Page:Court Royal.djvu/359

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347
AN APRIL FOOL.

As Joanna said nothing, he added, ‘There is another point worth weighing. If the ham and sausage lady comes, I must sit with my back to the horses; that makes me bilious, and spoils my relish of the victuals. Where you pay you expect to relish. It wouldn’t be etiquette to set a lady rearwards to the horses, would it? But no—I’ll manage. We’ll have a wagonette!’

‘There’s one thing I should like above every other,’ said Joanna; ‘that is, to go to the ball.’

‘The ball! But I can’t be there.’

‘That will not affect my pleasure. You have spoiled my fun more than once. I was to have gone to a grand dance at Court Royal, but could not, because of your affairs. Now the spring ball is about to come off, and I should dearly love to be there.’

Lazarus rubbed his head, and looked at the palm of his hand, upon which the dye had come off.

‘Joanna,’ he said, ‘you don’t consider. These balls are very select; only ladies of the county families, and the wives and daughters of officers. No second-rate parties there——’

‘I don’t want to go to any second-rate affair. The best, or none at all.’

‘But I don’t see my way to manage it. You’d want a chaperon, and the old lady from the ham and sausage shop is not quite, as the French put it, cream of the cream.’

‘I remember that you once told Mr. Charles Cheek that you could send me to any ball you had a mind to, and no lady dare refuse you.’

‘I was romancing,’ said the Jew: ‘I’m by nature an Oriental, and prone to soar into poetry.’

‘I will go,’ said Joanna decisively.

‘I can’t find the way to do it,’ answered Lazarus.

‘Very well; go to the moors with Mrs. Thresher, eat your three-shillingsworth. I will remain behind.’

‘Oh, no, no, Joanna! I’ve set my heart on this excursion.’

‘And I have set mine on the ball.’

‘I’ll see about it,’ muttered the Jew.

‘I shall not give a thought to the moors. You need have no dread of sitting with your back to the horses. You can lounge in the back seat with Mrs. Thresher.’

‘Joanna! I would not go without you. My body would be on Dartmoor, but my soul would remain at the Barbican. If you could see inside my heart,’ he said in a pathetic tone,