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A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities


by Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities Volume I, Chapter Four – The Preparation Summary

  • Mr. Lorry finally arrives in Dover.
  • He makes sure that there’s a boat that's bound for Calais and leaving the next morning, and then he heads to the inn.
  • As he comes down from his room for dinner, the landlady and the surrounding guests observe him: Mr. Lorry is a nice, neatly-dressed little man of around sixty years.
  • He seems to be completely prim and proper, except for his eyes: they appear to be full of compassion and emotion.
  • As our narrator points out, compassion and emotion aren’t exactly valuable characteristics for a banker to possess.
  • It’s probably safe to assume that Mr. Lorry’s worked hard to hide them well from his colleagues.
  • When Mr. Lorry’s breakfast arrives, he informs the landlady that a young woman will soon be arriving. He thinks that she’ll ask for someone from Tellson’s bank, but she won’t know Mr. Lorry by name.
  • Sure enough, the landlady has heard of Tellson’s. She and Mr. Lorry have a friendly chat about the wonders of that reputable bank.
  • Here’s the synopsis: Tellson’s is very, very reputable. It’s been in London for one hundred and fifty years.
  • It also has a branch in Paris that’s been around for nearly as long as the one in London.
  • The landlady is suitably impressed.
  • Wandering around the city of Dover, Mr. Lorry spends his day hashing and re-hashing the imaginary conversation he had with the dead man while he traveled.
  • Around supper time, however, he returns to the inn.
  • A young girl arrives just as he does; she’s upstairs when he returns.
  • A bit uneasy, Mr. Lorry pulls at his wig.
  • That doesn’t seem to do much good at all, but apparently it makes him feel better.
  • He goes up to the young girl’s room.
  • By the fire, he sees a slender, young, pretty girl whose eyes are incredibly expressive—and incredibly familiar.
  • In fact, they look just like the eyes of a young child whom he once carried from Calais to Dover eighteen years earlier.
  • Miss Manette (that’s the young girl’s name, by the way) asks Mr. Lorry to be seated.
  • She’s been told that Mr. Lorry has information regarding her late father’s property.
  • He sits and explains that he’s been sent to explain… something.
  • After awkwardly attempting to explain that something for a good while, he finally puts forth a "hypothetical" story.
  • Before he begins, however, he makes it absolutely clear that he is a "man of business." As such, he asks for Miss Manette to listen to a small business matter.
  • 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.
  • Mr. Lorry hastens to assure her that he feels nothing. He’s a mere machine of the bank.
  • Funny, the longer he talks, the harder it is for us to believe that.
  • 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.
  • He’s alive. He may not be much more than alive, but at least they’ve finally found him.
  • 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 seems to have fainted completely away. Mr. Lorry has no idea what to do.
  • Suddenly, a wild-looking red-haired woman rushes into the room.
  • She flies into a fury at Mr. Lorry. How dare he upset her darling in this way?
  • Ordering Mr. Lorry to fetch some smelling salts, she quickly brings Lucie back to consciousness.
  • Mr. Lorry humbly asks if the woman will accompany Lucie to France.
  • She offers a brusque reply: she’s never seen any need to cross the water. For her mistress, however, she’ll do anything.

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