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A Tale of Two Cities

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“I, Alexandre Manette, unfortunate physician, native of Beauvais, and afterwards resident in Paris, write this melancholy paper in my doleful cell in the Bastille, during the last month of the year, 1767. I write it at stolen intervals, under every difficulty. I design to secrete it in the wall of the chimney, where I have slowly and laboriously made a place of concealment for it. Some pitying hand may find it there, when I and my sorrows are dust. “I, Alexandre Manette, an unfortunate doctor, born in Beauvais and later a resident of Paris, am writing this paper in my cell in the Bastille in December 1767. I write it a few moments at a time, under very difficult conditions. I plan to hide it in the wall of the chimney, where I have slowly and with much difficulty made a hiding place for it. Someone might find it there when my sorrows and I have both died away.
“These words are formed by the rusty iron point with which I write with difficulty in scrapings of soot and charcoal from the chimney, mixed with blood, in the last month of the tenth year of my captivity. Hope has quite departed from my breast. I know from terrible warnings I have noted in myself that my reason will not long remain unimpaired, but I solemnly declare that I am at this time in the possession of my right mind—that my memory is exact and circumstantial—and that I write the truth as I shall answer for these my last recorded words, whether they be ever read by men or not, at the Eternal Judgment-seat. “I write these words with a rusty iron point and with bits of soot and charcoal from the chimney, mixed with my blood. This is December of the tenth year I have been in prison. I have no hope left. I know from warning signs I have seen in myself that I will soon lose my sense of reason, but I swear that at the moment I am in my right mind, that my memory is sharp. As these will be my last written words I swear that what I write is the truth, whether my words are ever read by men on earth or by God on the day of Judgment.
“One cloudy moonlight night, in the third week of December (I think the twenty-second of the month) in the year 1757, I was walking on a retired part of the quay by the Seine for the refreshment of the frosty air, at an hour’s distance from my place of residence in the Street of the School of Medicine, when a carriage came along behind me, driven very fast. As I stood aside to let that carriage pass, apprehensive that it might otherwise run me down, a head was put out at the window, and a voice called to the driver to stop. “One cloudy moonlit night in the third week of December 1757 (I think it was December 22nd), I was walking on a secluded part of the quay by the Seine River to get some fresh air. I was an hour away from my home on the Street of the School of Medicine when a carriage came up behind me moving very quickly. As I stood aside to let the carriage go by, fearing that it might run me over otherwise, someone put his head out of the window and a voice called to the driver to stop.
“The carriage stopped as soon as the driver could rein in his horses, and the same voice called to me by my name. I answered. The carriage was then so far in advance of me that two gentlemen had time to open the door and alight before I came up with it. “The carriage stopped as soon as the driver could slow down the horses, and the same voice called to me by name. I answered. The carriage was so far ahead of me by then that the two gentlemen had time to open the door and get out before I came up to it.
“I observed that they were both wrapped in cloaks, and appeared to conceal themselves. As they stood side by side near the carriage door, I also observed that they both looked of about my own age, or rather younger, and that they were greatly alike, in stature, manner, voice, and (as far as I could see) face too. “I saw that they were both wrapped up in cloaks and appeared to hide themselves. As they stood side by side near the carriage door, I could also see that they both looked to be about my age, or a bit younger. They looked very much alike in size, behavior, and voice and, as far as I could see, in face too.
“‘You are Doctor Manette?’ said one. “‘You are Dr. Manette?’ said one.
“I am.” “I am.”
“‘Doctor Manette, formerly of Beauvais,’ said the other; ‘the young physician, originally an expert surgeon, who within the last year or two has made a rising reputation in Paris?’ “‘Dr. Manette from Beauvais,’ said the other. ‘The young doctor who was an expert surgeon and who has built a good reputation for himself here in Paris in the last year or two?”
“‘Gentlemen,’ I returned, ‘I am that Doctor Manette of whom you speak so graciously.’ “‘Gentlemen,’ I answered, ‘I am the man that you speak of so kindly.’
“‘We have been to your residence,’ said the first, ‘and not being so fortunate as to find you there, and being informed that you were probably walking in this direction, we followed, in the hope of overtaking you. Will you please to enter the carriage?’ “‘We have been to your house,’ said the first man. ‘We didn’t find you there and were told that you were probably walking in this direction. We followed you, hoping to catch up. Will you please get in our carriage?’

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