The quiet lodgings of Doctor Manette were in a quiet street-corner not far
from Soho-square. On the afternoon of a certain fine Sunday when the waves
of four months had rolled over the trial for treason, and carried it, as
to the public interest and memory, far out to sea, Mr. Jarvis Lorry walked
along the sunny streets from Clerkenwell where he lived, on his way to
dine with the Doctor. After several relapses into business-absorption, Mr.
Lorry had become the Doctor's friend, and the quiet street-corner was the
sunny part of his life.
On this certain fine Sunday, Mr. Lorry walked towards Soho, early in the
afternoon, for three reasons of habit. Firstly, because, on fine Sundays,
he often walked out, before dinner, with the Doctor and Lucie; secondly,
because, on unfavourable Sundays, he was accustomed to be with them as the
family friend, talking, reading, looking out of window, and generally
getting through the day; thirdly, because he happened to have his own
little shrewd doubts to solve, and knew how the ways of the Doctor's
household pointed to that time as a likely time for solving them.
A quainter corner than the corner where the Doctor lived, was not to be
found in London. There was no way through it, and the front windows of the
Doctor's lodgings commanded a pleasant little vista of street that had a
congenial air of retirement on it. There were few buildings then, north of
the Oxford-road, and forest-trees flourished, and wild flowers grew, and
the hawthorn blossomed, in the now vanished fields. As a consequence,
country airs circulated in Soho with vigorous freedom, instead of
languishing into the parish like stray paupers without a settlement; and
there was many a good south wall, not far off, on which the peaches
ripened in their season.
The summer light struck into the corner brilliantly in the earlier part of
the day; but, when the streets grew hot, the corner was in shadow, though
not in shadow so remote but that you could see beyond it into a glare of
brightness. It was a cool spot, staid but cheerful, a wonderful place for
echoes, and a very harbour from the raging streets.
There ought to have been a tranquil bark in such an anchorage, and there
was. The Doctor occupied two floors of a large stiff house, where several
callings purported to be pursued by day, but whereof little was audible
any day, and which was shunned by all of them at night. In a building at
the back, attainable by a courtyard where a plane-tree rustled its green
leaves, church-organs claimed to be made, and silver to be chased, and
likewise gold to be beaten by some mysterious giant who had a golden arm
starting out of the wall of the front hall—as if he had beaten
himself precious, and menaced a similar conversion of all visitors. Very
little of these trades, or of a lonely lodger rumoured to live up-stairs,
or of a dim coach-trimming maker asserted to have a counting-house below,
was ever heard or seen. Occasionally, a stray workman putting his coat on,
traversed the hall, or a stranger peered about there, or a distant clink
was heard across the courtyard, or a thump from the golden giant. These,
however, were only the exceptions required to prove the rule that the
sparrows in the plane-tree behind the house, and the echoes in the corner
before it, had their own way from Sunday morning unto Saturday night.
Doctor Manette received such patients here as his old reputation, and its
revival in the floating whispers of his story, brought him. His scientific
knowledge, and his vigilance and skill in conducting ingenious
experiments, brought him otherwise into moderate request, and he earned as
much as he wanted.
These things were within Mr. Jarvis Lorry's knowledge, thoughts, and
notice, when he rang the door-bell of the tranquil house in the corner, on
the fine Sunday afternoon.
"Doctor Manette at home?"
"Miss Lucie at home?"
"Miss Pross at home?"
Possibly at home, but of a certainty impossible for handmaid to anticipate
intentions of Miss Pross, as to admission or denial of the fact.
"As I am at home myself," said Mr. Lorry, "I'll go upstairs."
Although the Doctor's daughter had known nothing of the country of her
birth, she appeared to have innately derived from it that ability to make
much of little means, which is one of its most useful and most agreeable
characteristics. Simple as the furniture was, it was set off by so many
little adornments, of no value but for their taste and fancy, that its
effect was delightful. The disposition of everything in the rooms, from
the largest object to the least; the arrangement of colours, the elegant
variety and contrast obtained by thrift in trifles, by delicate hands,
clear eyes, and good sense; were at once so pleasant in themselves, and so
expressive of their originator, that, as Mr. Lorry stood looking about
him, the very chairs and tables seemed to ask him, with something of that
peculiar expression which he knew so well by this time, whether he
There were three rooms on a floor, and, the doors by which they
communicated being put open that the air might pass freely through them
all, Mr. Lorry, smilingly observant of that fanciful resemblance which he
detected all around him, walked from one to another. The first was the
best room, and in it were Lucie's birds, and flowers, and books, and desk,
and work-table, and box of water-colours; the second was the Doctor's
consulting-room, used also as the dining-room; the third, changingly
speckled by the rustle of the plane-tree in the yard, was the Doctor's
bedroom, and there, in a corner, stood the disused shoemaker's bench and
tray of tools, much as it had stood on the fifth floor of the dismal house
by the wine-shop, in the suburb of Saint Antoine in Paris.
