A ship’s anchor from the deep

“Long ago, when he had been famous among his earliest competitors as a youth of great promise, he had followed his father to the grave. His mother had died, years before. These solemn words, which had been read at his father’s grave, arose in his mind as he went down the dark streets, among the heavy shadows, with the moon and the clouds sailing on high above him. ‘I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die.’

In a city dominated by the axe, alone at night, with natural sorrow rising in him for the sixty-three who had been that day put to death, and for to-morrow’s victims then awaiting their doom in the prisons, and still of to-morrow’s and to-morrow’s, the chain of association that brought the words home, like a rusty old ship’s anchor from the deep, might have been easily found. He did not seek it, but repeated them and went on.”

The two pages that begin thus from book three, chapter nine of Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities are among my favorite pages ever written.

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