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A Tale of Two Cities

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“I have saved him.” It was not another of the dreams in which he had often come back; he was really here. And yet his wife trembled, and a vague but heavy fear was upon her. “I have saved him,” he heard Dr. Manette say. He'd had dreams in which he had been released, but this wasn't a dream. He was really here. But still Lucie trembled, and was very afraid something else might happen.
All the air round was so thick and dark, the people were so passionately revengeful and fitful, the innocent were so constantly put to death on vague suspicion and black malice, it was so impossible to forget that many as blameless as her husband and as dear to others as he was to her, every day shared the fate from which he had been clutched, that her heart could not be as lightened of its load as she felt it ought to be. The shadows of the wintry afternoon were beginning to fall, and even now the dreadful carts were rolling through the streets. Her mind pursued them, looking for him among the Condemned; and then she clung closer to his real presence and trembled more. The air around them was thick and dark. The people were so desperate for revenge and unpredictable that innocent people were constantly executed on vague suspicions or out of pure hatred. Lucie found it impossible to forget that people as innocent as her husband and just as loved by others were killed everyday. Her husband had been saved, but still she could not feel as relieved by his release as she should have. It was getting late in the wintry afternoon, and the carts carrying people to the guillotine were rolling through the streets. Lucie thought about those people, imagining Charles in one of those carts among those condemned to die. She clung to him closer and trembled more.
Her father, cheering her, showed a compassionate superiority to this woman’s weakness, which was wonderful to see. No garret, no shoemaking, no One Hundred and Five, North Tower, now! He had accomplished the task he had set himself, his promise was redeemed, he had saved Charles. Let them all lean upon him. Her father tried to cheer her up. He showed compassion and strength, compared to Lucie’s weakness, that was wonderful to see. No attic and no shoemaking now! He wasn’t prisoner One Hundred and Five, North Tower, now! He had achieved what he set out to achieve. He had fulfilled his promise to save Charles, and showed they could all depend on him.
Their housekeeping was of a very frugal kind: not only because that was the safest way of life, involving the least offence to the people, but because they were not rich, and Charles, throughout his imprisonment, had had to pay heavily for his bad food, and for his guard, and towards the living of the poorer prisoners. Partly on this account, and partly to avoid a domestic spy, they kept no servant; the citizen and citizeness who acted as porters at the courtyard gate, rendered them occasional service; and Jerry (almost wholly transferred to them by Mr. Lorry) had become their daily retainer, and had his bed there every night. They lived a thrifty lifestyle, not only because it was the safest way to live and would not offend the common people, but because they were not rich. While Charles was in prison, he'd had to pay a great sum of money for his bad food and for his guard, and fore the care of the poorer prisoners. Partly for this reason, and partly because they didn’t want someone spying on their daily lives, the Manettes didn’t have any servants. The citizen and citizenesses who served as porters at the courtyard gate ran errands for them occasionally, and Mr. Lorry had almost entirely passed Jerry onto them now. He was on call for them every day and he slept there every night.
It was an ordinance of the Republic One and Indivisible of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, or Death, that on the door or doorpost of every house, the name of every inmate must be legibly inscribed in letters of a certain size, at a certain convenient height from the ground. Mr. Jerry Cruncher’s name, therefore, duly embellished the doorpost down below; and, as the afternoon shadows deepened, the owner of that name himself appeared, from overlooking a painter whom Doctor Manette had employed to add to the list the name of Charles Evremonde, called Darnay. It was a law of the Republic, “One and Indivisible of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, or Death,” that the names of every person living in a house be written on the door or doorpost. The sign had to be written in letters of a certain size and at a certain height from the ground. Mr. Jerry Cruncher’s name, therefore, was written on the doorpost down at the bottom. As it grew later in the day and the shadows deepened, Mr. Cruncher himself arrived. He had been overseeing a painter whom Dr. Manette had hired to add “Charles Evremonde, also known as Darnay,” to the list of names on the door.
In the universal fear and distrust that darkened the time, all the usual harmless ways of life were changed. In the Doctor’s little household, as in very many others, the articles of daily consumption that were wanted were purchased every evening, in small quantities and at various small shops. To avoid attracting notice, and to give as little occasion as possible for talk and envy, was the general desire. Fear and distrust existed everywhere at that time, and all of the usual innocent ways of life had changed. In Dr. Manette’s household, as in many others, food and supplies for the day were bought every evening in small amounts from different small shops. Everyone did their best to avoid attracting attention. Everyone wanted to avoid talking to others or making other people envious.
For some months past, Miss Pross and Mr. Cruncher had discharged the office of purveyors; the former carrying the money; the latter, the basket. Every afternoon at about the time when the public lamps were lighted, they fared forth on this duty, and made and brought home such purchases as were needful. Although Miss Pross, through her long association with a French family, might have known as much of their language as of her own, if she had had a mind, she had no mind in that direction; consequently she knew no more of that “nonsense” (as she was pleased to call it) than Mr. Cruncher did. So her manner of marketing was to plump a noun-substantive at the head of a shopkeeper without any introduction in the nature of an article, and, if it happened not to be the name of the thing she wanted, to look round for that thing, lay hold of it, and hold on by it until the bargain was concluded. She always made a bargain for it, by holding up, as a statement of its just price, one finger less than the merchant held up, whatever his number might be. For several months now, Miss Pross and Mr. Cruncher had been in charge of getting supplies. Miss Pross would carry the money and Jerry would carry the basket. They would go out shopping every afternoon around the time when the streetlamps were lit, and they would buy and bring home whatever they needed. Miss Pross could have known as much French as English by now if she'd wanted, having lived with a French family for a long time, but she had no desire to. Therefore, she knew no more of that French “nonsense” (as she liked calling it) than Jerry did. So her way of shopping was to just say the name of what she wanted without any other conversation. If it didn’t happen to be the right word, she would look around for the thing she wanted, grab it, and hold onto it until she had paid for it. She always bargained the price down by holding up one finger less than the number the shopkeeper held up.

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