"I am obliged to them for their interest in the matter,"he answered, a little coldly as to them, though very warmly as to the Doctor. "Miss Manette — "
"Is well,"said the Doctor, as he stopped short, "and your return will delight us all. She has gone out on some household matters, but will soon be home."
"Doctor Manette, I knew she was from home. I took the opportunity of her being from home, to beg to speak to you."
There was a blank silence.
"Yes?"said the Doctor, with evident constraint. "Bring your chair here, and speak on."
He complied as to the chair, but appeared to find the speaking on less easy.
"I have had the happiness, Doctor Manette, of being so intimate here,"so he at length began, "for some year and a half, that I hope the topic on which I am about to touch may not — "
He was stayed by the Doctor's putting out his hand to stop him. When he had kept it so a little while, he said, drawing it back:
"Is Lucie the topic?"
"It is hard for me to speak of her at any time. It is very hard for me to hear her spoken of in that tone of yours, Charles Darnay."
"It is a tone of fervent admiration, true homage, and deep love, Doctor Manette!"he said deferentially.
There was another blank silence before her father rejoined:
"I believe it. I do you justice; I believe it."
His constraint was so manifest, and it was so manifest, too, that it originated in an unwillingness to approach the subject, that Charles Darnay hesitated.
"Shall I go on, sir?"
"Yes, go on."
"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!"
The Doctor sat with his face turned away, and his eyes bent on the ground. At the last words, he stretched out his hand again, hurriedly, and cried:
"Not that, sir! Let that be! I adjure you, do not recall that!"
His cry was so like a cry of actual pain, that it rang in Charles Darnay's ears long after he had ceased. He motioned with the hand he had extended, and it seemed to be an appeal to Darnay to pause. The latter so received it, and remained silent.
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