By that time, there was only one adventurous traveller left to becongratulated: for the two others had been set down at theirrespective roadside destinations. The mildewy inside of the coach,with its damp and dirty straw, its disagreeable smell, and itsobscurity, was rather like a larger dog-kennel. Mr. Lorry, thepassenger, shaking himself out of it in chains of straw, a tangle ofshaggy wrapper, flapping hat, and muddy legs, was rather like a largersort of dog.
"There will be a packet to Calais, to-morrow, drawer?"
"Yes, sir, if the weather holds and the wind sets tolerable fair.The tide will serve pretty nicely at about two in the afternoon,sir. Bed, sir?"
"I shall not go to bed till night; but I want a bedroom, and abarber."
"And then breakfast, sir? Yes, sir. That way, sir, if you please.Show Concord! Gentleman's valise and hot water to Concord. Pull offgentleman's boots in Concord. (You will find a fine sea-coal fire,sir.) Fetch barber to Concord. Stir about there, now, for Concord!"
The Concord bed-chamber being always assigned to a passenger bythe mail, and passengers by the mail being always heavily wrapped upfrom head to foot, the room had the odd interest for the establishmentof the Royal George, that although but one kind of man was seen togo into it, all kinds and varieties of men came out of it.Consequently, another drawer, and two porters, and several maids andthe landlady, were an loitering by accident at various points of theroad between the Concord and the coffee-room, when a gentleman ofsixty, formally dressed in a brown suit of clothes, pretty wellworn. but very well kept, with large square cuffs and large flaps tothe pockets, passed along on his way to his breakfast.
The coffee-room had no other occupant, that forenoon, than thegentleman in brown. His breakfast-table was drawn before the fire, andas he sat, with its light shining on him, waiting for the meal, he satso still, that he might have been sitting for his portrait.
Very orderly and methodical he looked, with a hand on each knee, anda loud watch ticking a sonorous sermon under his flapped waistcoat, asthough it pitted its gravity and longevity against the levity andevanescence of the brisk fire. He had a good leg, and was a littlevain of it, for his brown stockings fitted sleek and close, and wereof a fine texture; his shoes and buckles, too, though plain, weretrim. He wore an odd little sleek crisp flaxen wig, setting very closeto his head: which wig, it is to be presumed, was made of hair, butwhich looked far more as though it were spun from filaments of silk orglass. His linen, though not of a fineness in accordance with hisstockings, was as white as the tops of the waves that broke upon theneighbouring beach, or the specks of sail that glinted in the sunlightfar at sea. A face habitually suppressed and quieted, was stilllighted up under the quaint wig by a pair of moist bright eyes that itmust have cost their owner, in years gone by, some pains to drill tothe composed and reserved expression of Tellson's Bank. He had ahealthy colour in his cheeks, and his face, though lined, bore fewtraces of anxiety. But, perhaps the confidential bachelor clerks inTellson's Bank were principally occupied with the cares of otherpeople; and perhaps second-hand cares, like second-hand clothes,come easily off and on.
Completing his resemblance to a man who was sitting for hisportrait, Mr. Lorry dropped off to sleep. The arrival of his breakfastroused him, and he said to the drawer, as he moved his chair to it:
"I wish accommodation prepared for a young lady who may come here atany time to-day. She may ask for Mr. Jarvis Lorry, or she may only askfor a gentleman from Tellson's Bank. Please to let me know."
"Yes, sir. Tellson's Bank in London, sir?"
"Yes, sir. We have oftentimes the honour to entertain your gentlemenin their travelling backwards and forwards betwixt London and Paris,sir. A vast deal of travelling, sir, in Tellson and Company's House."
"Yes. We are quite a French House, as well as an English one."
"Yes, sir. Not much in the habit of such travelling yourself, Ithink, sir?"
"Not of late years. It is fifteen years since we-since I- camelast from France."
"Indeed, sir? That was before my time here, sir. Before our people'stime here, sir. The George was in other hands at that time, sir."
"I believe so."
"But I would hold a pretty wager, sir, that a House like Tellson andCompany was flourishing, a matter of fifty, not to speak of fifteenyears ago?"
