Never did the sun go down with a brighter glory on the quiet corner in
Soho, than one memorable evening when the Doctor and his daughter sat
under the plane-tree together. Never did the moon rise with a milder
radiance over great London, than on that night when it found them still
seated under the tree, and shone upon their faces through its leaves.
Lucie was to be married to-morrow. She had reserved this last evening for
her father, and they sat alone under the plane-tree.
"You are happy, my dear father?"
"Quite, my child."
They had said little, though they had been there a long time. When it was
yet light enough to work and read, she had neither engaged herself in her
usual work, nor had she read to him. She had employed herself in both
ways, at his side under the tree, many and many a time; but, this time was
not quite like any other, and nothing could make it so.
"And I am very happy to-night, dear father. I am deeply happy in the love
that Heaven has so blessed—my love for Charles, and Charles's love
for me. But, if my life were not to be still consecrated to you, or if my
marriage were so arranged as that it would part us, even by the length of
a few of these streets, I should be more unhappy and self-reproachful now
than I can tell you. Even as it is—"
Even as it was, she could not command her voice.
In the sad moonlight, she clasped him by the neck, and laid her face upon
his breast. In the moonlight which is always sad, as the light of the sun
itself is—as the light called human life is—at its coming and
"Dearest dear! Can you tell me, this last time, that you feel quite, quite
sure, no new affections of mine, and no new duties of mine, will ever
interpose between us? I know it well, but do you know it? In your
own heart, do you feel quite certain?"
Her father answered, with a cheerful firmness of conviction he could
scarcely have assumed, "Quite sure, my darling! More than that," he added,
as he tenderly kissed her: "my future is far brighter, Lucie, seen through
your marriage, than it could have been—nay, than it ever was—without
"If I could hope that, my father!—"
"Believe it, love! Indeed it is so. Consider how natural and how plain it
is, my dear, that it should be so. You, devoted and young, cannot fully
appreciate the anxiety I have felt that your life should not be wasted—"
She moved her hand towards his lips, but he took it in his, and repeated
"—wasted, my child—should not be wasted, struck aside from the
natural order of things—for my sake. Your unselfishness cannot
entirely comprehend how much my mind has gone on this; but, only ask
yourself, how could my happiness be perfect, while yours was incomplete?"
"If I had never seen Charles, my father, I should have been quite happy
He smiled at her unconscious admission that she would have been unhappy
without Charles, having seen him; and replied:
"My child, you did see him, and it is Charles. If it had not been Charles,
it would have been another. Or, if it had been no other, I should have
been the cause, and then the dark part of my life would have cast its
shadow beyond myself, and would have fallen on you."
It was the first time, except at the trial, of her ever hearing him refer
to the period of his suffering. It gave her a strange and new sensation
while his words were in her ears; and she remembered it long afterwards.
"See!" said the Doctor of Beauvais, raising his hand towards the moon. "I
have looked at her from my prison-window, when I could not bear her light.
I have looked at her when it has been such torture to me to think of her
shining upon what I had lost, that I have beaten my head against my
prison-walls. I have looked at her, in a state so dull and lethargic, that
I have thought of nothing but the number of horizontal lines I could draw
across her at the full, and the number of perpendicular lines with which I
could intersect them." He added in his inward and pondering manner, as he
looked at the moon, "It was twenty either way, I remember, and the
twentieth was difficult to squeeze in."
The strange thrill with which she heard him go back to that time, deepened
as he dwelt upon it; but, there was nothing to shock her in the manner of
his reference. He only seemed to contrast his present cheerfulness and
felicity with the dire endurance that was over.
"I have looked at her, speculating thousands of times upon the unborn
child from whom I had been rent. Whether it was alive. Whether it had been
born alive, or the poor mother's shock had killed it. Whether it was a son
who would some day avenge his father. (There was a time in my
imprisonment, when my desire for vengeance was unbearable.) Whether it was
a son who would never know his father's story; who might even live to
weigh the possibility of his father's having disappeared of his own will
and act. Whether it was a daughter who would grow to be a woman."
She drew closer to him, and kissed his cheek and his hand.
