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A Tale of Two Cities

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“Pray forgive me, Miss Manette. I break down before the knowledge of what I want to say to you. Will you hear me?” “Please forgive me, Miss Manette. I’m crying because of what I’m about to say to you. Will you listen to me?”
“If it will do you any good, Mr. Carton, if it would make you happier, it would make me very glad!” “If it will make you happy, Mr. Carton, I would be glad to.”
“God bless you for your sweet compassion!” “God bless you for being so kind.”
He unshaded his face after a little while, and spoke steadily. After a little while he removed his hand from his face, and he spoke steadily.
“Don’t be afraid to hear me. Don’t shrink from anything I say. I am like one who died young. All my life might have been.” “Don’t be afraid to listen to me. Don’t pull away from what I say. I am like someone who has died young. My whole life is a missed opportunity.”
“No, Mr. Carton. I am sure that the best part of it might still be; I am sure that you might be much, much worthier of yourself.” “No, Mr. Carton. I bet the best is still to come. I’m sure that you might make yourself proud.”
“Say of you, Miss Manette, and although I know better—although in the mystery of my own wretched heart I know better—I shall never forget it!” “That’s nice of you to say, Miss Manette. And although I know it isn’t true, I will never forget it.”
She was pale and trembling. He came to her relief with a fixed despair of himself which made the interview unlike any other that could have been holden. She was pale and shaking, and he tried to soothe her. He was filled with a misery and self-loathing that made the conversation unlike any other.
“If it had been possible, Miss Manette, that you could have returned the love of the man you see before yourself—flung away, wasted, drunken, poor creature of misuse as you know him to be—he would have been conscious this day and hour, in spite of his happiness, that he would bring you to misery, bring you to sorrow and repentance, blight you, disgrace you, pull you down with him. I know very well that you can have no tenderness for me; I ask for none; I am even thankful that it cannot be.” “I am a wasteful, drunken, poor, abused creature. If it had been possible for you to love me, Miss Manette, I would have known that, although I was happy, I would only make you unhappy. I would bring you sorrow and regret. I would disgrace you and bring you down with me. I know that you have no feelings for me, and I don’t ask you to. I am even happy that you don’t.”
“Without it, can I not save you, Mr. Carton? Can I not recall you—forgive me again! —to a better course? Can I in no way repay your confidence? I know this is a confidence,” she modestly said, after a little hesitation, and in earnest tears, “I know you would say this to no one else. Can I turn it to no good account for yourself, Mr. Carton?” “Can’t I help you, even though I don’t love you, Mr. Carton? Forgive me, but can’t I help you put your life on a better path? Can’t I repay your trust in me? I know you are putting trust in me by telling me this,” she said modestly after hesitating a bit, with genuine tears. “I know that you wouldn’t tell anyone else this. Can’t I turn this into something that will help you, Mr. Carton?”
He shook his head. He shook his head.
“To none. No, Miss Manette, to none. If you will hear me through a very little more, all you can ever do for me is done. I wish you to know that you have been the last dream of my soul. In my degradation I have not been so degraded but that the sight of you with your father, and of this home made such a home by you, has stirred old shadows that I thought had died out of me. Since I knew you, I have been troubled by a remorse that I thought would never reproach me again, and have heard whispers from old voices impelling me upward, that I thought were silent for ever. I have had unformed ideas of striving afresh, beginning anew, shaking off sloth and sensuality, and fighting out the abandoned fight. A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it.” “You can’t help me at all. No, Miss Manette. If you will listen to me a little while longer, you will have done everything you could do for me. I want you to know that you have been my last hope. I haven’t been so lost that the sight of you with your father, and of this house that you’ve made into a home, has made me remember things that I thought I had forgotten forever. Since I’ve known you, I have been bothered by a remorse that I thought would never bother me again. I have heard voices encouraging me to be better that I thought had disappeared forever. I have had vague thoughts about starting over again. I have imagined myself giving up laziness and sin and fighting for what’s right in the world. It’s all a dream, of course, that won’t amount to anything. But I want you to know that you inspired me to have these thoughts.”

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