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In Chapter 8: Monseigneur in the Country, we continue following the murderous Marquis on his journey to his château.

pg. 118: Monsieur the Marquis in his travelling carriage (which might have been lighter), conducted by four post-horses and two postilions, fagged up a steep hill.

...Firewooded up a steep hill?

The village surrounding the Marquis' château is very, very poor. How poor is it?

pg. 119: All its people were poor, and many of them were sitting at their doors, shredding spare onions and the like for supper, while many were at the fountain, washing leaves, and grasses, and any such small yieldings of the earth that could be eaten.

That's quite poor, that is.

Seriously tho, if your villagers are reduced to eating grass, you might want to re-think your expensive lifestyle.

Upon his arrival in the village, the Marquis spots a road-mender in a blue cap whom he passed on the way. The Marquis wants to know why the road-mender was staring at the carriage so fixedly. The road-mender replies that he was staring at the man. What man? Why, the man who was hanging on to the carriage, hidden underneath disguised as a wheel.

The man is nowhere to be found, currently, so the Marquis storms on up to his château, but not before he is accosted by a villager who wants nothing more than a gravestone for her dead husband, so that she can be sure of where he lies and be buried beside him when she goes. The Marquis, naturally, does not give a shit.

Once inside his château, the Marquis makes an inquiry.

pg. 123: "Monsieur Charles, whom I expect; is he arrived from England?"

"Monseigneur, not yet."

Chapter 9: The Gorgon's Head

The Marquis waits in his château for the arrival of the mysterious Monsieur Charles. While waiting, he spies something outside his window, but a servant declares it to be nothing.

Because there can be only one person named Charles in the world of a thousand Jacques, Monsieur Charles is in fact our very own Charles Darnay. Turns out he's the Marquis' nephew. Lucky him! But what is he doing in France?

pg. 125-126: "I have come back, sir, as you anticipate, pursuing the object that took me away. It carried me into great and unexpected peril; but it is a sacred object, and if it had carried me to death I hope it would have sustained me."

"Not to death," said the uncle; "it is not necessary to say to death."

"I doubt, sir," returned the nephew, "whether, if it had carried me to the utmost brink of death, you would have cared to stop me there."

Ooh, burn.

Darnay and the Marquis argue back and forth a bit about how the Marquis was probably behind the accusations of treason and how maybe they should be nicer to the villagers.

pg.127: "We have so asserted our station, both in the old time and in the modern time also," said the nephew, gloomily, "that I believe our name to be more detested than any name in France."

"Let us hope so," said the uncle. "Detestation of the high is the involuntary homage of the low."

"There is not," pursued the nephew, in his former tone, "a face I can look at, in all this country round about us, which looks at me with any deference on it but the dark deference of fear and slavery."

They go on for several pages, but the Marquis' response boils down to this:

pg. 129: "My friend, I will die, perpetuating the system under which I have lived.


Darnay has his own plans for relieving the villagers' plight.

pg. 129: "If it ever becomes mine, it shall be put into some hands better qualified to free it slowly (if such a thing is possible) from the weight that drags it down, so that the miserable people who cannot leave it and who have been wrung to the last point of endurance may, in another generation, suffer less; but it is not for me.

So, instead of accepting your inheritance now, your plan is to run away from the situation and hope someone else fixes it? Our hero, ladies and gentlepersons!

And thus, the conversation between nephew and uncle mercifully draws to a close.

pg. 130: "Good-night!" said the uncle. "I look to the pleasure of seeing you again in the morning. Good repose! Light Monsieur my nephew to his chamber there!–And burn Monsieur my nephew in his bed, if you will," he added to himself, before he rang his little bell again, and summoned his valet to his own bedroom.

The next morning, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, the villagers are starving, and everything is normal at the château... except for all the frantic bell-ringing and running about of guards. What's the cause of this commotion?

pg. 133: It lay back on the pillow of Monsieur the Marquis. It was like a fine mask, suddenly startled, made angry, and petrified. Driven home into the heart of the stone figure attached to it was a knife. Round its hilt was a frill of paper, on which was scrawled:

"Drive him fast to his tomb. This, from JACQUES."

R.I.P. the Marquis.

(Also a guy named Monsieur Gabelle rides away on horseback from the château. I can't remember who he is, but he's got a name so he's probably important.)

Chapter 10: Two Promises

One year later, back in England, Charles Darnay has found a respectable job as an accomplished French tutor. Apparently the murder of his uncle while he was staying under his roof has had little to no affect on Darnay's psyche.

No, Darnay's mind is focused on his love for Lucie Manette, and how badly he wants to marry her. I daresay, as the two blandest people in the novel, they are a perfect match. But first, Darnay must ask her father's permission to court her.

DARNAY: So I've noticed that you and your daughter are super-attached in a borderline Electra Complex kind of way, and I would never ever want to interfere with that or get between you two, but can I marry her?

