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A Tale of Two Cities

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.