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Chapter 10 Two Promises

  • More months, to the number of twelve, had come and gone, and Mr. Charle_arnay was established in England as a higher teacher of the French languag_ho was conversant with French literature. In this age, he would have been _rofessor; in that age, he was a Tutor. He read with young men who could fin_ny leisure and interest for the study of a living tongue spoken all over th_orld, and he cultivated a taste for its stores of knowledge and fancy. H_ould write of them, besides, in sound English, and render them into soun_nglish. Such masters were not at that time easily found; Princes that ha_een, and Kings that were to be, were not yet of the Teacher class, and n_uined nobility had dropped out of Tellson’s ledgers, to turn cooks an_arpenters. As a tutor, whose attainments made the student’s way unusuall_leasant and profitable, and as an elegant translator who brought something t_is work besides mere dictionary knowledge, young Mr. Darnay soon became know_nd encouraged. He was well acquainted, moreover, with the circumstances o_is country, and those were of ever-growing interest. So, with grea_erseverance and untiring industry, he prospered.
  • In London, he had expected neither to walk on pavements of gold, nor to lie o_eds of roses; if he had had any such exalted expectation, he would not hav_rospered. He had expected labour, and he found it, and did it and made th_est of it. In this, his prosperity consisted.
  • A certain portion of his time was passed at Cambridge, where he read wit_ndergraduates as a sort of tolerated smuggler who drove a contraband trade i_uropean languages, instead of conveying Greek and Latin through the Custom- house. The rest of his time he passed in London.
  • Now, from the days when it was always summer in Eden, to these days when it i_ostly winter in fallen latitudes, the world of a man has invariably gone on_ay- Charles Darnay’s way- the way of the love of a woman.
  • He had loved Lucie Manette from the hour of his danger. He had never heard _ound so sweet and dear as the sound of her compassionate voice; he had neve_een a face so tenderly beautiful, as hers when it was confronted with his ow_n the edge of the grave that had been dug for him. But, he had not yet spoke_o her on the subject; the assassination at the deserted chateau far awa_eyond the heaving water and the long, long, dusty roads- the solid ston_hateau which had itself become the mere mist of a dream- had been done _ear, and he had never yet, by so much as a single spoken word, disclosed t_er the state of his heart.
  • That he had his reasons for this, he knew full well. It was again a summer da_hen, lately arrived in London from his college occupation, he turned into th_uiet corner in Soho, bent on seeking an opportunity of opening his mind t_octor Manette. It was the close of the summer day, and he knew Lucie to b_ut with Miss Pross.
  • He found the Doctor reading in his arm-chair at a window. The energy which ha_t once supported him under his old sufferings and aggravated their sharpness, had been gradually restored to him. He was now a very energetic man indeed, with great firmness of purpose, strength of resolution, and vigour of action.
  • In his recovered energy he was sometimes a little fitful and sudden, as he ha_t first been in the exercise of his other recovered faculties; but, this ha_ever been frequently observable, and had grown more and more rare.
  • He studied much, slept little, sustained a great deal of fatigue with ease, and was equably cheerful. To him, now entered Charles Darnay, at sight of who_e laid aside his book and held out his hand.
  • “Charles Darnay! I rejoice to see you. We have been counting on your retur_hese three or four days past. Mr. Stryver and Sydney Carton were both her_esterday, and both made you out to be more than due.”
  • “I am obliged to them for their interest in the matter,” he answered, a littl_oldly as to them, though very warmly as to the Doctor. “Miss Manette—”
  • “Is well,” said the Doctor, as he stopped short, “and your return will deligh_s all. She has gone out on some household matters, but will soon be home.”
  • “Doctor Manette, I knew she was from home. I took the opportunity of her bein_rom home, to beg to speak to you.”
  • There was a blank silence.
  • “Yes?” said the Doctor, with evident constraint. “Bring your chair here, an_peak on.”
  • He complied as to the chair, but appeared to find the speaking on less easy.
  • “I have had the happiness, Doctor Manette, of being so intimate here,” so h_t length began, “for some year and a half, that I hope the topic on which _m about to touch may not—”
  • He was stayed by the Doctor’s putting out his hand to stop him. When he ha_ept it so a little while, he said, drawing it back:
  • “Is Lucie the topic?”
  • “She is.”
  • “It is hard for me to speak of her at any time. It is very hard for me to hea_er spoken of in that tone of yours, Charles Darnay.”
  • “It is a tone of fervent admiration, true homage, and deep love, Docto_anette!” he said deferentially.
  • There was another blank silence before her father rejoined:
  • “I believe it. I do you justice; I believe it.”
  • His constraint was so manifest, and it was so manifest, too, that i_riginated in an unwillingness to approach the subject, that Charles Darna_esitated.
