"SYDNEY," said Mr. Stryver, on that selfsame night, or morning, tohis jackal; "mix another bowl of punch; I have something to say toyou."
Sydney had been working double tides that night, and the nightbefore, and the night before that, and a good many nights insuccession, making a grand clearance among Mr. Stryver's papers beforethe setting in of the long vacation. The clearance was effected atlast; the Stryver arrears were handsomely fetched up; everything wasgot rid of until November should come with its fogs atmospheric andfogs legal, and bring grist to the mill again.
Sydney was none the livelier and none the soberer for so muchapplication. It had taken a deal of extra wet-towelling to pull himthrough the night; a correspondingly extra quantity of wine hadpreceded the towelling; and he was in a very damaged condition, ashe now pulled his turban off and threw it into the basin in which hehad steeped it at intervals for the last six hours.
"Are you mixing that other bowl of punch?" said Stryver theportly, with his hands in his waistband, glancing round from thesofa where he lay on his back.
"Now, look here! I am going to tell you something that will rathersurprise you, and that perhaps will make you think me not quite asshrewd as you usually do think me. I intend to marry."
"Yes. And not for money. What do you say now?"
"I don't feel disposed to say much. Who is she?"
"Do I know her?"
"I am not going to guess, at five o'clock in the morning, with mybrains frying and sputtering in my head. If you want me to guess,you must ask me to dinner."
"Well then, I'll tell you," said Stryver, coming slowly into asitting posture. "Sydney, I rather despair of making myselfintelligible to you, because you are such an insensible dog."
"And you," returned Sydney, busy concocting the punch, "are such asensitive and poetical spirit."
"Come!" rejoined Stryver, laughing boastfully, "though I don'tprefer any claim to being the soul of Romance (for I hope I knowbetter), still I am a tenderer sort of fellow than you."
"You are a luckier, if you mean that."
"I don't mean that. I mean I am a man of more- more--"
"Say gallantry, while you are about it," suggested Carton.
"Well! I'll say gallantry. My meaning is that I am a man," saidStryver, inflating himself at his friend as he made the punch, "whocares more to be agreeable, who takes more pains to be agreeable,who knows better how to be agreeable, in a woman's society, than youdo."
"Go on," said Sydney Carton.
"No; but before I go on," said Stryver, shaking his head in hisbullying way, "I'll have this out with you. You've been at DoctorManette's house as much as I have, or more than I have. Why, I havebeen ashamed of your moroseness there! Your manners have been ofthat silent and sullen and hangdog kind, that, upon my life andsoul, I have been ashamed of you, Sydney!"
"It should be very beneficial to a man in your practice at thebar, to be ashamed of anything," returned Sydney; "you ought to bemuch obliged to me."
"You shall not get off in that way," rejoined Stryver, shoulderingthe rejoinder at him; "no, Sydney, it's my duty to tell you- and Itell you to your face to do you good-that you are a de-vilishill-conditioned fellow in that sort of society. You are a disagreeablefellow."
Sydney drank a bumper of the punch he had made, and laughed.
"Look at me!" said Stryver, squaring himself; "I have less need tomake myself agreeable than you have, being more independent incircumstances. Why do I do it?"
"I never saw you do it yet," muttered Carton.
"I do it because it's politic; I do it on principle. And look at me!I get on."
"You don't get on with your account of your matrimonial intentions,"answered Carton, with a careless air; "I wish you would keep tothat. As to me- will you never understand that I am incorrigible?"
He asked the question with some appearance of scorn.
"You have no business to be incorrigible," was his friend'sanswer, delivered in no very soothing tone.
"I have no business to be, at all, that I know of," said SydneyCarton. "Who is the lady?"
"Now, don't let my announcement of the name make youuncomfortable, Sydney," said Mr. Stryver, preparing him withostentatious friendliness for the disclosure he was about to make,"because I know you don't mean half you say; and if you meant itall, it would be of no importance. I make this little preface, becauseyou once mentioned the young lady to me in slighting terms."
"Certainly; and in these chambers."
Sydney Carton looked at his punch and looked at his complacentfriend; drank his punch and looked at his complacent friend.
"You made mention of the young lady as a golden-haired doll. Theyoung lady is Miss Manette. If you had been a fellow of anysensitiveness or delicacy of feeling in that kind of way, Sydney, Imight have been a little resentful of your employing such adesignation; but you are not. You want that sense altogether;therefore I am no more annoyed when I think of the expression, thanI should be annoyed by a man's opinion of a picture of mine, who hadno eye for pictures: or of a piece of music of mine, who had no earfor music."
Sydney Carton drank the punch at a great rate; drank it bybumpers, looking at his friend.
"Now you know all about it, Syd," said Mr. Stryver. "I don't careabout fortune: she is a charming creature, and I have made up mymind to please myself: on the whole, I think I can afford to pleasemyself. She will have in me a man already pretty well off, and arapidly rising man, and a man of some distinction: it is a piece ofgood fortune for her, but she is worthy of good fortune. Are youastonished?"
Carton, still drinking the punch, rejoined, "Why should I beastonished?"
Carton, still drinking the punch, rejoined, "Why should I notapprove?"
"Well!" said his friend Stryver, "you take it more easily than Ifancied you would, and are less mercenary on my behalf than Ithought you would be; though, to be sure, you know well enough by thistime that your ancient chum is a man of a pretty strong will. Yes,Sydney, I have had enough of this style of life, with no other as achange from it; I feel that it is a pleasant thing for a man to have ahome when he feels inclined to go to it (when he doesn't, he canstay away), and I feel that Miss Manette will tell well in anystation, and will always do me credit. So I have made up my mind.And now, Sydney, old boy, I want to say a word to you about yourprospects. You are in a bad way, you know; you really are in a badway. You don't know the value of money, you live hard, you'll knock upone of these days, and be ill and poor; you really ought to thinkabout a nurse."
The prosperous patronage with which he said it, made him looktwice as big as he was, and four times as offensive.
"Now, let me recommend you," pursued Stryver, "to look it in theface. I have looked it in the face, in my different way; look it inthe face, you, in your different way. Marry. Provide somebody totake care of you. Never mind your having no enjoyment of women'ssociety, nor understanding of it, nor tact for it. Find outsomebody. Find out some respectable woman with a little property-somebody in the landlady way, or lodging-letting way- and marry her,against a rainy day. That's the kind of thing for you. Now think ofit, Sydney."
"I'll think of it," said Sydney.