`Miss Pross at home?'
Possibly at home, but of a certainty impossible for hand-maid to anticipate intentions of Miss Pross, as to admission or denial of the fact.
`As I am at home myself,' said Mr. Lorry, `I'll go up-stairs.'
Although the Doctor's daughter had known nothing of the country of her birth, she appeared to have innately derived from it that ability to make much of little means, which is one of its most useful and most agreeable characteristics. Simple as the furniture was, it was set off by so many little adornments, of no value but for their taste and fancy, that its effect was delightful. The disposition of everything in the rooms, from the largest object to the least; the arrangement of colours, the elegant variety and contrast obtained by thrift in trifles, by delicate hands, clear eyes, and good sense; were at once so pleasant in themselves, and so expressive of their originator, that, as Mr. Lorry stood looking about him, the very chairs and tables seemed to ask him, with something of that peculiar expression which he knew so well by this time, whether he approved?
There were three rooms on a floor, and, the doors by which they communicated being put open that the air might pass freely through them all, Mr. Lorry, smilingly observant of that fanciful resemblance which he detected all around him, walked from one to another. The first was the best room, and in it were Lucie's birds, and flowers, and books, and desk, and work-table, and box of water-colours; the second was the Doctor's consulting-room, used also as the dining-room; the third, changingly speckled by the rustle of the plane-tree in the yard, was the Doctor's bedroom, and there, in a corner, stood the disused shoemaker's bench and tray of tools, much as it had stood on the fifth floor of the dismal house by the wine-shop, in the suburb of Saint Antoine in Paris.
`I wonder,' said Mr. Lorry, pausing in his looking about, `that he keeps that reminder of his sufferings about him!'
`And why wonder at that?' was the abrupt inquiry that made him start.
It proceeded from Miss Pross, the wild red woman, strong of hand, whose acquaintance he had first made at the Royal George Hotel at Dover, and had since improved.
`I should have thought---`Mr. Lorry began.
`Pooh! You'd have thought!' said Miss Pross; and Mr. Lorry left off.
`How do you do?' inquired that lady then--sharply, and yet as if to express that she bore him no malice.
`I am pretty well, I thank you,' answered Mr. Lorry, with meekness; `how are you?'
`Nothing to boast of,' said Miss Pross.
`Ah! indeed!' said Miss Pross. `I am very much put out about my Ladybird.'
`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.'
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