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A Tale of Two Cities

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He described it as if he were there, and it was evident that he saw it vividly; perhaps he had not seen much in his life. He described it as if he were there, and it was obvious that he saw it all clearly. Perhaps he hadn’t seen much else excitement in his life.
“I do not show the soldiers that I recognise the tall man; he does not show the soldiers that he recognises me; we do it, and we know it, with our eyes. `Come on!’ says the chief of that company, pointing to the village, `bring him fast to his tomb!’ and they bring him faster. I follow. His arms are swelled because of being bound so tight, his wooden shoes are large and clumsy, and he is lame. Because he is lame, and consequently slow, they drive him with their guns—like this!” “I didn’t let the soldiers see that I recognized the tall man, and he didn’t let them see that he recognized me. We did all of it with our eyes. ‘Come on!’ said the leader of the group, pointing to the village. ‘Bring him quickly to his grave!’ At that, they started walking faster. I followed. His arms were swollen from being tied up so tightly, and his wooden shoes were large and awkward. He was limping, walking slowly because of this, and the soldiers were prodding him forward with their guns—like this!”
He imitated the action of a man’s being impelled forward by the butt-ends of muskets. He showed them how the man was pushed forward by the butt ends of the muskets.
“As they descend the hill like madmen running a race, he falls. They laugh and pick him up again. His face is bleeding and covered with dust, but he cannot touch it; thereupon they laugh again. They bring him into the village; all the village runs to look; they take him past the mill, and up to the prison; all the village sees the prison gate open in the darkness of the night, and swallow him—like this!” “As they went down the hill like mad men running a race, the tall man fell. The soldiers laughed and picked him up again. His face was bleeding and covered with dust, but he couldn’t touch it. So they laughed at him again. They brought him to the village, and all the villagers came running to look at him. The soldiers took him past the mill and up to the prison. All the villagers watched the prison gate open in the darkness of the night and the tall man go inside. It looked like the prison gate swallowed him—like this!”
He opened his mouth as wide as he could, and shut it with a sounding snap of his teeth. Observant of his unwillingness to mar the effect by opening it again, Defarge said, “Go on, Jacques.” He opened his mouth wide and then shut it quickly, making a snapping sound with his teeth. Seeing that the man didn’t want to ruin the effect by opening his mouth again, Defarge said, “Go on, Jacques.”
“All the village,” pursued the mender of roads, on tiptoe and in a low voice, “withdraws; all the village whispers by the fountain; all the village sleeps; all the village dreams of that unhappy one, within the locks and bars of the prison on the crag, and never to come out of it, except to perish. In the morning, with my tools upon my shoulder, eating my morsel of black bread as I go, I make a circuit by the prison, on my way to my work. There I see him, high up, behind the bars of a lofty iron cage, bloody and dusty as last night, looking through. He has no hand free, to wave to me; I dare not call to him; he regards me like a dead man.” “All of the villagers left,” continued the repairer of roads. He was on his tiptoes and speaking quietly. “All of them whispered by the fountain. All of them went to sleep. All of them dreamed of the poor man, locked up behind bars in the prison on the hill, and never to come out again except to be executed. In the morning, carrying my tools on my shoulder, eating a bit of black bread as I went, I walked by the prison on my way to work. I saw him there, high up, behind the bars of an iron cage. He was looking out, covered in blood and dust, as he was the night before. His hands weren’t free so he couldn’t wave to me, and I was afraid to call out to him. He looked at me like he were already dead.”
Defarge and the three glanced darkly at one another. The looks of all of them were dark, repressed, and revengeful, as they listened to the countryman’s story; the manner of all of them, while it was secret, was authoritative too. They had the air of a rough tribunal; Jacques One and Two sitting on the old pallet-bed, each with his chin resting on his hand, and his eyes intent on the road-mender; Jacques Three, equally intent, on one knee behind them, with his agitated hand always gliding over the network of fine nerves about his mouth and nose; Defarge standing between them and the narrator, whom he had stationed in the light of the window, by turns looking from him to them, and from them to him. Defarge and the three men looked at one another. Their looks were angry and hate filled as they listened to the man’s story. Although they were secretive, they all had a commanding presence. They looked like three judges. Jacques One and Two were sitting on an old pallet bed, and they both had their chins on their hands and their eyes focused closely on the repairer of roads. Jacques Three, equally focused on the man, was on one knee behind them. He kept running his hand over his mouth and nose. Defarge was standing between them and the man telling the story, whom he had placed in the light of the window. He kept looking back and forth from the repairer of roads to the other men.

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