"For gracious sake say something else besides 'indeed,' or you'll fidget me to death,"said Miss Pross: whose character (dissociated from stature) was shortness.
"Really, then?"said Mr. Lorry, as an amendment.
"Really, is bad enough,"returned Miss Pross, "but better. Yes, I am very much put out."
"May I ask the cause?"
"I don't want dozens of people who are not at all worthy of Ladybird, to come here looking after her,"said Miss Pross.
"Do dozens come for that purpose?"
"Hundreds,"said Miss Pross.
It was characteristic of this lady (as of some other people before her time and since) that whenever her original proposition was questioned, she exaggerated it.
"Dear me!"said Mr. Lorry, as the safest remark he could think of.
"I have lived with the darling — or the darling has lived with me, and paid me for it; which she certainly should never have done, you may take your affidavit, if I could have afforded to keep either myself or her for nothing — since she was ten years old. And it's really very hard,"said Miss Pross.
Not seeing with precision what was very hard, Mr. Lorry shook his head; using that important part of himself as a sort of fairy cloak that would fit anything.
"All sorts of people who are not in the least degree worthy of the pet, are always turning up,"said Miss Pross. "When you began it — "
"I began it, Miss Pross?"
"Didn't you? Who brought her father to life?"
"Oh! If that was beginning it — "said Mr. Lorry.
"It wasn't ending it, I suppose? I say, when you began it, it was hard enough; not that I have any fault to find with Doctor Manette, except that he is not worthy of such a daughter, which is no imputation on him, for it was not to be expected that anybody should be, under any circumstances. But it really is doubly and trebly hard to have crowds and multitudes of people turning up after him (I could have forgiven him), to take Ladybird's affections away from me."
Mr. Lorry knew Miss Pross to be very jealous, but he also knew her by this time to be, beneath the service of her eccentricity, one of those unselfish creatures — found only among women — who will, for pure love and admiration, bind themselves willing slaves, to youth when they have lost it, to beauty that they never had, to accomplishments that they were never fortunate enough to gain, to bright hopes that never shone upon their own sombre lives. He knew enough of the world to know that there is nothing in it better than the faithful service of the heart; so rendered and so free from any mercenary taint, he had such an exalted respect for it, that in the retributive arrangements made by his own mind — we all make such arrangements, more or less — he stationed Miss Pross much nearer to the lower Angels than many ladies immeasurably better got up both by Nature and Art, who had balances at Tellson's.
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