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A Tale of Two Cities

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Again the mender of roads went through the whole performance; in which he ought to have been perfect by that time, seeing that it had been the infallible resource and indispensable entertainment of his village during a whole year. The repairer of roads acted it all out again. He ought to have perfected his act by then, since he had been entertaining his village with it for the whole year.
Jacques One struck in, and asked if he had ever seen the man before? Jacques One jumped in and asked if he had ever seen the man before.
“Never,” answered the mender of roads, recovering his perpendicular. “Never,” answered the repairer of roads, standing up straight again.
Jacques Three demanded how he afterwards recognised him then? Jacques Three wanted to know how he was able to recognize him if he had never seen him before.
“By his tall figure,” said the mender of roads, softly, and with his finger at his nose. “When Monsieur the Marquis demands that evening, ‘Say, what is he like?’ I make response, `Tall as a spectre.’” “He was very tall,” said the repairer of roads quietly, with his finger on his nose. “When the marquis asked me that night what the man looked like, I answered, “As tall as a ghost.”
“You should have said, short as a dwarf,” returned Jacques Two. “You should have said as short as a dwarf,” answered Jacques Two.
“But what did I know? The deed was not then accomplished, neither did he confide in me. Observe! Under those circumstances even, I do not offer my testimony. Monsieur the Marquis indicates me with his finger, standing near our little fountain, and says, `To me! Bring that rascal!’ My faith, messieurs, I offer nothing.” “But how was I to know? The deed hadn’t been committed yet. And the man didn’t tell me what he was going to do. Look! Even then, I didn’t offer up my statement. The marquis pointed me out with his finger while I was standing near our little fountain. He says, ‘Bring that rascal to me!’ On my word, messieurs, I didn’t offer up any information.”
“He is right there, Jacques,” murmured Defarge, to him who had interrupted. “Go on!” “He’s right there, Jacques,” mumbled Defarge to the man who had interrupted. “Go on!”
“Good!” said the mender of roads, with an air of mystery. “The tall man is lost, and he is sought—how many months? Nine, ten, eleven?” “Good!” said the repairer of roads mysteriously. “The tall man disappeared. They’ve been looking for him for how many months? Nine? Ten? Eleven?”
“No matter, the number,” said Defarge. “He is well hidden, but at last he is unluckily found. Go on!” “The number of months doesn’t matter,” said Defarge. “He is well hidden, but unfortunately he’s finally been found. Go on!”
“I am again at work upon the hill-side, and the sun is again about to go to bed. I am collecting my tools to descend to my cottage down in the village below, where it is already dark, when I raise my eyes, and see coming over the hill six soldiers. In the midst of them is a tall man with his arms bound—tied to his sides—like this!” “Once again I was working up on the hillside and the sun was about to set. I was collecting my tools to go back to my cottage in the village below where it was already dark. I looked up and I saw six soldiers coming over the hill. In the middle of them was a tall man, and his arms were tied to his sides—like this!”
With the aid of his indispensable cap, he represented a man with his elbows bound fast at his hips, with cords that were knotted behind him. With the help of his cap, he showed them how the man had his elbows bound to his sides with a rope that was tied behind him.
“I stand aside, messieurs, by my heap of stones, to see the soldiers and their prisoner pass (for it is a solitary road, that, where any spectacle is well worth looking at), and at first, as they approach, I see no more than that they are six soldiers with a tall man bound, and that they are almost black to my sight—except on the side of the sun going to bed, where they have a red edge, messieurs. Also, I see that their long shadows are on the hollow ridge on the opposite side of the road, and are on the hill above it, and are like the shadows of giants. Also, I see that they are covered with dust, and that the dust moves with them as they come, tramp, tramp! But when they advance quite near to me, I recognise the tall man, and he recognises me. Ah, but he would be well content to precipitate himself over the hill-side once again, as on the evening when he and I first encountered, close to the same spot!” “I stood there, messieurs, by my pile of stones, and watched the soldiers and their prisoner walk past. The road is isolated so anything that happens there is worth watching. At first, as they got closer, I didn’t notice anything besides the fact that they were six soldiers with a tall man who was tied up. They were silhouetted against the sun, so they appeared only as black outlines, except on the side the sun was setting on, where they were edged in red, messieurs. Also, I could see their shadows on the hollow ridge on the other side of the road and on the hill above it. Their shadows were long and looked like the shadows of giants. Also, I saw that they were covered in dust and that they were kicking up dust as they walked closer. But when they got very close to me I recognized the tall man and he recognized me. Oh, he would have been happy to jump over the hillside again the way he had the night when he and I first met, close to that same place!”

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