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A Tale of Two Cities

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After this odd description of his daily routine of employment, Mr. Lorry flattened his flaxen wig upon his head with both hands (which was most unnecessary, for nothing could be flatter than its shining surface was before), and resumed his former attitude. After this strange description of his work life, Mr. Lorry flattened his blond wig on his head with both hands (which was really unnecessary, since it was already as flat as could be) and continued.
“So far, miss (as you have remarked), this is the story of your regretted father. Now comes the difference. If your father had not died when he did—Don’t be frightened! How you start!” “So far, miss, as you have said, this is the story you have heard about your poor father. This next part is different, though. If your father had not died when he did—Don’t be afraid! What a reaction!”
She did, indeed, start. And she caught his wrist with both her hands. She had jumped and had grabbed his wrist with both her hands.
“Pray,” said Mr. Lorry, in a soothing tone, bringing his left hand from the back of the chair to lay it on the supplicatory fingers that clasped him in so violent a tremble: “pray control your agitation—a matter of business. As I was saying—” “Please,” said Mr. Lorry soothingly. He took his left hand off the back of the chair and placed it on her fingers, which clasped on him in a violent tremble: “Please control yourself. It’s a business matter. As I was saying—”
Her look so discomposed him that he stopped, wandered, and began anew: She looked so upset that he lost track of what he was saying, and started over:
“As I was saying; if Monsieur Manette had not died; if he had suddenly and silently disappeared; if he had been spirited away; if it had not been difficult to guess to what dreadful place, though no art could trace him; if he had an enemy in some compatriot who could exercise a privilege that I in my own time have known the boldest people afraid to speak of in a whisper, across the water there; for instance, the privilege of filling up blank forms for the consignment of any one to the oblivion of a prison for any length of time; if his wife had implored the king, the queen, the court, the clergy, for any tidings of him, and all quite in vain;—then the history of your father would have been the history of this unfortunate gentleman, the Doctor of Beauvais.” “As I was saying, what if Monsieur Manette had not died? What if he had suddenly and silently disappeared? What if he had been taken away? It would be easy to guess what kind of place he was taken to, but what if no one could find him? What if he had had an enemy in France who had such power that even the bravest people were afraid to whisper about him? The power, for instance, to send anyone to prison for any length of time. What if his wife had begged the king, the queen, the members of the court, and the church for any news about him, but with no success? If this were true, then your father’s story would be the same as that of the poor doctor from Beauvais.”
“I entreat you to tell me more, sir.” “I beg you to tell me more, sir.”
“I will. I am going to. You can bear it?” “I will. I am going to. Can you handle it?”
“I can bear anything but the uncertainty you leave me in at this moment.” “I can handle anything but the uncertainty you’re causing me right now.”
“You speak collectedly, and you—ARE collected. That’s good!” (Though his manner was less satisfied than his words.) “A matter of business. Regard it as a matter of business—business that must be done. Now if this doctor’s wife, though a lady of great courage and spirit, had suffered so intensely from this cause before her little child was born—” “You speak calmly, and you are calm. That’s good!” said Mr. Lorry, though his words were more convincing than his behavior. “Think of it as a business matter, a job that must be done. Now if this doctor’s wife, although she was a brave woman, had suffered so much before her little child was born—”
“The little child was a daughter, sir.” “The little child was a daughter, sir.”
“A daughter. A-a-matter of business—don’t be distressed. Miss, if the poor lady had suffered so intensely before her little child was born, that she came to the determination of sparing the poor child the inheritance of any part of the agony she had known the pains of, by rearing her in the belief that her father was dead—No, don’t kneel! In Heaven’s name why should you kneel to me!” “Yes, a daughter. Remember, this is a business matter—don’t be upset. Perhaps, the poor woman had suffered so much before her little child was born that she decided to spare the poor child the same pain by raising her to believe that her father was dead.” Miss Manette kneeled down in front of him. “No, don’t kneel down! In the name of Heaven, why should you kneel down to me!”
“For the truth. O dear, good, compassionate sir, for the truth!” “For telling me the truth. Oh good, kind sir, for telling me the truth!”
“A—a matter of business. You confuse me, and how can I transact business if I am confused? Let us be clear-headed. If you could kindly mention now, for instance, what nine times ninepence are, or how many shillings in twenty guineas, it would be so encouraging. I should be so much more at my ease about your state of mind.” “A—it’s a business matter. You’re confusing me, and how can I do my job if I’m confused? Let’s be clear-headed. Please tell me now, for instance, how much nine times nine pence is, or how many shillings are in twenty guineas. That would make me feel better about your state of mind.”

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