  • “Shall I go on, sir?”
  • Another blank.
  • “Yes, go on.”
  • “You anticipate what I would say, though you cannot know how earnestly I sa_t, how earnestly I feel it, without knowing my secret heart, and the hope_nd fears and anxieties with which it has long been laden. Dear Docto_anette, I love your daughter fondly, dearly, disinterestedly, devotedly. I_ver there were love in the world, I love her. You have loved yourself; le_our old love speak for me!”
  • The Doctor sat with his face turned away, and his eyes bent on the ground. A_he last words, he stretched out his hand again, hurriedly, and cried:
  • “Not that, sir! Let that be! I adjure you, do not recall that!”
  • His cry was so like a cry of actual pain, that it rang in Charles Darnay’_ars long after he had ceased. He motioned with the hand he had extended, an_t seemed to be an appeal to Darnay to pause. The latter so received it, an_emained silent.
  • “I ask your pardon,” said the Doctor, in a subdued tone, after some moments.
  • “I do not doubt your loving Lucie; you may be satisfied of it.”
  • He turned towards him in his chair, but did not look at him, or raise hi_yes. His chin dropped upon his hand, and his white hair overshadowed hi_ace:
  • “Have you spoken to Lucie?”
  • “No.”
  • “Nor written?”
  • “Never.”
  • “It would be ungenerous to affect not to know that your self-denial is to b_eferred to your consideration for her father. Her father thanks you.”
  • He offered his hand; but his eyes did not go with it.
  • “I know,” said Darnay, respectfully, “how can I fail to know, Doctor Manette, I who have seen you together from day to day, that between you and Mis_anette there is an affection so unusual, so touching, so belonging to th_ircumstances in which it has been nurtured, that it can have few parallels, even in the tenderness between a father and child. I know, Doctor Manette- ho_an I fail to know- that, mingled with the affection and duty of a daughte_ho has become a woman, there is, in her heart, towards you, all the love an_eliance of infancy itself. I know that, as in her childhood she had n_arent, so she is now devoted to you with all the constancy and fervour of he_resent years and character, united to the trustfulness and attachment of th_arly days in which you were lost to her. I know perfectly well that if yo_ad been restored to her from the world beyond this life, you could hardly b_nvested, in her sight, with a more sacred character than that in which yo_re always with her. I know that when she is clinging to you, the hands o_aby, girl, and woman, all in one, are round your neck. I know that in lovin_ou she sees and loves her mother at her own age, sees and loves you at m_ge, loves her mother broken-hearted, loves you through your dreadful tria_nd in your blessed restoration. I have known this, night and day, since _ave known you in your home.”
  • Her father sat silent, with his face bent down. His breathing was a littl_uickened; but he repressed all other signs of agitation.
  • “Dear Doctor Manette, always knowing this, always seeing her and you with thi_allowed light about you, I have forborne, and forborne, as long as it was i_he nature of man to do it. I have felt, and do even now feel, that to brin_y love- even mine- between you, is to touch your history with something no_uite so good as itself. But I love her. Heaven is my witness that I lov_er!”
  • “I believe it,” answered her father, mournfully. “I have thought so befor_ow. I believe it.”
  • “But, do not believe,” said Darnay, upon whose ear the mournful voice struc_ith a reproachful sound, “that if my fortune were so cast as that, being on_ay so happy as to make her my wife, I must at any time put any separatio_etween her and you, I could or would breathe a word of what I now say.
  • Besides that I should know it to be hopeless, I should know it to be _aseness. If I had any such possibility, even at a remote distance of years, harboured in my thoughts, and hidden in my heart- if it ever had been there- if it ever could be there- I could not now touch this honoured hand.”
  • He laid his own upon it as he spoke.
  • “No, dear Doctor Manette. Like you, a voluntary exile from France; like you, driven from it by its distractions, oppressions, and miseries; like you, striving to live away from it by my own exertions, and trusting in a happie_uture; I look only to sharing your fortunes, sharing your Life and home, an_eing faithful to you to the death. Not to divide with Lucie her privilege a_our child, companion, and friend; but to come in aid of it, and bind he_loser to you, if such a thing can be.”
  • His touch still lingered on her father’s hand. Answering the touch for _oment, but not coldly, her father rested his hands upon the arms of hi_hair, and looked up for the first time since the beginning of the conference.
  • A struggle was evidently in his face; a struggle with that occasional loo_hich had a tendency in it to dark doubt and dread.
  • “You speak so feelingly and so manfully, Charles Darnay, that I thank you wit_ll my heart, and will open all my heart- or nearly so. Have you any reason t_elieve that Lucie loves you?”
  • “None. As yet, none.”
  • “Is it the immediate object of this confidence, that you may at once ascertai_hat, with my knowledge?”
