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Book 2, Chapter 19 Notes from A Tale of Two Cities

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A Tale of Two Cities Book 2, Chapter 19

On the tenth morning of his observation, Mr. Lorry is surprised to see that Dr. Manette is sitting by his window in his usual dress, reading instead of making shoes. Dr. Manette joins Mr. Lorry and Miss Pross and during the meal Mr. Lorry realizes that the doctor has returned to himself. After breakfast, Mr. Lorry turns to the doctor and gently asks for his advice on how he should help a particular "friend." The doctor knows he is talking about him, but the men carry on the conversation delicately, carefully referring only to an unnamed "friend." Mr. Lorry says he is concerned about a very dear friend of his, and he asks him to advise him well on the case for the friend and the friend's daughter's sake. The doctor asks if the "friend" has undergone some sort of mental shock. Mr. Lorry answers yes, and that the shock was a relapse of a larger one that the friend had suffered earlier for an unknown period of time. The doctor asks how he knew of the friend's shock, and if it revealed itself in the form of some pursuit that the friend had engaged in during the first period of distress. Mr. Lorry answers yes. The doctor asks if the friend's daughter knows of the relapse, and Mr. Lorry replies that she does not, and that it was kept from her, as he hopes it always will be. Dr. Manette grasps Mr. Lorry's hand and tells him that was very kind and thoughtful.

Mr. Lorry asks the doctor how such a relapse could come about, if another one could occur, and if there is any way to prevent it. Dr. Manette replies that the friend probably knew that the shock was coming and had attempted to take steps to prevent it from happening. He adds that the attack probably surfaced due to the resurfacing of some memory that was the cause of the first episode, and that perhaps there had been a dread of coming events lurking in the man's mind.

Mr. Lorry gently asks about a concern--that when the man is under an attack, he resumes the practice of some profession (which he calls "'Blacksmith's work'"), and that it is the profession that the man practiced during his first and most prolonged episode of shock. He says gently that even after the man got well, he kept the tools of the profession beside him, and he asks delicately if it would not be best if the man rid himself of the remnants of that profession. Dr. Manette, after an uncomfortable pause, explains that the man had once yearned frightfully for that occupation, and when it came, it relieved his mental pain and anguish so much because it allowed him to think about something else besides his mental torture. Mr. Lorry asks if the retention of the thing might not lead to the retention of the ideas that plague him and cause his shock. The doctor replies morosely that the thing is a very old companion. Mr. Lorry says he would recommend to the friend that he sacrifice it, for his daughter's sake. The doctor says that it must be taken away, for the daughter's sake, but that it should be done while the friend is not present, and that he should miss the old companion after an absence.

Mr. Lorry waits for four days until Dr. Manette leaves to join Lucie and Charles in Wales, where they are vacationing. When Dr. Manette leaves, Mr. Lorry goes into the doctor's room on the night of his departure with a saw, chisel, hammer, and chopper. Miss Pross accompanies him, carrying a light. Somewhat guiltily, as if he were committing a murder, Mr. Lorry chops up the shoemaker's bench into small pieces; they then burn them in the kitchen fire. The tools, shoes and leather are then buried in the garden.

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