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A Tale of Two Cities

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“Behold your papers, Jarvis Lorry, countersigned.” “Here are your papers, Jarvis Lorry. They have been signed and approved.”
“One can depart, citizen?” “We can leave, citizen?”
“One can depart. Forward, my postilions! A good journey!” “You can leave. Move forward,

postilions

a person riding one of the horses in a team drawing a carriage

postilions
! Have a good journey!”
“I salute you, citizens.—And the first danger passed!” “Thank you, citizens!...And we have passed the first threat.”
These are again the words of Jarvis Lorry, as he clasps his hands, and looks upward. There is terror in the carriage, there is weeping, there is the heavy breathing of the insensible traveller. Again it was Jarvis Lorry who said these words. He clasped his hands together and looked up. People in the carriage were terrified and crying, and the unconscious traveler was breathing heavily.
“Are we not going too slowly? Can they not be induced to go faster?” asks Lucie, clinging to the old man. “Aren’t we going too slowly? Can’t we make them go faster?” asked Lucie, clinging to her father.
“It would seem like flight, my darling. I must not urge them too much; it would rouse suspicion.” “It would look like we were running away if we did. We can’t make them go too fast. It would look suspicious.”
“Look back, look back, and see if we are pursued!” “Look back and see if they are chasing us!”
“The road is clear, my dearest. So far, we are not pursued.” “The road is empty, my dear. So far they are not chasing us.”
Houses in twos and threes pass by us, solitary farms, ruinous buildings, dye-works, tanneries, and the like, open country, avenues of leafless trees. The hard uneven pavement is under us, the soft deep mud is on either side. Sometimes, we strike into the skirting mud, to avoid the stones that clatter us and shake us; sometimes, we stick in ruts and sloughs there. The agony of our impatience is then so great, that in our wild alarm and hurry we are for getting out and running—hiding—doing anything but stopping. They passed houses in groups of twos and threes, lonely farms, ruins of buildings, dye works, tanneries, and such. They passed open fields and rows of leafless trees. The road was made of hard, uneven pavement, and there was soft, deep mud on either side. Sometimes they would drive into the mud to avoid the stones that clattered and shook the carriage. Sometimes they got stuck in trenches and marshes. This would make them so wildly impatient that they would want to get out and run or hide—anything but stop.
Out of the open country, in again among ruinous buildings, solitary farms, dye-works, tanneries, and the like, cottages in twos and threes, avenues of leafless trees. Have these men deceived us, and taken us back by another road? Is not this the same place twice over? Thank Heaven, no. A village. Look back, look back, and see if we are pursued! Hush! the posting-house. They left the open fields and were again surrounded by ruined buildings, farms, dye works, tanneries, and such. They saw more cottages in groups of twos and threes and more rows of leafless trees. “Have these men tricked us?” they wondered. “Are they taking us back to Paris by another road? Isn’t this the same place that we have passed twice before? Thank Heaven, no. There’s a village. Look back and see if they are following us! Hush. There’s a posting house.”
Leisurely, our four horses are taken out; leisurely, the coach stands in the little street, bereft of horses, and with no likelihood upon it of ever moving again; leisurely, the new horses come into visible existence, one by one; leisurely, the new postilions follow, sucking and plaiting the lashes of their whips; leisurely, the old postilions count their money, make wrong additions, and arrive at dissatisfied results. All the time, our overfraught hearts are beating at a rate that would far outstrip the fastest gallop of the fastest horses ever foaled. Slowly the four horses were unharnessed. The coach stood casually in the little street without its horses, looking like it would never move again. Slowly the new horses came into view one by one, and slowly the new postilions followed them, sucking and weaving the lashes of their whips. Slowly the old postilions counted their money, add the numbers incorrectly, and become dissatisfied with their pay. All this time, the anxious hearts of the travelers were beating faster than the fastest horses that were ever born could gallop.
At length the new postilions are in their saddles, and the old are left behind. We are through the village, up the hill, and down the hill, and on the low watery grounds. Suddenly, the postilions exchange speech with animated gesticulation, and the horses are pulled up, almost on their haunches. We are pursued? After a while the new postilions got into their saddles and the old ones were left behind. They went through the village, up and down a hill and onto the low, watery grounds. Suddenly, the postilions stopped speaking and started gesturing to each other wildly. The horses were pulled quickly to a stop. Were they being followed?
“Ho! Within the carriage there. Speak then!” “Ho! You inside the carriage. Speak!”
“What is it?” asks Mr. Lorry, looking out at window. “What is it?” asked Mr. Lorry, looking out the window.
“How many did they say?” “How many did they say?”
“I do not understand you.” “I don’t understand you.”
“—At the last post. How many to the Guillotine to-day?” “At the last post. How many did they say were sent to the guillotine today?”
“Fifty-two.” “Fifty-two.”
“I said so! A brave number! My fellow-citizen here would have it forty-two; ten more heads are worth having. The Guillotine goes handsomely. I love it. Hi forward. Whoop!” “That’s what I said! A good number. My fellow citizen here said it was forty-two. There are ten more people than that who deserve to have their heads cut off today. The guillotine works well. I love it.” Then he yelled at the horses, “Forward! Whoop!”
The night comes on dark. He moves more; he is beginning to revive, and to speak intelligibly; he thinks they are still together; he asks him, by his name, what he has in his hand. O pity us, kind Heaven, and help us! Look out, look out, and see if we are pursued. The night turned dark, and the unconscious traveler started to move more. He was beginning to wake up and to speak understandably again. He thought he was still together with Mr. Carton. He called Carton by his name and asked him what he had in his hand. Oh, take pity on them, Heaven, and help them! Look out and see if they are being chased.

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