Through such an atmosphere, by a steep dark shaft of dirt and poison, the way lay. Yielding to his own disturbance of mind, and to his young companion's agitation, which became greater every instant, Mr. Jarvis Lorry twice stopped to rest. Each of these stoppages was made at a doleful grating, by which any languishing good airs that were left uncorrupted, seemed to escape, and all spoilt and sickly vapours seemed to crawl in. Through the rusted bars, tastes, rather than glimpses, were caught of the jumbled neighbourhood; and nothing within range, nearer or lower than the summits of the two great towers of Notre-Dame, had any promise on it of healthy life or wholesome aspirations.
At last, the top of the staircase was gained, and they stopped for the third time. There was yet an upper staircase, of a steeper inclination and of contracted dimensions, to be ascended, before the garret story was reached. The keeper of the wine-shop, always going a little in advance, and always going on the side which Mr. Lorry took, as though he dreaded to be asked any question by the young lady, turned himself about here, and, carefully feeling in the pockets of the coat he carried over his shoulder, took out a key.
"The door is locked then, my friend?" said Mr. Lorry, surprised.
"Ay. Yes," was the grim reply of Monsieur Defarge.
"You think it necessary to keep the unfortunate gentleman so retired?"
"I think it necessary to turn the key." Monsieur Defarge whispered it closer in his ear, and frowned heavily.
"Why! Because he has lived so long, locked up, that he would be frightened—rave—tear himself to pieces—die—come to I know not what harm—if his door was left open."
"Is it possible!" exclaimed Mr. Lorry.
"Is it possible!" repeated Defarge, bitterly. "Yes. And a beautiful world we live in, when it is possible, and when many other such things are possible, and not only possible,