"Oh indeed!"said Mr. Lorry, bending down his ear, while his eye strayed to the House afar off.
"I am going,"said Mr. Stryver, leaning his arms confidentially on the desk: whereupon, although it was a large double one, there appeared to be not half desk enough for him: "I am going to make an offer of myself in marriage to your agreeable little friend, Miss Manette, Mr. Lorry."
"Oh dear me!"cried Mr. Lorry, rubbing his chin, and looking at his visitor dubiously.
"Oh dear me, sir?"repeated Stryver, drawing back. "Oh dear you, sir? What may your meaning be, Mr. Lorry?"
"My meaning,"answered the man of business, "is, of course, friendly and appreciative, and that it does you the greatest credit, and — in short, my meaning is everything you could desire. But — really, you know, Mr. Stryver — "Mr. Lorry paused, and shook his head at him in the oddest manner, as if he were compelled against his will to add, internally, "you know there really is so much too much of you!"
"Well!"said Stryver, slapping the desk with his contentious hand, opening his eyes wider, and taking a long breath, "if I understand you, Mr. Lorry, I'll be hanged!"
Mr. Lorry adjusted his little wig at both ears as a means towards that end, and bit the feather of a pen.
"D — n it all, sir!"said Stryver, staring at him, "am I not eligible?"
"Oh dear yes! Yes. Oh yes, you're eligible!"said Mr. Lorry. "If you say eligible, you are eligible."
"Am I not prosperous?"asked Stryver.
"Oh! if you come to prosperous, you are prosperous,"said Mr. Lorry.
"If you come to advancing you know,"said Mr. Lorry, delighted to be able to make another admission, "nobody can doubt that."
"Then what on earth is your meaning, Mr. Lorry?"demanded Stryver, perceptibly crestfallen.
"Well! I — Were you going there now?"asked Mr. Lorry.
"Straight!"said Stryver, with a plump of his fist on the desk.
"Then I think I wouldn't, if I was you."
"Why?"said Stryver. "Now, I'll put you in a corner,"forensically shaking a forefinger at him. "You are a man of business and bound to have a reason. State your reason. Why wouldn't you go?"
"Because,"said Mr. Lorry, "I wouldn't go on such an object without having some cause to believe that I should succeed."
"D — n me!"cried Stryver, "but this beats everything."
Mr. Lorry glanced at the distant House, and glanced at the angry Stryver.
"Here's a man of business — a man of years — a man of experience — in a Bank,"said Stryver; "and having summed up three leading reasons for complete success, he says there's no reason at all! Says it with his head on!"Mr. Stryver remarked upon the peculiarity as if it would have been infinitely less remarkable if he had said it with his head off.
Continued on next page...