Page:Court Royal.djvu/106

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and played me something on it. Get down an instrument at once, and let me put Joanna into the way of waltzing. She has it in her; a hint, and away she goes. I bet you a sovereign, in a quarter of an hour she will be able to step in a waltz as well as an experienced dancer of seven seasons. Look here, Mr. Lazarus, you whispered the word “supper.” I don’t like your suggestion of cold tomatoes and cooling draughts. What do you say to pigeon or beefsteak pie and a bottle of champagne?’

The Jew’s eyes twinkled. ‘Very well,’ said he, ‘so let it be. I’ll run down the street and get what you desire—I cannot send Joanna in her present costume—and be back in three seconds. Then I’ll give you a scrape on my fiddle—Strauss or Waldteufel—and do what you can with Joanna. I know her. She don’t want twice telling to learn a thing, not she. Of course you pay for the pie and the champagne. I am not responsible.’

‘Certainly. Tell me what I have to pay, and I will refund the outlay.’

‘Would you mind advancing half a sovereign?’ said Lazarus. ‘I have only three-halfpence in my purse.’

Mr. Cheek tossed him the money. Lazarus caught it as sharply as a dog snaps at a bit of meat. When Lazarus had disappeared, Joanna looked steadily at the young man, and asked, ‘Why is it impossible for me to go to a ball?’

‘I did not say that you could not go to a ball.’

‘No, you implied that I had too much sense to appear in the society of gentlemen and ladies.’

Charles Cheek slightly coloured, stammered, and said, ‘Well, I did mean that.’

‘Why?’

‘You ask me? Do you not yourself understand?’

‘No.’

He thought for a moment, and then he said, ‘My girl, you would not think of going to a grand ball as I saw you last night, astride on a gable, a pail in one hand and a mop in the other, clothes and hair streaming with water, and a black smirch of soot across your forehead—with, moreover, a smock in holes, and one slipper on, the other off.’

‘No, I would not.’

‘Very well. You would appear as you are now.’

‘Yes.’

‘But more dress than this is expected. Your mind must