Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | Barron's Booknotes
Chapter Six: Hundreds of People
Dr. Manette lives on a quiet street corner near Soho square. One Sunday, four months after Darnay's trial Mr. Lorry goes to dine with him. The doctor, restored to health and sanity, now earns good money by treating patients and conducting ingenious experiments. Mr. Lorry observes that the Doctor has the shoemaker's bench and tray of tools. He wonders aloud why the Doctor would want to keep such a painful reminder. He is interrupted by Miss Pross, the nurse, who feels that it is perfectly fine for him to do so.
Miss Pross is upset because hundreds of suitors come to visit Lucie every day. She is a very jealous woman, prone to exaggeration. She is also absolutely and selflessly devoted to Lucie Manette. When Mr. Darnay arrives after lunch, Miss Pross is visibly upset and goes into the house. The Manettes, however, receive him warmly. Darnay tells them a story he had heard while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Some workmen had apparently come upon an old dungeon, unused for a long time, with names of prisoners carved upon the walls. Upon digging below a corner stone, on which some unfortunate prisoner had carved the word dig, they found the ashes of a paper along with the ashes of a leather bag.
All this talk of dungeons and prisoners unnerves Dr. Manette. It starts to rain, and they go indoors from the courtyard. Inside, Miss Pross, who is still upset, serves tea, just as Mr. Carton walks in. He keeps to himself and appears moody. Lucie, while looking out of the window, gets a premonition that the footsteps outside the house signify people who are going to enter their lives someday. Mr. Carton adds his own premonition by remarking that he too sees a huge crowd coming toward the whole group in a menacing way.
Dickens paints an idyllic scene of the Manette household in Soho. It is a place where friends can gather, far away from the turmoil of politics. It is a stark contrast to the Defarge residence earlier described. The center of this place is Lucie, who is the "golden thread" binding then all together with her love. The suitors visiting the Manettes are not hundreds in number, simply Darnay, Stryver, and Carton. Miss Pross, the devoted nurse, exaggerates the figure as she complains to Mr. Lorry.
The idyllic mood in the courtyard is interrupted by rain, just as the mood of the story begins to shift. Darnay's story about something buried in the prison has a disturbing effect on Dr. Manette, for it seems to revive painful memories. Once inside, tea is served by an upset Miss Pross, who grows more irritated upon the arrival of Carton. The premonitions of Lucie and Carton are negative and hint at disastrous things to come.