A Tale of Two Cities

by: Charles Dickens

Original Text

Modern Text

“He told me that he was travelling on business of a delicate and difficult nature, which might get people into trouble, and that he was therefore travelling under an assumed name. He said that this business had, within a few days, taken him to France, and might, at intervals, take him backwards and forwards between France and England for a long time to come.” “He told me that he was traveling on business of a delicate and difficult nature that could get certain people into trouble. Because of this, he was using a false name. He said that this business had required him to go to France on short notice and that he might need to travel back and forth between France and England for a long time to come.”
“Did he say anything about America, Miss Manette? Be particular.” “Did he say anything about America, Miss Manette? Be specific.”
“He tried to explain to me how that quarrel had arisen, and he said that, so far as he could judge, it was a wrong and foolish one on England’s part. He added, in a jesting way, that perhaps George Washington might gain almost as great a name in history as George the Third. But there was no harm in his way of saying this: it was said laughingly, and to beguile the time.” “He tried to explain to me how the conflict in America had developed. He said that, in his opinion, it was wrong and foolish for England to fight. He joked that George Washington might someday be as famous a man in history as England’s King George III. But he didn’t mean any harm by this. He was only joking to pass the time.”
Any strongly marked expression of face on the part of a chief actor in a scene of great interest to whom many eyes are directed, will be unconsciously imitated by the spectators. Her forehead was painfully anxious and intent as she gave this evidence, and, in the pauses when she stopped for the Judge to write it down, watched its effect upon the counsel for and against. Among the lookers-on there was the same expression in all quarters of the court; insomuch, that a great majority of the foreheads there, might have been mirrors reflecting the witness, when the Judge looked up from his notes to glare at that tremendous heresy about George Washington. A crowd will always mimic the expression on the face of an actor in a play they are watching. Miss Manette’s forehead was wrinkled up as she gave her evidence, waited for the judge to write down what she said, and watched the lawyers to see how they would react. All the people in the crowd had the same expression on their foreheads, as if they were mirrors reflecting Miss Manette. The judge looked up, angered by the comment about George Washington.
Mr. Attorney-General now signified to my Lord, that he deemed it necessary, as a matter of precaution and form, to call the young lady’s father, Doctor Manette. Who was called accordingly. The attorney general signaled to the judge that he needed to call the young woman’s father to testify. The judge agreed, and Dr. Manette was called to the stand.
“Doctor Manette, look upon the prisoner. Have you ever seen him before?” “Dr. Manette, look at the prisoner. Have you ever seen him before?”
“Once. When he called at my lodgings in London. Some three years, or three years and a half ago.” “Yes, once. He came to my home in London about three or three and a half years ago.”
“Can you identify him as your fellow-passenger on board the packet, or speak to his conversation with your daughter?” “Can you identify him as the man you met on board the boat from Calais, or verify that he had this conversation with your daughter?”
“Sir, I can do neither.” “I can’t do either, sir.”
“Is there any particular and special reason for your being unable to do either?” “Is there some reason why?”
He answered, in a low voice, “There is.” “There is,” he answered quietly.
“Has it been your misfortune to undergo a long imprisonment, without trial, or even accusation, in your native country, Doctor Manette?” “Did you spend a long time in prison in France, Dr. Manette, without a trial or even being officially accused?”
He answered, in a tone that went to every heart, “A long imprisonment.” “A long imprisonment,” he answered in a tone that provoked pity.
“Were you newly released on the occasion in question?” “Had you just been released on the night in question?”
“They tell me so.” “That’s what they tell me.”
“Have you no remembrance of the occasion?” “Do you remember that night?”
“None. My mind is a blank, from some time—I cannot even say what time—when I employed myself, in my captivity, in making shoes, to the time when I found myself living in London with my dear daughter here. She had become familiar to me, when a gracious God restored my faculties; but, I am quite unable even to say how she had become familiar. I have no remembrance of the process.” “Not at all. I don’t remember anything from a long period—I can’t even say how long. I’ve forgotten everything from the time when I was making shoes in prison to when I found myself living in London with my daughter. I began to recognize her when I started to get my senses back. I have no memory of how it happened, though.”