`Yes, sir. We have often times the honour to entertain your gentlemen in their travelling backwards and forwards betwixt London and Paris, sir. A vast deal of travelling, sir, in Tellson and Company's House.'
`Yes. We are quite a French House, as well as an English one.'
`Yes, sir. Not much in the habit of such travelling your-self, I think, sir?'
`Not of late years. It is fifteen years since we--since I--came last from France.'
`Indeed, sir? That was before my time here, sir. Before our people's time here, sir. The George was in other hands at that time, sir.'
`I believe so.'
`But I would hold a pretty wager, sir, that a House like Tellson and Company was flourishing, a matter of fifty, not to speak of fifteen years ago?'
`You might treble that, and say a hundred and fifty, yet not be far from the truth.'
Rounding his mouth and both his eyes, as he stepped backward from the table, the waiter shifted his napkin from his-right arm to his left, dropped into a comfortable attitude, and stood surveying the guest while he ate and drank, as from an observatory or watch-tower. According to the immemorial usage of waiters in all ages.
When Mr. Lorry had finished his breakfast, he went out for a stroll on the beach. The little narrow, crooked town of Dover hid itself away from the beach, and ran its head into the chalk cliffs, like a marine ostrich. The beach was a desert of heaps of sea and stones tumbling wildly about, and the sea did what it liked, and what it liked was destruction. It thundered at the town, and thundered at the cliffs, and brought the coast down, madly. The air among the houses was of so strong a piscatory flavour that one might have supposed sick fish went up to be dipped in it, as sick people went down to be dipped in the sea. A little fishing was done in the port, and a quantity of strolling about by night, and looking seaward: particularly at those times when the tide made, and was near flood. Small tradesmen, who did no business whatever, sometimes unaccountably realised large fortunes, and it was remarkable that nobody in the neighbourhood could endure a lamplighter.
As the day declined into the afternoon, and the air, which had been at intervals clear enough to allow the French coast to be seen, became again charged with mist and vapour, Mr. Lorry's thoughts seemed to cloud too. When dark, and he sat before the coffee-room fire, awaiting his dinner as he had awaited his breakfast, his mind was digging, digging, digging, in the live red coals.
A bottle of good claret after dinner does a digger in the red coals no harm, otherwise than as it has a tendency to throw him out of work. Mr. Lorry had been idle a lo and had just poured out his last glassful of wine complete an appearance of satisfaction as is ever to be found in an elderly gentleman of a fresh complexion who has got to the end of a bottle, when a rattling of wheels came up the narrow street, and rumbled into the inn-yard.
He set down his glass untouched. `This is Mam'selle!' said he.
In a very few minutes the waiter came in to announce that Miss Manette had arrived from London, and", happy to see the gentleman from Tellson's.
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|