Charles Dickens

Retold by Ralph Mowat

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the season of light, it was the season of darkness. It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of sadness. It was the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five.
In France there was a King and a Queen, and in England there was a King and a Queen. They believed that nothing would ever change. But in France things were bad, and getting worse. The people were poor, hungry and unhappy.
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The King made paper money and spent it, and the people had nothing to eat. Behind closed doors in the homes of the people, voices spoke in whispers against the King and his noblemen; they were only whispers, but they were the angry whispers of desperate people.
Late one November night, in that same year 1775, a coach going from London to Dover stopped at the top of a long hill. The horses were tired, but as they rested, the driver heard another horse coming fast up the hill behind them. The rider stopped his horse beside the coach and shouted:
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'I want a passenger, Mr Jarvis Lorry, from Tellson's Bank in London.'
'I am Mr Jarvis Lorry,' said one of the passengers, putting his head out of the window. 'What do you want?'
'It's me! Jerry, Jerry Cruncher, from Tellson's Bank, sir,' cried the man on the horse.
'What's the matter, Jerry?' called Mr Lorry.
'A message for you, Mr Lorry. You've got to wait at Dover for a young lady.'
'Very well, Jerry,' said Mr Lorry. 'Tell them my answer is - CAME BACK TO LIFE.'
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It was a strange message, and a stranger answer. No one in the coach understood what they meant.
The next day Mr Lorry was sitting in his hotel in Dover when a young lady arrived. She was pretty, with golden hair and blue eyes, and Mr Lorry remembered a small child, almost a baby. He had carried her in his arms when he came from Calais to Dover, from France to England, many years ago. Mr Lorry asked the young lady to sit down.
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'Miss Manette,' he said. 'I have a strange story to tell you, about one of the customers of Tellson's Bank. That's where I work.'
'Yes, but I don't quite understand, Mr Lorn',' said the young lady. 'I received a message from Tellson's Bank, asking me to come here to meet you. I understood there was some news about my poor father's money. He died so long ago -before I was born. What is this story you want to tell me?'
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'About twenty years ago, Miss Manette, a French doctor married an English lady. They had a daughter, but just before she was born, her father disappeared. Nobody knew what had happened to him. Not long afterwards his unhappy wife died, and their daughter was brought back to England.'
'But this is like my father's story, Mr Lorry. And wasn't it you who brought me back to England?'
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'Yes, that's true, Miss Manette. Many years ago I brought you from France to England, and Tellson's Bank has taken care of you since then. You were told that your father had died. But think, Miss Manette. Perhaps your father wasn't dead. Perhaps he was in prison. Not because he had done something wrong! But just because he had a powerful enemy - an enemy with the power to send him to prison and to keep him there, hidden and forgotten, for eighteen years!'
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'Can it be true? Is it possible that my father is still alive?' Lucie Manette stared at Mr Lorry. Her face was white and her hands trembled. 'It will be his ghost - not him!'
'No, Miss Manette,' said Mr Lorry gently. 'He is alive, but he has changed very much. Even his name had been forgotten! And we must ask no questions about the past, no questions at all. It would be too dangerous. He has been taken to the house of an old servant in Paris, and we are going there to bring him back to life.'


 


Щербаков Ю. Н. - Репетитор по английскому языку в Екатеринбурге, 1999-2017