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A Tale of Two Cities

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The Doctor had taken care that it should be there—had assured him that it would be there—and at this stage of the proceedings it was produced and read. Citizen Gabelle was called to confirm it, and did so. Citizen Gabelle hinted, with infinite delicacy and politeness, that in the pressure of business imposed on the Tribunal by the multitude of enemies of the Republic with which it had to deal, he had been slightly overlooked in his prison of the Abbaye—in fact, had rather passed out of the Tribunal’s patriotic remembrance—until three days ago; when he had been summoned before it, and had been set at liberty on the Jury’s declaring themselves satisfied that the accusation against him was answered, as to himself, by the surrender of the citizen Evremonde, called Darnay. The doctor had made sure that the letter was there. He had assured Darnay that it would definitely be there. Now it was taken out and read, and they called Citizen Gabelle to the stand to confirm the letter. He did so. Citizen Gabelle hinted delicately and politely that since the tribunal was so busy dealing with the many enemies of the Republic, he had been overlooked in Abbaye Prison. In fact, the tribunal had forgotten him entirely until three days ago, when he had been called in front of the court. The jury had released him when they decided that his accusation had been resolved when citizen Evremonde, also known as Darnay, had been captured.
Doctor Manette was next questioned. His high personal popularity, and the clearness of his answers, made a great impression; but, as he proceeded, as he showed that the Accused was his first friend on his release from his long imprisonment; that, the accused had remained in England, always faithful and devoted to his daughter and himself in their exile; that, so far from being in favour with the Aristocrat government there, he had actually been tried for his life by it, as the foe of England and friend of the United States—as he brought these circumstances into view, with the greatest discretion and with the straightforward force of truth and earnestness, the Jury and the populace became one. At last, when he appealed by name to Monsieur Lorry, an English gentleman then and there present, who, like himself, had been a witness on that English trial and could corroborate his account of it, the Jury declared that they had heard enough, and that they were ready with their votes if the President were content to receive them. Dr. Manette was questioned next. His popularity and his clear answers made a good impression on the court, but he continued on and told the court that Darnay was the first friend he made after he was freed from his long prison term and that Darnay had stayed in England. He told them that Darnay had always stayed faithful and devoted to Lucie and himself while they were in England. He told them that he was so far from being sympathetic with the aristocratic government of England that he was actually put on trial for his life by it as a foe of England and a friend of the United States. After Dr. Manette had presented these circumstances, discretely and straightforwardly, the jury and the crowd all agreed. Finally, when he appealed to Mr. Lorry, an English gentleman who was there in the courtroom, who, like himself, had witnessed that trial in England and could confirm his story about it, the jury declared that they had heard enough and that they were ready to vote if the president were ready to hear them.
At every vote (the Jurymen voted aloud and individually), the populace set up a shout of applause. All the voices were in the prisoner’s favour, and the President declared him free. The men on the jury voted aloud one at a time. Every time one of them announced his vote the crowd would shout and applaud. All of them voted in favor of the prisoner, and the president declared that Darnay was free.
Then, began one of those extraordinary scenes with which the populace sometimes gratified their fickleness, or their better impulses towards generosity and mercy, or which they regarded as some set-off against their swollen account of cruel rage. No man can decide now to which of these motives such extraordinary scenes were referable; it is probable, to a blending of all the three, with the second predominating. No sooner was the acquittal pronounced, than tears were shed as freely as blood at another time, and such fraternal embraces were bestowed upon the prisoner by as many of both sexes as could rush at him, that after his long and unwholesome confinement he was in danger of fainting from exhaustion; none the less because he knew very well, that the very same people, carried by another current, would have rushed at him with the very same intensity, to rend him to pieces and strew him over the streets. Then the crowd started to act in a way that satisfied their fickleness and their desire to be generous and merciful. Or perhaps it was a way to balance their anger and violence. It’s impossible to tell what motivated this behavior. It was probably a combination of all three, but the urge to be generous and merciful. As soon as Darnay was acquitted, people started crying. So many men and women embraced Darnay that he was in danger of fainting from exhaustion. It was just as disturbing to him since he knew very well that those same people could have been rushing at him with the same intensity to tear him to pieces and spread his body over the streets.

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