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Book 2, Chapter 1 Notes from A Tale of Two Cities

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A Tale of Two Cities Book 2, Chapter 1

It is five years later, and executions are rampant in London:

"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 Tellson's. Death is Nature's remedy for all things, and why not Legislation's? 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 Tellson's door, who made off with it, was put to Death; the coiner of a bad schilling 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." Book 2, Chapter 1, pg. 51

Standing outside the staid, stuffy institution of the same Tellson's mentioned above is Jerry Cruncher, the bank's odd-job man. Standing next to him is his twelve-year-old son, who looks exactly like him. Mr. Cruncher, who is grumpy and coarse, lives with his wife and son in a less-than-desirable neighborhood, although his dwelling is neatly kept. He awakens after snapping at his wife for praying over him:

"'I won't be gone again, in this manner. I am as rickety as a hackney-coach, I'm as sleepy as laudanum, my lines is strained to that degree that I shouldn't know, if it wasn't for the pain in 'em, which was me and which was somebody else, yet I'm none the better for it in pocket; and it's my suspicion that you've been at it from morning to night to prevent me from being better for it in the pocket, and I won't put up with it, Aggerawayter, and what do you say now!'" Book 2, Chapter 1, pg. 53

After breakfast, he and his lookalike son go to Tellson's. There, his job is to sit on a stool and wait for errands to run. He calls himself "an honest tradesman" though his job is hardly dignified. His young son sits next to him and takes his father's place on the stool when the elder Cruncher is sent on an errand. That morning, he is sent on an errand as soon as he arrives at the bank.

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