Book the Second - the Golden Thread
13. XIII. The Fellow of No Delicacy
If Sydney Carton ever shone anywhere, he certainly never shone in the
house of Doctor Manette. He had been there often, during a whole year,
and had always been the same moody and morose lounger there. When he
cared to talk, he talked well; but, the cloud of caring for nothing,
which overshadowed him with such a fatal darkness, was very rarely
pierced by the light within him.
And yet he did care something for the streets that environed that house,
and for the senseless stones that made their pavements. Many a night
he vaguely and unhappily wandered there, when wine had brought
no transitory gladness to him; many a dreary daybreak revealed his
solitary figure lingering there, and still lingering there when the first
beams of the sun brought into strong relief, removed beauties of
architecture in spires of churches and lofty buildings, as perhaps
the quiet time brought some sense of better things, else forgotten
and unattainable, into his mind. Of late, the neglected bed in the
Temple Court had known him more scantily than ever; and often when he
had thrown himself upon it no longer than a few minutes, he had got up
again, and haunted that neighbourhood.
On a day in August, when Mr. Stryver (after notifying to his jackal
that "he had thought better of that marrying matter") had carried his
delicacy into Devonshire, and when the sight and scent of flowers in
the City streets had some waifs of goodness in them for the worst,
of health for the sickliest, and of youth for the oldest, Sydney's feet
still trod those stones. From being irresolute and purposeless,
his feet became animated by an intention, and, in the working out of
that intention, they took him to the Doctor's door.
He was shown up-stairs, and found Lucie at her work, alone. She had
never been quite at her ease with him, and received him with some
little embarrassment as he seated himself near her table. But,
looking up at his face in the interchange of the first few
common-places, she observed a change in it.
"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?"