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A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities

by Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities Volume II, Chapter Fourteen – The Honest Tradesman Summary

  • Jerry and his son (also Jerry) are sitting outside of Tellson’s Bank late one afternoon.
  • All of a sudden, a small crowd of people pass by the bank.
  • Jerry (the elder) sternly informs his son that what they’re about to see is "a buryin’."
  • In other words, the crowd is a funeral procession.
  • Young Jerry’s pretty psyched about the prospect of a little bit of entertainment.
  • He cheers for the oncoming funeral. He father promptly boxes his ears.
  • A funeral may be exciting, after all, but one should still respect the dead.
  • As it turns out, there’s only one person who’s officially mourning the dead body.
  • All of the rest of the crowd is just there to cheer that person on.
  • C’mon, there weren’t movies back then. What else are you supposed to do on a long, boring afternoon?
  • As the crowd gets closer, the Crunchers realize that they aren’t exactly cheering the mourner on.
  • In fact, they’re booing the dead guy.
  • They seem to think that the dead guy was a spy. Nobody likes spies.
  • Come to think of it, the crowd hates spies more than most other people.
  • In fact, they hate spies so much that they turn into a mob. The plan, it seems, is to overturn the funeral carriage, take the body out, and derail the parade.
  • Luckily, this plan doesn’t work so well.
  • Instead, the mob decides to become part of the funeral procession. They all load into the carriage (which begins to smell strongly of alcohol) and head off towards the graveyard together.
  • Oh, and did we mention that the dead guy (or the dead spy, if you will) was named Roger Cly? Hmm. We didn’t really mean to rhyme that well. We’re just too good.
  • Cruncher and Son (or Jerry and Jerry) stick around after the funeral to chat a bit with the undertaker.
  • When they get back to the bank, it’s closed.
  • Accordingly, they set out towards home.
  • Arriving just in time for tea, the Crunchers meet up with Mrs. Cruncher on the road.
  • Jerry immediately tells his wife that if his business ventures as an "honest tradesman" go wrong tonight, he’ll know it was because she was "flopping" against him
  • Flopping = praying, remember?
  • Hmm…what do business ventures have to do with funerals? This is all very mysterious.
  • Mr. Cruncher announces that he’s going out tonight.
  • He’s going fishing.
  • Jerry (the younger) immediately points out that his father’s fishing rod is pretty rusty, which is strange, considering all the times that it’s supposedly used.
  • His father doesn’t answer.
  • Late that night, Young Jerry waits until his father leaves the house.
  • He slips on his boots and follows his father down the road.
  • Mr. Cruncher meets with two other men; they head down towards…the graveyard.
  • Jerry waits breathlessly as the three head into the graveyard.
  • When they’ve gone in, he creeps up to the gate.
  • Watching through a crack in the wall, Young Jerry sees the three men begin to "fish."
  • Funnily enough, though, they’re not using fishing rods.
  • In fact, they’re using spades.
  • And they’re digging up the grave.
  • Astonished, Jerry jumps up and runs down the road. He doesn’t stop until he reaches his home.
  • In the morning, Young Jerry awakens to the sound of his father beating his mother’s head against the table.
  • Lovely. Just lovely.
  • Apparently, something went wrong the night before.
  • Mr. Cruncher, of course, blames his wife for the failure.
  • As Jerry Cruncher and Young Jerry walk to Tellson’s, Young Jerry asks his father what a "Resurrection-Man" is.
  • Startled, Mr. Cruncher stops abruptly in the middle of the street.
  • After thinking for a minute, he tells Jerry that a resurrection man is a tradesman.
  • Young Jerry ponders this information over for awhile.
  • Finally, he declares that he’d like to be a tradesman when he grows up.
  • Relieved, Mr. Cruncher says that with hard work and a bit of luck, Young Jerry might just turn out to be a decent adult, after all.

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