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A Tale of Two Cities

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Good Miss Pross! As if the estrangement between them had come of any culpability of hers. As if Mr. Lorry had not known it for a fact, years ago, in the quiet corner in Soho, that this precious brother had spent her money and left her! Good Miss Pross! As if any conflict between them had been her fault. As if Mr. Lorry had not known years ago in their house on the quiet corner in Soho that her “precious” brother, Solomon, had spent all of her money and abandoned her!
He was saying the affectionate word, however, with a far more grudging condescension and patronage than he could have shown if their relative merits and positions had been reversed (which is invariably the case, all the world over), when Mr. Cruncher, touching him on the shoulder, hoarsely and unexpectedly interposed with the following singular question: Solomon said his kind word to her, but in such a condescending and patronizing way that it seemed as if their positions in life were reversed (which is usually how it works, all over the world). Mr. Cruncher tapped him on the shoulder and interrupted unexpectedly. He asked him a question in his usual hoarse voice:
“I say! Might I ask the favour? As to whether your name is John Solomon, or Solomon John?” “May I ask you a question? Is you name John Solomon? Or Solomon John?
The official turned towards him with sudden distrust. He had not previously uttered a word. Solomon turned toward him with sudden distrust. Mr. Cruncher hadn’t said a word until now.
“Come!” said Mr. Cruncher. “Speak out, you know.” (Which, by the way, was more than he could do himself.) “John Solomon, or Solomon John? She calls you Solomon, and she must know, being your sister. And I know you’re John, you know. Which of the two goes first? And regarding that name of Pross, likewise. That warn’t your name over the water.” “Come on! Speak up,” said Mr. Cruncher (who, with his hoarse voice, couldn’t speak up himself). “John Solomon, or Solomon John? She calls you Solomon, and she must know since she’s your sister. And I know that your name is John. Which name goes first? And what about the name Pross too? That wasn’t your name back in England.”
“What do you mean?” “What do you mean?”
“Well, I don’t know all I mean, for I can’t call to mind what your name was, over the water.” “Well, I don’t know exactly what I mean, because I can’t remember what your name was back in England.”
“No?” “No?”
“No. But I’ll swear it was a name of two syllables.” “No. But I’ll swear it was a name with two syllables in it.”
“Indeed?” “Indeed?”
“Yes. T’other one’s was one syllable. I know you. You was a spy—witness at the Bailey. What, in the name of the Father of Lies, own father to yourself, was you called at that time?” “Yes. The other name was one syllable. I know you. You were a spy who acted as a witness at the Bailey. In the name of the

Father of Lies

the devil

Father of Lies
, who was your father too, what name were you called back then?”
“Barsad,” said another voice, striking in. “Barsad,” said someone else, joining in.
“That’s the name for a thousand pound!” cried Jerry. “That’s it! I’d bet a thousand pounds on it!” cried Jerry.
The speaker who struck in, was Sydney Carton. He had his hands behind him under the skirts of his riding-coat, and he stood at Mr. Cruncher’s elbow as negligently as he might have stood at the Old Bailey itself. The man who had joined in was Sydney Carton. He had his hands behind him under his riding coat, and he stood beside Mr. Cruncher as casually as he might have stood at the court of the Old Bailey.
“Don’t be alarmed, my dear Miss Pross. I arrived at Mr. Lorry’s, to his surprise, yesterday evening; we agreed that I would not present myself elsewhere until all was well, or unless I could be useful; I present myself here, to beg a little talk with your brother. I wish you had a better employed brother than Mr. Barsad. I wish for your sake Mr. Barsad was not a Sheep of the Prisons.” “Don’t be alarmed, my dear Miss Pross. I arrived at Mr. Lorry’s and surprised him last night. We agreed that I wouldn’t make my presence known to anyone else until all was well or until I could be of use. I am showing myself here so I can ask your brother to have a little talk with me. I wish you had a brother with a more respectable job than Mr. Barsad. I wish for your sake that Mr. Barsad wasn’t a prison sheep.”
Sheep was a cant word of the time for a spy, under the gaolers. The spy, who was pale, turned paler, and asked him how he dared— “Sheep” was prison slang for “spy” at the time. Solomon, known as the spy Barsad, was pale, and he turned even paler and asked Mr. Carton how he dared—
“I’ll tell you,” said Sydney. “I lighted on you, Mr. Barsad, coming out of the prison of the Conciergerie while I was contemplating the walls, an hour or more ago. You have a face to be remembered, and I remember faces well. Made curious by seeing you in that connection, and having a reason, to which you are no stranger, for associating you with the misfortunes of a friend now very unfortunate, I walked in your direction. I walked into the wine-shop here, close after you, and sat near you. I had no difficulty in deducing from your unreserved conversation, and the rumour openly going about among your admirers, the nature of your calling. And gradually, what I had done at random, seemed to shape itself into a purpose, Mr. Barsad.” “I’ll tell you,” said Sydney. “I saw you coming out of the prison of the Conciergerie while I was looking at the walls an hour or more ago, Mr. Barsad. You have a memorable face, and I remember faces well. I was curious to see why you were there. Since I have good reason, as you know, to associate you with the misfortunes of our poor friend Charles Darnay, I followed you. I walked into the wine shop here right after you and sat near you. By overhearing your conversation and hearing the rumors going around openly among your admirers here, I had no trouble figuring out that you are a spy. And gradually, my random decision to follow you seemed to have a purpose, Mr. Barsad.”

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