Mr. Lorry knew Miss Pross to be very jealous, but he also knew her by this time to be, beneath the surface 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.
`There never was, nor will be, but one man worthy of Lady-bird,' said Miss Pross; `and that was my brother Solomon, if he hadn't made a mistake in life.'
Here again: Mr. Lorry's inquiries into Miss Pross's personal history had established the fact that her brother Solomon was a heartless scoundrel who had stripped her of everything she possessed, as a stake to speculate with, and had abandoned her in her poverty for evermore, with no touch of compunction. Miss Pross's fidelity of belief in Solomon (deducting a mere trifle for this slight mistake) was quite a serious matter with Mr. Lorry, and had its weight in his good opinion of her.
`As we happen to be alone for the moment, and are both people of business,' he said, when they had got back to the drawing-room and had sat down there in friendly relations, `let me ask you--does the Doctor, in talking with Lucie, never refer to the shoemaking time, yet?'
`And yet keeps that bench and those tools beside him?'
`Ah!' returned Miss Pross, shaking her head. `But I don't say he don't refer to it within himself.'
`Do you believe that he thinks of it much?'
`Do you imagine---' Mr. Lorry had begun, when Miss Pross took him up short with: