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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library - A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens


29

ashes, at which she had been trying to soften the pain in her own
starved fingers and toes, or in those of her child, returned to it;
men with bare arms, matted locks, and cadaverous faces, who had
emerged into the winter light from cellars, moved away, to
descend again; and a gloom gathered on the scene that appeared
more natural to it than sunshine.

The wine was red wine, and had stained the ground of the narrow
street in the suburb of Saint Antoine, in Paris, where it was spilled.
It had stained many hands, too, and many faces, and many naked
feet, and many wooden shoes. The hands of the man who sawed
the wood, left red marks on the billets; and the fore-head of the
woman who nursed her baby, was stained with the stain of the old
rag she wound about her head again. Those who had been greedy
with the staves of the cask, had acquired a tigerish smear about the
mouth; and one tall joker so besmirched, his head more out of a
long squalid bag of a nightcap than in it, scrawled upon a wall
with his finger dipped in muddy wine-lees-BLOOD.

The time was to come, when that wine too would be spilled on the
streetstones, and when the stain of it would be red upon many
there.

And now that the cloud settled on Saint Antoine, which a
momentary gleam had driven from his sacred countenance, the
darkness of it was heavy-cold, dirt, sickness, ignorance, and want,
were the lords in waiting on the saintly presencenobles of great
power all of them; but, most especially the last. Samples of a
people that had undergone a terrible grinding and regrinding in
the mill, and certainly not in the fabulous mill which ground old
people young, shivered at every corner, passed in and out at every
doorway, looked from every window, fluttered in every vestige of
a garment that the wind shook. The mill which had worked them
down, was the mill that grinds young people old; the children had
ancient faces and grave voices; and upon them, and upon the
grown faces, and ploughed into every furrow of age and coming
up afresh, was the sigh, Hunger. It was prevalent everywhere.
Hunger was pushed out of the tall houses, in the wretched clothing
that hung upon poles and lines; Hunger was patched into them
with straw and rag and wood and paper; Hunger was repeated in
every fragment of the small modicum of firewood that the man
sawed off; Hunger stared down from the smokeless chimneys, and
started up from the filthy street that had no offal, among its refuse,
of anything to eat. Hunger was the inscription on the bakerís
shelves, written in every small loaf of his scanty stock of bad bread;
at the sausage-shop, in every dead-dog preparation that was
offered for sale. Hunger rattled its dry bones among the roasting
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