From the dimly-lighted passages of the court, the last sediment of the huma_tew that had been boiling there all day, was straining off, when Docto_anette, Lucie Manette, his daughter, Mr. Lorry, the solicitor for th_efence, and its counsel, Mr. Stryver, stood gathered round Mr. Charle_arnay—just released—congratulating him on his escape from death.
It would have been difficult by a far brighter light, to recognise in Docto_anette, intellectual of face and upright of bearing, the shoemaker of th_arret in Paris. Yet, no one could have looked at him twice, without lookin_gain: even though the opportunity of observation had not extended to th_ournful cadence of his low grave voice, and to the abstraction tha_verclouded him fitfully, without any apparent reason. While one externa_ause, and that a reference to his long lingering agony, would always—as o_he trial—evoke this condition from the depths of his soul, it was also in it_ature to arise of itself, and to draw a gloom over him, as incomprehensibl_o those unacquainted with his story as if they had seen the shadow of th_ctual Bastille thrown upon him by a summer sun, when the substance was thre_undred miles away.
Only his daughter had the power of charming this black brooding from his mind.
She was the golden thread that united him to a Past beyond his misery, and t_ Present beyond his misery: and the sound of her voice, the light of he_ace, the touch of her hand, had a strong beneficial influence with him almos_lways. Not absolutely always, for she could recall some occasions on whic_er power had failed; but they were few and slight, and she believed the_ver.
Mr. Darnay had kissed her hand fervently and gratefully, and had turned to Mr.
Stryver, whom he warmly thanked. Mr. Stryver, a man of little more tha_hirty, but looking twenty years older than he was, stout, loud, red, bluff, and free from any drawback of delicacy, had a pushing way of shoulderin_imself (morally and physically) into companies and conversations, that argue_ell for his shouldering his way up in life.
He still had his wig and gown on, and he said, squaring himself at his lat_lient to that degree that he squeezed the innocent Mr. Lorry clean out of th_roup: “I am glad to have brought you off with honour, Mr. Darnay. It was a_nfamous prosecution, grossly infamous; but not the less likely to succeed o_hat account.”
“You have laid me under an obligation to you for life—in two senses,” said hi_ate client, taking his hand.
“I have done my best for you, Mr. Darnay; and my best is as good as anothe_an’s, I believe.”
It clearly being incumbent on some one to say, “Much better,” Mr. Lorry sai_t; perhaps not quite disinterestedly, but with the interested object o_queezing himself back again.
“You think so?” said Mr. Stryver. “Well! you have been present all day, an_ou ought to know. You are a man of business, too.”
“And as such,” quoth Mr. Lorry, whom the counsel learned in the law had no_houldered back into the group, just as he had previously shouldered him ou_f it—“as such I will appeal to Doctor Manette, to break up this conferenc_nd order us all to our homes. Miss Lucie looks ill, Mr. Darnay has had _errible day, we are worn out.”
“Speak for yourself, Mr. Lorry,” said Stryver; “I have a night’s work to d_et. Speak for yourself.”
“I speak for myself,” answered Mr. Lorry, “and for Mr. Darnay, and for Mis_ucie, and—Miss Lucie, do you not think I may speak for us all?” He asked he_he question pointedly, and with a glance at her father.
His face had become frozen, as it were, in a very curious look at Darnay: a_ntent look, deepening into a frown of dislike and distrust, not even unmixe_ith fear. With this strange expression on him his thoughts had wandered away.
“My father,” said Lucie, softly laying her hand on his.
He slowly shook the shadow off, and turned to her.
“Shall we go home, my father?”
With a long breath, he answered “Yes.”
The friends of the acquitted prisoner had dispersed, under th_mpression—which he himself had originated—that he would not be released tha_ight. The lights were nearly all extinguished in the passages, the iron gate_ere being closed with a jar and a rattle, and the dismal place was deserte_ntil to-morrow morning’s interest of gallows, pillory, whipping-post, an_randing-iron, should repeople it. Walking between her father and Mr. Darnay, Lucie Manette passed into the open air. A hackney-coach was called, and th_ather and daughter departed in it.
Mr. Stryver had left them in the passages, to shoulder his way back to th_obing-room. Another person, who had not joined the group, or interchanged _ord with any one of them, but who had been leaning against the wall where it_hadow was darkest, had silently strolled out after the rest, and had looke_n until the coach drove away. He now stepped up to where Mr. Lorry and Mr.
Darnay stood upon the pavement.
“So, Mr. Lorry! Men of business may speak to Mr. Darnay now?”
Nobody had made any acknowledgment of Mr. Carton’s part in the day’_roceedings; nobody had known of it. He was unrobed, and was none the bette_or it in appearance.
“If you knew what a conflict goes on in the business mind, when the busines_ind is divided between good-natured impulse and business appearances, yo_ould be amused, Mr. Darnay.”
Mr. Lorry reddened, and said, warmly, “You have mentioned that before, sir. W_en of business, who serve a House, are not our own masters. We have to thin_f the House more than ourselves.”
“I know, I know,” rejoined Mr. Carton, carelessly. “Don’t be nettled, Mr.
Lorry. You are as good as another, I have no doubt: better, I dare say.”
“And indeed, sir,” pursued Mr. Lorry, not minding him, “I really don’t kno_hat you have to do with the matter. If you’ll excuse me, as very much you_lder, for saying so, I really don’t know that it is your business.”
“Business! Bless you, I have no business,” said Mr. Carton.
“It is a pity you have not, sir.”
“I think so, too.”
“If you had,” pursued Mr. Lorry, “perhaps you would attend to it.”
“Lord love you, no!—I shouldn’t,” said Mr. Carton.
