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A Tale of Two Cities

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“It should be very beneficial to a man in your practice at the bar, to be ashamed of anything,” returned Sydney; “you ought to be much obliged to me.” “It is good for a lawyer to be ashamed about something,” answered Sydney. “You should thank me.”
“You shall not get off in that way,” rejoined Stryver, shouldering the rejoinder at him; “no, Sydney, it’s my duty to tell you—and I tell you to your face to do you good—that you are a devilish ill-conditioned fellow in that sort of society. You are a disagreeable fellow.” “You won’t get off that easy,” answered Stryver, shoving the response at him. “No, Sydney, it’s my duty to tell you. I’m telling you to your face to help you. You aren’t suited for that kind of company. You are an unpleasant man.”
Sydney drank a bumper of the punch he had made, and laughed. Sydney drank a large glass of the punch he had made and laughed.
“Look at me!” said Stryver, squaring himself; “I have less need to make myself agreeable than you have, being more independent in circumstances. Why do I do it?” “Look at me!” said Stryver, turning toward him. “I don’t need put in any effort to make myself attractive like you do. I am more independent than you are. I make a lot of money and have a good position. So why do I do it?”
“I never saw you do it yet,” muttered Carton. “I’ve never seen you do it yet,” Carton muttered to himself.
“I do it because it’s politic; I do it on principle. And look at me! I get on.” “I do it because it’s smart to do it. I do it on principle. And look at me! I do well for myself.”
“You don’t get on with your account of your matrimonial intentions,” answered Carton, with a careless air; “I wish you would keep to that. As to me—will you never understand that I am incorrigible?” “You aren’t doing well with your story about your plans to marry,” answered Carton casually. “I wish you would stay on the subject. And back to me—don’t you understand that I am hopeless?”
He asked the question with some appearance of scorn. He looked angry when he asked the question.
“You have no business to be incorrigible,” was his friend’s answer, delivered in no very soothing tone. “You have no business being hopeless,” answered Stryver harshly.
“I have no business to be, at all, that I know of,” said Sydney Carton. “Who is the lady?” “I have no business being anything as far as I know,” said Sydney Carton. “Who is the lady?”
“Now, don’t let my announcement of the name make you uncomfortable, Sydney,” said Mr. Stryver, preparing him with ostentatious friendliness for the disclosure he was about to make, “because I know you don’t mean half you say; and if you meant it all, it would be of no importance. I make this little preface, because you once mentioned the young lady to me in slighting terms.” “Now don’t get uncomfortable when I tell you who it is, Sydney,” said Mr. Stryver in a falsely friendly way. “I know you don’t mean half of the things you say. And even if you meant all of it, it wouldn’t matter to me. I’m saying this because you mentioned the young lady to me in a negative way.”
“I did?” “I did?”
“Certainly; and in these chambers.” “You did. Right here in this apartment.”
Sydney Carton looked at his punch and looked at his complacent friend; drank his punch and looked at his complacent friend. Sydney Carton looked at his punch, and he looked at his satisfied friend. He drank his punch and looked at his friend again.
“You made mention of the young lady as a golden-haired doll. The young lady is Miss Manette. If you had been a fellow of any sensitiveness or delicacy of feeling in that kind of way, Sydney, I might have been a little resentful of your employing such a designation; but you are not. You want that sense altogether; therefore I am no more annoyed when I think of the expression, than I should be annoyed by a man’s opinion of a picture of mine, who had no eye for pictures: or of a piece of music of mine, who had no ear for music.” “You called her a golden-haired doll. The young lady is Miss Manette. If you were someone who had any sensitivity or compassion in that way, Sydney, I might have been unhappy about what you said. But you aren’t. You have no sense at all. Therefore I am no more upset by what you said than I would be if a man who knows nothing about art criticized one of my paintings. Or if a man who knows nothing about music criticized a piece I had written.”
Sydney Carton drank the punch at a great rate; drank it by bumpers, looking at his friend. Sydney Carton drank his punch quickly. He drank it by the glassful. He kept looking at Stryver.
“Now you know all about it, Syd,” said Mr. Stryver. “I don’t care about fortune: she is a charming creature, and I have made up my mind to please myself: on the whole, I think I can afford to please myself. She will have in me a man already pretty well off, and a rapidly rising man, and a man of some distinction: it is a piece of good fortune for her, but she is worthy of good fortune. Are you astonished?” “Now you know all about it, Syd,” said Mr. Stryver. “I don’t care about money. She is a charming woman, and I have decided to make myself happy. Overall I think I can afford to be happy. I will be a husband who is already somewhat wealthy, and I am doing better and better for myself. I have some respect. It is lucky for her, but she deserves good luck. Are you surprised?”

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