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A Tale of Two Cities

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“We have so asserted our station, both in the old time and in the modern time also,” said the nephew, gloomily, “that I believe our name to be more detested than any name in France.” “We have used the power of our family’s position, both in the old days and today, to such a degree,” said Darnay unhappily, “ that I think our name is more hated that any name in France.”
“Let us hope so,” said the uncle. “Detestation of the high is the involuntary homage of the low.” “Let’s hope so,” said the uncle. “Hatred of the upper classes is the involuntary respect of the low classes.”
“There is not,” pursued the nephew, in his former tone, “a face I can look at, in all this country round about us, which looks at me with any deference on it but the dark deference of fear and slavery.” “There isn’t a person anywhere in this country who looks at me with respect. They look at me with the fear and submission of slavery.”
“A compliment,” said the Marquis, “to the grandeur of the family, merited by the manner in which the family has sustained its grandeur. Hah!” And he took another gentle little pinch of snuff, and lightly crossed his legs. “That is a compliment to the magnificence of our family, earned by living a magnificent lifestyle. Hah!” The marquis laughed and inhaled another pinch of snuff. He crossed his legs daintily.
But, when his nephew, leaning an elbow on the table, covered his eyes thoughtfully and dejectedly with his hand, the fine mask looked at him sideways with a stronger concentration of keenness, closeness, and dislike, than was comportable with its wearer’s assumption of indifference. The nephew leaned his elbow on the table and covered his face with his hands. The marquis glared at him sideways with a look of sharpness, familiarity, and dislike. The expression didn’t match the attitude of indifference he pretended to have.
“Repression is the only lasting philosophy. The dark deference of fear and slavery, my friend,” observed the Marquis, “will keep the dogs obedient to the whip, as long as this roof,” looking up to it, “shuts out the sky.” “The only philosophy left is oppression! The dark respect of fear and slavery, my friend, will keep the peasants in line as long as this roof blocks out the sky,” he said, looking up at the ceiling.
That might not be so long as the Marquis supposed. If a picture of the chateau as it was to be a very few years hence, and of fifty like it as they too were to be a very few years hence, could have been shown to him that night, he might have been at a loss to claim his own from the ghastly, fire-charred, plunder-wrecked rains. As for the roof he vaunted, he might have found THAT shutting out the sky in a new way—to wit, for ever, from the eyes of the bodies into which its lead was fired, out of the barrels of a hundred thousand muskets. That might not be as long as the marquis thought. If someone had shown him a picture of his chateau a few years later, and a picture of fifty others like it, he might not have been able to tell his house from the other burned, destroyed wrecks. As far as the roof, he might have discovered it blocking out the sky in a new away—shutting it out from the sight of the people who were shot by the bullets of a hundred thousand muskets.
“Meanwhile,” said the Marquis, “I will preserve the honour and repose of the family, if you will not. But you must be fatigued. Shall we terminate our conference for the night?” “Meanwhile,” said the marquis, “I will preserve the honor and faith of our family, if you won’t. But you must be tired. Should we end our meeting for the night?”
“A moment more.” “One more minute.”
“An hour, if you please.” “We can continue for another hour if you want.”
“Sir,” said the nephew, “we have done wrong, and are reaping the fruits of wrong.” “Sir,” said the nephew, “we have done wrong, and we are reaping the benefits of these wrongdoings.”
“WE have done wrong?” repeated the Marquis, with an inquiring smile, and delicately pointing, first to his nephew, then to himself. We have done wrong?” the marquis repeated with a questioning smile, delicately pointing at his nephew and then to himself.
“Our family; our honourable family, whose honour is of so much account to both of us, in such different ways. Even in my father’s time, we did a world of wrong, injuring every human creature who came between us and our pleasure, whatever it was. Why need I speak of my father’s time, when it is equally yours? Can I separate my father’s twin-brother, joint inheritor, and next successor, from himself?” “Our family. Our honorable family, whose reputation is so very important to both of us, but in such different ways. Even during my father’s generation, our family did many wrongs. We hurt every person who came between us and our pleasure, whatever it was. Why am I talking about my father’s time when it is also your time? You are my father’s twin brother. You inherited as much as he did and succeeded as head of this family after he died. How can I separate you from him?”
“Death has done that!” said the Marquis. “Death has separated us!” said the marquis.
“And has left me,” answered the nephew, “bound to a system that is frightful to me, responsible for it, but powerless in it; seeking to execute the last request of my dear mother’s lips, and obey the last look of my dear mother’s eyes, which implored me to have mercy and to redress; and tortured by seeking assistance and power in vain.” “And death has left me tied to a system that is dreadful to me. I am responsible for it but am also powerless in it. I am trying to following through on my mother’s dying request and the look her in eyes, which begged me to have mercy and to make up for past wrongs. I am also tortured by looking for help and power and finding none.”

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