On his way to Lucie Manette's house to propose, Mr. Stryver passes Tellson's Bank and decides to drop in on Mr. Lorry. When Stryver tells him of his plans, Mr. Lorry stiffens and advises him not to proceed. Stryver is stunned and insulted. Mr. Lorry clarifies that he knows Lucie's likely answer. But Stryver cannot believe that any girl could refuse him.
Stryver thinks the world revolves around him, that everyone must believe in the virtue of pursuing earthly rewards, at which he excels. But Mr. Lorry has a sense that Lucie has different goals and a more profound destiny.
Mr. Lorry asks Stryver to wait while he visits the Manettes to see about Stryver's chances. Stryver agrees and returns home to think it over. When Mr. Lorry arrives with the expected bad news, Stryver has already decided to drop it. He explains that Lucie shares the "vanities and giddiness of empty-headed girls" and that he's better off without her.
Stryver convinces himself he never wanted Lucie. But his insult about Lucie is so far off that it shows his foolishness. A selfish materialist like Stryver will never deserve or receive the rewards of love and restored life that Lucie can provide.