Then Lazarus drew his chair to the fire and warmed his palms at the blaze.
‘When I consider,’ said he, ‘the deliberation and coolness with which you worked off those burglars, all I can say is you ought to have been a Jew.’
The girl made no reply. It was a matter of indifference to her whether she were a Jew or a Gentile. She collected the broken stone bottle sherds from the floor and mopped up the slop of mineral water.
‘I have been counting the Ems water,’ said Lazarus; ‘there are but six bottles left.’
‘You are not going to make me drink the remainder, are you,’ asked Joanna, standing up, ‘to show that you are grateful because I saved your house from being burnt and your throat from being cut?’
‘No, I am not,’ answered Lazarus.
‘Whatever you do won’t cost you much,’ said Joanna.
‘Now, don’t say that,’ Lazarus remonstrated, nettled with the truth of the observation; ‘I am not bound to do anything for you.’
‘Nor was I bound to save your roof from flames and your throat from the knife.’
‘How coarsely you speak!’ said Lazarus. Then he was silent, looking into the fire and then at Joanna, with something trembling on his tongue, yet doubtful whether to utter it. Probably he had resolved not to speak, for he merely said to himself, ‘Ems ain’t bad; but its day is over. Double dahlias one day, single next. Such is the world. So the pendulum swings.’
Joanna continued her work without a reply.
‘You are a good girl,’ he added, looking into the fire; ‘there is a splendid future in store for you, only you don’t know it. When that does break on you you will cry out, “O Lazarus! O Lazarus!” and swoon away for delight.’
‘I’d rather have something now,’ said Joanna; ‘the gift of a sheet in winter is better than the promise of a blanket in summer.’
‘You are fed, clothed, shod at my expense,’ said the Jew. ‘Your mind has been formed and your morals moulded by me. You have no cause to grumble.’
‘Fed on scraps, clothed in rags, and educated to keep your accounts,’ muttered the girl.