Page:Court Royal.djvu/112

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These were cheery folk, and did not grumble at their condition. It was otherwise with the journeyman plumber, and carpenter, and the factory hand, and the maid-of-all work. These were impatient of their position and hated their labour.

Joanna traversed the storerooms. The gas-lamp in the street threw in sufficient light for her to see the furniture, and to thread her way without touching and upsetting anything. Had the lamp indeed been extinguished she would have found her way noiselessly about those rooms, and brought from them whatever was required. She went to the window, and looked across the way at the ruin of the house that had been consumed the night before. Every pane of glass was broken; the entire roof had fallen in. Then Joanna went into the room from which the carpets had been removed to protect the roof, and which still covered it. Here alone was an empty space. Joanna cast off the thick coat, and sprang lightly into the middle, stood on tiptoe and threw about her arms and twirled as she had seen in pictures of ballet-dancers. Then she hummed to herself a waltz of Strauss, and began to dance, with fantastic gesture, the step she had acquired that evening from Charles Cheek.

Presently, fearing lest her tread should disturb the Jew, she reinvested herself in the long grey overcoat, and ascended the ladder to the roof.

The cold air made her shiver, but it was fresh after the close, dust-laden atmosphere of the house. The stars were burning brightly overhead.

She looked at her plants; several of the pots were knocked down. One was broken, and the earth had fallen from the roots. She had the ball of twine in the pocket of the coat, and she took from it sufficient to bind together the broken sherds. She cut the string with her teeth; then she put in the earth again. The geranium in the spoutless teapot must come in, and sleep for the winter. The fuchsia must have fresh earth about the roots; the Guernsey lily needed to be divided. All this would have to be done by daylight on the morrow. Then she took up a pot in which was heather, a little heather in peat she had taken up wild and carried home on one rare occasion when she had been in the country for a holiday, on Roborough Down. She loved the heather above every flower she had, yet it was sickly in confinement. Perhaps it was cold up there on the slates. So she took the pot in her arms seated herself, hugging it, with the greatcoat wrapped