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A Tale of Two Cities

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“It does not take a long time to strike a man with Lightning,” said Defarge. “It doesn’t take a long time for a man to be struck by lightning,” said Defarge.
“How long,” demanded madame, composedly, “does it take to make and store the lightning? Tell me.” “How long,” asked Madame Defarge calmly, “does it take to make and store the lightning? Tell me.”
Defarge raised his head thoughtfully, as if there were something in that too. Defarge looked up thoughtfully, as if there were some sense in what she had said.
“It does not take a long time,” said madame, “for an earthquake to swallow a town. Eh well! Tell me how long it takes to prepare the earthquake?” “It doesn’t take a long time,” said Madame Defarge, “for an earthquake to destroy a town. Well! Tell me, how long does it take to create an earthquake?”
“A long time, I suppose,” said Defarge. “A long time, I suppose,” said Defarge.
“But when it is ready, it takes place, and grinds to pieces everything before it. In the meantime, it is always preparing, though it is not seen or heard. That is your consolation. Keep it.” “But when it is ready, it takes place and destroys everything in its path. In the meantime, it is always growing, although no one sees or hears it. Take comfort in that.”
She tied a knot with flashing eyes, as if it throttled a foe. She tied a coin into a knot with a fierce look in her eyes, as if she were strangling an enemy.
“I tell thee,” said madame, extending her right hand, for emphasis, “that although it is a long time on the road, it is on the road and coming. I tell thee it never retreats, and never stops. I tell thee it is always advancing. Look around and consider the lives of all the world that we know, consider the faces of all the world that we know, consider the rage and discontent to which the Jacquerie addresses itself with more and more of certainty every hour. Can such things last? Bah! I mock you.” “I tell you,” said Madame Defarge, reaching out her right hand for emphasis, “ that although it is taking a long time, it is on its way. I tell you that revenge never turns back and never stops. I tell you that it is always moving forward. Look around and think about the lives of all the people we know. Consider the faces, the rage and unhappiness, that the group of Jacques comes closer to addressing every hour. Can such things last? Bah! You’re being ridiculous.”
“My brave wife,” returned Defarge, standing before her with his head a little bent, and his hands clasped at his back, like a docile and attentive pupil before his catechist, “I do not question all this. But it has lasted a long time, and it is possible—you know well, my wife, it is possible—that it may not come, during our lives.” “My brave wife,” answered Defarge, standing in front of her with his head bent down a little. His hands were clasped behind his back, like a submissive student in front of his Sunday-school teacher, “I don’t doubt any of what you are saying. But it’s lasted a long time. It’s possible—you know well that it is—that change might not come during our lifetimes.”
“Eh well! How then?” demanded madame, tying another knot, as if there were another enemy strangled. “And so what?” asked Madame Defarge, tying another knot as if she were strangling another enemy.
“Well!” said Defarge, with a half complaining and half apologetic shrug. “We shall not see the triumph.” “Well!” said Defarge, with a shrug. “We shall not see victory.”
“We shall have helped it,” returned madame, with her extended hand in strong action. “Nothing that we do, is done in vain. I believe, with all my soul, that we shall see the triumph. But even if not, even if I knew certainly not, show me the neck of an aristocrat and tyrant, and still I would—” “We will have helped to cause it,” answered Madame Defarge, waiving her hand for emphasis. “Nothing that we do is wasted. I believe with all of my soul that we shall see victory. But even if we don’t, even if I knew that we would not, show me the neck of an aristocrat who is a tyrant and I would—”
Then madame, with her teeth set, tied a very terrible knot indeed. Then Madame Defarge, clenching her teeth, violently tied another knot in the handkerchief.
“Hold!” cried Defarge, reddening a little as if he felt charged with cowardice; “I too, my dear, will stop at nothing.” “Hold on!” yelled Defarge. He blushed a little, as if he felt she were calling him a coward. “I too, my dear, will stop at nothing.”
“Yes! But it is your weakness that you sometimes need to see your victim and your opportunity, to sustain you. Sustain yourself without that. When the time comes, let loose a tiger and a devil; but wait for the time with the tiger and the devil chained—not shown—yet always ready.” “Yes! But it is your weakness that sometimes you need to see your victim and an opportunity in front of you to keep you going. You need to stay focused without that. When the time comes, let yourself go like a tiger and a devil. But until then, keep yourself in check—always ready to pounce, but hidden where no one can see.”
Madame enforced the conclusion of this piece of advice by striking her little counter with her chain of money as if she knocked its brains out, and then gathering the heavy handkerchief under her arm in a serene manner, and observing that it was time to go to bed. Madame punctuated the end of this sentence by hitting the little counter with her chain of money as if she were beating the counter’s brains out. Then she gathered the heavy handkerchief under her arm calmly and told him that it was time to go to bed.

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