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A Tale of Two Cities

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“The crime for which I am imprisoned, Monsieur heretofore the Marquis, and for which I shall be summoned before the tribunal, and shall lose my life (without your so generous help), is, they tell me, treason against the majesty of the people, in that I have acted against them for an emigrant. It is in vain I represent that I have acted for them, and not against, according to your commands. It is in vain I represent that, before the sequestration of emigrant property, I had remitted the imposts they had ceased to pay; that I had collected no rent; that I had had recourse to no process. The only response is, that I have acted for an emigrant, and where is that emigrant? “The crime they have imprisoned me for, former marquis, is treason against the people. I’ll be brought to stand trial in front of the tribunal and executed if you do not help me. They say that I have worked against them for an

emigrant

someone who leaves his native country to live somewhere else

emigrant
. I have been unable to convince them that I was working for them, not against them, according to your instructions. I have been unable to convince them that, before your property was taken away, I paid off the taxes they had stopped paying, that I had stopped collecting rent from them. Their only response to this was that I was acting on behalf of you, an emigrant. They demanded to know where you were.
“Ah! most gracious Monsieur heretofore the Marquis, where is that emigrant? I cry in my sleep where is he? I demand of Heaven, will he not come to deliver me? No answer. Ah Monsieur heretofore the Marquis, I send my desolate cry across the sea, hoping it may perhaps reach your ears through the great bank of Tilson known at Paris! “Oh! You, the former marquis, where are you? I yell out in my sleep ‘Where is he?’” I ask Heaven if you will come and help me. But there is no answer. Oh, you, the former marquis, I have sent this message across the sea, hoping that you will find it at Tellson’s Bank and help me!”
“For the love of Heaven, of justice, of generosity, of the honour of your noble name, I supplicate you, Monsieur heretofore the Marquis, to succour and release me. My fault is, that I have been true to you. Oh Monsieur heretofore the Marquis, I pray you be you true to me! “For the love of Heaven, justice, generosity, and the honor of your noble family name, I beg you, former marquis, to help release me from prison. My crime is that I have been faithful to you, and I pray that you will be faithful to me!
“From this prison here of horror, whence I every hour tend nearer and nearer to destruction, I send you, Monsieur heretofore the Marquis, the assurance of my dolorous and unhappy service. “From this horrible prison, where every hour brings me closer to my death, I pledge my sad faith, former marquis.
“Your afflicted, “Your suffering servant,
“Gabelle.” “Gabelle.”
The latent uneasiness in Darnay’s mind was roused to vigourous life by this letter. The peril of an old servant and a good one, whose only crime was fidelity to himself and his family, stared him so reproachfully in the face, that, as he walked to and fro in the Temple considering what to do, he almost hid his face from the passersby. The letter awoke Darnay’s uneasiness. The fact that his good, old servant, whose only crime was being faithful to Darnay and his family, was in trouble made him feel ashamed. As he walked back and forth in Temple Bar thinking about what to do, he almost hid is face in shame from the people walking by.
He knew very well, that in his horror of the deed which had culminated the bad deeds and bad reputation of the old family house, in his resentful suspicions of his uncle, and in the aversion with which his conscience regarded the crumbling fabric that he was supposed to uphold, he had acted imperfectly. He knew very well, that in his love for Lucie, his renunciation of his social place, though by no means new to his own mind, had been hurried and incomplete. He knew that he ought to have systematically worked it out and supervised it, and that he had meant to do it, and that it had never been done. He knew very well that he had made mistakes. He had acted imperfectly in his handling of his family’s bad deeds and bad reputation, in his resentful suspicions toward his uncle, and in his dislike for France’s crumbling social fabric. He knew that, although giving up his privileged place in society had long been on his mind, the way he had done it was hurried and incomplete because he had fallen in love with Lucie. He had meant to spend more time working it out and supervising it, but had never done so.
The happiness of his own chosen English home, the necessity of being always actively employed, the swift changes and troubles of the time which had followed on one another so fast, that the events of this week annihilated the immature plans of last week, and the events of the week following made all new again; he knew very well, that to the force of these circumstances he had yielded:—not without disquiet, but still without continuous and accumulating resistance. That he had watched the times for a time of action, and that they had shifted and struggled until the time had gone by, and the nobility were trooping from France by every highway and byway, and their property was in course of confiscation and destruction, and their very names were blotting out, was as well known to himself as it could be to any new authority in France that might impeach him for it. He knew that he had been distracted by the happiness of the life he had chosen in England, the necessity of having to work all the time, and the speed with which the troubles came about in France. The situation kept changing, and his plans kept changing with it. He knew that he had given into these circumstances, and though he had been concerned, he had been busy with other things. He had watched the events in France and waited for a time to act. Now it was too late. The nobles were leaving France by every road and highway, their property was being taken away or destroyed, and their family names were being erased. Darnay knew all of this as well as any of the people now ruling France knew it, and those people might hold him responsible for some of it.

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