Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 11 A Companion Picture

  • "Sydney," said Mr. Stryver, on that self-same night, or morning, to hi_ackal; "mix another bowl of punch; I have something to say to you."
  • Sydney had been working double tides that night, and the night before, and th_ight before that, and a good many nights in succession, making a gran_learance among Mr. Stryver's papers before the setting in of the lon_acation. The clearance was effected at last; the Stryver arrears wer_andsomely fetched up; everything was got rid of until November should com_ith its fogs atmospheric, and fogs legal, and bring grist to the mill again.
  • Sydney was none the livelier and none the soberer for so much application. I_ad taken a deal of extra wet-towelling to pull him through the night; _orrespondingly extra quantity of wine had preceded the towelling; and he wa_n a very damaged condition, as he now pulled his turban off and threw it int_he basin in which he had steeped it at intervals for the last six hours.
  • "Are you mixing that other bowl of punch?" said Stryver the portly, with hi_ands in his waistband, glancing round from the sofa where he lay on his back.
  • "I am."
  • "Now, look here! I am going to tell you something that will rather surpris_ou, and that perhaps will make you think me not quite as shrewd as yo_sually do think me. I intend to marry."
  • "Do you?"
  • "Yes. And not for money. What do you say now?"
  • "I don't feel disposed to say much. Who is she?"
  • "Guess."
  • "Do I know her?"
  • "Guess."
  • "I am not going to guess, at five o'clock in the morning, with my brain_rying and sputtering in my head. If you want me to guess, you must ask me t_inner."
  • "Well then, I'll tell you," said Stryver, coming slowly into a sittin_osture. "Sydney, I rather despair of making myself intelligible to you, because you are such an insensible dog."
  • "And you," returned Sydney, busy concocting the punch, "are such a sensitiv_nd poetical spirit."
  • "Come!" rejoined Stryver, laughing boastfully, "though I don't prefer an_laim to being the soul of Romance (for I hope I know better), still I am _enderer sort of fellow than you."
  • "You are a luckier, if you mean that."
  • "I don't mean that. I mean I am a man of more—more—"
  • "Say gallantry, while you are about 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 b_greeable, who takes more pains to be agreeable, who knows better how to b_greeable, in a woman's society, than you do."
  • "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 a_ have, or more than I have. Why, I have been ashamed of your morosenes_here! 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!"
  • "It should be very beneficial to a man in your practice at the bar, to b_shamed of anything," returned Sydney; "you ought to be much obliged to me."
  • "You shall not get off in that way," rejoined Stryver, shouldering th_ejoinder at him; "no, Sydney, it's my duty to tell you—and I tell you to you_ace to do you good—that you are a devilish ill-conditioned fellow in tha_ort of society. You are a disagreeable fellow."
  • Sydney drank a bumper of the punch he had made, and laughed.
  • "Look at me!" said Stryver, squaring himself; "I have less need to make mysel_greeable than you have, being more independent in circumstances. Why do I d_t?"
  • "I never saw you do it yet," muttered Carton.
  • "I do it because it's politic; I do it on principle. And look at me! I ge_n."
  • "You don't get on with your account of your matrimonial intentions," answere_arton, with a careless air; "I wish you would keep to that. As to me—will yo_ever understand that I am incorrigible?"
  • He asked the question with some appearance of scorn.
  • "You have no business to be incorrigible," was his friend's answer, delivere_n no very soothing tone.
  • "I have no business to be, at all, that I know of," said Sydney Carton. "Wh_s the lady?"
  • "Now, don't let my announcement of the name make you uncomfortable, Sydney,"
  • said Mr. Stryver, preparing him with ostentatious friendliness for th_isclosure he was about to make, "because I know you don't mean half you say; and if you meant it all, it would be of no importance. I make this littl_reface, because you once mentioned the young lady to me in slighting terms."
  • "I did?"
  • "Certainly; and in these chambers."
  • Sydney Carton looked at his punch and looked at his complacent friend; dran_is punch and looked at his complacent friend.
  • "You made mention of the young lady as a golden-haired doll. The young lady i_iss Manette. If you had been a fellow of any sensitiveness or delicacy o_eeling in that kind of way, Sydney, I might have been a little resentful o_our employing such a designation; but you are not. You want that sens_ltogether; therefore I am no more annoyed when I think of the expression, than I should be annoyed by a man's opinion of a picture of mine, who had n_ye for pictures: or of a piece of music of mine, who had no ear for music."
  • Sydney Carton drank the punch at a great rate; drank it by bumpers, looking a_is friend.
  • "Now you know all about it, Syd," said Mr. Stryver. "I don't care abou_ortune: she is a charming creature, and I have made up my mind to pleas_yself: on the whole, I think I can afford to please myself. She will have i_e a man already pretty well off, and a rapidly rising man, and a man of som_istinction: it is a piece of good fortune for her, but she is worthy of goo_ortune. Are you astonished?"
  • Carton, still drinking the punch, rejoined, "Why should I be astonished?"
  • "You approve?"
  • Carton, still drinking the punch, rejoined, "Why should I not approve?"
  • "Well!" said his friend Stryver, "you take it more easily than I fancied yo_ould, and are less mercenary on my behalf than I thought you would be; though, to be sure, you know well enough by this time that your ancient chu_s a man of a pretty strong will. Yes, Sydney, I have had enough of this styl_f life, with no other as a change from it; I feel that it is a pleasant thin_or a man to have a home when he feels inclined to go to it (when he doesn't, he can stay away), and I feel that Miss Manette will tell well in any station, and will always do me credit. So I have made up my mind. And now, Sydney, ol_oy, I want to say a word to you about your prospects. You are in a bad way, you know; you really are in a bad way. You don't know the value of money, yo_ive hard, you'll knock up one of these days, and be ill and poor; you reall_ught to think about a nurse."
  • The prosperous patronage with which he said it, made him look twice as big a_e was, and four times as offensive.
  • "Now, let me recommend you," pursued Stryver, "to look it in the face. I hav_ooked it in the face, in my different way; look it in the face, you, in you_ifferent way. Marry. Provide somebody to take care of you. Never mind you_aving no enjoyment of women's society, nor understanding of it, nor tact fo_t. Find out somebody. Find out some respectable woman with a littl_roperty—somebody in the landlady way, or lodging-letting way—and marry her, against a rainy day. That's the kind of thing for you. Now think of it, Sydney."
  • "I'll think of it," said Sydney.