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A Tale of Two Cities

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Charles Darnay felt it hopeless to entreat him further, and his pride was touched besides. As they walked on in silence, he could not but see how used the people were to the spectacle of prisoners passing along the streets. The very children scarcely noticed him. A few passers turned their heads, and a few shook their fingers at him as an aristocrat; otherwise, that a man in good clothes should be going to prison, was no more remarkable than that a labourer in working clothes should be going to work. In one narrow, dark, and dirty street through which they passed, an excited orator, mounted on a stool, was addressing an excited audience on the crimes against the people, of the king and the royal family. The few words that he caught from this man’s lips, first made it known to Charles Darnay that the king was in prison, and that the foreign ambassadors had one and all left Paris. On the road (except at Beauvais) he had heard absolutely nothing. The escort and the universal watchfulness had completely isolated him. Charles Darnay felt that it was hopeless to beg him anymore, and he was also too proud to do so. As they walked on in silence, he couldn’t help noticing how the people seemed to be used to seeing prisoners moving through the streets. Even the children barely noticed him. A few people passing by turned to look at him, and a few shook their fingers at him for being an aristocrat. But otherwise, the fact that a well-dressed man was going to prison was no more special than if a man in work clothes should be going to work. In one narrow, dark, and dirty street that they passed through, an excited speaker was standing on a stool and speaking to an excited audience about crimes against the people of the king and the royal family. The few words that Charles Darnay heard the man say let him know that the king was in prison and that all the foreign ambassadors had left Paris. Except for when he had been in Beauvais, he had heard no news on the road. His escort and the fact that he was so closely watched had isolated him.
That he had fallen among far greater dangers than those which had developed themselves when he left England, he of course knew now. That perils had thickened about him fast, and might thicken faster and faster yet, he of course knew now. He could not but admit to himself that he might not have made this journey, if he could have foreseen the events of a few days. And yet his misgivings were not so dark as, imagined by the light of this later time, they would appear. Troubled as the future was, it was the unknown future, and in its obscurity there was ignorant hope. The horrible massacre, days and nights long, which, within a few rounds of the clock, was to set a great mark of blood upon the blessed garnering time of harvest, was as far out of his knowledge as if it had been a hundred thousand years away. The “sharp female newly-born, and called La Guillotine,” was hardly known to him, or to the generality of people, by name. The frightful deeds that were to be soon done, were probably unimagined at that time in the brains of the doers. How could they have a place in the shadowy conceptions of a gentle mind? He knew now that France was a much more dangerous place for him currently than it had been when he had left England. He knew that danger had come upon him quickly and that things might get more and more dangerous for him. He had to admit to himself that he might not have come if he had known what would happen. And yet his concerns weren’t as ominous as you would think, looking back on it from this happier time. Troubled as his future was, he didn’t know his future. He knew so little about the coming massacre—a horrible massacre that would go on for days and nights and that would taint the gathering time of the harvest with bloodshed—it could have been a hundred thousand years away. The new invention of the guillotine was hardly known by name to him, or the people of France. The terrible things that would soon be done probably didn’t even exist in the minds of the people who would do them yet. How could gentle people imagine such things?
Of unjust treatment in detention and hardship, and in cruel separation from his wife and child, he foreshadowed the likelihood, or the certainty; but, beyond this, he dreaded nothing distinctly. With this on his mind, which was enough to carry into a dreary prison courtyard, he arrived at the prison of La Force. He had expected to be treated harshly and possibly detained. He expected to miss his wife and child. But beyond this, he wasn’t afraid of anything specific. These were his thoughts as he arrived at La Force Prison.
A man with a bloated face opened the strong wicket, to whom Defarge presented “The Emigrant Evremonde.” A man with a swollen face opened a small window in the door of the prison. Defarge told him, “This is the emigrant Evremonde.”
“What the Devil! How many more of them!” exclaimed the man with the bloated face. “What the devil! How many more of them are there?” exclaimed the man with the swollen face.
Defarge took his receipt without noticing the exclamation, and withdrew, with his two fellow-patriots. Defarge ignored the man’s comment and took a receipt from him. He left with the two citizen guards.
“What the Devil, I say again!” exclaimed the gaoler, left with his wife. “How many more!” “I say again, what the devil!” exclaimed the jailer to his wife. “How many more?”

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