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A Tale of Two Cities

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“The manner of both was imperious, and they both moved, as these words were spoken, so as to place me between themselves and the carriage door. They were armed. I was not. “They were both intimidating. As they said this, they both moved so that I was between them and the carriage door. They were armed, and I was not.
“‘Gentlemen,’ said I, ‘pardon me; but I usually inquire who does me the honour to seek my assistance, and what is the nature of the case to which I am summoned.’ “‘Excuse me, gentlemen,’ I said, ‘but I usually ask who is seeking my help and what the patient’s illness is.’
“The reply to this was made by him who had spoken second. ‘Doctor, your clients are people of condition. As to the nature of the case, our confidence in your skill assures us that you will ascertain it for yourself better than we can describe it. Enough. Will you please to enter the carriage?’ “The man who had spoken second answered this. ‘Doctor, the clients who need your help are important people. We are confident in your skills and are sure you can decide for yourself what the illness is better than we can describe it. Enough. Will you please get in the carriage?’
“I could do nothing but comply, and I entered it in silence. They both entered after me—the last springing in, after putting up the steps. The carriage turned about, and drove on at its former speed. “I could do nothing but obey, and I got into the carriage in silence. They both got in after me, the last one in jumped in after putting up the steps. The carriage turned around and drove on as fast as before.
“I repeat this conversation exactly as it occurred. I have no doubt that it is, word for word, the same. I describe everything exactly as it took place, constraining my mind not to wander from the task. Where I make the broken marks that follow here, I leave off for the time, and put my paper in its hiding-place. “I repeat the conversation that followed exactly as it occurred. I have no doubt that it is, word for word, the same. I describe everything exactly as it happened and force my mind to stay focused on the task. The broken marks that follow indicate where I stopped writing for the moment and returned my paper to its hiding place.
* * * ***
“The carriage left the streets behind, passed the North Barrier, and emerged upon the country road. At two-thirds of a league from the Barrier—I did not estimate the distance at that time, but afterwards when I traversed it—it struck out of the main avenue, and presently stopped at a solitary house. We all three alighted, and walked, by a damp soft footpath in a garden where a neglected fountain had overflowed, to the door of the house. It was not opened immediately, in answer to the ringing of the bell, and one of my two conductors struck the man who opened it, with his heavy riding glove, across the face. “The carriage drove beyond the city streets, passed the north barrier, and came out onto a country road. At two-thirds of a league away from the barrier, the carriage left the main road and soon stopped at a secluded house. I didn’t estimate the distance then but did so afterward when I returned. The three of us got out and walked along a damp, soft path in a garden, where a neglected fountain had overflowed, to the door of the house. When they rang the bell, the door did not open right away. When a servant finally opened it, one of the two men with me slapped the servant across the face with his riding glove.
“There was nothing in this action to attract my particular attention, for I had seen common people struck more commonly than dogs. But, the other of the two, being angry likewise, struck the man in like manner with his arm; the look and bearing of the brothers were then so exactly alike, that I then first perceived them to be twin brothers. “There was nothing unusual about this, as I had seen common people hit more often than dogs. But the second of the two men, who was also angry, hit the man in the face with his arm. Their look and behavior was so exactly alike that this was when I first noticed they were twin brothers.
“From the time of our alighting at the outer gate (which we found locked, and which one of the brothers had opened to admit us, and had relocked), I had heard cries proceeding from an upper chamber. I was conducted to this chamber straight, the cries growing louder as we ascended the stairs, and I found a patient in a high fever of the brain, lying on a bed. “The outer gate had been locked, and one of the brothers opened it to let us in and then locked it again. From the time we had gotten out of the carriage at the outer gate I heard cries coming from a room upstairs. I was taken straight to this room, and the cries grew louder as we climbed the stairs. I found a patient with a high fever of the brain lying on a bed.
“The patient was a woman of great beauty, and young; assuredly not much past twenty. Her hair was torn and ragged, and her arms were bound to her sides with sashes and handkerchiefs. I noticed that these bonds were all portions of a gentleman’s dress. On one of them, which was a fringed scarf for a dress of ceremony, I saw the armorial bearings of a Noble, and the letter E. “The patient was a beautiful young woman, not much more than twenty years old. Her hair was torn and ragged, and her arms were tied to her sides with sashes and handkerchiefs. I noticed that these ties were all pieces of a gentleman’s wardrobe. On one of them, which was a fringed ceremonial scarf, I saw the coat of arms of a noble family and the letter E.

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