Page:Court Royal.djvu/101

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from work. I have washed and washed, but the black grain will not out.’

‘Work, work, work!’ said the Jew; ‘now dance.’

‘I cannot. I do not know how,’ answered Joanna. ‘Give me the jewels.’

He offered her the cases, and she put the pearls about her throat, then wove a chain in and out among her black hair.

‘You are very beautiful,’ said the Jew. ‘If your hands were gloved you would do famously.’

‘For what?’ asked Joanna.

‘For showing off dresses and jewels. When the ladies saw you they’d buy, thinking everything was sure to become them as they suit you.’

Then Joanna said quietly and determinedly, ‘Who was Rachel?’

‘Rachel, my dear! Bless me, for the moment I had forgotten her. I doubt if even she was as splendid a beauty as yourself, and you are handsome enough. She hadn’t your pertinacity. How you do fasten on one, and stick till you have extracted what you require!’

‘I want to know who Rachel was.’

‘There, sit down in the sedan, and I will tell you.’

‘I prefer to stand.’

‘Then stand, if you will. It costs less; you are not wearing out the leather of the seat. Besides, I like to look at you. I could sell that rose silk for half as much again if I could show you in it to a purchaser. Well, I’m sorry I said a word about Rachel. Her name slipped off my tongue, when my mouth was ajar. Rachel, my dear—Rachel was my wife.’

‘Your wife!—is she dead?’

‘No, Joanna, I believe not.’

‘Where is she?’

‘I do not know.’

‘Did she leave you?’

‘She was young, only seventeen, when I married her—one of my own faith and race, and beautiful—superbly beautiful. She did not fancy the business. She did not take to the house. Her taste lay in stage plays and dances, and gallivanting. We couldn’t agree, and after we had been married about a year she took herself off. How ever she could have the heart to leave all this furniture, and the carpets, and the second-hand plate, and the red coats, and a sweet Florentine marqueterie cabinet