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A Tale of Two Cities

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From the dimly-lighted passages of the court, the last sediment of the human stew that had been boiling there all day, was straining off, when Doctor Manette, Lucie Manette, his daughter, Mr. Lorry, the solicitor for the defence, and its counsel, Mr. Stryver, stood gathered round Mr. Charles Darnay—just released—congratulating him on his escape from death. The last few spectators were leaving the dim corridors of the courthouse. Dr. Manette and his daughter, Lucie, as well as Mr. Lorry, the solicitor for the defense, and the defense lawyer, Mr. Stryver, gathered around Mr. Charles Darnay, who had just been released. They all congratulated him on his escape from the death penalty.
It would have been difficult by a far brighter light, to recognise in Doctor Manette, intellectual of face and upright of bearing, the shoemaker of the garret in Paris. Yet, no one could have looked at him twice, without looking again: even though the opportunity of observation had not extended to the mournful cadence of his low grave voice, and to the abstraction that overclouded him fitfully, without any apparent reason. While one external cause, and that a reference to his long lingering agony, would always—as on the trial—evoke this condition from the depths of his soul, it was also in its nature to arise of itself, and to draw a gloom over him, as incomprehensible to those unacquainted with his story as if they had seen the shadow of the actual Bastille thrown upon him by a summer sun, when the substance was three hundred miles away. In brighter light it would have been difficult to tell that the intelligent looking Dr. Manette was the same man who had been a shoemaker in the attic in Paris. People couldn’t help but look twice at him, even when they had not heard his low, sad voice or seen the dazed absentmindedness that overcame him at times without any apparent reason. A single reminder of his time in prison, like what had happened at the trial, could send him into depression. But it could also arise on its own, and send him into a gloomy state of mind. These mood changes were completely surprising to people who did not know his troubled history. It was as if the shadow of the

Bastille

a large prison in Paris

Bastille
were on him, even though the building was three hundred miles away.
Only his daughter had the power of charming this black brooding from his mind. She was the golden thread that united him to a Past beyond his misery, and to a Present beyond his misery: and the sound of her voice, the light of her face, the touch of her hand, had a strong beneficial influence with him almost always. Not absolutely always, for she could recall some occasions on which her power had failed; but they were few and slight, and she believed them over. Only his daughter could bring him back from this melancholy brooding. She was the one thing that connected his past, before his imprisonment, to his present. The sound of her voice, the look on her face, or the touch of her hand almost always made him feel better. There had a few times when she hadn’t been able to help him, but these instances were rare and she felt they were now over.
Mr. Darnay had kissed her hand fervently and gratefully, and had turned to Mr. Stryver, whom he warmly thanked. Mr. Stryver, a man of little more than thirty, but looking twenty years older than he was, stout, loud, red, bluff, and free from any drawback of delicacy, had a pushing way of shouldering himself (morally and physically) into companies and conversations, that argued well for his shouldering his way up in life. Mr. Darnay kissed her hand passionately and gratefully, and thanked Mr. Stryver warmly. Mr. Stryver was not much older than thirty, but he looked fifty. He was fat, loud, red, and crude. He had a way of shoving himself, morally and physically, into groups and conversations, just as he was shoving his way up in the world.
He still had his wig and gown on, and he said, squaring himself at his late client to that degree that he squeezed the innocent Mr. Lorry clean out of the group: “I am glad to have brought you off with honour, Mr. Darnay. It was an infamous prosecution, grossly infamous; but not the less likely to succeed on that account.” Mr. Stryver still wore his wig and gown, and he stood in front of Mr. Darnay in such a way that Mr. Lorry was edged out of the conversation entirely. “I am happy I represented you honorably, Mr. Darnay,” said Mr. Stryver. “It was a villainous case they had against you, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t have succeeded.”
“You have laid me under an obligation to you for life—in two senses,” said his late client, taking his hand. “I am indebted to your for life, in two senses of the word,” said Mr. Darnay, shaking his hand.
“I have done my best for you, Mr. Darnay; and my best is as good as another man’s, I believe.” “I did my best for you, Mr. Darnay, though I only did as well as any other man would have.”
It clearly being incumbent on some one to say, “Much better,” Mr. Lorry said it; perhaps not quite disinterestedly, but with the interested object of squeezing himself back again. It was obvious that someone was expected to say, “You did much better than any other could have,” so Mr. Lorry said it, hoping to squeeze himself back into the conversation.
“You think so?” said Mr. Stryver. “Well! you have been present all day, and you ought to know. You are a man of business, too.” “Do you think so?” asked Mr. Stryver. “Well! You’ve been here all day and you ought to know. You’re a businessman, too.”

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