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?”
“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?”
“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?”
“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.”
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?”
“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.