"I wonder," said Mr. Lorry, pausing in his looking about, "that he keeps
that reminder of his sufferings about him!"
"And why wonder at that?" was the abrupt inquiry that made him start.
It proceeded from Miss Pross, the wild red woman, strong of hand, whose
acquaintance he had first made at the Royal George Hotel at Dover, and had
"I should have thought—" Mr. Lorry began.
"Pooh! You'd have thought!" said Miss Pross; and Mr. Lorry left off.
"How do you do?" inquired that lady then—sharply, and yet as if to
express that she bore him no malice.
"I am pretty well, I thank you," answered Mr. Lorry, with meekness; "how
"Nothing to boast of," said Miss Pross.
"Ah! indeed!" said Miss Pross. "I am very much put out about my Ladybird."
"For gracious sake say something else besides 'indeed,' or you'll fidget
me to death," said Miss Pross: whose character (dissociated from stature)
"Really, then?" said Mr. Lorry, as an amendment.
"Really, is bad enough," returned Miss Pross, "but better. Yes, I am very
much put out."
"May I ask the cause?"
"I don't want dozens of people who are not at all worthy of Ladybird, to
come here looking after her," said Miss Pross.
"Do dozens come for that purpose?"
"Hundreds," said Miss Pross.
It was characteristic of this lady (as of some other people before her
time and since) that whenever her original proposition was questioned, she
"Dear me!" said Mr. Lorry, as the safest remark he could think of.
"I have lived with the darling—or the darling has lived with me, and
paid me for it; which she certainly should never have done, you may take
your affidavit, if I could have afforded to keep either myself or her for
nothing—since she was ten years old. And it's really very hard,"
said Miss Pross.
Not seeing with precision what was very hard, Mr. Lorry shook his head;
using that important part of himself as a sort of fairy cloak that would
"All sorts of people who are not in the least degree worthy of the pet,
are always turning up," said Miss Pross. "When you began it—"
"I began it, Miss Pross?"
"Didn't you? Who brought her father to life?"
"Oh! If that was beginning it—" said Mr. Lorry.
"It wasn't ending it, I suppose? I say, when you began it, it was hard
enough; not that I have any fault to find with Doctor Manette, except that
he is not worthy of such a daughter, which is no imputation on him, for it
was not to be expected that anybody should be, under any circumstances.
But it really is doubly and trebly hard to have crowds and multitudes of
people turning up after him (I could have forgiven him), to take
Ladybird's affections away from me."
Mr. Lorry knew Miss Pross to be very jealous, but he also knew her by this
time to be, beneath the service of her eccentricity, one of those
unselfish creatures—found only among women—who will, for pure
love and admiration, bind themselves willing slaves, to youth when they
have lost it, to beauty that they never had, to accomplishments that they
were never fortunate enough to gain, to bright hopes that never shone upon
their own sombre lives. He knew enough of the world to know that there is
nothing in it better than the faithful service of the heart; so rendered
and so free from any mercenary taint, he had such an exalted respect for
it, that in the retributive arrangements made by his own mind—we all
make such arrangements, more or less—he stationed Miss Pross much
nearer to the lower Angels than many ladies immeasurably better got up
both by Nature and Art, who had balances at Tellson's.
"There never was, nor will be, but one man worthy of Ladybird," said Miss
Pross; "and that was my brother Solomon, if he hadn't made a mistake in
Here again: Mr. Lorry's inquiries into Miss Pross's personal history had
established the fact that her brother Solomon was a heartless scoundrel
who had stripped her of everything she possessed, as a stake to speculate
with, and had abandoned her in her poverty for evermore, with no touch of
compunction. Miss Pross's fidelity of belief in Solomon (deducting a mere
trifle for this slight mistake) was quite a serious matter with Mr. Lorry,
and had its weight in his good opinion of her.
"As we happen to be alone for the moment, and are both people of
business," he said, when they had got back to the drawing-room and had sat
down there in friendly relations, "let me ask you—does the Doctor,
in talking with Lucie, never refer to the shoemaking time, yet?"
