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His Vision Slowly Began to Clear
His vision slowly began to clear. A golden head soon came into focus, then another. Next, two heads of gray slowly appeared. “Lucie? Little Lucie?” he inquired as he rubbed his head. “Dr. Manette... and Lorry I presume?” “Yes boy, we’re here,” Mr. Lorry kindly said, but the melancholy in his voice was audible to everyone, and everyone knew why. Charles Darnay was going to be gone forever, and they wouldn’t even be there to say farewell to their dear husband, father, son, and good friend.
“It seems that you passed out at the news and sight of poor Charles,” Mr. Lorry continued. Charles? he thought, Why does he speak like I am not him? Surely I am! He ran his fingers through his hair and realized that he could barely make it past the crown of his head, for his fingers were caught in a rat’s nest of tangles and snarles. Why is my hair in such a state of discord? he asked himself.
“My love, why are your eyes so misty with tears?” Charles inquired of his wife.
“Mr. Carton, have you forgotten so quickly?” she pleaded. Seeing that “Mr. Carton” was still as confused as ever, by how knitted his brow was, she continued.
“Charles has been sentenced to death! Today, he meets Lady Guillotine, and we are not to be there, even to wish him safe journey into the unknown, for we are fleeing Paris so that we may escape receiving the same fate as dear Charles.”
Why does she speak to my as though I am not the man she married? Can she not see me because of the tears that plague her eyes and blur her sight? Or perhaps she is in some sort of shock from seeing me alive and well, when I should be otherwise.
He was still dazed from the vapor, and his head was not quite clear. As it began to clear however, so did the memories which had been escaping him these past few hours.
He remembered Carton visiting him in prison. He tried to run his fingers through his hair again, out of nervous habit more than anything else, and remembered switching identities with Carton. He remembered the beginnings of a letter, addressed to no one and dated with nothing. He remembered a faint, but peculiar scent, tickling his nose as he wrote that letter. He remembered Sydney, and how he had looked so much like himself, that he almost confused the two of them. He also remembered how Sydney had been holding something in his hand, and remembered thinking that this seemed to have been the source of the odd smell which had permeated his airways. Then he remembered something that had completely eluded his thoughts until that moment, as he sat in the carriage with his family and Mr. Lorry, his dear friend. He remembered why. Sydney Carton was there, not only to take his place in manner and looks, but also to take his place at La Guillotine.
He had been there to save his life.
This revelation must have looked awfully odd to the other members seated in the carriage, for as he began to reenter reality, all of them, even Little Lucie, had a worried expression written across their face.
“He saved me. He saved us all!” Charles exclaimed. His companions just looked at him, even more concerned than before. Perhaps, when he fainted, he also took a great fall and landed on his head, which wasn’t quite right at the moment. This seemed to be the unanimous thought of the carriage. They tried to calm the man down, but he simply would not be quieted.
“He saved us all, every one of us!” he kept crying.
“My dear boy, please quiet yourself! You are frightening Little Lucie!” Dr. Manette pleaded.
“You are frightening us all!” Lucie interceded. “Please Sydney, just settle down! For all our sakes.”
Sydney? thought Charles. They really do believe I am him still? They must not know about Sydney’s plan. How could they? I didn’t even know myself until a few hours ago.
“My family, my dear old friend, you are not speaking to Sydney Carton. You may never speak to him again, for, as I imagine, he is on his way to the Father now,” Charles began to explain, until Little Lucie interrupted him. “I do not understand. If you are not Mr. Carton, than who are you? What has happened to Mr. Carton?” She voiced the thoughts of everyone present.
“My dear, I am your father. And Lucie, I am your husband and your father’s son.”
“Can it be? Do my ears deceive me or do I hear the truth? My own husband sitting right in front of my and I did not recognize?” She reached for his hand and grasped it in her own. Immediately, she recognized the firm grip and the warm skin. Simply from this embrace of the hands, she could distinguish her husband from his appearance as Sydney Carton.
“Oh Charles, I thought I had lost you forever!” the two of them embraced, and then a thought struck in the head of golden hair. “What has become of Mr. Carton?” she asked as she slowly pulled away from her husband.
“Mr. Carton has gone. He has met the fate which was intended for me. His soul rests in peace, and shall remain this way, for Lady Guillotine has butchered his earthly body. His soul remains intact, and I believe we shall all congregate with him again, in the life that is to come.”
The ecstasy had come to a quick end as the news of Sydney Carton reached their ears and sobered their expressions. As this moment of silence persisted, Charles was reminded of the letter he had written for Sydney, and groped through his overcoat looking for it. He could not remember putting it in a specific place, but was almost sure that Sydney had placed it for him. His search was cut short however, by a tear-filled plea from Lucie.
“Why would he do such a thing? Why he would willingly take his own life, I don’t understand.”
“Perhaps, this will be of some explanation.” Charles handed her the letter which he had found in his breast pocket. Although it was not addressed to her, he simply knew in his heart it was meant to be read by her eyes only, for only they would understand its full meaning.
She took the letter with a trembling hand and read it silently to herself. As she did this, Charles quietly explained to the rest what Sydney had so gallantly done. He explained about his plan to switch places in order that he, Charles, might be saved and therefore, so might his family.
As he finished his explanation of what had happened, a soft crinkling of paper was heard. Lucie began folding the letter into its original state and a gentle whisper escaped her lips, “I do remember.”
“I expect you understand the situation now?” Charles asked.
“I do.” she quietly said, and placed the letter tenderly in the small pouch attached to the belt of her dress.