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A Tale of Two Cities
by Charles Dickens
Lucie Manette Timeline and Summary
1775: Sent for by Mr. Lorry, Lucie Manette travels to Dover. She’s been told that Mr. Lorry has information regarding her late father’s property. Long ago, a "man of business" was the trustee of a French doctor. This doctor had a small child. Ring any bells? It sure does for Miss Manette. She’s turned pale and is listening excitedly. Miss Manette recognizes the story as being very, very much like that of her father’s. Mr. Lorry agrees. There’s one difference, however: this doctor is still alive. He urges Miss Manette to think of his story as a mere matter of business, but it doesn’t seem to be working very well. Finally, he tells her that the mother of the young girl died when the child was two, after searching for her father for two years. Her father… well, her father has been found. Mr. Lorry proposes that he and Miss Manette go together to Paris to find her father. Turning completely ashen, Miss Manette murmurs that she’s going to see a ghost. She travels to Paris with Mr. Lorry, where they meet Doctor Manette. He’s at Defarge’s wine shop, hunched over a workbench. Lucie moves slowly forward. She stops in front of his workbench. Startled, he asks who she is. Slowly, he reaches up and touches her golden hair. Slowly, he begins to remember. Lucie puts her arms around him and promises to tell him some other time who her mother and father were. For now, though, she promises to take care of him. France, she declares, is too wicked a country for them to stay in. They’ll return to England, where she can honor the man who is her father properly. 1780: Five years later, Lucie and her father are called to testify at Charles Darnay’s trial. The court calls Miss Manette to the stand. When Lucie begins to testify, it’s obvious that she doesn’t want to say anything that could incriminate Charles. Lucie says that Charles helped her father when Doctor Manette fell ill on the boat. Against her will, she also testifies that Charles exchanged some papers with Frenchmen who were aboard the boat. Apparently, Charles also made some jokes about George Washington while he and Lucie were chatting. It was all in good fun at the time, but now the court doesn’t take it so lightly. The court, in fact, seems to think that making jokes about how George Washington might not be such a bad guy is, in fact, treason. Lucie’s testimony, in other words, didn’t go all that well for Charles. Fortunately, however, he’s let off the hook. He begins to visit them often. So does Sydney Carton. They both come over to the lovely house that Lucie’s made for her father in Soho. One night, Sydney comes over to visit Lucie. He finds Lucie there alone. When she sees him, she immediately notices that he’s even less well than he usually is. That’s not saying much. She asks Sydney what the matter is. He responds that his life is miserable and hopeless. She asks why he can’t change. We know, we know—it’s a useless question. Someone had to ask it, though. Sydney doesn’t answer directly. See, Sydney knows that Lucie couldn’t love a man like him. In fact, that’s exactly what he tells her. Dismayed, Lucie doesn’t know what to say. Sure, she feels sorry for Carton. She evens cares about him. But the saddest thing in this whole deal is that he’s right—and they both know it. True to her good-natured self, though, Lucie asks if there’s anything that she can do to help him without promising to love him. Carton says that if anyone could have reformed him, she could have. It looks like he’s past saving, then. Just like he thought he was. Apparently, Sydney just dropped by to unburden himself… sort of like a very, very painful self-help session. Distraught, Lucie asks again if there’s no way that she could be a force for good in his life. Sydney seems to have moved past this, however. He begs her to keep this conversation confidential; it’s the last time he’ll ever confide in anyone, and he’d like to remember that it ended well. Seeing that Lucie seems upset, he entreats her not to be troubled by his sorrows. More than anything, he wants her to be happy. In fact, he’s so committed to her happiness that he begs her to remember (once she gets married) that he would give his own life to keep those whom she loves safe. Bidding Lucie farewell, Sydney rushes out the door. Lucie, who loves Charles, marries him. They have two children, a girl and a boy. The boy dies as a child. The girl, little Lucie, grows to be beautiful like her mother. 1792: Lucie learns that Charles has left for France. She and her father follow him. They learn Charles has been arrested. They arrive at Mr. Lorry’s office in Paris. Lucie tells him that Charles has come to the city. Immediately, Mr. Lorry realizes what this means. Charles is in trouble. He tries to shield the Manettes from the windows, but the doctor coolly ignores him. Doctor Manette, you see, is something of a hero for the patriots. As a former prisoner of the Bastille, he’s untouchable. In fact, he might even have some leverage in getting Charles out of prison. That’s why he and Lucie had come to Paris. Mr. Lorry actually agrees. He hurries Lucie up to his room. Madame Defarge comes to see Lucie. Ostensibly she’ll be able to help her. Lucie pleads for mercy for her husband. Madame Defarge ignores this cry. She says that she’s here for the daughter of Doctor Manette (and not the wife of Evrémonde). Frantic, Lucie asks for her to protect her husband because he’s the doctor’s son-in-law. She begs for pity as a wife and a mother. Madame Defarge stares at her coldly and says that the wives and mothers of France have been suffering for a very long time. She leaves without ever promising to help. A year passes. Then another three months pass. Nothing’s changed. Lucie, in particular, seems to have weathered the calamity pretty well. She’s not wearing bright, fancy clothes, sure, but otherwise she’s cheerful. Only occasionally does her grief break through. Then she cries on her father’s shoulder all night. He remains confident that he can save Charles and tries to reassure his daughter as much as he can. One day, the doctor comes home with some news: every now and then, Charles can get to a little window that looks out on the street. He usually manages to be there at three in the afternoon. It’s not every day…in fact, it’s only about once a week. Nonetheless, he asked if Lucie would be willing to come stand in front of the window at three so that he could see her. From that time on, Lucie goes to the street next to the window every afternoon. Whatever the weather’s like, she stands outside for two hours. A woodcutter happens to realize that she’s standing on his street every day. One day, he’s not in his shop. Lucie’s relieved—until she sees him dancing with The Vengeance and a mob of hundreds of other people. They’re dancing a wild, bloody, violent dance. Apparently it involves lots of teeth-gnashing. It’s called the Carmagnole. Lucie stares at them, frightened. Her father comes up to lead them away, and she asks him about the horrible dance. He tries to calm her, although he’s seen it several times before. Suddenly, Madame Defarge appears right beside them. She disappears as quickly as she came. As they walk home, Dr. Manette tells Lucie that Charles has been summoned to the Tribunal. When Charles is released, she falls into his arms. They go home. Later that night, however, Charles is arrested. At the trial, Charles is sentenced to death. Lucie faints. Sydney Carton carries her out to her carriage and kisses her. Lucie leaves town with her father, her husband, and Mr. Lorry.