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A Tale of Two Cities

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“The brothers were waiting in a room down-stairs, impatient to ride away. I had heard them, alone at the bedside, striking their boots with their riding-whips, and loitering up and down. “The brothers were waiting in a room downstairs, impatient to ride away. I had heard them while I was alone at the bedside hitting their boots with their riding whips and pacing up and down.
“‘At last she is dead?’ said the elder, when I went in. “Is she finally dead?” asked the older brother when I went in.
“‘She is dead,’ said I. “‘She is dead,” I said.
“‘I congratulate you, my brother,’ were his words as he turned round. “‘Congratulations, brother,’ was what he said as he turned around.
“He had before offered me money, which I had postponed taking. He now gave me a rouleau of gold. I took it from his hand, but laid it on the table. I had considered the question, and had resolved to accept nothing. “He had offered me money before, which I had avoided taking. Now he gave me a

rouleau

a stack of coins wrapped in a paper cylinder

rouleau
of gold. I took it from him but laid it on the table. I had thought about it before and had decided not to accept anything from them.
“‘Pray excuse me,’ said I. ‘Under the circumstances, no.’ “‘Please excuse me,’ I said. ‘But I can’t accept this under the circumstances.’
“They exchanged looks, but bent their heads to me as I bent mine to them, and we parted without another word on either side. “They looked at each other but bowed to me as I bowed to them. We parted ways without saying another word.”
* * * ***
“I am weary, weary, weary—worn down by misery. I cannot read what I have written with this gaunt hand. “I am tired, tired, tired. I am worn down by suffering, and I can’t read what I have written with this thin hand of mine.
“Early in the morning, the rouleau of gold was left at my door in a little box, with my name on the outside. From the first, I had anxiously considered what I ought to do. I decided, that day, to write privately to the Minister, stating the nature of the two cases to which I had been summoned, and the place to which I had gone: in effect, stating all the circumstances. I knew what Court influence was, and what the immunities of the Nobles were, and I expected that the matter would never be heard of; but, I wished to relieve my own mind. I had kept the matter a profound secret, even from my wife; and this, too, I resolved to state in my letter. I had no apprehension whatever of my real danger; but I was conscious that there might be danger for others, if others were compromised by possessing the knowledge that I possessed. “Early in the morning, the rouleau had been left at my door in a little box with my name written on it. Immediately, I thought anxiously about what I should do. I decided that day to write privately to the minister telling him about the patients that I had been summoned to help and where I had gone. In other words, I told him everything. I knew what influence certain people had at court and that nobles were often beyond punishment. I expected that the matter would never be heard of, but I wanted to relieve my own mind. I had kept the matter a secret from everyone, even my wife, and I decided to say this in the letter. I had no fear of being in any real danger, but I was worried that other people might be in danger if they knew what I knew.
“I was much engaged that day, and could not complete my letter that night. I rose long before my usual time next morning to finish it. It was the last day of the year. The letter was lying before me just completed, when I was told that a lady waited, who wished to see me. “I was very busy that day and couldn’t finish my letter than night. I rose much earlier than my usual time the next morning to finish it. It was the last day of the year. The finished the letter was lying in front of me when I was told that a lady had arrived and was waiting to see me.”
* * * ***
“I am growing more and more unequal to the task I have set myself. It is so cold, so dark, my senses are so benumbed, and the gloom upon me is so dreadful. “I am growing more and more incapable of finishing the task I have set myself. It’s so cold and so dark. My senses are so dulled and I am so dreadfully unhappy.
“The lady was young, engaging, and handsome, but not marked for long life. She was in great agitation. She presented herself to me as the wife of the Marquis St. Evremonde. I connected the title by which the boy had addressed the elder brother, with the initial letter embroidered on the scarf, and had no difficulty in arriving at the conclusion that I had seen that nobleman very lately. “The lady was young and beautiful but didn’t look like she would live long. She was very upset. She told me she was the wife of the Marquis Saint Evremonde. I realized that this was the title by which the boy had addressed the older brother, and that this was what the letter E embroidered on the scarf meant. It was clear to me that I had seen the Marquis Saint Evremonde very recently.
“My memory is still accurate, but I cannot write the words of our conversation. I suspect that I am watched more closely than I was, and I know not at what times I may be watched. She had in part suspected, and in part discovered, the main facts of the cruel story, of her husband’s share in it, and my being resorted to. She did not know that the girl was dead. Her hope had been, she said in great distress, to show her, in secret, a woman’s sympathy. Her hope had been to avert the wrath of Heaven from a House that had long been hateful to the suffering many. “My memory is still accurate, but I cannot write down the exact words of our conversation. I suspect that I am being watched more closely than before, and I don’t know when I might be watched. She had partly suspected and partly discovered the main facts of the terrible story and what part her husband had played in it. She knew that I had been brought to help, but she didn’t know that the girl was dead. She told me that she had hoped to secretly show her a woman’s sympathy. She had hoped to keep the wrath of Heaven from her noble family, which had long mistreated the suffering commoners.

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