"And yet keeps that bench and those tools beside him?"
"Ah!" returned Miss Pross, shaking her head. "But I don't say he don't
refer to it within himself."
"Do you believe that he thinks of it much?"
"I do," said Miss Pross.
"Do you imagine—" Mr. Lorry had begun, when Miss Pross took him up
"Never imagine anything. Have no imagination at all."
"I stand corrected; do you suppose—you go so far as to suppose,
"Now and then," said Miss Pross.
"Do you suppose," Mr. Lorry went on, with a laughing twinkle in his bright
eye, as it looked kindly at her, "that Doctor Manette has any theory of
his own, preserved through all those years, relative to the cause of his
being so oppressed; perhaps, even to the name of his oppressor?"
"I don't suppose anything about it but what Ladybird tells me."
"And that is—?"
"That she thinks he has."
"Now don't be angry at my asking all these questions; because I am a mere
dull man of business, and you are a woman of business."
"Dull?" Miss Pross inquired, with placidity.
Rather wishing his modest adjective away, Mr. Lorry replied, "No, no, no.
Surely not. To return to business:—Is it not remarkable that Doctor
Manette, unquestionably innocent of any crime as we are all well assured
he is, should never touch upon that question? I will not say with me,
though he had business relations with me many years ago, and we are now
intimate; I will say with the fair daughter to whom he is so devotedly
attached, and who is so devotedly attached to him? Believe me, Miss Pross,
I don't approach the topic with you, out of curiosity, but out of zealous
"Well! To the best of my understanding, and bad's the best, you'll tell
me," said Miss Pross, softened by the tone of the apology, "he is afraid
of the whole subject."
"It's plain enough, I should think, why he may be. It's a dreadful
remembrance. Besides that, his loss of himself grew out of it. Not knowing
how he lost himself, or how he recovered himself, he may never feel
certain of not losing himself again. That alone wouldn't make the subject
pleasant, I should think."
It was a profounder remark than Mr. Lorry had looked for. "True," said he,
"and fearful to reflect upon. Yet, a doubt lurks in my mind, Miss Pross,
whether it is good for Doctor Manette to have that suppression always shut
up within him. Indeed, it is this doubt and the uneasiness it sometimes
causes me that has led me to our present confidence."
"Can't be helped," said Miss Pross, shaking her head. "Touch that string,
and he instantly changes for the worse. Better leave it alone. In short,
must leave it alone, like or no like. Sometimes, he gets up in the dead of
the night, and will be heard, by us overhead there, walking up and down,
walking up and down, in his room. Ladybird has learnt to know then that
his mind is walking up and down, walking up and down, in his old prison.
She hurries to him, and they go on together, walking up and down, walking
up and down, until he is composed. But he never says a word of the true
reason of his restlessness, to her, and she finds it best not to hint at
it to him. In silence they go walking up and down together, walking up and
down together, till her love and company have brought him to himself."
Notwithstanding Miss Pross's denial of her own imagination, there was a
perception of the pain of being monotonously haunted by one sad idea, in
her repetition of the phrase, walking up and down, which testified to her
possessing such a thing.
The corner has been mentioned as a wonderful corner for echoes; it had
begun to echo so resoundingly to the tread of coming feet, that it seemed
as though the very mention of that weary pacing to and fro had set it
"Here they are!" said Miss Pross, rising to break up the conference; "and
now we shall have hundreds of people pretty soon!"
It was such a curious corner in its acoustical properties, such a peculiar
Ear of a place, that as Mr. Lorry stood at the open window, looking for
the father and daughter whose steps he heard, he fancied they would never
approach. Not only would the echoes die away, as though the steps had
gone; but, echoes of other steps that never came would be heard in their
stead, and would die away for good when they seemed close at hand.
However, father and daughter did at last appear, and Miss Pross was ready
at the street door to receive them.
