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A Tale of Two Cities

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Bestowing a word of promise here and a smile there, a whisper on one happy slave and a wave of the hand on another, Monseigneur affably passed through his rooms to the remote region of the Circumference of Truth. There, Monseigneur turned, and came back again, and so in due course of time got himself shut up in his sanctuary by the chocolate sprites, and was seen no more. As the monseigneur walked to the distant outer rooms, reaching the far region of the Circumference of Truth, he talked and smiled to his worshippers, promising something to one person or waving to another. Then he turned, came back, and eventually went back into his room with his servants. He wasn’t seen again.
The show being over, the flutter in the air became quite a little storm, and the precious little bells went ringing downstairs. There was soon but one person left of all the crowd, and he, with his hat under his arm and his snuff-box in his hand, slowly passed among the mirrors on his way out. After the monseigneur’s show was over, the flutter of people and the ringing of their precious little bells faded and went downstairs. Soon there was only one person left in the crowd. He had his hat under his arm and his snuffbox in his hand, and he slowly walked past the mirrors on the wall on the way out.
“I devote you,” said this person, stopping at the last door on his way, and turning in the direction of the sanctuary, “to the Devil!” He stopped at the last door on his way and turned toward the monseigneur’s chamber. “I send you to the devil!” he said.
With that, he shook the snuff from his fingers as if he had shaken the dust from his feet, and quietly walked downstairs. With that he shook the snuff off his fingers as if he had shaken dust off his feet and walked quietly downstairs.
He was a man of about sixty, handsomely dressed, haughty in manner, and with a face like a fine mask. A face of a transparent paleness; every feature in it clearly defined; one set expression on it. The nose, beautifully formed otherwise, was very slightly pinched at the top of each nostril. In those two compressions, or dints, the only little change that the face ever showed, resided. They persisted in changing colour sometimes, and they would be occasionally dilated and contracted by something like a faint pulsation; then, they gave a look of treachery, and cruelty, to the whole countenance. Examined with attention, its capacity of helping such a look was to be found in the line of the mouth, and the lines of the orbits of the eyes, being much too horizontal and thin; still, in the effect of the face made, it was a handsome face, and a remarkable one. He was about sixty years old. He was well dressed and proud looking, and his face was like an elegant mask—pale and almost transparent, with every feature in it clearly defined, and only one set expression on it. His nose was slightly pinched at the top of each nostril, although it was well formed otherwise. The only change in expression that ever happened in his face occurred in these two little dents. They changed color sometimes, and sometimes they would contract and expand in a slight pulsing. When this happened they made his whole being look cruel and treacherous. His mouth and his eyes were much too thin and flat and added to his treacherous look. But still, it was a handsome and remarkable face.
Its owner went downstairs into the courtyard, got into his carriage, and drove away. Not many people had talked with him at the reception; he had stood in a little space apart, and Monseigneur might have been warmer in his manner. It appeared, under the circumstances, rather agreeable to him to see the common people dispersed before his horses, and often barely escaping from being run down. His man drove as if he were charging an enemy, and the furious recklessness of the man brought no check into the face, or to the lips, of the master. The complaint had sometimes made itself audible, even in that deaf city and dumb age, that, in the narrow streets without footways, the fierce patrician custom of hard driving endangered and maimed the mere vulgar in a barbarous manner. But, few cared enough for that to think of it a second time, and, in this matter, as in all others, the common wretches were left to get out of their difficulties as they could. The man went downstairs into the courtyard, got into his carriage, and drove away. Not many people had talked to him at the party. He had kept a little apart from the rest, and the monseigneur hadn’t been particularly friendly to him. As a result, he seemed to enjoy seeing the common people running out of the way of his horses, often barely avoiding being run down. His driver drove as if he were charging at an enemy, and this recklessness didn’t change the master’s facial expression at all. Complaints had sometimes been heard—even in Paris back then, when no one usually cared about such things—that the upper-class custom of driving hard in the narrow streets without sidewalks endangered and maimed the poor in a barbarous manner. But few people cared enough to think twice about it, and as in every other matter, the poor were left to get out of trouble on their own.
With a wild rattle and clatter, and an inhuman abandonment of consideration not easy to be understood in these days, the carriage dashed through streets and swept round corners, with women screaming before it, and men clutching each other and clutching children out of its way. At last, swooping at a street corner by a fountain, one of its wheels came to a sickening little jolt, and there was a loud cry from a number of voices, and the horses reared and plunged. With a loud rattle and clatter, the carriage rushed through the streets and around corners, disregarding the safety of others in a way that’s difficult to understand now. Women screamed, and men grabbed each other and pulled children out of the way. Finally, as the carriage swooped around a street corner by a fountain, one of its wheels gave a sickening little bump. Several people cried out, and the horses reared up and halted.

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