At least, that would be the ideal version. The real version is eight agonizing pages long and includes the following gems.

pg. 136: "You anticipate what I would say, though you cannot know how earnestly I say it, how earnestly I feel it, without knowing my secret heart, and the hopes and fears and anxieties with which it has long been laden. Dear Doctor Manette, I love your daughter fondly, dearly, disinterestedly, devotedly. If ever there were love in the world, I love her. You have loved yourself; let your old love speak for me!"

"Love" is the new "pleasant." Also, it's apparently a good thing to love someone "disinterestedly." What about "apathetically," is that good, too?

pg. 138: "You speak so feelingly and so manfully, Charles Darnay, that I thank you with all my heart, and will open all my heart–or nearly so. Have you any reason to believe that Lucie loves you?"

"None. As yet, none."

I realize this is a relatively new idea in Western culture, but before you start planning your happily-ever-after-with-babies-and-a-white-picket-fence future with somebody, it's probably a good idea to discern whether or not they are even remotely interested in such a prospect with you. Just a thought.

But yeah, the long version ends precisely the same as the short version: Darnay gets permission to ask Lucie if she likes him. Woo.

Chapter 11: A Companion Picture brings us over to Mr. Stryver's apartment, where Sydney Carton is once again a completely heterosexual guest.

Stryver has a seeeeeeeecret, and wants Carton to guess what it is. Carton is somewhat less than enthused.

pg. 142: "I am not going to guess, at five o' clock in the morning, with my brains frying and sputtering in my head. If you want me to guess, you must ask me to dinner."

ilu Carton

Stryver tires of his attempted guessing game and straight-up tells Carton what's going on. And by "straight-up" I mean "using the most roundabout phrasing possible because at the end of the day we are still trapped in a Dickens novel."

STRYVER: Hey Carton, you know how I am more handsome and successful and genteel and well-behaved and gallant and just generally better than you in every possible way?
CARTON: You forgot to mention my incorrigibility.
STRYVER: Right, that too. Also you're disagreeable, shameful, poor-mannered, devilish, ill-conditioned... more like a dog than a person, really.
CARTON: Please get to the point.
STRYVER: I intend to woo a lady!
CARTON: Good for you.
STRYVER: A lady you once told me you had the world's biggest and most tragic crush on!

pg. 143: Sydney Carton looked at his punch and looked at his complacent friend; drank his punch and looked at his complacent friend.

STRYVER: The lady is Miss Manette, in case you hadn't guessed yet.
STRYVER: I want to marry her because she is charming and beautiful and lovely and sweet and caring and kind and considerate and bland as all get-up.
STRYVER: I don't suppose I could trouble you for your blessing in this venture? You know, since there's no way an antisocial weirdo like you could ever do any better than a nurse or a landlady for a wife?*
CARTON: ...I'll think about it.

In Chapter 12: The Fellow of Delicacy, the role of Stryver will be played by Gaston from Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

The actual chapter is seven pages of conversation between Mr. Stryver and Mr. Lorry, which I will condense for you below.

STRYVER: So I'm totally going to ask Miss Manette to marry me. There's no way she'll refuse because I'm reasonably wealthy and also not Carton. What do you think of this plan?
LORRY: I think you're an idiot but I'm too British to say so.
STRYVER: The nerve! I demand you go spy on Miss Manette for me and reconsider whether or not I'd be the perfect man for her.
LORRY: Yeah okay I went and did that but the answer's still no, dude, sorry.
STRYVER: Of course you're right I was just testing you it was a social experiment I didn't want to marry her anyway goodnight!
LORRY: ...?

Chapter 13: The Fellow of No Delicacy

After Stryker's seriously botched attempt at wooing Lucie, Carton pays her a visit. Everything goes well for all of a page until Carton breaks down.

pg. 153: "I fear you are not well, Mr. Carton!"

"No. But the life I lead, Miss Manette, is not conducive to health. What is to be expected of, or by, such profligates?"

"Is it not–forgive me; I have begun the question on my lips–a pity to live no better life?"

"God knows it is a shame!"

"Then why not change it?"

Looking gently at him again, she was surprised and saddened to see that there were tears in his eyes. There were tears in his voice too, as he answered:

"It is too late for that. I shall never be better than I am. I shall sink lower, and be worse."

He leaned an elbow on the table, and covered his eyes with his hand. The table trembled in the silence that followed.


pg. 153: "Don't be afraid to hear me. Don't shrink from anything I say. I am like one who died young. All my life might have been."

Carton confesses his affection for Lucie, which is kind of icky because it borders on making her responsible for his feelings, but he quickly follows it with this:

pg. 155: "Be under no apprehension, Miss Manette, of my ever resuming this conversation by so much as a passing word. I will never refer to it again. If I were dead, that could not be surer than it is henceforth. In the hour of my death, I shall hold sacred the one good remembrance–and shall thank and bless you for it–that my last avowal of myself was made to you, and that my name, and faults, and miseries were gently carried in your heart. May it otherwise be light and happy!"

