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A tale of two cities, p.1

A Tale of Two Cities, page 1


A Tale of Two Cities

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A Tale of Two Cities

  Produced by Judith Boss



  By Charles Dickens


  Book the First--Recalled to Life

  Chapter I The Period Chapter II The Mail Chapter III The Night Shadows Chapter IV The Preparation Chapter V The Wine-shop Chapter VI The Shoemaker

  Book the Second--the Golden Thread

  Chapter I Five Years Later Chapter II A Sight Chapter III A Disappointment Chapter IV Congratulatory Chapter V The Jackal Chapter VI Hundreds of People Chapter VII Monseigneur in Town Chapter VIII Monseigneur in the Country Chapter IX The Gorgon's Head Chapter X Two Promises Chapter XI A Companion Picture Chapter XII The Fellow of Delicacy Chapter XIII The Fellow of no Delicacy Chapter XIV The Honest Tradesman Chapter XV Knitting Chapter XVI Still Knitting Chapter XVII One Night Chapter XVIII Nine Days Chapter XIX An Opinion Chapter XX A Plea Chapter XXI Echoing Footsteps Chapter XXII The Sea Still Rises Chapter XXIII Fire Rises Chapter XXIV Drawn to the Loadstone Rock

  Book the Third--the Track of a Storm

  Chapter I In Secret Chapter II The Grindstone Chapter III The Shadow Chapter IV Calm in Storm Chapter V The Wood-sawyer Chapter VI Triumph Chapter VII A Knock at the Door Chapter VIII A Hand at Cards Chapter IX The Game Made Chapter X The Substance of the Shadow Chapter XI Dusk Chapter XII Darkness Chapter XIII Fifty-two Chapter XIV The Knitting Done Chapter XV The Footsteps Die Out For Ever

  Book the First--Recalled to Life

  I. The Period

  It was the best of times,it was the worst of times,it was the age of wisdom,it was the age of foolishness,it was the epoch of belief,it was the epoch of incredulity,it was the season of Light,it was the season of Darkness,it was the spring of hope,it was the winter of despair,we had everything before us,we had nothing before us,we were all going direct to Heaven,we were all going direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some ofits noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or forevil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

  There were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face, on thethrone of England; there were a king with a large jaw and a queen witha fair face, on the throne of France. In both countries it was clearerthan crystal to the lords of the State preserves of loaves and fishes,that things in general were settled for ever.

  It was the year of Our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five.Spiritual revelations were conceded to England at that favoured period,as at this. Mrs. Southcott had recently attained her five-and-twentiethblessed birthday, of whom a prophetic private in the Life Guards hadheralded the sublime appearance by announcing that arrangements weremade for the swallowing up of London and Westminster. Even the Cock-laneghost had been laid only a round dozen of years, after rapping out itsmessages, as the spirits of this very year last past (supernaturallydeficient in originality) rapped out theirs. Mere messages in theearthly order of events had lately come to the English Crown and People,from a congress of British subjects in America: which, strangeto relate, have proved more important to the human race than anycommunications yet received through any of the chickens of the Cock-lanebrood.

  France, less favoured on the whole as to matters spiritual than hersister of the shield and trident, rolled with exceeding smoothness downhill, making paper money and spending it. Under the guidance of herChristian pastors, she entertained herself, besides, with such humaneachievements as sentencing a youth to have his hands cut off, his tonguetorn out with pincers, and his body burned alive, because he had notkneeled down in the rain to do honour to a dirty procession of monkswhich passed within his view, at a distance of some fifty or sixtyyards. It is likely enough that, rooted in the woods of France andNorway, there were growing trees, when that sufferer was put to death,already marked by the Woodman, Fate, to come down and be sawn intoboards, to make a certain movable framework with a sack and a knife init, terrible in history. It is likely enough that in the rough outhousesof some tillers of the heavy lands adjacent to Paris, there weresheltered from the weather that very day, rude carts, bespattered withrustic mire, snuffed about by pigs, and roosted in by poultry, whichthe Farmer, Death, had already set apart to be his tumbrils ofthe Revolution. But that Woodman and that Farmer, though they workunceasingly, work silently, and no one heard them as they went aboutwith muffled tread: the rather, forasmuch as to entertain any suspicionthat they were awake, was to be atheistical and traitorous.

  In England, there was scarcely an amount of order and protection tojustify much national boasting. Daring burglaries by armed men, andhighway robberies, took place in the capital itself every night;families were publicly cautioned not to go out of town without removingtheir furniture to upholsterers' warehouses for security; the highwaymanin the dark was a City tradesman in the light, and, being recognised andchallenged by his fellow-tradesman whom he stopped in his character of"the Captain," gallantly shot him through the head and rode away; themail was waylaid by seven robbers, and the guard shot three dead, andthen got shot dead himself by the other four, "in consequence of thefailure of his ammunition:" after which the mail was robbed in peace;that magnificent potentate, the Lord Mayor of London, was made to standand deliver on Turnham Green, by one highwayman, who despoiled theillustrious creature in sight of all his retinue; prisoners in Londongaols fought battles with their turnkeys, and the majesty of the lawfired blunderbusses in among them, loaded with rounds of shot and ball;thieves snipped off diamond crosses from the necks of noble lords atCourt drawing-rooms; musketeers went into St. Giles's, to searchfor contraband goods, and the mob fired on the musketeers, and themusketeers fired on the mob, and nobody thought any of these occurrencesmuch out of the common way. In the midst of them, the hangman, ever busyand ever worse than useless, was in constant requisition; now, stringingup long rows of miscellaneous criminals; now, hanging a housebreaker onSaturday who had been taken on Tuesday; now, burning people in thehand at Newgate by the dozen, and now burning pamphlets at the door ofWestminster Hall; to-day, taking the life of an atrocious murderer,and to-morrow of a wretched pilferer who had robbed a farmer's boy ofsixpence.

  All these things, and a thousand like them, came to pass in and closeupon the dear old year one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five.Environed by them, while the Woodman and the Farmer worked unheeded,those two of the large jaws, and those other two of the plain and thefair faces, trod with stir enough, and carried their divine rightswith a high hand. Thus did the year one thousand seven hundredand seventy-five conduct their Greatnesses, and myriads of smallcreatures--the creatures of this chronicle among the rest--along theroads that lay before them.

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