Page:Court Royal.djvu/119

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‘You are discontented, peevish, and don’t know when you are well off.’

‘Every man knows the warmth of his own jacket,’ said Joanna.

‘How I’ve stored your mind with knowledge!’ exclaimed the Jew, ‘You know the value of an article as well as I, whether furniture, plate, clothing, china. I’ve taught you a lot of useful information, summing, bookkeeping.’

‘What is the good of striking matches for those who don’t want light?’ asked the girl, sullenly.

‘What has put you out of temper to-night, Joanna?’

‘I have good reason to be in bad humour. What have I done for Mr. Cheek that he should give me the silk dress and the necklace? Nothing but amuse him for an hour. What have I done for you? Everything. I have saved your house from fire and your throat from the razor. What do I get in return? Nothing.’

‘I am not ungrateful,’ said Lazarus, seriously, ‘Wait a bit longer, my girl, and I will show you that I am not, I cannot tell you now what I will do for you, but I will in time. I promise you this—you shall have a reward such as you have not dreamed to possess. Have I ever failed to keep my word, Joanna? No, never; it don’t pay in business to be shifty about promises. Now you have alluded to Mr. Charles Cheek, I wish to speak to you about him, and to give you a word of advice.’

‘Which again will cost you nothing,’ threw in the girl.

‘It is clear to me, Joanna, that Mr. Charles Cheek is interested in you. Now, you are no longer a child. You have swelled on my good fare into a big, handsome girl, not at all of the ordinary type. If Mr. Cheek continues to come here, you are the attraction. I am well pleased that he should come here, and provide beefsteak pie and champagne, and if you behave discreetly all is well. He is weak and careless, and you may entangle him in a web whilst I suck his blood; but let it be understood between us that I will not have you entangled in any thread of his spinning—not caught by finger or toe, Joanna. Keep your head clear and your heart cool. Be very careful of yourself, not to allow the smallest feeling of regard to lodge in your bosom; if you do you lose all control over yourself.’

‘What is the advantage of offering a wig to one with a head of hair?’ asked the girl, contemptuously. ‘I know how