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A Tale of Two Cities

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He had put up a hand between his eyes and the light, and the very bones of it seemed transparent. So he sat, with a steadfastly vacant gaze, pausing in his work. He never looked at the figure before him, without first looking down on this side of himself, then on that, as if he had lost the habit of associating place with sound; he never spoke, without first wandering in this manner, and forgetting to speak. He raised his hand to shield his eyes from the light, and even the bones of it seemed transparent. He had stopped working and sat there with a steady, empty look. He never looked at the man in front of him without first looking down on this side of himself, then on the other, as if he had forgotten how to tell where sound was coming from. He never said anything without doing this first, then forgetting to speak.
“Are you going to finish that pair of shoes to-day?” asked Defarge, motioning to Mr. Lorry to come forward. “Are you going to finish that pair of shoes today?” asked Defarge, motioning to Mr. Lorry to come forward.
“What did you say?” “What did you say?”
“Do you mean to finish that pair of shoes to-day?” “Do you plan on finishing that pair of shoes today?”
“I can’t say that I mean to. I suppose so. I don’t know.” “I can’t say that I plan to. I guess so. I don’t know.”
But, the question reminded him of his work, and he bent over it again. The question reminded him of his work, and he bent over the shoes and started working again.
Mr. Lorry came silently forward, leaving the daughter by the door. When he had stood, for a minute or two, by the side of Defarge, the shoemaker looked up. He showed no surprise at seeing another figure, but the unsteady fingers of one of his hands strayed to his lips as he looked at it (his lips and his nails were of the same pale lead-colour), and then the hand dropped to his work, and he once more bent over the shoe. The look and the action had occupied but an instant. Mr. Lorry moved forward silently, leaving Miss Manette by the door. After he had stood next to Defarge for a minute or two, the shoemaker looked up. He didn’t seem surprised to see another person, but the shaky fingers on one of his hands moved to his lips as he looked at him. (His lips and nails were both the same pale lead color.) Then he dropped his hand back to the shoes and started working again. This look and action happened in an instant.
“You have a visitor, you see,” said Monsieur Defarge. “You have a visitor, you see,” said Monsieur Defarge.
“What did you say?” “What did you say?”
“Here is a visitor.” “There is a visitor here to see you.”
The shoemaker looked up as before, but without removing a hand from his work. The shoemaker looked up as he had before, but without taking his hand off the shoes.
“Come!” said Defarge. “Here is monsieur, who knows a well-made shoe when he sees one. Show him that shoe you are working at. Take it, monsieur.” “Come!” said Defarge. “Here is a man who knows a well-made shoe when he sees one. Show him that shoe you’re working on. Take it, monsieur.”
Mr. Lorry took it in his hand. Mr. Lorry took the shoe in his hand.
“Tell monsieur what kind of shoe it is, and the maker’s name.” “Tell this man what kind of shoe it is and who made it.”
There was a longer pause than usual, before the shoemaker replied: There was a longer pause than usual before the shoemaker answered:
“I forget what it was you asked me. What did you say?” “I forget what you asked me. What did you say?”
“I said, couldn’t you describe the kind of shoe, for monsieur’s information?” “I said, won’t you describe to this man what kind of shoe it is?”
“It is a lady’s shoe. It is a young lady’s walking-shoe. It is in the present mode. I never saw the mode. I have had a pattern in my hand.” He glanced at the shoe with some little passing touch of pride. “It is a lady’s shoe. It is a young lady’s walking shoe. It’s in the latest style. I’ve never seen the style, but I’ve had a pattern to work from.” He looked at the shoe with a slight hint of pride.
“And the maker’s name?” said Defarge. “And who made it?” asked Defarge.
Now that he had no work to hold, he laid the knuckles of the right hand in the hollow of the left, and then the knuckles of the left hand in the hollow of the right, and then passed a hand across his bearded chin, and so on in regular changes, without a moment’s intermission. The task of recalling him from the vagrancy into which he always sank when he had spoken, was like recalling some very weak person from a swoon, or endeavouring, in the hope of some disclosure, to stay the spirit of a fast-dying man. Now that he didn’t have the shoes to hold onto, he kept wringing his hands and stroking his beard. Every time he finished speaking, the man’s mind would wander off again. Trying to keep his attention was like trying to revive a person who had fainted, or like trying to keep a dying man alive to get information from him.

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