Miss Pross and Jerry Cruncher must shop in the evening, buying in small quantites at different shops so as not to attract attention, or let people think that they have a lot of money. During the time of the French Revolution, the peasants, who had just overthrown the government which had so long treated them so brutally, wanted to take revenge on anyone whom they perceived to be a member of the aristocracy. In the lawless atmosphere of the times, to do anything which might associate one with the upper classes was to invite imprisonment or death.
When she shopped, Miss Pross used as few words as possible, looking for what she needed on the shelves herself and relying on single words and gestures in her bargaining. This is because she was an Englishwoman, and never learned to speak French very well (Book the Third, Chapter 7).
In Book 3, Chapter 7, Charles Darnay is briefly released from prison. He, Lucie, little Lucie, and her father (Dr. Manette) must live inexpensively, as Charles Darnay had to spend a great deal of his money while he was in prison on bad food, his guard, and the other prisoners' food. Miss Pross and Jerry Cruncher carry out the household's shopping. Mr. Cruncher carries the basket, while Miss Pross carries the money. They buy their goods at night in very small quantities and at a variety of stores to avoid being noticed and envied by other people. Miss Pross and Jerry Cruncher do not know French, so they just mention the name of what they want, or Miss Pross grabs it and retains it until she pays for it. Her method of bargaining is to hold up one less finger than what the shopkeeper holds up.