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Book the Second: The Golden Thread Chapters 7–9

Summary: Chapter 7: Monseigneur in Town

Monseigneur, a great lord in the royal court, holds a reception in Paris. He surrounds himself with the greatest pomp and luxury. For example, he has four serving men help him drink his chocolate. The narrator tells us that Monseigneur’s money corrupts everyone who touches it. Monseigneur parades around his guests briefly and then returns to his sanctuary. Miffed at Monseigneur’s haughtiness, one guest, the Marquis Evrémonde, condemns Monseigneur as he leaves. The Marquis orders his carriage to be raced through the city streets, delighting to see the commoners nearly run down by his horses. Suddenly the carriage jolts to a stop. A child lies dead under its wheels. The Marquis tosses a few coins to the boy’s father, a man named Gaspard, and to the wine-shop owner Defarge, who tries to comfort Gaspard. As the Marquis drives away, a coin comes flying back into the carriage, thrown in bitterness. He curses the commoners, saying that he would willingly ride over any of them. Madame Defarge watches the scene, knitting the entire time.


Chapter 8: Monseigneur in the Country

The Marquis arrives in the small village to which he serves as lord. There, too, the people live wretched lives, exploited, poor, and starving. As he looks over the submissive faces of the peasants, he singles out a road-mender whom he passed on his journey, a man whose fixed stare bothered him. He demands to know what the road-mender was staring at, and the man responds that someone was holding onto the bottom of the carriage. The Marquis continues on his way and soon comes upon a peasant woman, mourning at a rustic graveside. The woman stops him and begs that he provide her husband’s grave with some stone or marker, lest he be forgotten, but the Marquis drives away, unmoved. He arrives at his chateau and, upon entering, asks if Monsieur Charles has arrived from England.


Chapter 9: The Gorgon’s Head

Later that night, at the Marquis’s chateau, Charles Darnay, the nephew of the Marquis, arrives by carriage. Darnay tells his uncle that he wants to renounce the title and property that he stands to inherit when the Marquis dies. The family’s name, Darnay contends, is associated with “fear and slavery.” He insists that the family has consistently acted shamefully, “injuring every human creature who came between us and our pleasure.” The Marquis dismisses these protests, urging his nephew to accept his “natural destiny.” The next morning, the Marquis is found dead with a knife through his heart. Attached to the knife is a note that reads: “Drive him fast to his tomb. This, from jacques