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A Tale of Two Cities

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“It would be madness if I asked you to escape; but do I? When I ask you to pass out at that door, tell me it is madness and remain here. Change that cravat for this of mine, that coat for this of mine. While you do it, let me take this ribbon from your hair, and shake out your hair like this of mine!” “It would be crazy if I asked you to escape. But do I? If I ask you to go out that door and try to escape, tell me it’s crazy and stay here. Exchange cravats and coats with me. While you do it, let me take this ribbon out of your hair. Shake out your hair so it looks like mine!”
With wonderful quickness, and with a strength both of will and action, that appeared quite supernatural, he forced all these changes upon him. The prisoner was like a young child in his hands. Very quickly and with a physical strength and a mental focus that seemed supernatural, Carton made him do all these things. Darnay was like a young child in his hands.
“Carton! Dear Carton! It is madness. It cannot be accomplished, it never can be done, it has been attempted, and has always failed. I implore you not to add your death to the bitterness of mine.” “Carton! Dear Carton! It’s crazy. It can’t be done. It will never work. People have tried to escape and have always failed. I beg you! Don’t get yourself killed, too.”
“Do I ask you, my dear Darnay, to pass the door? When I ask that, refuse. There are pen and ink and paper on this table. Is your hand steady enough to write?” “Do I ask you, Darnay, to go out the door? When I ask that, you can refuse. There’s a pen, ink, and paper on this table. Is your hand steady enough for you to write?”
“It was when you came in.” “It was when you came in.”
“Steady it again, and write what I shall dictate. Quick, friend, quick!” “Steady it again and write down what I say. Quickly, my friend!”
Pressing his hand to his bewildered head, Darnay sat down at the table. Carton, with his right hand in his breast, stood close beside him. Darnay grabbed his head with his hand in confusion and sat down at the table. Carton had his right hand on his breast pocket. He stood close beside him.
“Write exactly as I speak.” “Write exactly what I say.”
“To whom do I address it?” “To whom should I address it?”
“To no one.” Carton still had his hand in his breast. “To no one.” Carton still had his hand in his breast pocket.
“Do I date it?” “Should I date it?”
“No.” “No.”
The prisoner looked up, at each question. Carton, standing over him with his hand in his breast, looked down. Darnay looked up when he asked each question. When he did, Carton looked down from where he was standing. He still had his hand in his breast pocket.
“‘If you remember,’“ said Carton, dictating, “‘the words that passed between us, long ago, you will readily comprehend this when you see it. You do remember them, I know. It is not in your nature to forget them.’“ “‘If you remember what we said to each other long ago, you will understand this when you read it,’” Carton dictated. “‘You do remember it, I know. It is not in your nature to forget it.’”
He was drawing his hand from his breast; the prisoner chancing to look up in his hurried wonder as he wrote, the hand stopped, closing upon something. He was pulling his hand out of his breast pocket. Darnay happened to look up quickly as he wrote. Carton’s hand stopped and grabbed hold of something.
“Have you written ‘forget them’?” Carton asked. “Have you written ‘forget it’ yet?” asked Carton.
“I have. Is that a weapon in your hand?” “I have. Is that a weapon in your hand?”
“No; I am not armed.” “No. I am unarmed.”
“What is it in your hand?” “What’s in your hand?”
“You shall know directly. Write on; there are but a few words more.” He dictated again. “‘I am thankful that the time has come, when I can prove them. That I do so is no subject for regret or grief.’“ As he said these words with his eyes fixed on the writer, his hand slowly and softly moved down close to the writer’s face. “You will know very soon. Keep writing. There are only a few words more.” He dictated again. “‘I am thankful that the time has come when I can prove them to be true. The fact that I am doing it shouldn’t make you regret it or grieve.’” As he said these words, he looked at Darnay. His hand slowly and gently moved down close to Darnay’s face.
The pen dropped from Darnay’s fingers on the table, and he looked about him vacantly. Darnay dropped the pen onto the table and looked around him, dazed.
“What vapour is that?” he asked. “What is that vapor?” he asked.
“Vapour?” “Vapor?”
“Something that crossed me?” “Did I inhale something?”
“I am conscious of nothing; there can be nothing here. Take up the pen and finish. Hurry, hurry!” “I’m not aware of anything. There can’t be anything here. Pick up the pen and finish. Hurry, hurry!”
As if his memory were impaired, or his faculties disordered, the prisoner made an effort to rally his attention. As he looked at Carton with clouded eyes and with an altered manner of breathing, Carton—his hand again in his breast—looked steadily at him. It was as if Darnay’s memory were failing or his senses were dulled. He tried hard to stay focused. As he looked at Carton with blurred vision and shortened breath, Carton looked back at him steadily. His hand was in his breast pocket again.

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