by a wretched Street, with poles from windows, and ragged clothes hanging from them.
- Commentary on Fox Cooper's July 1860 Dramatic Adaptation of Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities
- Dramatic Adaptations of Dickens's Novels (1836-1870)
Last modified November 30, 2002
Last modified 8 June 2007