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


48

the banking-house air. Your lighter boxes of family papers went
up-stairs into a Barmecide room, that always had a great dining-
table in it and never had a dinner, and where, even in the year one
thousand seven hundred and eighty, the first letters written to you
by your old love, or by your little children, were but newly
released from the horror of being ogled through the windows, by
the heads exposed on Temple Bar with an insensate brutality and
ferocity worthy of Abyssinia or Ashantee.

But indeed, at that time, putting to death was a recipe much in
vogue with all trades and professions, and not least of all with
Tellsonís. Death is Natureís remedy for all things, and why not
Legislationís? Accordingly, the forger was put to Death; the utterer
of a bad note was put to Death; the unlawful opener of a letter was
put to Death; the purloiner of forty shillings and sixpence was put
to Death; the holder of a horse at Tellsonís door, who made off
with it, was put to Death; the coiner of a bad shilling was put to
Death; the sounders of three-fourths of the notes in the whole
gamut of Crime, were put to Death. Not that it did the least good
in the way of prevention-it might almost have been worth
remarking that the fact was exactly the reverse-but, it cleared off
(as to this world) the trouble of each particular case, and left
nothing else connected with it to be looked after.

Thus, Tellsonís, in its day, like greater places of business, its
contemporaries, had taken so many lives, that, if the heads laid low
before it had been ranged on Temple Bar instead of being privately
disposed of, they would probably have excluded what little light
the ground floor had, in a rather significant manner.

Cramped in all kinds of dim cupboards and hutches at Tellsonís
the oldest of men carried on the business gravely. When they took
a young man into Tellsonís London house, they hid him
somewhere till he was old. They kept him in a dark place, like a
cheese, until he had the full Tellson flavour and blue-mould upon
him. Then only was he permitted to be seen, spectacularly poring
over large books, and casting his breeches and gaiters into the
general weight of the establishment.

Outside Tellsonís-never by any means in it, unless called in-was
an odd-jobman, an occasional porter and messenger, who served as
the live sign of the house. He was never absent during business
hours, unless upon an errand, and then he was represented by his
son: a grisly urchin of twelve, who was his express image. People
understood that Tellsonís, in a stately way, tolerated the oddjob-
man. The house had always tolerated some person in that capacity,
and time and tide had drifted this person to the post. His surname
was Cruncher, and on the youthful occasion of his renouncing by
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