A TALE OF TWO CITIES - 2 - 17 in English Moral Stories by Charles Dickens books and stories PDF | A TALE OF TWO CITIES - 2 - 17




By Charles Dickens

The Golden Thread


One Night

Never did the sun go down with a brighter glory on the quiet corner in

Soho, than one memorable evening when the Doctor and his daughter sat

under the plane-tree together. Never did the moon rise with a milder

radiance over great London, than on that night when it found them still

seated under the tree, and shone upon their faces through its leaves.

Lucie was to be married to-morrow. She had reserved this last evening

for her father, and they sat alone under the plane-tree.

“You are happy, my dear father?”

“Quite, my child.”

They had said little, though they had been there a long time. When it

was yet light enough to work and read, she had neither engaged herself

in her usual work, nor had she read to him. She had employed herself in

both ways, at his side under the tree, many and many a time; but, this

time was not quite like any other, and nothing could make it so.

“And I am very happy to-night, dear father. I am deeply happy in the

love that Heaven has so blessed--my love for Charles, and Charles's love

for me. But, if my life were not to be still consecrated to you, or

if my marriage were so arranged as that it would part us, even by

the length of a few of these streets, I should be more unhappy and

self-reproachful now than I can tell you. Even as it is--”

Even as it was, she could not command her voice.

In the sad moonlight, she clasped him by the neck, and laid her face

upon his breast. In the moonlight which is always sad, as the light of

the sun itself is--as the light called human life is--at its coming and

its going.

“Dearest dear! Can you tell me, this last time, that you feel quite,

quite sure, no new affections of mine, and no new duties of mine, will

ever interpose between us? _I_ know it well, but do you know it? In your

own heart, do you feel quite certain?”

Her father answered, with a cheerful firmness of conviction he could

scarcely have assumed, “Quite sure, my darling! More than that,” he

added, as he tenderly kissed her: “my future is far brighter, Lucie,

seen through your marriage, than it could have been--nay, than it ever

was--without it.”

“If I could hope _that_, my father!--”

“Believe it, love! Indeed it is so. Consider how natural and how plain

it is, my dear, that it should be so. You, devoted and young, cannot

fully appreciate the anxiety I have felt that your life should not be


She moved her hand towards his lips, but he took it in his, and repeated

the word.

“--wasted, my child--should not be wasted, struck aside from the

natural order of things--for my sake. Your unselfishness cannot entirely

comprehend how much my mind has gone on this; but, only ask yourself,

how could my happiness be perfect, while yours was incomplete?”

“If I had never seen Charles, my father, I should have been quite happy

with you.”

He smiled at her unconscious admission that she would have been unhappy

without Charles, having seen him; and replied:

“My child, you did see him, and it is Charles. If it had not been

Charles, it would have been another. Or, if it had been no other, I

should have been the cause, and then the dark part of my life would have

cast its shadow beyond myself, and would have fallen on you.”

It was the first time, except at the trial, of her ever hearing him

refer to the period of his suffering. It gave her a strange and new

sensation while his words were in her ears; and she remembered it long


“See!” said the Doctor of Beauvais, raising his hand towards the moon.

“I have looked at her from my prison-window, when I could not bear her

light. I have looked at her when it has been such torture to me to think

of her shining upon what I had lost, that I have beaten my head against

my prison-walls. I have looked at her, in a state so dull and lethargic,

that I have thought of nothing but the number of horizontal lines I

could draw across her at the full, and the number of perpendicular lines

with which I could intersect them.” He added in his inward and pondering

manner, as he looked at the moon, “It was twenty either way, I remember,

and the twentieth was difficult to squeeze in.”

The strange thrill with which she heard him go back to that time,

deepened as he dwelt upon it; but, there was nothing to shock her in

the manner of his reference. He only seemed to contrast his present

cheerfulness and felicity with the dire endurance that was over.

“I have looked at her, speculating thousands of times upon the unborn

child from whom I had been rent. Whether it was alive. Whether it had

been born alive, or the poor mother's shock had killed it. Whether it

was a son who would some day avenge his father. (There was a time in my

imprisonment, when my desire for vengeance was unbearable.) Whether it

was a son who would never know his father's story; who might even live

to weigh the possibility of his father's having disappeared of his own

will and act. Whether it was a daughter who would grow to be a woman.”

She drew closer to him, and kissed his cheek and his hand.

