Page:Court Royal.djvu/122

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he, ‘but not clever enough to manage that. The thing you must consider is, to keep yourself secure. I don’t want to lose you as I lost——

‘Lost what?’

‘Rachel.’

‘Who ran away with Rachel?’

‘Never mind. No one you ever heard of.

‘Where is she now?’

‘I have told you I do not know.’

‘Is she alone?’

‘I do not know.’

‘Is he with her?’

‘No.’

‘I suppose,’ said the girl, ‘if the burglar had cut your throat to-night, that Rachel would have heard of it, and come and claimed everything—your money, your jewels, your plate—and turned me out penniless.’

The Jew was startled, and looked at Joanna speechlessly.

‘You have never been legally divorced?’

‘No. I don’t fling money among lawyers. We are separated for ever practically, though perhaps not legally.’

‘Then she could take everything you have—or had, supposing your throat cut?’

‘I suppose so,’ was his slowly uttered reply, and he rubbed his legs before the fire, frowning and studying the coals.

‘Joanna,’ he said, after consideration of some minutes, which she did not interrupt, ‘that shall never be. Rather than that I will bequeath everything to you, every stick in the storerooms, and crumb in the larder, and farthing in my chest.’

‘That is your most sensible course,’ said Joanna; ‘that suits me better than stale advice and flat Ems.’

‘I will do it,’ said the Jew. ‘I will write to Crudge.’

‘I will bring the pen and ink at once.’

‘Not now—there is time. I’ll do it some time.’

‘That will not suit me,’ said Joanna. ‘What has to be done must be done on the spot. Do you not see that your interests are at stake? You secure me in the shop, ensuring my caring for everything as if it were my own, protect yourself against peculation by me,’ she laughed mockingly. ‘You tie me to you as a faithful servant for ever. I shall no more grumble. I shall be active, and on the alert to drive hard bargains. I shall be bound to you Monokeratically.’

‘What do you mean? How Monokeratically?’

‘By one principle, the strongest of all—self-interest.’