So he's less icky than he could have been. Kind of. Maybe.

His very last words on the subject, which I'm sure will have no bearing whatsoever on the upcoming plot, are as follows.

pg. 156: "My last supplication of all is this; and with it, I will relieve you of a visitor with whom I well know you have nothing in unison, and between whom and you there is an impassible space. It is useless to say it, I know, but it rises out of my soul. For you, and for any dear to you, I would do anything. If my career were of that better kind that there was any opportunity or capacity of sacrifice in it, I would embrace any sacrifice for you and for those dear to you. Try to hold me in your mind, at some quiet times, as ardent and sincere in this one thing. The time will come, the time will not be long in coming, when new ties will be formed about you–ties that will bind you yet more tenderly and strongly to the home you so adorn–the dearest ties that will ever grace and gladden you. O Miss Manette, when the little picture of a happy father's face looks up in yours, when you see your own bright beauty springing up anew at your feet, think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you!"

Chapter 14: The Honest Tradesman takes a look at what Jerry Cruncher has been up to in the meantime.

pg. 157: a small portion of his income was derived from the pilotage of timid women (mostly of a full habit and past the middle term of life) from Tellson's side of the tides to the opposite shore. Brief as such companionship was in every separate instance, Mr. Cruncher never failed to become so interested in the lady as to express a strong desire to have the honour of drinking her very good health. And it was from the gifts bestowed upon him towards the execution of this benevolent purpose, that he recruited his finances, as just now observed.

tl;dr - Cruncher gets money by helping little old ladies cross the street.

There's a commotion on the streets today, as a funeral procession is being accosted by a bunch of rabble-rousers and ne'er-do-wells. Turns out our old buddy Roger Cly has kicked it, and since he was a spy, nobody much liked him. The crowd gets the brilliant idea to take over the procession.

pg. 159: The officiating undertakers made some protest against these changes in the ceremonies; but, the river being alarmingly near, and several voices remarking on the efficacy of cold immersion in bringing refractory members of the profession to reason, the protest was faint and brief.


pg. 159: The remodelled procession started, with a chimney-sweep driving the hearse–advised by the regular driver, who was perched beside him, under close inspection, for the purpose–and with a pieman, also attended by his cabinet-minister, driving the mourning coach. A bear-leader, a popular street character of the time, was impressed as an additional ornament, before the cavalcade had gone far down the Strand; and his bear, who was black and very mangy, gave quite and undertaking air to that part of the procession in which he walked.

Thus, with beer-drinking, pipe-smoking, song-roaring, and infinite caricaturing of woe, the disorderly procession went its way, recruiting at every step, and al the shops shutting up before it.

I can only hope my own funeral is half as much fun.

After the burial, Cruncher goes home and has his supper before ordering his wife and son to bed and heading out to work again. Fortunately, his son sneaks out of bed and follows him, allowing the reader to see where he's going.

By day, Cruncher delivers messages and helps little old ladies cross the street. But what does he do by night?

It takes two pages and an extended metaphor about fishing for Dickens to get the point across; turns out Cruncher is a grave-robber. Having discovered this, Jerry Junior runs home in fright. He confronts his father as they go to work the next morning.

pg. 165-166: "Father," said Young Jerry, as they walked along: taking care to keep at arm's length and to have the stool well between them: "what's a resurrection-man?"

Mr. Cruncher came to a stop on the pavement before he answered, "How should I know?"

"I thought you knowed everything, Father," said the artless boy.

"Hem! Well," returned Mr. Cruncher, going on again, and lifting off his hat to give his spikes free play, "he's a tradesman."

"What's his goods, Father?" asked the brisk Young Jerry.

"His goods," said Mr. Cruncher, after turning it over in his mind, "is a branch of scientific goods."

"Persons' bodies, ain't it, Father?" asked the lively boy.

"I believe it is something of that sort," said Mr. Cruncher.

"Oh, Father, I should so like to be a resurrection-man when I'm quite growed up!"

The most heartwarming scene since that pleasant Thomas Kinkade visit in chapter 6.


* Actual quote from Stryver, to Carton:

pg. 145: Never mind your having no enjoyment of women's society, nor understanding of it, nor tact for it.

Make of that what you will.


For more Dickens, check out the Rant of Two Cities tag. Alternatively, you can start from the beginning.

Date: 2012-01-14 05:48 am (UTC)
ivorygates: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ivorygates

[also i have this burning lust to read your entirely rewritten To2C. possibly with zombies.]

Date: 2012-01-14 05:16 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ivorygates


ambrmerlinus: Portrait of a young white man with a flowing blond mohawk, in profile. (Default)

February 2012

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