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A Tale of Two Cities

Charles Dickens

  Book 1 Chapter 4

page Book 1 Chapter 4: The Preparation: Page 7

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Without directly answering to this appeal, she sat so still when he had very gently raised her, and the hands that had not ceased to clasp his wrists were so much more steady than they had been, that she communicated some reassurance to Mr. Jarvis Lorry. She didn’t answer him. But she remained so still after he sat her up in her chair, and her hands, as they held his wrists, were so much steadier than before, that she communicated calmness to Mr. Jarvis Lorry.
“That’s right, that’s right. Courage! Business! You have business before you; useful business. Miss Manette, your mother took this course with you. And when she died—I believe broken-hearted—having never slackened her unavailing search for your father, she left you, at two years old, to grow to be blooming, beautiful, and happy, without the dark cloud upon you of living in uncertainty whether your father soon wore his heart out in prison, or wasted there through many lingering years.” “That’s right, that’s right. Be brave! This is business! You have business in front of you, important business. Miss Manette, this is how your mother decided to handle things. She never gave up her search for your father, though she was unsuccessful. When she died—I believe broken-hearted—she left you at two years old to grow up beautiful and happy. She didn’t want you wondering whether your father died soon after going to prison, or if he wasted away over the course of many years.”
As he said the words he looked down, with an admiring pity, on the flowing golden hair; as if he pictured to himself that it might have been already tinged with grey. As he spoke, he looked down with admiration and pity on her flowing golden hair, and he imagined that it might already be streaked with gray.
“You know that your parents had no great possession, and that what they had was secured to your mother and to you. There has been no new discovery, of money, or of any other property; but—” “You know that your parents didn’t have much, and what they did have was given to you and your mother. No new money or any other property has been discovered, but—”
He felt his wrist held closer, and he stopped. The expression in the forehead, which had so particularly attracted his notice, and which was now immovable, had deepened into one of pain and horror. He felt her grab his wrist tighter and stopped speaking. The expression on her forehead, which had so much attracted his attention, had deepened into one of pain and horror.
“But he has been—been found. He is alive. Greatly changed, it is too probable; almost a wreck, it is possible; though we will hope the best. Still, alive. Your father has been taken to the house of an old servant in Paris, and we are going there: I, to identify him if I can: you, to restore him to life, love, duty, rest, comfort.” “But he has been—been found. He is alive. He has probably changed a lot. He might be a broken man, though we will hope for the best. Still, he’s alive. Your father has been taken to the house of one of his former servants in Paris, and we are going there. I go to identify him, if I can. You go to bring him back to life. To take bring him love, duty, rest, and comfort.”
A shiver ran through her frame, and from it through his. She said, in a low, distinct, awe-stricken voice, as if she were saying it in a dream, A shiver ran through her body and his. She said, in a low, clear, awe-struck voice, as if she were in a dream:
“I am going to see his Ghost! It will be his Ghost—not him!” “I am going to see his ghost! It will be his ghost, not him!”
Mr. Lorry quietly chafed the hands that held his arm. “There, there, there! See now, see now! The best and the worst are known to you, now. You are well on your way to the poor wronged gentleman, and, with a fair sea voyage, and a fair land journey, you will be soon at his dear side.” Mr. Lorry quietly rubbed her hands, which held his arm. “There now, there now! You know the best and the worst of it now. You are well on your way to seeing the poor mistreated gentleman. If the journey goes well, you will soon be with him.”
She repeated in the same tone, sunk to a whisper, “I have been free, I have been happy, yet his Ghost has never haunted me!” She repeated in the same tone, as low as a whisper, “I have been free, I have been happy, but his ghost has never haunted me!”
“Only one thing more,” said Mr. Lorry, laying stress upon it as a wholesome means of enforcing her attention: “he has been found under another name; his own, long forgotten or long concealed. It would be worse than useless now to inquire which; worse than useless to seek to know whether he has been for years overlooked, or always designedly held prisoner. It would be worse than useless now to make any inquiries, because it would be dangerous. Better not to mention the subject, anywhere or in any way, and to remove him—for a while at all events—out of France. Even I, safe as an Englishman, and even Tellson’s, important as they are to French credit, avoid all naming of the matter. I carry about me, not a scrap of writing openly referring to it. This is a secret service altogether. My credentials, entries, and memoranda, are all comprehended in the one line, `Recalled to Life;’ which may mean anything. But what is the matter! She doesn’t notice a word! Miss Manette!” “One more thing,” said Mr. Lorry, emphasizing the words to get her attention. “He was discovered under another name, his own name being either long forgotten or hidden. It wouldn’t do any good to ask which was the case, or to ask if he’d been held prisoner so long by mistake or on purpose. It’s best not to ask around about it because it would be dangerous. Better not to mention it, and to get him out of France, at least for a while. Even I, who am safe because I am an Englishman, and even Tellson’s Bank, as important as it is to the credit of the French government, need to stay out of the matter. I carry nothing in writing that directly refers to this matter. This is an entirely secret operation. All information pertaining to the matter is contained in the one line ‘Brought back to life,’ which could mean anything. But what’s the matter? She doesn’t hear a word! Miss Manette!”