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Summary Chapter 22

The Defarges pass by the chateau of the murdered Monsieur the Marquis. The peasants have been trespassing on the property in search of food and firewood. A rumor has started that the stone faces of the gargoyles that decorate the chateau have changed expression on two occasions. The prideful faces became angry after the murder occurred. When the murderer was hung, the faces looked avenged. This fancy has caused many villagers to run away from the chateau.

Madame Defarge asks her husband what their friend the policeman had to say. Her husband replies the policeman warned that a spy had been sent into their village. It is an Englishman by the name of John Barsad. He gives her a physical description of the man.

Madame Defarge notices that her husband is both tired and depressed. He mourns that the Revolution is still a long time in coming. His wife remarks that it always takes a long time for these things to come. The actual act of retribution doesn’t take long to do, but it takes many years to breed. Things are always in the process of developing, and they don’t happen until they are ready to happen. The Revolution is coming. It never stops or retreats. Things cannot continue the way they are and last. Monsieur Defarge points out that it may not happen in their lifetime. Madame Defarge says they have helped the cause even if they never see it come to fruition. She chastises him for finding solace in seeing the outcome, rather than taking comfort in what is inevitable.

The next day, she is knitting during business hours. A rose is besides her. When a stranger enters, she pins the rose to her dress. The customers respond to the signal and leave.

The stranger is John Barsad. He asks for a cognac and water. He compliments the cognac and her knitting. She replies the knitting is merely a past-time, and she doesn’t know if she will use it.

Two customers enter. They see the rose pinned to her chest. They feign like they don’t see their friend in the establishment and leave. The spy doesn’t notice this. He asks Madame Defarge if she has a husband, children, and whether business is bad. She tells him she has a husband, no children, and of course business is bad when everyone is so poor. He adds that they are also oppressed, but she refuses to agree. She tells him that she just tends to the daily business of her husband’s shop, and she has little time to concern herself over other matters.

He then brings up Gaspard, and how cruel and unjust his execution was. Madame Defarge coolly states that Gaspard knew the consequences of his actions. When one commits murder, one will have to pay the consequences. Barsad mentions that he heard the villagers were very angry over the execution.

Just then, Monsieur Defarge enters. She introduces him. John Barsad calls Monsieur Defarge Jacques, but Defarge tells him that his name is Ernest. Barsad repeats that he has heard that the villagers were angry about Gaspard’s execution. Monsieur Defarge claims he hasn’t seen any indication of that. He asks Barsad if he knows their quarter well. Barsad denies it, but says he would like to—he is very interested in the people.

Barsad brings up Doctor Manette, asking if it is true that the man had been released to Monsieur Defarge. Defarge confirms this is true, as well as the fact that he left with his daughter and Mr. Lorry for England. The spy asks if they hear from the Manettes often. Madame Defarge says they heard of their safe arrival in England, but they haven’t heard from them since.

Barsad reveals that Lucie Manette is to be married to the nephew of Monsieur the Marquis, who goes by the name of Charles Darnay in England. The spy notices that this news upsets Monsieur Defarge.

When the Defarges are convinced that the spy has departed, Monsieur Defarge hopes that Charles Darnay will remain in England if the Revolution does come. Madame Defarge states coolly that his destiny will lead him to his fate. Her husband finds it ironic that the two people they cared for, Doctor Manette and his daughter, are now linked to the nephew of their former enemy. His wife states that stranger things have happened.

Later, Madame Defarge leads a group of ladies who knit. Knitting makes them forget the hunger in their stomachs.

Charles Dickens