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A Tale of Two Cities

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Sydney Carton paused in the street, not quite decided where to go. “At Tellson’s banking-house at nine,” he said, with a musing face. “Shall I do well, in the mean time, to show myself? I think so. It is best that these people should know there is such a man as I here; it is a sound precaution, and may be a necessary preparation. But care, care, care! Let me think it out!” Sydney Carton paused in the street, unsure where to go. “We’re meeting at Tellson’s Bank at nine o’clock,” he said, thinking it over. “Would it be good to be seen in public in the meantime? I think so. It’s best that people know that a man that looks like me is here in Paris. It’s a smart precaution to take, and it might be necessary to prepare for later. But wait! Let me think it over!”
Checking his steps which had begun to tend towards an object, he took a turn or two in the already darkening street, and traced the thought in his mind to its possible consequences. His first impression was confirmed. “It is best,” he said, finally resolved, “that these people should know there is such a man as I here.” And he turned his face towards Saint Antoine. He had started walking toward his goal, but now he stopped. He turned around once or twice in the street, which was already growing dark. He thought through his plan to see what the possible results might be. His first thought was confirmed. “It’s best that these people know that a man that looks like me is here,” he said, finally deciding. He turned and headed toward Saint Antoine.
Defarge had described himself, that day, as the keeper of a wine-shop in the Saint Antoine suburb. It was not difficult for one who knew the city well, to find his house without asking any question. Having ascertained its situation, Carton came out of those closer streets again, and dined at a place of refreshment and fell sound asleep after dinner. For the first time in many years, he had no strong drink. Since last night he had taken nothing but a little light thin wine, and last night he had dropped the brandy slowly down on Mr. Lorry’s hearth like a man who had done with it. Defarge had described himself that day at the court as the owner of a wine shop in the suburb of Saint Antoine. It wasn’t hard for someone who knew the city well to find his house without asking any questions. Carton found out where it was and came out of those narrow streets again. He ate dinner at an inn and fell fast asleep after dinner. For the first time in many years, he did not drink any strong alcohol. Since the night before, he had drunk nothing but a little light, weak wine, and he had poured his brandy slowly out on Mr. Lorry’s hearth like a man who would never drink again.
It was as late as seven o’clock when he awoke refreshed, and went out into the streets again. As he passed along towards Saint Antoine, he stopped at a shop-window where there was a mirror, and slightly altered the disordered arrangement of his loose cravat, and his coat-collar, and his wild hair. This done, he went on direct to Defarge’s, and went in. It was as late as seven o’clock in the evening when he awoke refreshed and went out into the streets again. As he walked toward Saint Antoine he stopped at a shop window where there was a mirror. He slightly rearranged the messy appearance of his loose

cravat

a scarf or piece of fabric worn around a man’s neck and tied in front

cravat
, the collar of his coat, and his wild hair. Having finished, he went directly to Defarge’s wine shop and went in.
There happened to be no customer in the shop but Jacques Three, of the restless fingers and the croaking voice. This man, whom he had seen upon the Jury, stood drinking at the little counter, in conversation with the Defarges, man and wife. The Vengeance assisted in the conversation, like a regular member of the establishment. There were no other customers in the shop besides Jacques Three, the man with the restless fingers and the rough voice. Jacques Three, whom Carton had seen on the jury, stood drinking at the little counter. He was talking to Monsieur and Madame Defarge. The Vengeance was also talking with them, like a regular visitor to the shop.
As Carton walked in, took his seat and asked (in very indifferent French) for a small measure of wine, Madame Defarge cast a careless glance at him, and then a keener, and then a keener, and then advanced to him herself, and asked him what it was he had ordered. Carton walked in, took a seat, and asked for a small measure of wine in very poor French. Madame Defarge glanced at him carelessly. Then she looked closer and closer, and went over to him herself and asked what he had ordered.
He repeated what he had already said. He repeated his order.
“English?” asked Madame Defarge, inquisitively raising her dark eyebrows. “Are you English?” Madame Defarge asked, raising her dark eyebrows at him questioningly.
After looking at her, as if the sound of even a single French word were slow to express itself to him, he answered, in his former strong foreign accent. “Yes, madame, yes. I am English!” After looking at her, as if he had difficulty understanding even a single French word, he answered in a strong English accent, “Yes, Madame. I am English.”
Madame Defarge returned to her counter to get the wine, and, as he took up a Jacobin journal and feigned to pore over it puzzling out its meaning, he heard her say, “I swear to you, like Evremonde!” Madame Defarge went back to the counter to get the wine. Carton picked up a journal on

Jacobins

a political club formed during the French Revolution

Jacobins
and pretended to read it as if trying to understand it. He heard her say, “I swear to you, he looks like Evremonde!”

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