  • “Not even so. I might not have the hopefulness to do it for weeks; I might (mistaken or not mistaken) have that hopefulness to-morrow.”
  • “Do you seek any guidance from me?”
  • “I ask none, sir. But I have thought it possible that you might have it i_our power, if you should deem it right, to give me some.”
  • “Do you seek any promise from me?”
  • “I do seek that.”
  • “What is it?”
  • “I well understand that, without you, I could have no hope. I well understan_hat, even if Miss Manette held me at this moment in her innocent heart- d_ot think I have the presumption to assume so much- I could retain no place i_t against her love for her father.”
  • “If that be so, do you see what, on the other hand, is involved in it?”
  • “I understand equally well, that a word from her father in any suitor’_avour, would outweigh herself and all the world. For which reason, Docto_anette,” said Darnay, modestly but firmly, “I would not ask that word, t_ave my life.”
  • “I am sure of it. Charles Darnay, mysteries arise out of close love, as wel_s out of wide division; in the former case, they are subtle and delicate, an_ifficult to penetrate. My daughter Lucie is, in this one respect, such _ystery to me; I can make no guess at the state of her heart.”
  • “May I ask, sir, if you think she is—” As he hesitated, her father supplie_he rest.
  • “Is sought by any other suitor?”
  • “It is what I meant to say.”
  • Her father considered a Little before he answered:
  • “You have seen Mr. Carton here, yourself. Mr. Stryver is here too, occasionally. If it be at all, it can only be by one of these.”
  • “Or both,” said Darnay.
  • “I had not thought of both; I should not think either, likely. You want _romise from me. Tell me what it is.”
  • “It is, that if Miss Manette should bring to you at any time, on her own part, such a confidence as I have ventured to lay before you, you will bea_estimony to what I have said, and to your belief in it. I hope you may b_ble to think so well of me, as to urge no influence against me. I say nothin_ore of my stake in this; this is what I ask. The condition on which I ask it, and which you have an undoubted right to require, I will observe immediately.”
  • “I give the promise,” said the Doctor, “without any condition. I believe you_bject to be, purely and truthfully, as you have stated it. I believe you_ntention is to perpetuate, and not to weaken, the ties between me and m_ther and far dearer self. If she should ever tell me that you are essentia_o her perfect happiness, I will give her to you. If there were- Charle_arnay, if there were—”
  • The young man had taken his hand gratefully; their bands were joined as th_octor spoke:
  • ”-any fancies, any reasons, any apprehensions, anything whatsoever, new o_ld, against the man she really loved- the direct responsibility thereof no_ying on his head- they should all be obliterated for her sake. She i_verything to me; more to me than suffering, more to me than wrong, more t_e— Well! This is idle talk.”
  • So strange was the way in which he faded into silence, and so strange hi_ixed look when he had ceased to speak, that Darnay felt his own hand tur_old in the hand that slowly released and dropped it.
  • “You said something to me,” said Doctor Manette, breaking into a smile. “Wha_as it you said to me?”
  • He was at a loss how to answer, until he remembered having spoken of _ondition. Relieved as his mind reverted to that, he answered:
  • “Your confidence in me ought to be returned with full confidence on my part.
  • My present name, though but slightly changed from my mother’s, is not, as yo_ill remember, my own. I wish to tell you what that is, and why I am i_ngland.”
  • “Stop!” said the Doctor of Beauvais.
  • “I wish it, that I may the better deserve your confidence, and have no secre_rom you.”
  • “Stop!”
  • For an instant, the Doctor even had his two hands at his ears; for anothe_nstant, even had his two hands laid on Darnay’s lips.
  • “Tell me when I ask you, not now. If your suit should prosper, if Lucie shoul_ove you, you shall tell me on your marriage morning. Do you promise?”
  • “Willingly.”
  • “Give me your hand. She will be home directly, and it is better she should no_ee us together to-night. Go! God bless you!”
  • It was dark when Charles Darnay left him, and it was an hour later and darke_hen Lucie came home; she hurried into the room alone- for Miss Pross had gon_traight up-stairs- and was surprised to find his reading-chair empty.
  • “My father!” she called to him. “Father dear!”
  • Nothing was said in answer, but she heard a low hammering sound in hi_edroom. Passing lightly across the intermediate room, she looked in at hi_oor and came running back frightened, crying to herself, with her blood al_hilled, “What shall I do! What shall I do!”
  • Her uncertainty lasted but a moment; she hurried back, and tapped at his door, and softly called to him. The noise ceased at the sound of her voice, and h_resently came out to her, and they walked up and down together for a lon_ime.
  • She came down from her bed, to look at him in his sleep that night. He slep_eavily, and his tray of shoemaking tools, and his old unfinished work, wer_ll as usual.