Did you know you can highlight text to take a note? x

Continue reading with a SparkNotes PLUS trial

Original Text

Modern Text

Giving this citizen, too, good night, as he confronted him at his counter, he laid the scrap of paper before him. “Whew!” the chemist whistled softly, as he read it. “Hi! hi! hi!” He said good evening to the shopkeeper, too, as he went up to the counter. He put the scrap of paper in front of him. “Whew!” the chemist whistled softly as he read it. “Hi, hi, hi!”
Sydney Carton took no heed, and the chemist said: Sydney Carton ignored him. The chemist said:
“For you, citizen?” “This is for you, citizen?”
“For me.” “It’s for me.”
“You will be careful to keep them separate, citizen? You know the consequences of mixing them?” “You’ll make sure to keep them separate, citizen? You know what will happen if you mix them.”
“Perfectly.” “I know perfectly well.”
Certain small packets were made and given to him. He put them, one by one, in the breast of his inner coat, counted out the money for them, and deliberately left the shop. “There is nothing more to do,” said he, glancing upward at the moon, “until to-morrow. I can’t sleep.” The chemist made up some small packets and gave them to Mr. Carton, who put them in the breast pocket of his inner coat one by one. He counted out the money for them, paid the shopkeeper, and left the shop quickly. “There is nothing more I can do until tomorrow,” he said, looking up at the moon. “I can’t sleep.”
It was not a reckless manner, the manner in which he said these words aloud under the fast-sailing clouds, nor was it more expressive of negligence than defiance. It was the settled manner of a tired man, who had wandered and struggled and got lost, but who at length struck into his road and saw its end. He said this aloud under the clouds that were moving quickly across the sky. He didn’t say these words casually. He said them defiantly. He had the determination of a tired man who had wandered and struggled and gotten lost, but who had finally found the right path and saw the end in sight.
Long ago, when he had been famous among his earliest competitors as a youth of great promise, he had followed his father to the grave. His mother had died, years before. These solemn words, which had been read at his father’s grave, arose in his mind as he went down the dark streets, among the heavy shadows, with the moon and the clouds sailing on high above him. “I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die.” Long ago, when Carton had been famous among his early competitors as a young man with a great future ahead of him, his father had died. His mother had died years earlier. Now he thought of the solemn words that he had read at his father’s grave as he walked down the dark streets covered with shadows. The moon and clouds sailed high above him. He thought, “I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord. Whoever believes in me that is dead will live again. Whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”
In a city dominated by the axe, alone at night, with natural sorrow rising in him for the sixty-three who had been that day put to death, and for to-morrow’s victims then awaiting their doom in the prisons, and still of to-morrow’s and to-morrow’s, the chain of association that brought the words home, like a rusty old ship’s anchor from the deep, might have been easily found. He did not seek it, but repeated them and went on. Mr. Carton was alone at night in Paris, which was dominated by the guillotine. He was feeling sympathy for the sixty-three people who had been executed that day and sympathy for the people now in prison who would be executed tomorrow. There were many reasons to think about these words, and he repeated them and walked on.
With a solemn interest in the lighted windows where the people were going to rest, forgetful through a few calm hours of the horrors surrounding them; in the towers of the churches, where no prayers were said, for the popular revulsion had even travelled that length of self-destruction from years of priestly impostors, plunderers, and profligates; in the distant burial-places, reserved, as they wrote upon the gates, for Eternal Sleep; in the abounding gaols; and in the streets along which the sixties rolled to a death which had become so common and material, that no sorrowful story of a haunting Spirit ever arose among the people out of all the working of the Guillotine; with a solemn interest in the whole life and death of the city settling down to its short nightly pause in fury; Sydney Carton crossed the Seine again for the lighter streets. He looked at the lit windows where people were going to sleep and could forget the horrible things happening around them for a few calm hours. He looked at the towers of the churches where no one was praying, for the people were even disgusted by religion after years of corruption by thieves, vagrants, and people acting as priests. He looked at the graveyards far away reserved for “eternal sleep,” as it was written on the graveyard gates. He looked at the surrounding jails and the streets along which the sixty or so condemned people were carried in carts to their deaths. This had become so common that no one even made up ghost stories about the people killed at the guillotine. He thought about the lives and deaths of everyone in Paris as they all settled down to sleep. Then Sydney Carton crossed the Seine River again and headed for better-lit streets.