Page:Court Royal.djvu/140

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Joanna looked round at the speaker and recognised the Marquess from the photograph she had been shown. She said, with perfect composure, ‘Yes, my lord, this piece is not genuine. I can tell it by the colour of the glaze.’

‘Indeed! I gave a long price for it.’

‘You were taken in, my lord. It is not worth fifteen shillings.’

‘Oh, my lord,’ gasped Mrs. Probus, ‘I beg your pardon ten thousand times. I thought you was out, and I dared take the liberty—the inexcusable liberty—of bringing this young person in, who pretended to be interested in porcelain—and her to dare and say your lordship was taken in! You’ll excuse my audacity, my lord, I pray, and her ignorance and impertinence.’

‘My dear Probus,’ said the Marquess, smiling, ‘I am over-pleased to have my collection shown to one who has taste and knowledge, and discrimination.’ Turning to Joanna, he added, ‘I believe, to my cost, that you are right. Doctor Jenkyn, who knows more about china than anyone else in this county, has pronounced unhesitatingly against this piece. You are of the same opinion.’

‘I know it, my lord. I know where it was made. There is a manufactory of these sham antiques. I can tell their articles at a glance.’

‘You seem to have an accurate eye and considerable knowledge.’

‘In my former situation I was with a master who collected china, and so I learned all about it—if I broke any, I got whacks.’

‘Don’t be so familiar,’ whispered Mrs. Probus, greatly shocked.

‘And,’ continued Joanna, ‘my master, after a while, so trusted my judgment, that he would let me spend pounds on pounds on porcelain for him.’

‘Were you never taken in?’

Joanna laughed. She taken in! ‘Never, my lord.’

‘I should like to know your opinion of these bits of Chelsea.’

‘I have already given it,’ said Joanna, disregarding the monitions of the housekeeper. ‘I told Mrs. Probus it was a lot of rubbish.’

The Marquess laughed.

‘Right again. That is exactly Dr. Jenkyn’s opinion, not expressed quite as forcibly as by you.’

‘Here, my lord, you have a charming little Dresden cup