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A Tale of Two Cities

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Probably, Monsieur Gabelle passed a long night up there, with the distant chateau for fire and candle, and the beating at his door, combined with the joy-ringing, for music; not to mention his having an ill-omened lamp slung across the road before his posting-house gate, which the village showed a lively inclination to displace in his favour. A trying suspense, to be passing a whole summer night on the brink of the black ocean, ready to take that plunge into it upon which Monsieur Gabelle had resolved! But, the friendly dawn appearing at last, and the rush-candles of the village guttering out, the people happily dispersed, and Monsieur Gabelle came down bringing his life with him for that while. Monsieur Gabelle must have spent a long night up on his roof, with the burning chateau providing his light, the banging on his door, and the ringing of the alarm bell. Not to mention the fact that on the road in front of his posting house gate hung a streetlamp, which the village wanted to replace with his hanging corpse. It was a stressful situation, to be spending an entire summer night on the brink of death, waiting to jump off his roof! But dawn finally appeared and the candles in the village burned out. The people all left, and Monsieur Gabelle came down from his roof, still alive for the time being.
Within a hundred miles, and in the light of other fires, there were other functionaries less fortunate, that night and other nights, whom the rising sun found hanging across once-peaceful streets, where they had been born and bred; also, there were other villagers and townspeople less fortunate than the mender of roads and his fellows, upon whom the functionaries and soldiery turned with success, and whom they strung up in their turn. But, the fierce figures were steadily wending East, West, North, and South, be that as it would; and whosoever hung, fire burned. The altitude of the gallows that would turn to water and quench it, no functionary, by any stretch of mathematics, was able to calculate successfully. Less than a hundred miles away, there were other fires burning and other local officials who weren’t as lucky as Monsieur Gabelle. That night and other nights, when the sun rose, these officials were found hanging in the once-peaceful streets, where they had been born and raised. Also, there were other villagers and townspeople less fortunate than the repairer of roads and his companions, whom the officials and soldiers defeated and hanged. Regardless, the four fierce figures who had lit the fire were steadily making their way in four different directions—east, west, north, and south—and wherever someone was hanged, fire burned. How many people would have to die to satisfy them no official could say.

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