"I have pictured my daughter, to myself, as perfectly forgetful of me—rather,
altogether ignorant of me, and unconscious of me. I have cast up the years
of her age, year after year. I have seen her married to a man who knew
nothing of my fate. I have altogether perished from the remembrance of the
living, and in the next generation my place was a blank."
"My father! Even to hear that you had such thoughts of a daughter who
never existed, strikes to my heart as if I had been that child."
"You, Lucie? It is out of the Consolation and restoration you have brought
to me, that these remembrances arise, and pass between us and the moon on
this last night.—What did I say just now?"
"She knew nothing of you. She cared nothing for you."
"So! But on other moonlight nights, when the sadness and the silence have
touched me in a different way—have affected me with something as
like a sorrowful sense of peace, as any emotion that had pain for its
foundations could—I have imagined her as coming to me in my cell,
and leading me out into the freedom beyond the fortress. I have seen her
image in the moonlight often, as I now see you; except that I never held
her in my arms; it stood between the little grated window and the door.
But, you understand that that was not the child I am speaking of?"
"The figure was not; the—the—image; the fancy?"
"No. That was another thing. It stood before my disturbed sense of sight,
but it never moved. The phantom that my mind pursued, was another and more
real child. Of her outward appearance I know no more than that she was
like her mother. The other had that likeness too—as you have—but
was not the same. Can you follow me, Lucie? Hardly, I think? I doubt you
must have been a solitary prisoner to understand these perplexed
His collected and calm manner could not prevent her blood from running
cold, as he thus tried to anatomise his old condition.
"In that more peaceful state, I have imagined her, in the moonlight,
coming to me and taking me out to show me that the home of her married
life was full of her loving remembrance of her lost father. My picture was
in her room, and I was in her prayers. Her life was active, cheerful,
useful; but my poor history pervaded it all."
"I was that child, my father, I was not half so good, but in my love that
"And she showed me her children," said the Doctor of Beauvais, "and they
had heard of me, and had been taught to pity me. When they passed a prison
of the State, they kept far from its frowning walls, and looked up at its
bars, and spoke in whispers. She could never deliver me; I imagined that
she always brought me back after showing me such things. But then, blessed
with the relief of tears, I fell upon my knees, and blessed her."
"I am that child, I hope, my father. O my dear, my dear, will you bless me
as fervently to-morrow?"
"Lucie, I recall these old troubles in the reason that I have to-night for
loving you better than words can tell, and thanking God for my great
happiness. My thoughts, when they were wildest, never rose near the
happiness that I have known with you, and that we have before us."
He embraced her, solemnly commended her to Heaven, and humbly thanked
Heaven for having bestowed her on him. By-and-bye, they went into the
There was no one bidden to the marriage but Mr. Lorry; there was even to
be no bridesmaid but the gaunt Miss Pross. The marriage was to make no
change in their place of residence; they had been able to extend it, by
taking to themselves the upper rooms formerly belonging to the apocryphal
invisible lodger, and they desired nothing more.
Doctor Manette was very cheerful at the little supper. They were only
three at table, and Miss Pross made the third. He regretted that Charles
was not there; was more than half disposed to object to the loving little
plot that kept him away; and drank to him affectionately.
So, the time came for him to bid Lucie good night, and they separated.
But, in the stillness of the third hour of the morning, Lucie came
downstairs again, and stole into his room; not free from unshaped fears,
All things, however, were in their places; all was quiet; and he lay
asleep, his white hair picturesque on the untroubled pillow, and his hands
lying quiet on the coverlet. She put her needless candle in the shadow at
a distance, crept up to his bed, and put her lips to his; then, leaned
over him, and looked at him.
Into his handsome face, the bitter waters of captivity had worn; but, he
covered up their tracks with a determination so strong, that he held the
mastery of them even in his sleep. A more remarkable face in its quiet,
resolute, and guarded struggle with an unseen assailant, was not to be
beheld in all the wide dominions of sleep, that night.
She timidly laid her hand on his dear breast, and put up a prayer that she
might ever be as true to him as her love aspired to be, and as his sorrows
deserved. Then, she withdrew her hand, and kissed his lips once more, and
went away. So, the sunrise came, and the shadows of the leaves of the
plane-tree moved upon his face, as softly as her lips had moved in praying