Book the First - Recalled to Life
6. VI. The Shoemaker
"Good day!" said Monsieur Defarge, looking down at the white head
that bent low over the shoemaking.
It was raised for a moment, and a very faint voice responded to the
salutation, as if it were at a distance:
"You are still hard at work, I see?"
After a long silence, the head was lifted for another moment, and the
voice replied, "Yes--I am working." This time, a pair of haggard eyes
had looked at the questioner, before the face had dropped again.
The faintness of the voice was pitiable and dreadful. It was not the
faintness of physical weakness, though confinement and hard fare no
doubt had their part in it. Its deplorable peculiarity was, that it
was the faintness of solitude and disuse. It was like the last
feeble echo of a sound made long and long ago. So entirely had it
lost the life and resonance of the human voice, that it affected the
senses like a once beautiful colour faded away into a poor weak
stain. So sunken and suppressed it was, that it was like a voice
underground. So expressive it was, of a hopeless and lost creature,
that a famished traveller, wearied out by lonely wandering in a
wilderness, would have remembered home and friends in such a tone
before lying down to die.
Some minutes of silent work had passed: and the haggard eyes had
looked up again: not with any interest or curiosity, but with a dull
mechanical perception, beforehand, that the spot where the only
visitor they were aware of had stood, was not yet empty.
"I want," said Defarge, who had not removed his gaze from the
shoemaker, "to let in a little more light here. You can bear a
The shoemaker stopped his work; looked with a vacant air of listening,
at the floor on one side of him; then similarly, at the floor on the
other side of him; then, upward at the speaker.
"What did you say?"