Summary and Analysis
Chapter 8 - A Hand at Cards
As Miss Pross and Jerry Cruncher enter a wine-shop, Miss Pross screams at the sight of a man about to leave whom she recognizes as her brother, Solomon Pross. Nervous about the attention Miss Pross is drawing to him, Solomon tells her to be quiet, and they leave the shop. Cruncher follows, trying to remember where he's seen the man before. When they reach a dark street corner, Sydney Carton, who has recently arrived in Paris, joins them and identifies Solomon Pross as John Barsad, the police spy from Darnay's trial in England. Carton states that Barsad is now a prison informer and threatens Barsad into going to Tellson's with him. Jerry accompanies the two men after they take a distraught Miss Pross to her home.
At Tellson's, Carton informs Mr. Lorry that Darnay has been arrested again and that Doctor Alexandre Manette was helpless to prevent it. Carton then proceeds to intimidate Barsad, threatening to denounce him to the French authorities as an English spy. The knowledge that Roger Cly, the other police spy from England, is now in France and working as an informer strengthens Carton's case against Barsad. When Barsad protests that Cly is dead, Jerry surprises everyone by insisting that Cly's coffin contained stones and dirt. Barsad gives in and asks Carton what he wants. Carton inquires whether Barsad has access to the prison, and when Barsad says he does, Carton takes him to another room for a private conversation.
A coherent picture begins to emerge from all the seemingly unrelated details of the novel. This cohesion is what makes the plot of A Tale of Two Cities so masterful and sets it apart from Dickens' other novels. In his other books, Dickens would include the spies Barsad and Cly, references to Miss Pross' degenerate brother, and Jerry's alternate occupation, but they wouldn't necessarily progress the main story. However, as will soon be seen, Carton's power over Barsad is essential to the conclusion of the book, and the conversion of all of these minor plot points contributes to the success of the whole.
cavalier a gallant or courteous gentleman; originally, a knight.
spencer a short jacket that ends at the waist.
a cant word a term from the secret slang of beggars, thieves, and the like.
tergiversation the use of evasions or subterfuge.