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A Tale of Two Cities

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When the newly-married pair came home, the first person who appeared, to offer his congratulations, was Sydney Carton. They had not been at home many hours, when he presented himself. He was not improved in habits, or in looks, or in manner; but there was a certain rugged air of fidelity about him, which was new to the observation of Charles Darnay. When the newlyweds came home, the first person that came to congratulate them was Sydney Carton. They had only been home for a few hours when he showed up. He wasn’t any better-behaved or better in his appearance than he had been before, but he seemed more fit and dependable in a way that Charles Darnay had never noticed before.
He watched his opportunity of taking Darnay aside into a window, and of speaking to him when no one overheard. Mr. Carton waited until he had a chance to take Darnay aside to a window to speak to him privately.
“Mr. Darnay,” said Carton, “I wish we might be friends.” “Mr. Darnay,” said Carton. “I hope we can be friends.”
“We are already friends, I hope.” “I hope that we are already friends,” said Mr. Darnay.
“You are good enough to say so, as a fashion of speech; but, I don’t mean any fashion of speech. Indeed, when I say I wish we might be friends, I scarcely mean quite that, either.” “It’s nice of you to say so, since it is the polite thing to say, but I don’t mean it as mere politeness. Actually, when I say I want us to be friends, I don’t really mean just that either.”
Charles Darnay—as was natural—asked him, in all good-humour and good-fellowship, what he did mean? Naturally, Charles Darnay asked him what he meant.
“Upon my life,” said Carton, smiling, “I find that easier to comprehend in my own mind, than to convey to yours. However, let me try. You remember a certain famous occasion when I was more drunk than—than usual?” “Upon my life,” said Carton, smiling, “it’s easier for me to understand than it is for me to explain. However, let me try. Do you remember the night we went to the tavern together after your trial? When I was even more drunk than usual?”
“I remember a certain famous occasion when you forced me to confess that you had been drinking.” “I remember a certain evening when you made me admit to you that you had been drinking.”
“I remember it too. The curse of those occasions is heavy upon me, for I always remember them. I hope it may be taken into account one day, when all days are at an end for me! Don’t be alarmed; I am not going to preach.” “I remember it too. The consequences of those times haunt me, because I always remember them. I hope that God will take my regret into account when I am judged at the end of my life! Don’t worry, though, I’m not going to preach to you.”
“I am not at all alarmed. Earnestness in you, is anything but alarming to me.” “I’m not worried. When you are sincere it doesn’t worry me at all.”
“Ah!” said Carton, with a careless wave of his hand, as if he waved that away. “On the drunken occasion in question (one of a large number, as you know), I was insufferable about liking you, and not liking you. I wish you would forget it.” “Ah!” said Carton, waving his hand casually as if he were waving away Mr. Darnay’s comment. “On the drunken night in question—one of many drunken nights for me, as you know—I was rudely speaking about whether I liked you or disliked you. I hope you will forget all about it.”
“I forgot it long ago.” “I forgot about it a long time ago.”
“Fashion of speech again! But, Mr. Darnay, oblivion is not so easy to me, as you represent it to be to you. I have by no means forgotten it, and a light answer does not help me to forget it.” “You’re just being polite again! But, Mr. Darnay, it is not as easy for me to forget things as you claim it is for you. I haven’t forgotten it at all, and a casual answer doesn’t help me forget it.”
“If it was a light answer,” returned Darnay, “I beg your forgiveness for it. I had no other object than to turn a slight thing, which, to my surprise, seems to trouble you too much, aside. I declare to you, on the faith of a gentleman, that I have long dismissed it from my mind. Good Heaven, what was there to dismiss! Have I had nothing more important to remember, in the great service you rendered me that day?” “Please forgive me if it was a casual answer,” answered Darnay. “I was only trying to take a minor incident that seems, to my surprise, to bother you too much and put it behind us. I give you my word as a gentleman that I forgot about it a long time ago. Good Heaven, what was there to forget? Didn’t you do a great favor for me that day that I should remember?”
“As to the great service,” said Carton, “I am bound to avow to you, when you speak of it in that way, that it was mere professional claptrap, I don’t know that I cared what became of you, when I rendered it. —Mind! I say when I rendered it; I am speaking of the past.” “I need to tell you that the great favor I did for you was actually just professional nonsense,” said Carton. “I don’t think that I cared what happened to you when I did it. Mind you, I’m saying that that is how I felt back then. I am speaking about the past.”
“You make light of the obligation,” returned Darnay, “but I will not quarrel with YOUR light answer.” “You’re making light of the important thing you did,” answered Darnay. “But I will not argue about your casual answer.”

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