"You might treble that, and say a hundred and fifty, yet not befar from the truth."
Rounding his mouth and both his eyes, as he stepped backward fromthe table, the waiter shifted his napkin from his right arm to hisleft, dropped into a comfortable attitude, and stood surveying theguest while he ate and drank, as from an observatory or watchtower.According to the immemorial usage of waiters in all ages.
When Mr. Lorry had finished his breakfast, he went out for astroll on the beach. The little narrow, crooked town of Dover hiditself away from the beach, and ran its head into the chalk cliffs,like a marine ostrich. The beach was a desert of heaps of sea andstones tumbling wildly about, and the sea did what it liked, andwhat it liked was destruction. It thundered at the town, and thunderedat the cliffs, and brought the coast down, madly. The air among thehouses was of so strong a piscatory flavour that one might havesupposed sick fish went up to be dipped in it, as sick people wentdown to be dipped in the sea. A little fishing was done in the port,and a quantity of strolling about by night, and looking seaward:particularly at those times when the tide made, and was near flood.Small tradesmen, who did no business whatever, sometimes unaccountablyrealised large fortunes, and it was remarkable that nobody in theneighbourhood could endure a lamplighter.
As the day declined into the afternoon, and the air, which hadbeen at intervals clear enough to allow the French coast to be seen,became again charged with mist and vapour, Mr. Lorry's thoughts seemedto cloud too. When it was dark, and he sat before the coffee-roomfire, awaiting his dinner as he had awaited his breakfast, his mindwas busily digging, digging, digging, in the live red coals.
A bottle of good claret after dinner does a digger in the redcoals no harm, otherwise than as it has a tendency to throw him out ofwork. Mr. Lorry had been idle a long time, and had just poured out hislast glassful of wine with as complete an appearance of satisfactionas is ever to be found in an elderly gentleman of a fresh complexionwho has got to the end of a bottle, when a rattling of wheels cameup the narrow street, and rumbled into the inn-yard.
He set down his glass untouched. "This is Mam'selle!" said he.
In a very few minutes the waiter came in to announce that MissManette had arrived from London, and would be happy to see thegentleman from Tellson's.
Miss Manette had taken some refreshment on the road, and requirednone then, and was extremely anxious to see the gentleman fromTellson's immediately, if it suited his pleasure and convenience.
The gentleman from Tellson's had nothing left for it but to emptyhis glass with an air of stolid desperation, settle his odd littleflaxen wig at the ears, and follow the waiter to Miss Manette'sapartment. It was a large, dark room, furnished in a funereal mannerwith black horsehair, and loaded with heavy dark tables. These hadbeen oiled and oiled, until the two tall candles on the table in themiddle of the room were gloomily reflected on every leaf; as if theywere buried, in deep graves of black mahogany, and no light to speakof could be expected from them until they were dug out.
The obscurity was so difficult to penetrate that Mr. Lorry,picking his way over the well-worn Turkey carpet, supposed MissManette to be, for the moment, in some adjacent room, until, havinggot past the two tall candles, he saw standing to receive him by thetable between them and the fire, a young lady of not more thanseventeen in a riding-cloak, and still holding her strawtravelling-hat by its ribbon in her band. As his eyes rested on ashort, slight, pretty figure, a quantity of golden hair, a pair ofblue eyes that met his own with an inquiring look, and a forehead witha singular capacity (remembering how young and smooth it was), oflifting and knitting itself into an expression that was not quiteone of perplexity, or wonder, or alarm, or merely of a bright fixedattention, though it included all the four expressions- as his eyesrested on these things, a sudden vivid likeness passed before him,of a child whom he had held in his arms on the passage across thatvery Channel, one cold time, when the hail drifted heavily and the searan high. The likeness passed away, like a breath along the surface ofthe gaunt pier-glass behind her, on the frame of which, a hospitalprocession of negro cupids, several headless and all cripples, wereoffering black baskets of Dead Sea fruit to black divinities of thefeminine gender- and he made his formal bow to Miss Manette.
"Pray take a seat, sir." In a very clear and pleasant young voice; alittle foreign in its accent, but a very little indeed.
