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A Tale of Two Cities

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While Sydney Carton and the Sheep of the prisons were in the adjoining dark room, speaking so low that not a sound was heard, Mr. Lorry looked at Jerry in considerable doubt and mistrust. That honest tradesman’s manner of receiving the look, did not inspire confidence; he changed the leg on which he rested, as often as if he had fifty of those limbs, and were trying them all; he examined his finger-nails with a very questionable closeness of attention; and whenever Mr. Lorry’s eye caught his, he was taken with that peculiar kind of short cough requiring the hollow of a hand before it, which is seldom, if ever, known to be an infirmity attendant on perfect openness of character. Sydney Carton and Barsad were in the dark room next door, speaking so quietly that no sound was heard. Mr. Lorry looked at Jerry with doubt and mistrust. The way Cruncher, the honest businessman, reacted to this look didn’t make Mr. Lorry any more confident. Cruncher shifted back and forth on his feet as often as if he had fifty feet and were standing on each of them. He looked at his fingernails a little too closely, and whenever Mr. Lorry looked him in the eye, Mr. Cruncher would cough and put his hand over his mouth like a man who was hiding something.
“Jerry,” said Mr. Lorry. “Come here.” “Come here, Jerry,” said Mr. Lorry.
Mr. Cruncher came forward sideways, with one of his shoulders in advance of him. Mr. Cruncher came toward him, moving sideways and leading with one shoulder.
“What have you been, besides a messenger?” “What job have you had, besides being a messenger?”
After some cogitation, accompanied with an intent look at his patron, Mr. Cruncher conceived the luminous idea of replying, “Agicultooral character.” After thinking about it and looking intently at Mr. Lorry, Mr. Cruncher had the bright idea of answering, “It’s of an agricultural nature.”
“My mind misgives me much,” said Mr. Lorry, angrily shaking a forefinger at him, “that you have used the respectable and great house of Tellson’s as a blind, and that you have had an unlawful occupation of an infamous description. If you have, don’t expect me to befriend you when you get back to England. If you have, don’t expect me to keep your secret. Tellson’s shall not be imposed upon.” “I am concerned that you have used the respectable and great Tellson’s Bank as a cover, and that you have been doing something illegal. If you have, don’t expect me to remain friendly with you when you get back to England. If you have, don’t expect me to keep your secret. You cannot take advantage of Tellson’s Bank.”
“I hope, sir,” pleaded the abashed Mr. Cruncher, “that a gentleman like yourself wot I’ve had the honour of odd jobbing till I’m grey at it, would think twice about harming of me, even if it wos so—I don’t say it is, but even if it wos. And which it is to be took into account that if it wos, it wouldn’t, even then, be all o’ one side. There’d be two sides to it. There might be medical doctors at the present hour, a picking up their guineas where a honest tradesman don’t pick up his fardens—fardens! no, nor yet his half fardens—half fardens! no, nor yet his quarter—a banking away like smoke at Tellson’s, and a cocking their medical eyes at that tradesman on the sly, a going in and going out to their own carriages—ah! Equally like smoke, if not more so. Well, that ‘ud be imposing, too, on Tellson’s. For you cannot sarse the goose and not the gander. And here’s Mrs. Cruncher, or leastways wos in the Old England times, and would be to-morrow, if cause given, a floppin’ again the business to that degree as is ruinating—stark ruinating! Whereas them medical doctors’ wives don’t flop—catch ‘em at it! Or, if they flop, their toppings goes in favour of more patients, and how can you rightly have one without t’other? Then, wot with undertakers, and wot with parish clerks, and wot with sextons, and wot with private watchmen (all awaricious and all in it), a man wouldn’t get much by it, even if it wos so. And wot little a man did get, would never prosper with him, Mr. Lorry. He’d never have no good of it; he’d want all along to be out of the line, if he, could see his way out, being once in—even if it wos so.” “I’ve had the honor of working for you until I’ve turned gray, so I hope that a gentleman like you would think twice about harming me. Even if what you say is true—I don’t say that it is true—but if it was. And it should be taken into account that if it were true, there would be two sides to the story. There might be doctors right now earning

guineas

an English coin with a high value

guineas
when an honest businessman like me doesn’t even earn

farthings

an English coin worth one-quarter of a penny

farthings
. Farthings! No, not even half-farthings. Half-farthings! No, not even quarter-farthings. These doctors come into Tellson’s to do their banking and start giving me knowing looks on the sly as they go out to their private carriages. Well, they are imposing on Tellson’s, too. You can’t blame the goose and not the gander. And then there’s Mrs. Cruncher to deal with, or at least I had to deal with her back in England. She’s always flinging herself down and praying against my success so much that it ruins me. Ruins me! Whereas those medical doctors’ wives don’t pray against them. Those doctors would catch them at it. Or if they pray, they pray for more patients, and how can you have one without the other? Then, what with undertakers to bribe, and parish clerks, and sextons, and greedy private guards, a man wouldn’t even earn that much. And what little a man did earn would never be enough to allow him to prosper, Mr. Lorry. Things would never be good for him. The whole time he’d want to give up that line of work, if he could find a way out of it after having already been in it—if what you say is true.”

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