It's now 1792. In the three years that have passed, there have been battles and bloodshed. The French nobility has scattered. Many French aristocrats have become emigrants, fleeing France for London where they gather at Tellson's Bank for news.
Though both London and Paris teetered on the edge of revolt at the beginning of the novel, only France has fallen into revolution.
Inside the bank, Charles is trying to talk Mr. Lorry out of his latest mission: going to the Paris branch of the bank to protect whatever bank documents he can. The aged Mr. Lorry is apparently the youngest clerk at the bank, and he plans to take Jerry Cruncher for protection. He will leave that night.
Charles may have democratic sympathies, but Tellson's Bank is invested in old money and aims to preserve it. This makes Mr. Lorry's political and moral positions in the book ambiguous.
Just then, Mr. Lorry is given a letter addressed to the "Marquis St. Evrémonde." Not knowing such a person, he asks the assembled French nobles. They declare the man a coward who betrayed his noble family. Though insulted, Charles does not respond. Instead, he tells Mr. Lorry that he is an acquaintance of the Marquis and will deliver the letter.
Although the nobles are wrong about him, Charles has not demonstrated to France what kind of man he is. Because he ran from his past rather than confronting it, the nobles and the commoners despise him.
The letter is from Gabelle. He was arrested, brought to Paris, and charged with treason for helping an emigrant, Charles Evrémonde. Gabelle writes that the peasants neither know nor care that he in fact was trying to help them, working on Charles's orders. He begs Charles to come save his life.
Gabelle was trying to help the commoners on Charles's behalf. But the revolutionaries no longer care about the truth. They just want to kill aristocrats. Charles now gets an opportunity to restore Gabelle to life.
Charles realizes that he must go to Paris. His sense of justice obliges him to help Gabelle. He also thinks he can do something to stop the Revolution's terrible violence and urge the people toward mercy. The narrator describes Charles as being drawn to Paris as to a Loadstone Rock (a naturally magnetic rock).
Charles wrongly thinks one man can influence history, or sway the mob. In fact, the reference to the magnetic "loadstone" suggests that even the choice to return is not really Charles's own, that his past has fated him to go back.
Charles gives Mr. Lorry a reply to send to Gabelle: Evrémonde will come. Charles packs secretly, writes a letter each to Lucie and Dr. Manette, and without telling them leaves for France the following night.
Charles thinks he can do this on his own, not realizing that he will also magnetically pull Lucie and Dr. Manette back to Paris as well.