"I kiss your hand, miss," said Mr. Lorry, with the manners of anearlier date, as he made his formal bow again, and took his seat.
"I received a letter from the Bank, sir, yesterday, informing methat some intelligence- or discovery--"
"The word is not material, miss; either word will do."
"-respecting the small property of my poor father, whom I neversaw- so long dead-"
Mr. Lorry moved in his chair, and cast a troubled look towards thehospital procession of negro cupids. As if they had any help foranybody in their absurd baskets!
"-rendered it necessary that I should go to Paris, there tocommunicate with a gentleman of the Bank, so good as to bedespatched to Paris for the purpose."
"As I was prepared to hear, sir."
She curtseyed to him (young ladies made curtseys in those days),with a pretty desire to convey to him that she felt how much older andwiser he was than she. He made her another bow.
"I replied to the Bank, sir, that as it was considered necessary, bythose who know, and who are so kind as to advise me, that I shouldgo to France, and that as I am an orphan and have no friend whocould go with me, I should esteem it highly if I might be permitted toplace myself, during the journey, under that worthy gentleman'sprotection. The gentleman had left London, but I think a messenger wassent after him to be, the favour of his waiting for me here."
"I was happy," said Mr. Lorry, "to be entrusted with the charge. Ishall be more happy to execute it."
"Sir, I thank you indeed. I thank you very gratefully. It was toldme by the Bank that the gentleman would explain to me the details ofthe business, and that I must prepare myself to find them of asurprising nature. I have done my best to prepare myself, and Inaturally have a strong and eager interest to know what they are."
"Naturally," said Mr. Lorry. "Yes- I--"
After a pause, he added, again settling the crisp flaxen wig atthe ears,
"It is very difficult to begin."
He did not begin, but, in his indecision, met her glance. Theyoung forehead lifted itself into that singular expression- but it waspretty and characteristic, besides being singular- and she raisedher hand, as if with an involuntary action she caught at, or stayedsome passing shadow.
"Are you quite a stranger to me, sir?"
"Am I not?" Mr. Lorry opened his hands, and extended them outwardswith an argumentative smile.
Between the eyebrows and just over the little feminine nose, theline of which was as delicate and fine as it was possible to be, theexpression deepened itself as she took her seat thoughtfully in thechair by which she had hitherto remained standing. He watched her asshe mused, and the moment she raised her eyes again, went on:
"In your adopted country, I presume, I cannot do better than addressyou as a young English lady, Miss Manette?"
"If you please, sir."
Miss Manette, I am a man of business. I have a business charge toacquit myself of. In your reception of it, don't heed me any more thanif I was a speaking machine- truly, I am not much else. I will, withyour leave, relate to you, miss, the story of one of our customers."
He seemed wilfully to mistake the word she had repeated, when headded, in a hurry, "Yes, customers; in the banking business we usuallycall our connection our customers. He was a French gentleman; ascientific gentleman; a man of great acquirements- a Doctor."
"Not of Beauvais?"
Why, yes, of Beauvais. Like Monsieur Manette, your father, thegentleman was of Beauvais. Like Monsieur Manette, your father, thegentleman was of repute in Paris. I had the honour of knowing himthere. Our relations were business relations, but confidential. Iwas at that time in our French House, and had been- oh! twenty years."
"At that time- I may ask, at what time, sir?"
"I speak, miss, of twenty years ago. He married- an English lady-and I was one of the trustees. His affairs, like the affairs of manyother French gentlemen and French families, were entirely in Tellson'shands. In a similar way I am, or I have been, trustee of one kind orother for scores of our customers. These are mere businessrelations, miss; there is no friendship in them, no particularinterest, nothing like sentiment. I have passed from one to another,in the course of my business life, just as I pass from one of ourcustomers to another in the course of my business day; in short, Ihave no feelings; I am a mere machine. To go on--"
"But this is my father's story, sir; and I begin to think"- thecuriously roughened forehead was very intent upon him- "that when Iwas left an orphan through my mother's surviving my father only twoyears, it was you who brought me to England. I am almost sure it wasyou."
