Skip over navigation

A Tale of Two Cities

Original Text

Modern Text

Both Mr. Lorry and Defarge were rather disinclined to this course, and in favour of one of them remaining. But, as there were not only carriage and horses to be seen to, but travelling papers; and as time pressed, for the day was drawing to an end, it came at last to their hastily dividing the business that was necessary to be done, and hurrying away to do it. Both Mr. Lorry and Defarge thought this was a bad idea and thought one of them should stay. But someone needed to find a carriage and horses and traveling papers. The day was almost over, and they were running out of time. The two men finally decided to divide up these tasks between them, and they hurried off to do them.
Then, as the darkness closed in, the daughter laid her head down on the hard ground close at the father’s side, and watched him. The darkness deepened and deepened, and they both lay quiet, until a light gleamed through the chinks in the wall. As it grew dark, the young woman lay her head down on the hard ground next to her father and watched him. It got darker and darker, and they both lay there quietly until a light shone through the cracks in the wall.
Mr. Lorry and Monsieur Defarge had made all ready for the journey, and had brought with them, besides travelling cloaks and wrappers, bread and meat, wine, and hot coffee. Monsieur Defarge put this provender, and the lamp he carried, on the shoemaker’s bench (there was nothing else in the garret but a pallet bed), and he and Mr. Lorry roused the captive, and assisted him to his feet. Mr. Lorry and Monsieur Defarge had made all the arrangements for the journey. They had brought traveling cloaks and blankets, as well as bread and meat, wine, and hot coffee. Monsieur Defarge put these items, and the lamp he was carrying, on the shoemaker’s bench (there was no other furniture in the attic except for a simple bed). He and Mr. Lorry woke up the old man and helped him to his feet.
No human intelligence could have read the mysteries of his mind, in the scared blank wonder of his face. Whether he knew what had happened, whether he recollected what they had said to him, whether he knew that he was free, were questions which no sagacity could have solved. They tried speaking to him; but, he was so confused, and so very slow to answer, that they took fright at his bewilderment, and agreed for the time to tamper with him no more. He had a wild, lost manner of occasionally clasping his head in his hands, that had not been seen in him before; yet, he had some pleasure in the mere sound of his daughter’s voice, and invariably turned to it when she spoke. No one would have been able to tell from the blank, frightened look on his face what the man might have been thinking. No one would have been able to tell if he knew what had happened earlier, if he remembered what they had said to him, or if he knew that he was free. They tried speaking to him, but he was so confused and slow to answer that they worried he was incoherent and decided to leave him alone. He kept grabbing his head in his hands wildly in a way that he had not been doing before. Yet, he seemed pleased by the sound of his daughter’s voice and would turn toward her when she spoke.
In the submissive way of one long accustomed to obey under coercion, he ate and drank what they gave him to eat and drink, and put on the cloak and other wrappings, that they gave him to wear. He readily responded to his daughter’s drawing her arm through his, and took—and kept—her hand in both his own. In the way of a man used to obeying orders, he ate and drank what they gave him, and put on the cloak and other clothes they gave him to wear. He happily let his daughter link arms with him and held her hand with both of his.
They began to descend; Monsieur Defarge going first with the lamp, Mr. Lorry closing the little procession. They had not traversed many steps of the long main staircase when he stopped, and stared at the roof and round at the wails. They began to go downstairs, Monsieur Defarge going first with the lamp and Mr. Lorry coming last. They hadn’t gone many steps down the long main staircase when the old man stopped and looked around at the roof and walls.
“You remember the place, my father? You remember coming up here?” “Do you remember this place, father? Do you remember coming up here?”
“What did you say?” “What did you say?”
But, before she could repeat the question, he murmured an answer as if she had repeated it. But before she could repeat the question, he mumbled an answer.
“Remember? No, I don’t remember. It was so very long ago.” “Do I remember? No, I don’t remember. It was such a long time ago.”
That he had no recollection whatever of his having been brought from his prison to that house, was apparent to them. They heard him mutter, “One Hundred and Five, North Tower;” and when he looked about him, it evidently was for the strong fortress-walls which had long encompassed him. On their reaching the courtyard he instinctively altered his tread, as being in expectation of a drawbridge; and when there was no drawbridge, and he saw the carriage waiting in the open street, he dropped his daughter’s hand and clasped his head again. It was clear that he had no memory of being brought from the prison to the house. They heard him mumble, “One Hundred and Five, North Tower,” and he looked around, apparently searching for the prison walls that had held him captive for so long. When they reached the courtyard he instinctively changed his stride, as if he were expecting to come upon a drawbridge. When there was no drawbridge and he saw the carriage waiting in the street, he let go of his daughter’s hand and grabbed his head again.

More Help

Previous Next