Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Summary Chapter 40

Dr. Manette wrote this letter in 1767 in his Bastille cell. He plans to hide it in the chimney in hopes that one day it will be found. This is the tenth month of his captivity. He is writing by scraping soot and charcoal from the chimney and mixing it with his blood. He is noticing that his mind is going, but at this moment he is in his right mind. He swears he is telling the truth.

In December of 1757, he was taking a walk when a man in a carriage called out to him. Two men got out and told him that they had been to his residence, having heard of his excellent reputation. They ask him to come with them.

They take him to a house. One of the men strikes a servant when the door is not opened immediately, and his twin brother does the same with more force. Dr. Manette hears cries coming from an upper chamber. They take him to this room, where he find a woman in a high fever. She is bound with sashes from a gentleman’s wardrobe. One of them bears the monogram E.

The one brother, who seemed to be in charge, said the woman has been delirious for the past hour. She keeps repeating the same phrase and then counting up to twelve over and over again. Dr. Manette says he cannot help her without his medicine bag. They bring him a chest of medicine. The timid wife of the man downstairs joins them. The house is run-down and furnished carelessly, obviously a temporary dwelling.

The one brother then tells him that there is another patient once he calms the female patient down. The second patient lies in some hay. He is a peasant boy. Dr. Manette could see that he was dying of a fatal knife wound. The brother explains that this boy had drawn on his twin, and his twin was forced to defend himself. The noble acts like the boy is vermin and is indifferent to his dying.

The boy is the brother of the other patient. His sister was a good girl, betrothed to a good man. They were all tenants of this nobleman. The noble had taxed them, forced them to work without pay, forced them to feed his birds on their crops, and forbade them to keep a bird of their own. The boy’s father said it was a dreadful ting to bring a child into this world, and that they should pray for their women to be barren.

His sister married. The noble’s brother saw her and admired her. He asked the husband to lend her, which he was willing to do. She refused. They harnessed her husband, already a sickly man. They forced him to stay up all night and work all day. He died.

The noble’s brother took her away. The boy took his other sister someplace where she would not fall prey to these men. Then he went after the man who took his sister. The noble tried to give him money, and then struck him with a whip.

The boy turns to the noble’s brother. He tells him that one day his race will answer for everything they have done. The boy dies. Dr. Manette returns to tend to the woman. When fixing her clothing, he realizes she is pregnant. The noble tells Dr. Manette that he is not to speak of what he has seen here. Dr. Manette tells him that his profession honors patient confidentiality.

The woman lingered for a week. The woman becomes conscious of him. He tries to learn her family name, but she refuses to tell him. Dr. Manette realizes the nobles dislike him for what he knows. The woman finally dies. They give him money, but he refuses to take it. They deliver the money to his door.

Dr. Manette writes to the Minister about the case, not expecting anything to come of it. He didn’t tell his wife to protect her.

The wife of the Marquis visits him. She had learned what had happened, though she didn’t know the girl had died. She hoped to help the girl and try to avert the wrath of Heaven from falling on her house. She was hoping to at least help the sister of the woman, but the Doctor is ignorant of her location. The woman vows to make amends, fearing her son (who is Charles Darnay) will pay the price if she doesn’t.

The next evening, a man summons him to an urgent case. He is brought to the Bastille. He closes the letter by denouncing the family when it comes time for them to answer for their crimes.

Darnay is sentenced to die.

Charles Dickens