Skip over navigation

A Tale of Two Cities

Original Text

Modern Text

Mr. Lorry waited until ten; but, Doctor Manette not returning, and he being unwilling to leave Lucie any longer, it was arranged that he should go back to her, and come to the banking-house again at midnight. In the meanwhile, Carton would wait alone by the fire for the Doctor. Mr. Lorry waited until ten o’clock, and Dr. Manette still hadn’t returned. He didn’t want to leave Lucie alone any longer, so they decided he would go back to Lucie and return to the bank again at midnight. In the meantime, Carton would wait for the doctor alone by the fire.
He waited and waited, and the clock struck twelve; but Doctor Manette did not come back. Mr. Lorry returned, and found no tidings of him, and brought none. Where could he be? Carton waited and waited. The clock struck twelve, and Dr. Manette had still not come back. Mr. Lorry returned and learned that no one had heard from the doctor. He had brought no news of him either. Where could he be?
They were discussing this question, and were almost building up some weak structure of hope on his prolonged absence, when they heard him on the stairs. The instant he entered the room, it was plain that all was lost. They were discussing this question, and were starting to believe his absence might mean he'd had some success, when they heard him coming up the stairs. As soon as he entered the room, it was obvious that there was no hope.
Whether he had really been to any one, or whether he had been all that time traversing the streets, was never known. As he stood staring at them, they asked him no question, for his face told them everything. They never learned whether he had really been to see anyone or whether he had been out walking the streets the whole time. He stood there staring at them, and they didn’t ask him any questions. The expression on his face told them everything.
“I cannot find it,” said he, “and I must have it. Where is it?” “I can’t find it,” he said. “And I need it. Where is it?”
His head and throat were bare, and, as he spoke with a helpless look straying all around, he took his coat off, and let it drop on the floor. His head and throat were bare. He looked around the room distractedly as he spoke, took his coat off, and let it drop on the floor.
“Where is my bench? I have been looking everywhere for my bench, and I can’t find it. What have they done with my work? Time presses: I must finish those shoes.” “Where is my bench? I’ve been looking everywhere for my bench, and I can’t find it. What have they done with the shoes I was working on? I’m running out of time. I must finish those shoes.”
They looked at one another, and their hearts died within them. Carton and Mr. Lorry looked at each other, devastated.
“Come, come!” said he, in a whimpering miserable way; “let me get to work. Give me my work.” “Come, come!” he said, whimpering miserably. “Let me get to work. Give me my work.”
Receiving no answer, he tore his hair, and beat his feet upon the ground, like a distracted child. When he didn’t get an answer he tore at his hair and pounded his feet on the floor like an angry child.
“Don’t torture a poor forlorn wretch,” he implored them, with a dreadful cry; “but give me my work! What is to become of us, if those shoes are not done to-night?” “Don’t torture a poor, sad wretch,” he begged them, screaming. “Give me my work! What will happen to us if I don’t finish those shoes tonight?”
Lost, utterly lost! All was lost!
It was so clearly beyond hope to reason with him, or try to restore him, that—as if by agreement—they each put a hand upon his shoulder, and soothed him to sit down before the fire, with a promise that he should have his work presently. He sank into the chair, and brooded over the embers, and shed tears. As if all that had happened since the garret time were a momentary fancy, or a dream, Mr. Lorry saw him shrink into the exact figure that Defarge had had in keeping. It was clear that there was no point in reasoning with him or trying to revive him. Carton and Mr. Lorry both put a hand on his shoulder as if they had agreed to do so. They told him soothingly to sit down in front of the fire, and they promised him that he would have his work soon. He sank into the chair, staring into the embers, and started to cry. It was as if everything that had happened since he had been making shoes in the attic in Saint Antoine had been a dream. Mr. Lorry saw the doctor shrink into the exact same man that Defarge had kept at his shop.
Affected, and impressed with terror as they both were, by this spectacle of ruin, it was not a time to yield to such emotions. His lonely daughter, bereft of her final hope and reliance, appealed to them both too strongly. Again, as if by agreement, they looked at one another with one meaning in their faces. Carton was the first to speak: Carton and Mr. Lorry were both terrified to see him in such horrible shape, but it wasn’t the time to give in to such emotions. They both thought of Lucie. She had now lost the only person whom she could rely on and who could give her hope. Again, as if they had agreed to do so, they looked at each other and knew what they needed to do. Carton spoke first:
“The last chance is gone: it was not much. Yes; he had better be taken to her. But, before you go, will you, for a moment, steadily attend to me? Don’t ask me why I make the stipulations I am going to make, and exact the promise I am going to exact; I have a reason—a good one.” “We have lost our last chance. It wasn’t much. Yes. We had better take Dr. Manette to see Lucie. But before you go, will you listen to me for a moment? Don’t ask me why I demand the conditions I am about to make, or why I demand the promise I am going to ask. I have a good reason.”

More Help

Previous Next