Mr. Lorry took the hesitating little hand that confidinglyadvanced to take his, and he put it with some ceremony to his lips. Hethen conducted the young lady straightway to her chair again, and,holding the chair-back with his left hand, and using his right byturns to rub his chin, pull his wig at the ears, or point what hesaid, stood looking down into her face while she sat looking up intohis.
"Miss Manette, it was I. And you will see how truly I spoke ofmyself just now, in saying I had no feelings, and that all therelations I hold with my fellow-creatures are mere business relations,when you reflect that I have never seen you since. No; you have beenthe ward of Tellson's House since, and I have been busy with the otherbusiness of Tellson's House since. Feelings! I have no time forthem, no chance of them. I pass my whole life, miss, in turning animmense pecuniary Mangle."
After this odd description of his daily routine of employment, Mr.Lorry flattened his flaxen wig upon his head with both hands (whichwas most unnecessary, for nothing could be flatter than its shiningsurface was before), and resumed his former attitude.
"So far, miss (as you have remarked), this is the story of yourregretted father. Now comes the difference. If your father had notdied when he did-- Don't be frightened! How you start!"
She did, indeed, start. And she caught his wrist with both herhands.
"Pray," said Mr. Lorry, in a soothing tone, bringing his left handfrom the back of the chair to lay it on the supplicatory fingersthat clasped him in so violent a tremble: "pray control youragitation- a matter of business. As I was saying--"
Her look so discomposed him that he stopped, wandered, and begananew:
"As I was saying; if Monsieur Manette had not died; if he hadsuddenly and silently disappeared; if he had been spirited away; if ithad not been difficult to guess to what dreadful place, though noart could trace him; if he had an enemy in some compatriot who couldexercise a privilege that I in my own time have known the boldestpeople afraid to speak of in a whisper, across the water there; forinstance, the privilege of filling up blank forms for theconsignment of any one to the oblivion of a prison for any length oftime; if his wife had implored the king, the queen, the queen, thecourt, the clergy, for any tidings of him, and all quite in vain;-then the history of your father would have been the history of thisunfortunate gentleman, the Doctor of Beauvais."
"I entreat you to tell me more, sir."
"I will. I am going to. You can bear it?"
"I can bear anything but the uncertainty you leave me in at thismoment."
"You speak collectedly, and you- are collected. That's good!"(Though his manner was less satisfied than his words.) "A matter ofbusiness. Regard it as a matter of business- business that must bedone. Now if this doctor's wife, though a lady of great courage andspirit, had suffered so intensely from this cause before her littlechild was born--"
"The little child was a daughter, sir."
"A daughter. A- a- matter of business- don't be distressed. Miss, ifthe poor lady had suffered so intensely before her little child wasborn, that she came to the determination of sparing the poor child theinheritance of any part of the agony she had known the pains of, byrearing her in the belief that her father was dead-- No, don'tkneel! In Heaven's name why should you kneel to me!"
"For the truth. O dear, good, compassionate sir, for the truth!"
"A- a matter of business. You confuse me, and how can I transactbusiness if I am confused? Let us be clear-headed. If you could kindlymention now, for instance, what nine times ninepence are, or howmany shillings in twenty guineas, it would be so encouraging. I shouldbe so much more at my ease about your state of mind."
Without directly answering to this appeal, she sat so still whenhe had very gently raised her, and the hands that had not ceased toclasp his wrists were so much more steady than they had been, that shecommunicated some reassurance to Mr. Jarvis Lorry.
"That's right, that's right. Courage! Business! You have businessbefore you; useful business. Miss Manette, your mother took thiscourse with you. And when she died- I believe broken-hearted- havingnever slackened her unavailing search for your father, she left you,at two years old, to grow to be blooming, beautiful, and happy,without the dark cloud upon you of living in uncertainty whetheryour father soon wore his heart out in prison, or wasted there throughmany lingering years."
As he said the words he looked down, with an admiring pity, on theflowing golden hair; as if he pictured to himself that it might havebeen already tinged with grey.
"You know that your parents had no great possession, and that whatthey had was secured to your mother and to you. There has been nonew discovery, of money, or of any other property; but--"
He felt his wrist held closer, and he stopped. The expression in theforehead, which had so particularly attracted his notice, and whichwas now immovable, had deepened into one of pain and horror.
