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A Tale of Two Cities

Charles Dickens

Book 2 Chapter 11

page Book 2 Chapter 11: A Companion Picture Page 1

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“Sydney,” said Mr. Stryver, on that self-same night, or morning, to his jackal; “mix another bowl of punch; I have something to say to you.” “Mix another bowl of punch, Sydney,” said Mr. Stryver to Mr. Carton that same night, or early in the morning. “I have something to say to you.”
Sydney had been working double tides that night, and the night before, and the night before that, and a good many nights in succession, making a grand clearance among Mr. Stryver’s papers before the setting in of the long vacation. The clearance was effected at last; the Stryver arrears were handsomely fetched up; everything was got rid of until November should come with its fogs atmospheric, and fogs legal, and bring grist to the mill again. Sydney Carton had been working twice as hard that night, and the night before. He had been working hard for many nights in a row, clearing out a lot of Mr. Stryver’s papers before going on a long vacation. The papers had finally been cleared out, and Mr. Stryver’s debts had been paid up. Everything was finished until November, when the weather would turn foggy, and legal matters would become complex and foggy too, and there would be work for him again.
Sydney was none the livelier and none the soberer for so much application. It had taken a deal of extra wet-towelling to pull him through the night; a correspondingly extra quantity of wine had preceded the towelling; and he was in a very damaged condition, as he now pulled his turban off and threw it into the basin in which he had steeped it at intervals for the last six hours. Sydney wasn’t very lively or very sober after working so hard. He had needed extra wet towels on his head to get him through the night. He had needed an extra amount of wine to drink before the towels. He was in bad shape. He pulled the towels off his head and threw them into the basin where he had been dipping them now and again for the last six hours.
“Are you mixing that other bowl of punch?” said Stryver the portly, with his hands in his waistband, glancing round from the sofa where he lay on his back. “Are you mixing that other bowl of punch?” asked Stryver. He had his hands in his waistband, and he looked over from the sofa where he was lying on his back.
“I am.” “I am.”
“Now, look here! I am going to tell you something that will rather surprise you, and that perhaps will make you think me not quite as shrewd as you usually do think me. I intend to marry.” “Now look here! I’m going to tell you something that will surprise you. It might make you think that I’m not as smart as you think I am. I plan on getting married.”
“DO you?” Do you?”
“Yes. And not for money. What do you say now?” “Yes. And I’m not even marrying for money. What do you say to that?”
“I don’t feel disposed to say much. Who is she?” “I don’t have much to say. Who is she?”
“Guess.” “Guess.”
“Do I know her?” “Do I know her?”
“Guess.” “Guess.”
“I am not going to guess, at five o’clock in the morning, with my brains frying and sputtering in my head. If you want me to guess, you must ask me to dinner.” “It’s five o’clock in the morning! I’m not going to guess. I’m too tired. If you want me to guess you’ll have to ask me at lunch.”
“Well then, I’ll tell you,” said Stryver, coming slowly into a sitting posture. “Sydney, I rather despair of making myself intelligible to you, because you are such an insensible dog.” “In that case I’ll tell you,” said Stryver. He sat up slowly. “Sydney, I have trouble explaining myself to you because you’re an insensitive idiot.”
“And you,” returned Sydney, busy concocting the punch, “are such a sensitive and poetical spirit—” “And you,” returned Sydney sarcastically, who was busy mixing the punch, “are such a sensitive and poetic spirit—”
“Come!” rejoined Stryver, laughing boastfully, “though I don’t prefer any claim to being the soul of Romance (for I hope I know better), still I am a tenderer sort of fellow than YOU.” “Come on!” Stryver replied, laughing arrogantly. “I don’t claim to be a romantic. I hope I know better than to be that. But I am more sensitive than you are.”
“You are a luckier, if you mean that.” “You’re luckier, you mean.”
“I don’t mean that. I mean I am a man of more—more—” “That’s not what I mean. I mean I am a man of more—more—”
“Say gallantry, while you are about it,” suggested Carton. “Say ‘chivalry’ while you’re at it,” suggested Carton.
“Well! I’ll say gallantry. My meaning is that I am a man,” said Stryver, inflating himself at his friend as he made the punch, “who cares more to be agreeable, who takes more pains to be agreeable, who knows better how to be agreeable, in a woman’s society, than you do.” “Good! I’ll say chivalry. What I mean is that I am a man who cares more about being attractive to women than you do. I work harder at it and I’m better at it,” said Stryver. He puffed up his chest as Carton mixed the punch.
“Go on,” said Sydney Carton. “Go on,” said Sydney Carton.
“No; but before I go on,” said Stryver, shaking his head in his bullying way, “I’ll have this out with you. You’ve been at Doctor Manette’s house as much as I have, or more than I have. Why, I have been ashamed of your moroseness there! Your manners have been of that silent and sullen and hangdog kind, that, upon my life and soul, I have been ashamed of you, Sydney!” “No. But before I go on,” said Stryver, shaking his head in his bullying way, “I’ll prove my point. You’ve been to Dr. Manette’s house as often as I have, perhaps even more. I’ve been embarrassed by how depressed you act there! You behave in a such silent and sullen and downcast way that I am embarrassed by you, Sydney!”