Study Guide

A Tale of Two Cities Volume II, Chapter Twenty-Four – Drawn to the Lodestone Rock

By Charles Dickens

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Volume II, Chapter Twenty-Four – Drawn to the Lodestone Rock

  • It’s August, 1792.
  • Monseigneur, that amazing man who stands in for all French aristocrats, has decided that France is not the safest place to be hanging out.
  • He’s now fleeing across the ocean, headed for countries that are a bit more friendly than his own.
  • But we’re not concerned with Monseigneur right now. We’re back in London.
  • At Tellson’s, to be specific.
  • Tellson’s, in case you were wondering, is as dark and dingy and cramped as it ever was. That’s just the way that Mr. Lorry likes it.
  • At the moment, Darnay is trying to talk Mr. Lorry out of going to France on business.
  • It’s too dangerous in France at the moment—especially for an elderly man.
  • Mr. Lorry agrees, but business is business. Tellson’s has many French customers, and someone has to look after their property, even during times of strife.
  • As it turns out, Mr. Lorry happens to be one of the youngest members of Tellson’s.
  • If anyone could brave war and revolution, it’d be him. That’s what he thinks, at any rate.
  • Darnay remains unconvinced.
  • Mr. Lorry assures him that he’ll bring Jerry Cruncher along as a bodyguard.
  • Between the two of them, they should be able to stop any mischief that people might intend toward the bank or the bank’s property.
  • Darnay and Mr. Lorry stand in a corner of the bank talking together.
  • Gradually, another conversation in the bank catches their attention.
  • Our good old friend, Mr. Stryver, has brought a letter to the bank. It’s addressed to a Marquis St. Evrémonde, care of Tellson’s Bank.
  • Our narrator quickly informs us that Dr. Manette made Darnay promise never to reveal his real identity.
  • Perhaps that’s why Darnay starts when he sees the letter—but he doesn’t say a word.
  • Luckily, Stryver has more than enough words for the entire office.
  • He explains that the new Marquis is a craven coward. He abandoned his lands before the old Marquis died.
  • Darnay steps into the conversation and says that he knows the Marquis. He can deliver the letter.
  • Puzzled, Mr. Lorry hands it to him.
  • Darnay quickly leaves. As he walks out, he opens the letter.
  • It’s from Monsieur Gabelle, the steward of his uncle’s lands.
  • Gabelle has been taken prisoner merely because he did what the Marquis ordered him to do.
  • Now he begs the new Marquis (Darnay) to come back and take responsibility for his own lands.
  • Darnay puts down the letter and begins some serious thinking.
  • Sure, he once believed that it would be better for him to abandon his inheritance entirely.
  • Starting life over in England was a bit hard, but at least he wasn’t the cause of other people’s pain.
  • Now, however, he sees that inaction can be as morally corrupt as bad actions.
  • Quickly, Darnay comes to a conclusion: he must return to France.
  • With this decided, Darnay sets about planning a "business" trip. He tells Lucie that he’ll be gone for a few days.
  • Then he writes a letter explaining his real situation and leaves it for her to find once he’s left.
  • He also writes to the doctor, asking him to take care of the family until he returns.
  • In the dead of the night, Darnay sets out for Paris.
  • We’re not sure, but we really don’t have a very good feeling about this...

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