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


47

CHAPTER I
FIVE YEARS LATER


TELLSONíS BANK by Temple Bar was an old-fashioned place,
even in the year one thousand seven hundred and eighty. It was
very small, very dark, very ugly, very incommodious. It was an
old-fashioned place, moreover, in the moral attribute that the
partners in the House were proud of its smallness, proud of its
darkness, proud of its ugliness, proud of its incommodiousness.
They were even boastful of its eminence in those particulars, and
were fired by an express conviction that, if it were less
objectionable, it would be less respectable. This was no passive
belief, but an active weapon which they flashed at more convenient
places of business. Tellsonís (they said) wanted no elbow-room,
Tellsonís wanted no light, Tellsonís wanted no embellishment.
Noakes and Co.ís might, or Snooks Brothersí might; but Tellsonís,
thank Heaven!-- Any one of these partners would have
disinherited his son on the question of rebuilding Tellsonís. In this
respect the House was much on a par with the Country; which did
very often disinherit its sons for suggesting improvements in laws
and customs that had long been highly objectionable, but were
only the more respectable.

Thus it had come to pass, that Tellsonís was the triumphant
perfection of inconvenience. After bursting open a door of idiotic
obstinacy with a weak rattle in its throat, you fell into Tellsonís
down two steps, and came to your senses in a miserable little shop,
with two little counters, where the oldest of men made your
cheque shake as if the wind rustled it, while they examined the
signature by the dingiest of windows, which were always under a
shower-bath of mud from Fleetstreet, and which were made the
dingier by their own iron bars proper, and the heavy shadow of
Temple Bar. If your business necessitated your seeing ďthe House,Ē
you were put into a species of Condemned Hold at the back, where
you meditated on a misspent life, until the House came with its
hands in its pockets, and you could hardly bunk at it in the dismal
twilight. Your money came out of, or went into, wormy old
wooden drawers, particles of which flew up your nose and down
your throat when they were opened and shut. Your bank-notes had
a musty odour, as if they were fast decomposing into rags again.
Your plate was stowed away among the neighbouring cesspools,
and evil communications corrupted its good polish in a day or two.
Your deeds got into extemporised strongrooms made of kitchens
and sculleries, and fretted all the fat out of their parchments into
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