‘I have never counted,’ was his reply. ‘It is easily done; sum the totals affixed to each list on the doors.’
‘I should dearly like to know,’ said Joanna. ‘Where I was before I came here there was a good deal of plate; but nothing like this, oh, nothing!’
‘I suppose not,’ said Mr. Blomfield with dignity. ‘No one with a title, I suppose?’
‘Oh dear no. What about now, do you think, sir, is the weight?’
‘I will take the numbers down and add them up,’ said Mrs. Probus good-naturedly.
‘Excuse me, sir,’ said Joanna; ‘you have a very beautiful bread-basket there. Might I look at it more closely, and see the hall mark?’
‘Certainly.’ He handed the basket to her. Joanna looked at the handle. ‘It belongs to the reign of William and Mary. The year I cannot say without a book.’
‘Dear, now! To think you have found that out! I have had to do with plate all my life, and know nothing more of the marks than to look for the lion and the head.’
‘Here is the sum of the weight of plate,’ said Mrs. Probus.
‘The silver in this column, the gold in that.’
‘All that?’ exclaimed Joanna. ‘Why, the silver at six-and-six an ounce, without allowing anything for workmanship, is—five thousand ounces—sixteen hundred and twenty-five pounds; but it would sell at a pound an ounce. Five thousand pounds’ worth of plate at the lowest.’
‘You can calculate pretty quickly,’ laughed the butler.
‘The Marquess said she had brains,’ said Mrs. Probus aside to Mr. Blomfield; ‘he was quite taken with her cleverness.’ Then to Joanna, ‘Now I will show you over the conservatories. You may keep the sum of the plate if you like.’
‘Thank you,’ answered Joanna. ‘I shall like it very much.’
Joanna was one of those children of this century, and of town civilisation, in whom shrewdness and simplicity, precocity and childishness, are strangely mixed together. When in the house among the furniture, china, and plate, she was reserved, observant, calculating, storing her observations in her retentive memory, prizing everything she saw; but when she entered the greenhouses, that calculating spirit left her, and she was an unspoiled girl, overflowing with fresh delight, full of exuberant spirits. In the house, amidst the artistic valuables, she was in a world with which she was acquainted; in the conservatories