Study Guide

A Tale of Two Cities Volume II, Chapter Ten – Two Promises

By Charles Dickens

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Volume II, Chapter Ten – Two Promises

  • Back in England, Charles Darnay, ex-French aristocrat, is making a decent living as a tutor.
  • What does he teach? French, of course.
  • Everything’s coming up roses for him.
  • Sure, it’s not as lucrative as a decades-old title, but he’s making honest pay for an honest day’s work.
  • Also, he’s madly in love with Lucie.
  • That is what’s top on his mind as he heads over to Soho to the Manettes’ house.
  • The doctor is at home.
  • His life has only continued to improve. He’s working all the time, which makes him pretty happy.
  • He hasn’t relapsed into depression or memory loss in a long time.
  • Darnay walks into the room, and Dr. Manette greets him happily.
  • They haven’t seen each other in a few days: Darnay has been busy working with his students, and the doctor has his patients.
  • The doctor remarks that it’s unfortunate that Lucie isn’t around to greet him, as well.
  • Darnay cuts him short. He knew that Lucie wasn’t in.
  • Sensing that this will be a conversation that he won’t like, Dr. Manette asks Darnay to remember how essential Lucie is to his well-being.
  • Darnay says he understands. He wouldn’t mention her name—but he loves her too much to keep quiet any longer.
  • Dr. Manette already knows this.
  • He asks Darnay if Darnay has said anything about his love to Lucie.
  • Darnay says that he’d never approach Lucie without telling Dr. Manette first. In fact, that’s why he’s here.
  • Aww…what a gentleman, huh?
  • Explaining that he understands how important Lucie is in Dr. Manette’s life, Darnay says that he’ll never do anything that would jeopardize their relationship. In fact, if he married Lucie, he’d want to move in with them.
  • That way, their house would be disrupted as little as possible.
  • Dr. Manette asks if Darnay wants him to say anything to Lucie about this conversation.
  • Darnay immediately refuses.
  • He knows how much Dr. Manette’s opinion matters to Lucie.
  • If he told her to jump, she’d ask "How high?"
  • Okay, that’s not actually in the book.
  • But if he told her to consider Darnay as a husband, she’d marry him—without thinking about whether or not she loved him.
  • Darnay doesn’t want this. He asks Dr. Manette not to say anything.
  • What he does ask, however, is that Dr. Manette agree to tell Lucie of this conversation if she comes to her father to talk about Darnay.
  • In the interests of full disclosure, Darnay also wants to tell Dr. Manette about his past…in France.
  • Dr. Manette seems startled. He immediately shuts Darnay down.
  • He doesn’t want to know about Darnay’s history.
  • Okay, okay: if Lucie and Darnay get married, then Darnay can tell him about his past. But that’s a big if.
  • Darnay leaves, happy with their conversation.
  • A few hours later, Lucie returns from her shopping trip.
  • Miss Pross meets her at the door.
  • She’s frantic. Ever since Darnay left, Dr. Manette has been up in his room, pacing the way that he used to. And he’s been working at making shoes again.
  • He won’t come down. In fact, he doesn’t seem to hear her when she calls.
  • Lucie runs upstairs.
  • Their voices are heard upstairs. Eventually the two come down; she convinces her father to fall asleep.

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