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A Tale of Two Cities

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Mr. Stryver having made up his mind to that magnanimous bestowal of good fortune on the Doctor’s daughter, resolved to make her happiness known to her before he left town for the Long Vacation. After some mental debating of the point, he came to the conclusion that it would be as well to get all the preliminaries done with, and they could then arrange at their leisure whether he should give her his hand a week or two before Michaelmas Term, or in the little Christmas vacation between it and Hilary. Mr. Stryver, having made up his mind to be nice enough to marry Lucie Manette, decided to give her the good news before he left town on his long vacation. After thinking it over for a while he decided that it would be best to ask her right away and get it over with. Then they could take their time deciding whether they should get married a week or two before

Michaelmas term

sometime in late October

Michaelmas term
or during the Christmas vacation between Michaelmas and

Hilary term

between November 25 and January 11

Hilary term
.
As to the strength of his case, he had not a doubt about it, but clearly saw his way to the verdict. Argued with the jury on substantial worldly grounds—the only grounds ever worth taking into account—it was a plain case, and had not a weak spot in it. He called himself for the plaintiff, there was no getting over his evidence, the counsel for the defendant threw up his brief, and the jury did not even turn to consider. After trying it, Stryver, C. J., was satisfied that no plainer case could be. He had no doubt that she would want to marry him and was sure she would say yes. He thought of it as a court case. If he argued his case in practical terms—the only terms worth considering—it was a clear case without any weaknesses. He called himself as a witness for the plaintiff. His evidence was unbeatable. The counsel for the defendant gave up his case, and the jury didn’t even need to stop to discuss their verdict. After trying the case, Mr. Stryver, Chief Justice, knew that it was an open-and-shut case.
Accordingly, Mr. Stryver inaugurated the Long Vacation with a formal proposal to take Miss Manette to Vauxhall Gardens; that failing, to Ranelagh; that unaccountably failing too, it behoved him to present himself in Soho, and there declare his noble mind. Accordingly, Mr. Stryver decided to begin his long vacation with a formal offer to take Miss Manette to Vauxhall Gardens. If that didn’t work, he would take her to Ranelagh. If that failed too, he would go to her house in Soho and tell her how he felt about her there.
Towards Soho, therefore, Mr. Stryver shouldered his way from the Temple, while the bloom of the Long Vacation’s infancy was still upon it. Anybody who had seen him projecting himself into Soho while he was yet on Saint Dunstan’s side of Temple Bar, bursting in his full-blown way along the pavement, to the jostlement of all weaker people, might have seen how safe and strong he was. Mr. Stryver shoved his way through the streets from Temple Bar toward Soho at the beginning of his long vacation. As he headed toward Soho, while he was still on Saint Dunstan’s side of Temple Bar, he rushed in his all-out way along the sidewalk, shoving aside all weaker people. Anybody who had seen him would have noticed how invulnerable and strong he was.
His way taking him past Tellson’s, and he both banking at Tellson’s and knowing Mr. Lorry as the intimate friend of the Manettes, it entered Mr. Stryver’s mind to enter the bank, and reveal to Mr. Lorry the brightness of the Soho horizon. So, he pushed open the door with the weak rattle in its throat, stumbled down the two steps, got past the two ancient cashiers, and shouldered himself into the musty back closet where Mr. Lorry sat at great books ruled for figures, with perpendicular iron bars to his window as if that were ruled for figures too, and everything under the clouds were a sum. His path took him past Tellson’s Bank, and since he did his banking at Tellson’s and knew that Mr. Lorry was a close friend of the Manettes, he decided to go in and tell Mr. Lorry about his plans to propose to Miss Manette. He pushed open the creaky door and stumbled down the two steps leading into the bank and walked past the two old cashiers. He shoved his way into the small, dirty back office where Mr. Lorry sat. In front of him were large books with lined columns of numbers in them. There were horizontal iron bars on his window, as if the window had been ruled for crunching numbers too, and everything under the clouds were a math problem.
“Halloa!” said Mr. Stryver. “How do you do? I hope you are well!” “Hello!” said Mr. Stryver. “How do you do? I hope you are well!”
It was Stryver’s grand peculiarity that he always seemed too big for any place, or space. He was so much too big for Tellson’s, that old clerks in distant corners looked up with looks of remonstrance, as though he squeezed them against the wall. The House itself, magnificently reading the paper quite in the far-off perspective, lowered displeased, as if the Stryver head had been butted into its responsible waistcoat. Mr. Stryver’s oddest characteristic was that he always appeared too big for whatever space he was in. He seemed so large in Tellson’s that old clerks in far corners looked up in protest as though he were squeezing them against the wall. The head of the bank, reading a paper far away, lowered it unhappily, as if Mr. Stryver had head-butted him in the stomach.
The discreet Mr. Lorry said, in a sample tone of the voice he would recommend under the circumstances, “How do you do, Mr. Stryver? How do you do, sir?” and shook hands. There was a peculiarity in his manner of shaking hands, always to be seen in any clerk at Tellson’s who shook hands with a customer when the House pervaded the air. He shook in a self-abnegating way, as one who shook for Tellson and Co. Mr. Lorry said in a quiet, professional tone, “How do you do, Mr. Stryver? How do you do, sir?” He shook Mr. Stryver’s hand. There was a strangeness in the way Mr. Lorry shook hands. All the clerks at Tellson’s shook hands this way when the head of the bank was there. He shook hands in an impersonal way, as if he were shaking hands on behalf of the whole company.

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