"But he has been- been found. He is alive. Greatly changed, it istoo probable; almost a wreck, it is possible; though we will hopethe best. Still, alive. Your father has been taken to the house ofan old servant in Paris, and we are going there: I, to identify him ifI can: you, to restore him to life, love, duty, rest, comfort."
A shiver ran through her frame, and from it through his. She said,in a low, distinct, awe-stricken voice, as if she were saying it ina dream,
"I am going to see his Ghost! It will be his Ghost- not him!"
Mr. Lorry quietly chafed the hands that held his arm. "There, there,there! See now, see now! The best and the worst are known to you, now.You are well on your way to the poor wronged gentleman, and, with afair sea voyage, and a fair land journey, you will be soon at his dearside."
She repeated in the same tone, sunk to a whisper, "I have been free,I have been happy, yet his Ghost has never haunted me!"
"Only one thing more," said Mr. Lorry, laying stress upon it as awholesome means of enforcing her attention: "he has been found underanother name; his own, long forgotten or long concealed. It would beworse than useless now to inquire which; worse than useless to seek toknow whether he has been for years overlooked, or always designedlyheld prisoner. It would be worse than useless now to make anyinquiries, because it would be dangerous. Better not to mention thesubject, anywhere or in any way, and to remove him- for a while at allevents- out of France. Even I, safe as an Englishman, and evenTellson's, important as they are to French credit, avoid all naming ofthe matter. I carry about me, not a scrap of writing openlyreferring to it. This is a secret service altogether. Mycredentials, entries, and memoranda, are all comprehended in the oneline, 'Recalled to Life;' which may mean anything. But what is thematter! She doesn't notice a word! Miss Manette!"
Perfectly still and silent, and not even fallen back in her chair,she sat under his hand, utterly insensible; with her eyes open andfixed upon him, and with that last expression looking as if it werecarved or branded into her forehead. So close was her hold upon hisarm, that he feared to detach himself lest he should hurt her;therefore he called out loudly for assistance without moving.
A wild-looking woman, whom even in his agitation, Mr. Lorry observedto be all of a red colour, and to have red hair, and to be dressedin some extraordinary tight-fitting fashion, and to have on her head amost wonderful bonnet like a Grenadier wooden measure, and goodmeasure too, or a great Stilton cheese, came running into the roomin advance of the inn servants, and soon settled the question of hisdetachment from the poor young lady, by laying a brawny hand uponhis chest, and sending him flying back against the nearest wall.
("I really think this must be a man!" was Mr. Lorry's breathlessreflection, simultaneously with his coming against the wall.)
"Why, look at you all!" bawled this figure, addressing the innservants. "Why don't you go and fetch things, instead of standingthere staring at me? I am not so much to look at, am I? Why don'tyou go and fetch things? I'll let you know, if you don't bringsmelling-salts, cold water, and quick, I will."
There was an immediate dispersal for these restoratives, and shesoftly laid the patient on a sofa, and tended her with great skill andgentleness: calling her "my precious!" and "my bird!" and spreadingher golden hair aside over her shoulders with great pride and care.
"And you in brown!" she said, indignantly turning to Mr. Lorry;"couldn't you tell her what you had to tell her, without frighteningher to death? Look at her, with her pretty pale face and her coldhands. Do you call that being a Banker?"
Mr. Lorry was so exceedingly disconcerted by a question so hard toanswer, that he could only look on, at a distance, with much feeblersympathy and humility, while the strong woman, having banished the innservants under the mysterious penalty of "letting them know" somethingnot mentioned if they stayed there, staring, recovered her charge by aregular series of gradations, and coaxed her to lay her droopinghead upon her shoulder.
"I hope she will do well now," said Mr. Lorry.
"No thanks to you in brown, if she does. My darling pretty!"
"I hope," said Mr. Lorry, after another pause of feeble sympathy andhumility, "that you accompany Miss Manette to France?"
"A likely thing, too!" replied the strong woman. "If it was everintended that I should go across salt water, do you suppose Providencewould have cast my lot in an island?"
This being another question hard to answer, Mr. Jarvis Lorrywithdrew to consider it.