Miss Pross was a pleasant sight, albeit wild, and red, and grim, taking
off her darling's bonnet when she came up-stairs, and touching it up with
the ends of her handkerchief, and blowing the dust off it, and folding her
mantle ready for laying by, and smoothing her rich hair with as much pride
as she could possibly have taken in her own hair if she had been the
vainest and handsomest of women. Her darling was a pleasant sight too,
embracing her and thanking her, and protesting against her taking so much
trouble for her—which last she only dared to do playfully, or Miss
Pross, sorely hurt, would have retired to her own chamber and cried. The
Doctor was a pleasant sight too, looking on at them, and telling Miss
Pross how she spoilt Lucie, in accents and with eyes that had as much
spoiling in them as Miss Pross had, and would have had more if it were
possible. Mr. Lorry was a pleasant sight too, beaming at all this in his
little wig, and thanking his bachelor stars for having lighted him in his
declining years to a Home. But, no Hundreds of people came to see the
sights, and Mr. Lorry looked in vain for the fulfilment of Miss Pross's
Dinner-time, and still no Hundreds of people. In the arrangements of the
little household, Miss Pross took charge of the lower regions, and always
acquitted herself marvellously. Her dinners, of a very modest quality,
were so well cooked and so well served, and so neat in their contrivances,
half English and half French, that nothing could be better. Miss Pross's
friendship being of the thoroughly practical kind, she had ravaged Soho
and the adjacent provinces, in search of impoverished French, who, tempted
by shillings and half-crowns, would impart culinary mysteries to her. From
these decayed sons and daughters of Gaul, she had acquired such wonderful
arts, that the woman and girl who formed the staff of domestics regarded
her as quite a Sorceress, or Cinderella's Godmother: who would send out
for a fowl, a rabbit, a vegetable or two from the garden, and change them
into anything she pleased.
On Sundays, Miss Pross dined at the Doctor's table, but on other days
persisted in taking her meals at unknown periods, either in the lower
regions, or in her own room on the second floor—a blue chamber, to
which no one but her Ladybird ever gained admittance. On this occasion,
Miss Pross, responding to Ladybird's pleasant face and pleasant efforts to
please her, unbent exceedingly; so the dinner was very pleasant, too.
It was an oppressive day, and, after dinner, Lucie proposed that the wine
should be carried out under the plane-tree, and they should sit there in
the air. As everything turned upon her, and revolved about her, they went
out under the plane-tree, and she carried the wine down for the special
benefit of Mr. Lorry. She had installed herself, some time before, as Mr.
Lorry's cup-bearer; and while they sat under the plane-tree, talking, she
kept his glass replenished. Mysterious backs and ends of houses peeped at
them as they talked, and the plane-tree whispered to them in its own way
above their heads.
Still, the Hundreds of people did not present themselves. Mr. Darnay
presented himself while they were sitting under the plane-tree, but he was
Doctor Manette received him kindly, and so did Lucie. But, Miss Pross
suddenly became afflicted with a twitching in the head and body, and
retired into the house. She was not unfrequently the victim of this
disorder, and she called it, in familiar conversation, "a fit of the
The Doctor was in his best condition, and looked specially young. The
resemblance between him and Lucie was very strong at such times, and as
they sat side by side, she leaning on his shoulder, and he resting his arm
on the back of her chair, it was very agreeable to trace the likeness.
He had been talking all day, on many subjects, and with unusual vivacity.
"Pray, Doctor Manette," said Mr. Darnay, as they sat under the plane-tree—and
he said it in the natural pursuit of the topic in hand, which happened to
be the old buildings of London—"have you seen much of the Tower?"
"Lucie and I have been there; but only casually. We have seen enough of
it, to know that it teems with interest; little more."
"I have been there, as you remember," said Darnay, with a smile,
though reddening a little angrily, "in another character, and not in a
character that gives facilities for seeing much of it. They told me a
curious thing when I was there."
"What was that?" Lucie asked.
"In making some alterations, the workmen came upon an old dungeon, which
had been, for many years, built up and forgotten. Every stone of its inner
wall was covered by inscriptions which had been carved by prisoners—dates,
names, complaints, and prayers. Upon a corner stone in an angle of the
wall, one prisoner, who seemed to have gone to execution, had cut as his
last work, three letters. They were done with some very poor instrument,
and hurriedly, with an unsteady hand. At first, they were read as D. I.
C.; but, on being more carefully examined, the last letter was found to be
G. There was no record or legend of any prisoner with those initials, and
many fruitless guesses were made what the name could have been. At length,
it was suggested that the letters were not initials, but the complete
word, DIG. The floor was examined very carefully under the inscription,
and, in the earth beneath a stone, or tile, or some fragment of paving,
were found the ashes of a paper, mingled with the ashes of a small
leathern case or bag. What the unknown prisoner had written will never be
read, but he had written something, and hidden it away to keep it from the
"My father," exclaimed Lucie, "you are ill!"
