Page:Court Royal.djvu/126

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the trap on the noble duke, and whether I should leave it open a little longer. All the requisite information can be had at the steward’s. You will have access to his office, and must look at his books. You are keen of wit as myself, and cunning at accounts as a banker’s clerk.’

‘I must give up my dancing lessons for this!’ exclaimed the girl, pouting, and disposed to cry.

‘The dancing lessons! I had forgotten them.’

‘I have not; nor Mr. Charles Cheek, and his suppers, and the rose silk dress, and the Roman pearls.’

‘You shall have the lessons on your return.’

‘By that time Mr. Cheek will have forgotten me.’

‘That is possible.’

‘But that does not suit me. I will not go.’

‘I have my plans, Joanna.’

‘And I have mine, Lazarus.’

He looked at her for some minutes, irresolutely. Her brow was clouded, her eyes dull; the tears were filling them, and her lips quivered. She restrained the fall of the rain with effort.

‘Joanna, I am sending you where you may observe the manners of the gentry. You are sharp enough, and can use your knowledge. You must study their habits of action and their modes of speech. Some day you may have to assume a position in which this knowledge will be of service to you. Remember, you are my heiress.’ He opened a locked drawer, and drew forth his will. ‘Look! I have kept my word. I have left everything to you. Now, in your own interest it behoves you to see after my investments at Court Royal. Look well at the place. It may be yours some day. Such is the way of the world. That which is at the top comes down, and that which is at the bottom mounts. It is so in every saucepan, in every stew, and the world is but a boiling cauldron where the currents cross one another unceasingly.’

Joanna’s face flushed, and the tears disappeared from her eyes, which waxed bright and eager. ‘I will go,’ she said; ‘I will do everything you desire; I will find out everything.’

‘Very well,’ said Lazarus, laughing. ‘Now hunt up the sort of clothes you will need to wear, and let me see how you look in the rig-out of a respectable, sober-minded, and stupid English housemaid.’

After a few minutes she returned.

She had assumed a dark, quiet gown, with a white apron.