Skip over navigation

A Tale of Two Cities

Original Text

Modern Text

“Did you ask me for my name?” “Did you ask me what my name was?”
“Assuredly I did.” “Yes, I did.”
“One Hundred and Five, North Tower.” “My name is One Hundred and Five, North Tower.”
“Is that all?” “Is that it?”
“One Hundred and Five, North Tower.” “One Hundred and Five, North Tower.”
With a weary sound that was not a sigh, nor a groan, he bent to work again, until the silence was again broken. With a weary sound that wasn’t a sigh or a groan he resumed working, until the silence was broken again.
“You are not a shoemaker by trade?” said Mr. Lorry, looking steadfastly at him. “You’re not a professional shoemaker, are you?” asked Mr. Lorry, staring at him.
His haggard eyes turned to Defarge as if he would have transferred the question to him: but as no help came from that quarter, they turned back on the questioner when they had sought the ground. The man looked wearily at Defarge as if he wanted him to answer the question for him. When Defarge didn’t respond, the man looked at the ground and then back at Mr. Lorry.
“I am not a shoemaker by trade? No, I was not a shoemaker by trade. I-I learnt it here. I taught myself. I asked leave to—” “Am I professional shoemaker? No, I was not a professional shoemaker. I-I learned how to make shoes here. I taught myself. I asked permission to…”
He lapsed away, even for minutes, ringing those measured changes on his hands the whole time. His eyes came slowly back, at last, to the face from which they had wandered; when they rested on it, he started, and resumed, in the manner of a sleeper that moment awake, reverting to a subject of last night. He stared off for a few minutes, wringing his hands the whole time. Slowly he looked back toward Mr. Lorry. When he looked at him he flinched and started up again as if he had just been woken up and was continuing a conversation from the night before.
“I asked leave to teach myself, and I got it with much difficulty after a long while, and I have made shoes ever since.” “I asked permission to teach myself, and after fighting with them a long time they let me. I have been making shoes ever since. “
As he held out his hand for the shoe that had been taken from him, Mr. Lorry said, still looking steadfastly in his face: He held out a hand for the shoe that Mr. Lorry was holding. Mr. Lorry was still staring at him.
“Monsieur Manette, do you remember nothing of me?” “Monsieur Manette, don’t you remember me?” asked Mr. Lorry.
The shoe dropped to the ground, and he sat looking fixedly at the questioner. Monsieur Manette dropped the shoe and sat staring at Mr. Lorry.
“Monsieur Manette”; Mr. Lorry laid his hand upon Defarge’s arm; “do you remember nothing of this man? Look at him. Look at me. Is there no old banker, no old business, no old servant, no old time, rising in your mind, Monsieur Manette?” Mr. Lorry put his hand on Defarge’s arm. “Monsieur Manette,” Mr. Lorry said, laying his hand upon Defarge’s arm, “don’t you remember this man? Look at him. Look at me. Do you not remember an old banker? Some old business? An old servant? A time long ago, Monsieur Manette?”
As the captive of many years sat looking fixedly, by turns, at Mr. Lorry and at Defarge, some long obliterated marks of an actively intent intelligence in the middle of the forehead, gradually forced themselves through the black mist that had fallen on him. They were overclouded again, they were fainter, they were gone; but they had been there. And so exactly was the expression repeated on the fair young face of her who had crept along the wall to a point where she could see him, and where she now stood looking at him, with hands which at first had been only raised in frightened compassion, if not even to keep him off and shut out the sight of him, but which were now extending towards him, trembling with eagerness to lay the spectral face upon her warm young breast, and love it back to life and hope—so exactly was the expression repeated (though in stronger characters) on her fair young face, that it looked as though it had passed like a moving light, from him to her. As the man who’d been imprisoned for many years sat looking intently at Mr. Lorry and Defarge, some signs of intelligence that had been hidden for a long time started to break through. They were cloudy and weak and they came and went, but they were there. The young woman had crept along the wall to where she could see him. The exact same expression that was on the old man’s face was on her face. She stood there looking at him. At first she had raised her hands in fear, to keep him away or hide him from her sight. Now she was reaching out toward him, trembling eagerly to embrace the poor man and give him life and hope with her love. The expression on her pretty, young face was so much like the one on his (though stronger on hers) that it looked as if it had been passed like a beam of light from his face to hers.
Darkness had fatten on him in its place. He looked at the two, less and less attentively, and his eyes in gloomy abstraction sought the ground and looked about him in the old way. Finally, with a deep long sigh, he took the shoe up, and resumed his work. His mind clouded over again. He looked at the two men with less and less understanding, and his eyes wandered back to the ground the way they had before. Finally, sighing deeply, he picked up the shoe and went back to work.

More Help

Previous Next