“I have pictured my daughter, to myself, as perfectly forgetful of

me--rather, altogether ignorant of me, and unconscious of me. I have

cast up the years of her age, year after year. I have seen her married

to a man who knew nothing of my fate. I have altogether perished from

the remembrance of the living, and in the next generation my place was a


“My father! Even to hear that you had such thoughts of a daughter who

never existed, strikes to my heart as if I had been that child.”

“You, Lucie? It is out of the Consolation and restoration you have

brought to me, that these remembrances arise, and pass between us and

the moon on this last night.--What did I say just now?”

“She knew nothing of you. She cared nothing for you.”

“So! But on other moonlight nights, when the sadness and the silence

have touched me in a different way--have affected me with something as

like a sorrowful sense of peace, as any emotion that had pain for its

foundations could--I have imagined her as coming to me in my cell, and

leading me out into the freedom beyond the fortress. I have seen her

image in the moonlight often, as I now see you; except that I never held

her in my arms; it stood between the little grated window and the door.

But, you understand that that was not the child I am speaking of?”

“The figure was not; the--the--image; the fancy?”

“No. That was another thing. It stood before my disturbed sense of

sight, but it never moved. The phantom that my mind pursued, was another

and more real child. Of her outward appearance I know no more than

that she was like her mother. The other had that likeness too--as you

have--but was not the same. Can you follow me, Lucie? Hardly, I think?

I doubt you must have been a solitary prisoner to understand these

perplexed distinctions.”

His collected and calm manner could not prevent her blood from running

cold, as he thus tried to anatomise his old condition.

“In that more peaceful state, I have imagined her, in the moonlight,

coming to me and taking me out to show me that the home of her married

life was full of her loving remembrance of her lost father. My picture

was in her room, and I was in her prayers. Her life was active,

cheerful, useful; but my poor history pervaded it all.”

“I was that child, my father, I was not half so good, but in my love

that was I.”

“And she showed me her children,” said the Doctor of Beauvais, “and

they had heard of me, and had been taught to pity me. When they passed

a prison of the State, they kept far from its frowning walls, and looked

up at its bars, and spoke in whispers. She could never deliver me; I

imagined that she always brought me back after showing me such things.

But then, blessed with the relief of tears, I fell upon my knees, and

blessed her.”

“I am that child, I hope, my father. O my dear, my dear, will you bless

me as fervently to-morrow?”

“Lucie, I recall these old troubles in the reason that I have to-night

for loving you better than words can tell, and thanking God for my great

happiness. My thoughts, when they were wildest, never rose near the

happiness that I have known with you, and that we have before us.”

He embraced her, solemnly commended her to Heaven, and humbly thanked

Heaven for having bestowed her on him. By-and-bye, they went into the


There was no one bidden to the marriage but Mr. Lorry; there was even to

be no bridesmaid but the gaunt Miss Pross. The marriage was to make no

change in their place of residence; they had been able to extend it,

by taking to themselves the upper rooms formerly belonging to the

apocryphal invisible lodger, and they desired nothing more.

Doctor Manette was very cheerful at the little supper. They were only

three at table, and Miss Pross made the third. He regretted that Charles

was not there; was more than half disposed to object to the loving

little plot that kept him away; and drank to him affectionately.

So, the time came for him to bid Lucie good night, and they separated.

But, in the stillness of the third hour of the morning, Lucie came

downstairs again, and stole into his room; not free from unshaped fears,


All things, however, were in their places; all was quiet; and he lay

asleep, his white hair picturesque on the untroubled pillow, and his

hands lying quiet on the coverlet. She put her needless candle in the

shadow at a distance, crept up to his bed, and put her lips to his;

then, leaned over him, and looked at him.

Into his handsome face, the bitter waters of captivity had worn; but, he

covered up their tracks with a determination so strong, that he held the

mastery of them even in his sleep. A more remarkable face in its quiet,

resolute, and guarded struggle with an unseen assailant, was not to be

beheld in all the wide dominions of sleep, that night.

She timidly laid her hand on his dear breast, and put up a prayer that

she might ever be as true to him as her love aspired to be, and as his

sorrows deserved. Then, she withdrew her hand, and kissed his lips once

more, and went away. So, the sunrise came, and the shadows of the leaves

of the plane-tree moved upon his face, as softly as her lips had moved

in praying for him.


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