He had suddenly started up, with his hand to his head. His manner and his
look quite terrified them all.
"No, my dear, not ill. There are large drops of rain falling, and they
made me start. We had better go in."
He recovered himself almost instantly. Rain was really falling in large
drops, and he showed the back of his hand with rain-drops on it. But, he
said not a single word in reference to the discovery that had been told
of, and, as they went into the house, the business eye of Mr. Lorry either
detected, or fancied it detected, on his face, as it turned towards
Charles Darnay, the same singular look that had been upon it when it
turned towards him in the passages of the Court House.
He recovered himself so quickly, however, that Mr. Lorry had doubts of his
business eye. The arm of the golden giant in the hall was not more steady
than he was, when he stopped under it to remark to them that he was not
yet proof against slight surprises (if he ever would be), and that the
rain had startled him.
Tea-time, and Miss Pross making tea, with another fit of the jerks upon
her, and yet no Hundreds of people. Mr. Carton had lounged in, but he made
The night was so very sultry, that although they sat with doors and
windows open, they were overpowered by heat. When the tea-table was done
with, they all moved to one of the windows, and looked out into the heavy
twilight. Lucie sat by her father; Darnay sat beside her; Carton leaned
against a window. The curtains were long and white, and some of the
thunder-gusts that whirled into the corner, caught them up to the ceiling,
and waved them like spectral wings.
"The rain-drops are still falling, large, heavy, and few," said Doctor
Manette. "It comes slowly."
"It comes surely," said Carton.
They spoke low, as people watching and waiting mostly do; as people in a
dark room, watching and waiting for Lightning, always do.
There was a great hurry in the streets of people speeding away to get
shelter before the storm broke; the wonderful corner for echoes resounded
with the echoes of footsteps coming and going, yet not a footstep was
"A multitude of people, and yet a solitude!" said Darnay, when they had
listened for a while.
"Is it not impressive, Mr. Darnay?" asked Lucie. "Sometimes, I have sat
here of an evening, until I have fancied—but even the shade of a
foolish fancy makes me shudder to-night, when all is so black and solemn—"
"Let us shudder too. We may know what it is."
"It will seem nothing to you. Such whims are only impressive as we
originate them, I think; they are not to be communicated. I have sometimes
sat alone here of an evening, listening, until I have made the echoes out
to be the echoes of all the footsteps that are coming by-and-bye into our
"There is a great crowd coming one day into our lives, if that be so,"
Sydney Carton struck in, in his moody way.
The footsteps were incessant, and the hurry of them became more and more
rapid. The corner echoed and re-echoed with the tread of feet; some, as it
seemed, under the windows; some, as it seemed, in the room; some coming,
some going, some breaking off, some stopping altogether; all in the
distant streets, and not one within sight.
"Are all these footsteps destined to come to all of us, Miss Manette, or
are we to divide them among us?"
"I don't know, Mr. Darnay; I told you it was a foolish fancy, but you
asked for it. When I have yielded myself to it, I have been alone, and
then I have imagined them the footsteps of the people who are to come into
my life, and my father's."
"I take them into mine!" said Carton. "I ask no questions and make
no stipulations. There is a great crowd bearing down upon us, Miss
Manette, and I see them—by the Lightning." He added the last words,
after there had been a vivid flash which had shown him lounging in the
"And I hear them!" he added again, after a peal of thunder. "Here they
come, fast, fierce, and furious!"
It was the rush and roar of rain that he typified, and it stopped him, for
no voice could be heard in it. A memorable storm of thunder and lightning
broke with that sweep of water, and there was not a moment's interval in
crash, and fire, and rain, until after the moon rose at midnight.
The great bell of Saint Paul's was striking one in the cleared air, when
Mr. Lorry, escorted by Jerry, high-booted and bearing a lantern, set forth
on his return-passage to Clerkenwell. There were solitary patches of road
on the way between Soho and Clerkenwell, and Mr. Lorry, mindful of
foot-pads, always retained Jerry for this service: though it was usually
performed a good two hours earlier.
"What a night it has been! Almost a night, Jerry," said Mr. Lorry, "to
bring the dead out of their graves."
"I never see the night myself, master—nor yet I don't expect to—what
would do that," answered Jerry.
"Good night, Mr. Carton," said the man of business. "Good night, Mr.
Darnay. Shall we ever see such a night again, together!"
Perhaps. Perhaps, see the great crowd of people with its rush and roar,
bearing down upon them, too.