Page:Court Royal.djvu/103

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CHAPTER XII.
CHARLIE CHEEK.

Joanna remained standing under the lustre, awaiting her master’s return. She heard him in the passage speaking with some one, and then his feet sounded, shuffling in his slippers towards the door, followed by a firmer footfall. Then the door was thrown open, and he stood back, and bowed, to admit Mr. Charles Cheek.

‘Good heavens!’ exclaimed the young man, ‘a lady here!’

‘Look at her! Look at her well!’ exclaimed Lazarus, crowing and rubbing his hands. ‘I’ll bet you a foreign coin that you don’t recognise my Joanna.’

Charles Cheek looked at the tall, beautiful girl with astonishment, and then broke into a merry laugh.

‘Excuse me,’ he said, ‘but I cannot help myself. One night we meet on the roof of the house, I in evening dress and you in working clothes; and to-night we meet again, under the roof, I in my morning suit and paletot, and you dressed for a ball, and certain to be its belle. Whither are you going, Miss Joanna, for positively I must go there also, and secure you for half a dozen dances?’

‘I am going nowhere,’ answered the girl, coldly; ‘I cannot dance. I am merely dressed, like the block in the milliner’s, for the display of the goods.’

‘Joanna is going to learn to dance,’ said the Jew. ‘I intend indulging her in that expensive luxury. She behaved herself, on the whole, well last night, and I must show her my satisfaction. I am a free-handed, liberal-hearted man, as all who have dealings with me can testify.’

‘Going to learn to dance, are you?’ asked Charles Cheek, looking at the girl with amused curiosity. ‘What next—French and the pianoforte?’

Joanna was nettled, and flashed an angry glance at him.

‘Now don’t she look well?’ asked Lazarus. ‘Who’d think, seeing her now, that she was drawn out of Laira mud, like a drowned rat, and pawned for ten shillings?’

The girl coloured and her brow darkened.

‘Never mind whence she came. I was discovered in a box of preserved figs. She looks as if the rose silk and the