Summary: Chapter 1: Five Years Later
It is now 1780. Tellson’s Bank in London prides itself on being “very small, very dark,
very ugly, very incommodious.” Were it more welcoming, the bank’s partners believe, it
would lose its status 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.
, employed by Tellson’s as a runner and messenger, wakes up in his
small apartment, located in an unsavory London neighborhood. He begins the day by
yelling at his wife for “praying against” him; he throws his muddy boot 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.
Summary: Chapter 2: A Sight
The bank clerk instructs Cruncher to go to the Old Bailey Courthouse and await orders
. Cruncher arrives at the court, where
, 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 (Louis XVI): namely, 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.
Summary: Chapter 3: A Disappointment
The Attorney-General prosecutes the case, demanding that the jury find Darnay guilty
of passing English secrets into French hands. The Solicitor-General examines
, whose testimony supports the Attorney-General’s case. The cross-examination,
however, tarnishes Barsad’s pure and righteous character. It reveals that he has served
time in debtor’s prison and has been involved in brawls over gambling. The prosecution
calls its next witness,
, whom the defense attorney,
, 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.
Lorry contends that his fellow passengers sat so bundled up that their identities