Page:Court Royal.djvu/110

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‘As you will.’

‘I am positive you desired me to buy them; I particularly remember that you specified raspberry. Also cream at one and four. The pot I can return, so it will not be charged. I had to carry the cream very tenderly, so as not to spill a drop. Then,’ he added, ‘I have added my own contribution to the feast, one apiece. “Blow the expense!” said I, “oranges are now at a price within the reach of the poor—twenty-one for a shilling.”’

‘You will produce your violin?’

‘Certainly. I hope Joanna has entertained you whilst I have been away.’

‘Famously. She is a comical girl, and I enjoy a talk with her—the first of many, I trust.’


Joanna was unable to sleep that night. The champagne had excited her brain, and she lay watchful under the counter in the shop, tossing on the sack of shavings. The night was cold, so she had thrown a military greatcoat over her, and a black rug across her feet. She mused on what had taken place—the wonder in the eyes of the young man when he saw her in the silk attire, the interest she had awakened in him by her conversation and her good looks. She had a cool head, and was able to weigh the value of his admiration. She had measured the man. She knew him to be amiable, with fair abilities, but shallow. He was good-natured and weak. He had promised to return, but she placed no reliance on his promises. If he had nothing better to amuse him, he would come, not otherwise. But though she was aware that his liking for her was not deep, easy to be effaced, she was pleased with having aroused a transient fancy. A light had flashed into her dull life. She was unaccustomed to amusement of any sort. She had not associated with the children of the Barbican, nor shared in their games. Her master’s unpopularity had affected her; the exigencies of his service had cut her off from social pleasures.