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If Sydney Carton ever shone anywhere, he certainly never shone in the house of Doctor Manette. He had been there often, during a whole year, and had always been the same moody and morose lounger there. When he cared to talk, he talked well; but, the cloud of caring for nothing, which overshadowed him with such a fatal darkness, was very rarely pierced by the light within him. If Sydney Carton ever made a good impression anywhere, it was certainly never at Dr. Manette’s house. He had been going there regularly for a whole year, and he always spent his time there lying around in a grumpy mood. When he said anything, he spoke well, but his apathy cast a shadow over him, and his good heart rarely shined through.
And yet he did care something for the streets that environed that house, and for the senseless stones that made their pavements. Many a night he vaguely and unhappily wandered there, when wine had brought no transitory gladness to him; many a dreary daybreak revealed his solitary figure lingering there, and still lingering there when the first beams of the sun brought into strong relief, removed beauties of architecture in spires of churches and lofty buildings, as perhaps the quiet time brought some sense of better things, else forgotten and unattainable, into his mind. Of late, the neglected bed in the Temple Court had known him more scantily than ever; and often when he had thrown himself upon it no longer than a few minutes, he had got up again, and haunted that neighbourhood. He did, however, like the streets that surrounded the Manettes’ house, and the cobblestones that made them up. Many nights he would end up wandering sadly around their neighborhood, after drinking wine all night had failed to improve his mood. Many times he would be wandering near their house at sunrise, and often he would still be there when the first rays of sun hit the church steeple and tall buildings. Perhaps these quiet mornings made him think happy thoughts that he forgot about at other times during the day. Lately, he had spent less time than ever in his unmade bed at Temple Court. Often, after he had come home and thrown himself on it for just a few minutes, he would get up again and wander around the Manettes’ neighborhood.
On a day in August, when Mr. Stryver (after notifying to his jackal that “he had thought better of that marrying matter”) had carried his delicacy into Devonshire, and when the sight and scent of flowers in the City streets had some waifs of goodness in them for the worst, of health for the sickliest, and of youth for the oldest, Sydney’s feet still trod those stones. From being irresolute and purposeless, his feet became animated by an intention, and, in the working out of that intention, they took him to the Doctor’s door. One day in August, when Mr. Stryver (after telling Mr. Carton that he had decided not to get married) had gone to Devonshire, Mr. Carton wandered around near the Manette’s house. The sight and smell of flowers in the city gave a sense of goodness to even the worst people, a feeling of health to the sickliest, and an air of youth to the oldest. At first Mr. Carton wandered aimlessly. Then he was struck by an idea. He walked purposefully to Dr. Manette’s door.
He was shown up-stairs, and found Lucie at her work, alone. She had never been quite at her ease with him, and received him with some little embarrassment as he seated himself near her table. But, looking up at his face in the interchange of the first few common-places, she observed a change in it. The servant brought him upstairs and he found Lucie working there alone. She had never been comfortable when he was around, and she was a little embarrassed when he arrived and sat down near her at her table. She looked at his face after they exchanged a few pleasantries and noticed that something was different about him.
“I fear you are not well, Mr. Carton!” “You look sick, Mr. Carton!”
“No. But the life I lead, Miss Manette, is not conducive to health. What is to be expected of, or by, such profligates?” “No. But I live an unhealthy lifestyle, Miss Manette. What can you expect from someone as decadent as I am?”
“Is it not—forgive me; I have begun the question on my lips—a pity to live no better life?” “Forgive me for asking, but wouldn’t it be better to live a better life?”
“God knows it is a shame!” “God knows it’s a shame that I don’t!”
“Then why not change it?” “Then why not change the way you live?”
Looking gently at him again, she was surprised and saddened to see that there were tears in his eyes. There were tears in his voice too, as he answered: She looked at him gently again, surprised and sad to see that he was crying. His voice sounded sad, too, as he answered:
“It is too late for that. I shall never be better than I am. I shall sink lower, and be worse.” “It’s too late for that. I will never be better than I am now. I’ll only get worse and worse.”
He leaned an elbow on her table, and covered his eyes with his hand. The table trembled in the silence that followed. He leaned his elbow on the table and covered his eyes with his hand. The table trembled as he cried on it silently.
She had never seen him softened, and was much distressed. He knew her to be so, without looking at her, and said: She had never seen him so vulnerable, and it was upsetting to her. He could tell that she was upset, so without looking at her, he said: