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A Tale of Two Cities

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Nor was this the end of the day’s bad work, for Saint Antoine so shouted and danced his angry blood up, that it boiled again, on hearing when the day closed in that the son-in-law of the despatched, another of the people’s enemies and insulters, was coming into Paris under a guard five hundred strong, in cavalry alone. Saint Antoine wrote his crimes on flaring sheets of paper, seized him—would have torn him out of the breast of an army to bear Foulon company—set his head and heart on pikes, and carried the three spoils of the day, in Wolf-procession through the streets. This wasn’t the end of thei day’s bad work. The people of Saint Antoine danced and shouted so much that they were worked into a frenzy again when they heard that Fulon’s son-in-law, another enemy of the people, was coming to Paris guarded by five hundred

cavalry

soldiers on horseback

cavalry
alone. The people of Saint Antoine wrote down his crimes on sheets of paper they waved and captured him. They would have captured him from an entire army to kill him along with Foulon. They put his head and his heart on pikes and carried them the old Foulon’s head, through the streets in a parade.
Not before dark night did the men and women come back to the children, wailing and breadless. Then, the miserable bakers’ shops were beset by long files of them, patiently waiting to buy bad bread; and while they waited with stomachs faint and empty, they beguiled the time by embracing one another on the triumphs of the day, and achieving them again in gossip. Gradually, these strings of ragged people shortened and frayed away; and then poor lights began to shine in high windows, and slender fires were made in the streets, at which neighbours cooked in common, afterwards supping at their doors. It wasn’t until nighttime that the men and women came back to their homes. Their children were crying and hungry, and the poor bakeries were filled with long lines of people who waited patiently to buy bad bread. While they waited hungrily, they passed the time by embracing and reliving the triumphs of the day. Eventually these lines of poor people broke up and they left. Then meager lights began to shine in the windows, and meager fires were made in the streets, where neighbors cooked together, then ate in their doorways afterward.
Scanty and insufficient suppers those, and innocent of meat, as of most other sauce to wretched bread. Yet, human fellowship infused some nourishment into the flinty viands, and struck some sparks of cheerfulness out of them. Fathers and mothers who had had their full share in the worst of the day, played gently with their meager children; and lovers, with such a world around them and before them, loved and hoped. They were small, inadequate dinners without meat or much of anything else, but companionship added to the meal and made them happier. Fathers and mothers who had participated fully in the violence of the day played gently with their children. Lovers, surrounded by such a violent world, loved each other and hoped for the future.
It was almost morning, when Defarge’s wine-shop parted with its last knot of customers, and Monsieur Defarge said to madame his wife, in husky tones, while fastening the door: It was almost morning when Defarge’s wine shop was again empty of customers. Monsieur Defarge told his wife with his hoarse voice while he closed the door:
“At last it is come, my dear!” “It has come at last, my dear!”
“Eh well!” returned madame. “Almost.” “Well, almost,” answered Madame Defarge.
Saint Antoine slept, the Defarges slept: even The Vengeance slept with her starved grocer, and the drum was at rest. The drum’s was the only voice in Saint Antoine that blood and hurry had not changed. The Vengeance, as custodian of the drum, could have wakened him up and had the same speech out of him as before the Bastille fell, or old Foulon was seized; not so with the hoarse tones of the men and women in Saint Antoine’s bosom. The people of Saint Antoine went to sleep. The Defarges slept, and even the woman known as The Vengeance slept with her starved grocer husband. Her drum was silent. Its noise was the only sound that the bloodshed and commotion of the day hadn’t changed. The Vengeance, as owner of the drum, could have gotten the same sound out of it before or after the Bastille fell or old Foulon was taken. But the hoarse voices of the men and women of Saint Antoine had been changed forever.

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