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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 Twenty-Three – Fire Rises Summary

  • We’re back in the French countryside.
  • It’s just about as dismal as when we left it: there’s no food, the crops are withered, and the people are in about the same condition as the crops.
  • Despite this, things seem to have changed somehow.
  • For years, Monseigneur (as a class) has squeezed and starved the poor of the village.
  • Now, however, the faces of the poor have a new look. It’s one that Monseigneur can’t quite figure out.
  • Our old friend, the mender of roads, is out mending roads.
  • After all, what else would he be doing?
  • A man walks up to him, greets him as Jacques, and the two sit down to eat together.
  • The mender of roads asks if it’s happening tonight.
  • What? What’s happening?
  • Just wait… we’ll find out soon enough.
  • The traveler wants to take a nap. He asks the mender of roads to wake him at sunset.
  • It’s now sunset. The mender of roads wakes the traveler.
  • Hey, we told you it was going to happen.
  • They shake hands. The traveler asks a cryptic question: is it two leagues away?
  • The answer is yes.
  • Later that night, the chateau on the hill begins to burn.
  • Vast clouds of smoke and flame can be seen from the town.
  • Monsieur Gabelle, the guy who’s in charge of the town, awakens to find a rider at his door.
  • Frantic, the rider asks Monsieur Gabelle to send village folks up to the chateau.
  • Everyone in the village looks at each other. Amazingly enough, no one wants to help put out the fire.
  • The chateau burns.
  • After the blazes die down a little bit, folks start to remember that the Marquis wasn’t the only aristocrat in town.
  • Gabelle was the one who collected the Marquis’s taxes.
  • Okay, so he’s not really an aristocrat. But he’s close enough, isn’t he?
  • That seems to be the general consensus.
  • People start to beat down Gabelle’s door.
  • He takes the advice of his friends and puts a heavy bolt on the door.
  • As night descends, we leave Gabelle praying that he won’t get strung up on a pike.

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