Page:Court Royal.djvu/113

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.


round her and the heather, and began to think. She could not see into the streets from where she sat, as the parapet cut them off, but she saw the yellow haze that hung over Plymouth, the reflection of the lights in the fine vapour that overarched it. The taverns were shut; no drunken men were about the Barbican. The outline of the citadel stood dark above the harbour. She could see the lighthouse at the pier-head, and far out, reflected in the quivering water, the spark of Mount Batten light. Joanna thought first of her flowers, and then, last of all, of the problem she had climbed to the roof to solve: Why did the labouring class hate work, and the trading class love it greedily? The girls from the country streamed into Plymouth, because they had been taught to read and write—to read novels and write love-letters—and therefore counted themselves superior to feeding pigs and making butter. They went into service, and when they found that there they were expected to dust chairs and wash up breakfast things they went on the streets. That was an everyday story. They fled work because work was hateful. The young men poured into town from the country to escape the plough and the spade, and when they found that they were expected to work at a trade, they earned their bread with resentment at their hearts, because prava necessitas insisted on labour; and they blasphemed God and dreamed of upsetting the social order because forced to work. Why was this? The moment, however, that the parlour-maid became a married woman and had a home to care for, she toiled without grudging time or labour. The moment the artisan opened a shop and worked for himself, he was reconciled with Providence and the social system. Why was this? Unconsciously, Joanna had struck the solution. Content came when man or woman worked for self. Discontent was consequent on working for others. ‘This is it,’ she exclaimed; ‘to be happy and good one must care only for self, and not a brass farthing for anyone besides.’ That was Joanna’s philosophy of life, hammered out of her experience and observation.

Having arrived at this conclusion she stood up. ‘I am cold,’ she said, ‘so is the pot of heath. We must go in.’ Then she stole downstairs.

Joanna descended very softly, lest she should rouse Lazarus. She listened on the stair for his snore. If that were inaudible, it would behove her to walk warily. He might be lurking in a corner or behind a door, ready to leap forth