"I give the promise,"said the Doctor, "without any condition. I believe your object to be, purely and truthfully, as you have stated it. I believe your intention is to perpetuate, and not to weaken, the ties between me and my other and far dearer self. If she should ever tell me that you are essential to her perfect happiness, I will give her to you. If there were — Charles Darnay, if there were — "
The young man had taken his hand gratefully; their hands were joined as the Doctor spoke:
"— any fancies, any reasons, any apprehensions, anything whatsoever, new or old, against the man she really loved — the direct responsibility thereof not lying on his head — they should all be obliterated for her sake. She is everything to me; more to me than suffering, more to me than wrong, more to me — Well! This is idle talk."
So strange was the way in which he faded into silence, and so strange his fixed look when he had ceased to speak, that Darnay felt his own hand turn cold in the hand that slowly released and dropped it.
"You said something to me,"said Doctor Manette, breaking into a smile. "What was it you said to me?"
He was at a loss how to answer, until he remembered having spoken of a condition. Relieved as his mind reverted to that, he answered:
"Your confidence in me ought to be returned with full confidence on my part. My present name, though but slightly changed from my mother's, is not, as you will remember, my own. I wish to tell you what that is, and why I am in England."
"Stop!"said the Doctor of Beauvais.
"I wish it, that I may the better deserve your confidence, and have no secret from you."
For an instant, the Doctor even had his two hands at his ears; for another instant, even had his two hands laid on Darnay's lips.
"Tell me when I ask you, not now. If your suit should prosper, if Lucie should love you, you shall tell me on your marriage morning. Do you promise?"
"Give me your hand. She will be home directly, and it is better she should not see us together to-night. Go! God bless you!"
It was dark when Charles Darnay left him, and it was an hour later and darker when Lucie came home; she hurried into the room alone — for Miss Pross had gone straight up-stairs — and was surprised to find his reading-chair empty.
"My father!"she called to him. "Father dear!"
Nothing was said in answer, but she heard a low hammering sound in his bedroom. Passing lightly across the intermediate room, she looked in at his door and came running back frightened, crying to herself, with her blood all chilled, "What shall I do! What shall I do!"
Her uncertainty lasted but a moment; she hurried back, and tapped at his door, and softly called to him. The noise ceased at the sound of her voice, and he presently came out to her, and they walked up and down together for a long time.
She came down from her bed, to look at him in his sleep that night. He slept heavily, and his tray of shoemaking tools, and his old unfinished work, were all as usual.