The story starts out with Mr. Jarvis Lorry, a representative of Tellson's Bank in London, who is sent by his firm on a mission to Paris. The mission is to meet a newly released prisoner of the Bastille, Doctor Alexandre Manette, in Paris and to bring him back to London to be cared for by his daughter, Lucie Manette. Lucie has but a faint idea of her father's existence and Mr. Lorry is to meet her at Dover and break the news to her.
When The two meet, Lucie is informed that her father is alive. This news awakens fear and trepidation in her breast and the two journey to Paris. They proceed to a wine shop in the Saint Antoine region and there they meet Ernest Defarge, keeper of the wine shop and a former servant of Dr. Manette's. Defarge has been caring for the doctor pending the arrival of Lucie and Mr. Lorry. The Shopkeeper takes them to a garret room where they see an old, white-haired man making shoes: it is Doctor Manette, who took up the trade in prison and who now thinks of himself only as a shoemaker, having forgotten his earlier existence. After an emotional scene between father and daughter, during which there is a brief flicker of remembrance in the doctor's eyes, arrangements are made for the three to leave Paris immediately. In a short while Defarge bids good-bye to them as the coach sets out for Calais with its three passengers, on the first leg of the trip to London.
The second book opens five years later. During this time, Dr. Manette has been restored to his old self through Lucie's tender care and father and daughter live in a modest lodging, with Miss Pross, Lucie's old nurse, as maid and general housekeeper. There Dr. Manette carries on a small medical practice.
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