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A Tale of Two Cities

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Charles Evremonde, called Darnay, was accused by the public prosecutor as an emigrant, whose life was forfeit to the Republic, under the decree which banished all emigrants on pain of Death. It was nothing that the decree bore date since his return to France. There he was, and there was the decree; he had been taken in France, and his head was demanded. The public prosecutor accused Charles Evremonde, also known as Darnay, of being an emigrant. The prosecutor said that Darnay’s life belonged to the Republic of France under the decree that banished all emigrants on pain of death. It didn’t matter that the decree was announced after he had returned to France. All that mattered was that Darnay was here in France and this is what the decree said. He had been captured in France and therefore had to have his head cut off.
“Take off his head!” cried the audience. “An enemy to the Republic!” “Cut off his head!” yelled the crowd. “He is an enemy of the Republic!”
The President rang his bell to silence those cries, and asked the prisoner whether it was not true that he had lived many years in England? The president rang his bell to silence the crowd and asked the prisoner if it was true that he had lived in England for many years.
Undoubtedly it was. Darnay said it was true.
Was he not an emigrant then? What did he call himself? The president asked if that made him an emigrant, and if not, what then did he call himself.
Not an emigrant, he hoped, within the sense and spirit of the law. Darnay said he was not an emigrant, he hoped, as the law defines it.
Why not? the President desired to know. The president asked why not.
Because he had voluntarily relinquished a title that was distasteful to him, and a station that was distasteful to him, and had left his country—he submitted before the word emigrant in the present acceptation by the Tribunal was in use—to live by his own industry in England, rather than on the industry of the overladen people of France. He said because he had given up his title by choice. He didn’t want it, or the position as a marquis. He left France to make his own living in England rather than live off the work of the overworked people of France.
What proof had he of this? The president asked him what proof he had of this.
He handed in the names of two witnesses; Theophile Gabelle, and Alexandre Manette. Darnay handed them the names of two witnesses: Theophile Gabelle and Alexandre Manette.
But he had married in England? the President reminded him. The president reminded him that he had married in England.
True, but not an English woman. Darnay said it was true, but he hadn’t married an English woman.
A citizeness of France? The president asked if the woman was French.
Yes. By birth. He said yes, that she was French by birth.
Her name and family? The president asked her name and who her family was.
“Lucie Manette, only daughter of Doctor Manette, the good physician who sits there.” Darnay answered that her name is Lucie Manette. She is the only daughter of Dr. Manette, the good doctor who is sitting here.
This answer had a happy effect upon the audience. Cries in exaltation of the well-known good physician rent the hall. So capriciously were the people moved, that tears immediately rolled down several ferocious countenances which had been glaring at the prisoner a moment before, as if with impatience to pluck him out into the streets and kill him. The crowd was pleased by this answer, and they cheered Dr. Manette, who was well known as a good doctor. The crowd was so fickle that several ferocious individuals, who had been glaring at Darnay a moment before as if they wanted to drag him out into the street and kill him, were now crying for him.
On these few steps of his dangerous way, Charles Darnay had set his foot according to Doctor Manette’s reiterated instructions. The same cautious counsel directed every step that lay before him, and had prepared every inch of his road. Dr. Manette had instructed Charles Darnay to say these things, hoping they would help get him released. The doctor had also instructed him on everything Darnay needed to do next.
The President asked, why had he returned to France when he did, and not sooner? The president asked why he had returned to France when he did, and not sooner.
He had not returned sooner, he replied, simply because he had no means of living in France, save those he had resigned; whereas, in England, he lived by giving instruction in the French language and literature. He had returned when he did, on the pressing and written entreaty of a French citizen, who represented that his life was endangered by his absence. He had come back, to save a citizen’s life, and to bear his testimony, at whatever personal hazard, to the truth. Was that criminal in the eyes of the Republic? Darnay said he did not return sooner simply because he had no way of making a living in France except by the ways he had given up. In England he made a living by teaching French and French literature. He returned when he did after receiving an urgent letter from a French citizen, who told Darnay that his absence had put the citizen’s life in danger. He came back to save a French citizen’s life and to face the truth, whatever personal danger it placed him in. He asked if that were a crime in the eyes of the Republic.
The populace cried enthusiastically, “No!” and the President rang his bell to quiet them. Which it did not, for they continued to cry “No!” until they left off, of their own will. The crowd yelled enthusiastically, “No!” The president rang his bell to quiet them. It didn’t quiet them, though, for they continued to yell “No!” until they quieted down on their own.
The President required the name of that citizen. The accused explained that the citizen was his first witness. He also referred with confidence to the citizen’s letter, which had been taken from him at the Barrier, but which he did not doubt would be found among the papers then before the President. The president asked the name of that citizen. Darnay explained that the citizen was his first witness. He also referred to the citizen’s letter and explained that the letter had been taken from him at the barrier into Paris, but that he believed it was likely there in the papers that the president had in front of him.

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