“Well, sir!” cried Mr. Lorry, thoroughly heated by his indifference, “busines_s a very good thing, and a very respectable thing. And, sir, if busines_mposes its restraints and its silences and impediments, Mr. Darnay as a youn_entleman of generosity knows how to make allowance for that circumstance. Mr.
Darnay, good night, God bless you, sir! I hope you have been this da_reserved for a prosperous and happy life.—Chair there!”
Perhaps a little angry with himself, as well as with the barrister, Mr. Lorr_ustled into the chair, and was carried off to Tellson’s. Carton, who smelt o_ort wine, and did not appear to be quite sober, laughed then, and turned t_arnay:
“This is a strange chance that throws you and me together. This must be _trange night to you, standing alone here with your counterpart on thes_treet stones?”
“I hardly seem yet,” returned Charles Darnay, “to belong to this world again.”
“I don’t wonder at it; it’s not so long since you were pretty far advanced o_our way to another. You speak faintly.”
“I begin to think I am faint.”
“Then why the devil don’t you dine? I dined, myself, while those numskull_ere deliberating which world you should belong to—this, or some other. Let m_how you the nearest tavern to dine well at.”
Drawing his arm through his own, he took him down Ludgate-hill to Fleet- street, and so, up a covered way, into a tavern. Here, they were shown into _ittle room, where Charles Darnay was soon recruiting his strength with a goo_lain dinner and good wine: while Carton sat opposite to him at the sam_able, with his separate bottle of port before him, and his fully half- insolent manner upon him.
“Do you feel, yet, that you belong to this terrestrial scheme again, Mr.
“I am frightfully confused regarding time and place; but I am so far mended a_o feel that.”
“It must be an immense satisfaction!”
He said it bitterly, and filled up his glass again: which was a large one.
“As to me, the greatest desire I have, is to forget that I belong to it. I_as no good in it for me—except wine like this—nor I for it. So we are no_uch alike in that particular. Indeed, I begin to think we are not much alik_n any particular, you and I.”
Confused by the emotion of the day, and feeling his being there with thi_ouble of coarse deportment, to be like a dream, Charles Darnay was at a los_ow to answer; finally, answered not at all.
“Now your dinner is done,” Carton presently said, “why don’t you call _ealth, Mr. Darnay; why don’t you give your toast?”
“What health? What toast?”
“Why, it’s on the tip of your tongue. It ought to be, it must be, I’ll swea_t’s there.”
“Miss Manette, then!”
“Miss Manette, then!”
Looking his companion full in the face while he drank the toast, Carton flun_is glass over his shoulder against the wall, where it shivered to pieces; then, rang the bell, and ordered in another.
“That’s a fair young lady to hand to a coach in the dark, Mr. Darnay!” h_aid, ruing his new goblet.
A slight frown and a laconic “Yes,” were the answer.
“That’s a fair young lady to be pitied by and wept for by! How does it feel?
Is it worth being tried for one’s life, to be the object of such sympathy an_ompassion, Mr. Darnay?”
Again Darnay answered not a word.
“She was mightily pleased to have your message, when I gave it her. Not tha_he showed she was pleased, but I suppose she was.”
The allusion served as a timely reminder to Darnay that this disagreeabl_ompanion had, of his own free will, assisted him in the strait of the day. H_urned the dialogue to that point, and thanked him for it.
“I neither want any thanks, nor merit any,” was the careless rejoinder. “I_as nothing to do, in the first place; and I don’t know why I did it, in th_econd. Mr. Darnay, let me ask you a question.”
“Willingly, and a small return for your good offices.”
“Do you think I particularly like you?”
“Really, Mr. Carton,” returned the other, oddly disconcerted, “I have no_sked myself the question.”
“But ask yourself the question now.”
“You have acted as if you do; but I don’t think you do.”
“I don’t think I do,” said Carton. “I begin to have a very good opinion o_our understanding.”
“Nevertheless,” pursued Darnay, rising to ring the bell, “there is nothing i_hat, I hope, to prevent my calling the reckoning, and our parting withou_ll-blood on either side.”
Carton rejoining, “Nothing in life!” Darnay rang. “Do you call the whol_eckoning?” said Carton. On his answering in the affirmative, “Then bring m_nother pint of this same wine, drawer, and come and wake me at ten.”
The bill being paid, Charles Darnay rose and wished him good night. Withou_eturning the wish, Carton rose too, with something of a threat of defiance i_is manner, and said, “A last word, Mr. Darnay: you think I am drunk?”
“I think you have been drinking, Mr. Carton.”
“Think? You know I have been drinking.”
“Since I must say so, I know it.”
“Then you shall likewise know why. I am a disappointed drudge, sir. I care fo_o man on earth, and no man on earth cares for me.”
“Much to be regretted. You might have used your talents better.”
“May be so, Mr. Darnay; may be not. Don’t let your sober face elate you, however; you don’t know what it may come to. Good night!”
When he was left alone, this strange being took up a candle, went to a glas_hat hung against the wall, and surveyed himself minutely in it.
“Do you particularly like the man?” he muttered, at his own image; “why shoul_ou particularly like a man who resembles you? There is nothing in you t_ike; you know that. Ah, confound you! What a change you have made i_ourself! A good reason for taking to a man, that he shows you what you hav_allen away from, and what you might have been! Change places with him, an_ould you have been looked at by those blue eyes as he was, and commiserate_y that agitated face as he was? Come on, and have it out in plain words! Yo_ate the fellow.”
He resorted to his pint of wine for consolation, drank it all in a fe_inutes, and fell asleep on his arms, with his hair straggling over the table, and a long winding-sheet in the candle dripping down upon him.