4th – 5th Period
“A Tale of Two Cities” Book the second CH:1-6 Summary
It is now 1780. Tellson’s Bank in London prides itself on being very small, very dark, very ugly, and very incommodious. Were it more welcoming the bank’s partners believe it would lose its place as a respectable business. It is located by Temple Bar, the spot where until recently the government displayed the heads of executed criminals. The narrator explains that at this time, death was a recipe much in vogue, used against all manner of criminals from forgers to horse thieves to counterfeiters. Jerry Cruncher, employed by Tellson’s Bank as a runner and messenger wakes up in his small apartment located in an little London neighborhood. He begins the day by yelling at his wife for “praying against” him. He throws his muddy boots at her. Around nine o’clock, Cruncher and his young son camp outside Tellson’s Bank where they await the bankers instructions. When an indoor messenger calls for a porter Cruncher takes off to do the job. As young Jerry sits alone he wonders why his father’s fingers always have rust on them.
The bank clerk instructs Cruncher to go to the Old Bailey Courthouse and await orders from Jarvis Lorry. Cruncher arrives at the court where Charles Darnay, a handsome well-bred young man stands trial for treason. Cruncher understands little of the legal jargon but he gleans that Darnay, has been charged with divulging secret information to the king of France that England plans to send armed forces to fight in the American colonies. As Darnay looks to a young lady and her distinguished father a whisper rushes through the courtroom speculating on the identity of the two. Eventually Cruncher, discovers that they will serve as witnesses against the prisoner.
The Attorney-General prosecutes the case demanding that the jury find Darnay guilty of passing English secrets into French hands. The Solicitor-General examines John Barsad, whose testimony supports the Attorney-Generals case. The cross-examination however tarnishes Barsads, pure and righteous character. It reveals that he has served time in debtors prison and has been involved in brawls over gambling. The prosecution calls its next witness Roger Cly, whom the defense attorney Mr. Stryver, also exposes as a dubious untrustworthy witness. Mr. Lorry, then takes the stand and the prosecution asks him if five years ago he shared a Dover mail coach with the accused. Mr. Lorry, contends that his fellow passengers sat so bundled up that their identities remained hidden. The prosecutors then ask similar questions of Lucie, the young woman Darnay, had noticed earlier. She admits to meeting the prisoner on the ship back to England. When she recounts how he helped her to care for her sick father however she seems to help his case yet she then inadvertently turns the court against Darnay, by reporting his statement that George Washingtons, fame might one day match that of George III. Doctor Manette, is also called to the stand but he claims that he remembers nothing of the trip due to his illness. Mr. Stryver, is in the middle of cross-examining another witness, with no result when his insolent young colleague Sydney Carton, passes him a note. Stryver, begins arguing the contents of the note which draws the courts attention to Cartons, own uncanny resemblance to the prisoner. The undeniable likeness foils the courts ability to identify Darnay, as a spy beyond reasonable doubt. The jury retires to deliberate and eventually returns with an acquittal for Darnay.
Doctor Manette, Lucie, Mr. Lorry, Mr. Stryver, and Darnay, exit the courtroom. The narrator relates that Manette has established himself as an upright and distinguished citizen though the gloom of his terrible past descends on him from time to time. These clouds descend only rarely however and Lucie, feels confident in her power…