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A Tale of Two Cities

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Twelve gone for ever. Twelve o’clock came and was gone forever.
He had been apprised that the final hour was Three, and he knew he would be summoned some time earlier, inasmuch as the tumbrils jolted heavily and slowly through the streets. Therefore, he resolved to keep Two before his mind, as the hour, and so to strengthen himself in the interval that he might be able, after that time, to strengthen others. He had been told that three o’clock was the hour for the executions. He knew he would be brought out sometime before that, since the tumbrils of condemned prisoners moved through the streets very slowly. Therefore, he decided to think of two o’clock as the important hour, so he could strengthen himself in the meantime and after that time focus on strengthening others.
Walking regularly to and fro with his arms folded on his breast, a very different man from the prisoner, who had walked to and fro at La Force, he heard One struck away from him, without surprise. The hour had measured like most other hours. Devoutly thankful to Heaven for his recovered self-possession, he thought, “There is but another now,” and turned to walk again. Walking back and forth with his arms folded on his chest, he was a very different man from the prisoner who had walked back and forth at La Force Prison. He heard the clock strike one without surprise. The hour had gone past like most other hours. He was thankful to Heaven that he had control of himself again. He thought, “There is just one more hour to go,” and he turned and continued walking back and forth again.
Footsteps in the stone passage outside the door. He stopped. He heard footsteps in the stone passageway outside the door and stopped.
The key was put in the lock, and turned. Before the door was opened, or as it opened, a man said in a low voice, in English: “He has never seen me here; I have kept out of his way. Go you in alone; I wait near. Lose no time!” A key turned in the lock in the door. Before the door opened, or as it was being opened, a man said quietly in English, “He has never seen me here. I have kept out of his way. Go in alone. I’ll wait nearby. Don’t waste any time!”
The door was quickly opened and closed, and there stood before him face to face, quiet, intent upon him, with the light of a smile on his features, and a cautionary finger on his lip, Sydney Carton. The door was quickly opened and closed, and Sydney Carton was standing in front of him, face-to-face. He was quiet and looking at him intently, smiling with his finger to his lips.
There was something so bright and remarkable in his look, that, for the first moment, the prisoner misdoubted him to be an apparition of his own imagining. But, he spoke, and it was his voice; he took the prisoner’s hand, and it was his real grasp. There was something so cheerful and unusual about his expression that at first Darnay thought he was imagining things. But then Carton spoke, and it was Carton’s real voice. He took Darnay’s hand, and Darnay could feel his real grasp.
“Of all the people upon earth, you least expected to see me?” he said. “Of all the people on earth, am I the last person you expected to see?” he said.
“I could not believe it to be you. I can scarcely believe it now. You are not”—the apprehension came suddenly into his mind—”a prisoner?” “I couldn’t believe it was you. I can hardly believe it now.” Darnay was suddenly worried. “You aren’t a prisoner, are you?”
“No. I am accidentally possessed of a power over one of the keepers here, and in virtue of it I stand before you. I come from her—your wife, dear Darnay.” “No. I happen to have some power over one of the guards here. That’s why I am standing here in front of you. Your wife sent me, my dear Darnay.”
The prisoner wrung his hand. Darnay shook his hand.
“I bring you a request from her.” “I bring a request from her.”
“What is it?” “What is it?”
“A most earnest, pressing, and emphatic entreaty, addressed to you in the most pathetic tones of the voice so dear to you, that you well remember.” “It’s a serious, urgent request. She sends it to you in the most pathetic tones of her voice that you love so much and remember so well.”
The prisoner turned his face partly aside. Darnay turned his face to the side.
“You have no time to ask me why I bring it, or what it means; I have no time to tell you. You must comply with it—take off those boots you wear, and draw on these of mine.” “There’s no time to ask me why I bring it or what it means. I don’t have time to tell you. You must agree to it. Take off your boots and put on mine.”
There was a chair against the wall of the cell, behind the prisoner. Carton, pressing forward, had already, with the speed of lightning, got him down into it, and stood over him, barefoot. Carton was as quick as lightning. There was a chair against the wall of the cell behind Darnay, and he had already moved forward and pushed Darnay into it. He stood over him, barefoot.
“Draw on these boots of mine. Put your hands to them; put your will to them. Quick!” “Put on my boots. Grab them and put them on. Quickly!”
“Carton, there is no escaping from this place; it never can be done. You will only die with me. It is madness.” “Carton, there is no way to escape this place. It will never work. You will only be killed along with me. This is crazy.”

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