Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Summary Chapter 21

For the third day in a row, people come into the wine shop early to drink the watered down, sour wine. It makes them more morose. Some who cannot afford the drink come still to talk. Monsieur Defarge is absent, leaving his wife in charge of the store. Only the spies take an interest in this.

At noon, Monsieur Defarge enters with a man who is a mender of roads. He introduces the man, whose name is Jacques, to everyone present. He tells them he accidentally ran into the man while walking on the road. Monsieur Defarge asks his wife to give their guest some wine.

After Jacques finishes eating, Monsieur Defarge shows him to his room. The room is the same one that used to house Doctor Manette. He introduces Jacques to three other men, who are also called Jacques. Monsieur Defarge asks Jacques the road mender to repeat his story to the others.

Jacques the road mender had been the man who had noticed someone chained to the bottom of the Monsieur the Marquis’ carriage. He had recognized the man then. Recently, he saw the man apprehended by soldiers. The man was Gaspard, father of the child that had been run down by the Monsieur the Marquis’ carriage. He was taken to the jail, charged with murdering the Marquis. Jacques the road mender had peeked into his cell and saw him there.

The village keeps an eye on him. He was sentenced to death, but there was a petition sent to the king to beg for mercy, claiming the prisoner had been mad with grief. One of the other gentlemen inform Jacques the road mender that Monsieur Defarge was the one that delivered the petition, and all he got for his pains was blows from the soldiers.

Jacques continues the story. He said that the talk in the village was that Gaspard would be executed as an example, to show the fate of serfs who murder their masters. It was rumored that he would be tortured, then drawn and quartered…just like another man had been years before. Another Jacques interrupts, recalling that prisoner, whose name had been Damiens. He had died when Jacques the road mender had been ten years old.

Jacques the road mender goes on to tell how the soldiers came into the village and built a gallows above the fountain where women and children draw water. The prisoner was hung, and his body was left dangling so that it poisoned the water. Jacques the road mender left the village after that, where he came across Monsieur Defarge on the road.

Monsieur Defarge asks him to wait outside while he confers with his colleagues. The men agree that the aristocracy is doomed. Monsieur Defarge plans to take care of their guest. He tells them that Jacques the road mender wishes to see the nobility. The others become alarmed by this. Monsieur Defarge says he plans to show him the nobility, just as you would show a dog its prey that it will one day take down.

Jacques the road mender is content to accept Monsieur Defarge’s hospitality, though he is afraid of Madame Defarge. On Sunday, they take him to Versailles to see the King and Queen with their entourage arrive in carriages. The man shouts and weeps in apparent adoration.

Monsieur Defarge is pleased with his behavior. He says men like Jacques will make these fools believe their lives will last forever. They will become more insolent, and it will all come to an end much more quickly. When the time comes, men like Jacques will take them down.

Charles Dickens