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A Tale of Two Cities

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“She had reasons for believing that there was a young sister living, and her greatest desire was, to help that sister. I could tell her nothing but that there was such a sister; beyond that, I knew nothing. Her inducement to come to me, relying on my confidence, had been the hope that I could tell her the name and place of abode. Whereas, to this wretched hour I am ignorant of both. “She believed there was a younger sister who was still alive, and she wanted most of all to help the sister. I could only tell her that the sister existed. I knew nothing beyond that. She had come to me secretly in hopes that I could tell her their name and where they lived. To this day I don’t know either.”
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“These scraps of paper fail me. One was taken from me, with a warning, yesterday. I must finish my record to-day. “These scraps of paper will get me in trouble. One of them was taken away from me yesterday, with a warning. I have to finish my story today.
“She was a good, compassionate lady, and not happy in her marriage. How could she be! The brother distrusted and disliked her, and his influence was all opposed to her; she stood in dread of him, and in dread of her husband too. When I handed her down to the door, there was a child, a pretty boy from two to three years old, in her carriage. “She was a good, kind lady, and she was not happy in her marriage. How could she be! The brother distrusted and disliked her. Everything he did was in opposition to her. She was afraid of him and afraid of her husband, too. When I led her to the door there was a child in her carriage, a pretty boy between two and three years old.
“‘For his sake, Doctor,’ she said, pointing to him in tears, ‘I would do all I can to make what poor amends I can. He will never prosper in his inheritance otherwise. I have a presentiment that if no other innocent atonement is made for this, it will one day be required of him. What I have left to call my own—it is little beyond the worth of a few jewels—I will make it the first charge of his life to bestow, with the compassion and lamenting of his dead mother, on this injured family, if the sister can be discovered.’ “‘For his sake, Doctor,’ she said, pointing to him and crying, ‘I would do everything I could to make up for this. He will never enjoy his inheritance otherwise. I have a fear that if no one else pays for this wrong, one day he will have to pay for it himself. I will make it the first duty of his life to give what little I have left to this wronged family, with the compassion and sympathy of his dead mother. It’s not more than the value of a few jewels, if the sister can be discovered.’
“She kissed the boy, and said, caressing him, ‘It is for thine own dear sake. Thou wilt be faithful, little Charles?’ The child answered her bravely, ‘Yes!’ I kissed her hand, and she took him in her arms, and went away caressing him. I never saw her more. “She kissed the boy and caressed him and said, ‘It’s for your own sake. You will be faithful to me, won’t you, little Charles?’ The child answered bravely, ‘Yes!’ I kissed her hand and she took him in her arms, and went away caressing him. I never saw her again.
“As she had mentioned her husband’s name in the faith that I knew it, I added no mention of it to my letter. I sealed my letter, and, not trusting it out of my own hands, delivered it myself that day. “Since she had mentioned her husband’s name as if she thought I already knew it, I did not add it to my letter. I sealed my letter. I was afraid to give it to anyone else, so I delivered it myself that same day.
“That night, the last night of the year, towards nine o’clock, a man in a black dress rang at my gate, demanded to see me, and softly followed my servant, Ernest Defarge, a youth, up-stairs. When my servant came into the room where I sat with my wife—O my wife, beloved of my heart! My fair young English wife! —we saw the man, who was supposed to be at the gate, standing silent behind him. “It was December 31st. Near nine o’clock that night a man dressed in black rang the bell at my gate. He demanded to see me and quietly followed my young servant, Ernest Defarge, upstairs. When my servant came into the room where I sat with my wife—oh, my wife, I loved her! My fair young English wife!—we saw the man, who was supposed to be waiting at the gate, standing behind him.
“An urgent case in the Rue St. Honore, he said. It would not detain me, he had a coach in waiting. “He said that there was an urgent case in the Rue Saint Honore. He said it wouldn’t take long. He had a coach waiting.
“It brought me here, it brought me to my grave. When I was clear of the house, a black muffler was drawn tightly over my mouth from behind, and my arms were pinioned. The two brothers crossed the road from a dark corner, and identified me with a single gesture. The Marquis took from his pocket the letter I had written, showed it me, burnt it in the light of a lantern that was held, and extinguished the ashes with his foot. Not a word was spoken. I was brought here, I was brought to my living grave. “The coach brought me here to the Bastille, where I will die. When I was away from the house, a black scarf was tied tightly over my mouth from behind and my arms were pinned. The two brothers crossed the road from a dark corner. They gestured that I was the man they were looking for. The marquis took the letter I had written out of his pocket and showed it to me. He burned it in the light of the lantern he was holding and put out the burning ashes with his foot. They didn’t say a word. I was brought here to my cell. It is like a living grave.

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