Page:Court Royal.djvu/203

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Then I must utterly destroy all memories of the past—but not yet! surely not yet!’ He stooped, picked up the miniature, tied the letters together again, and replaced them and the picture in their old drawer.

The resolution of Lord Saltcombe had led him to burn three envelopes.


Mr. Lazarus was engaged on his dinner. He sat on the chair without a bottom, with a plate on his knees. In that plate were three cold Jerusalem artichokes. He had a fourth on the end of an iron fork, and he held it between his eye and the window. ‘It is deadly grey in flesh,’ he said, ‘and sits cold on the stomick. I wish Joanna were back to warm my victuals. It is not the quality I object to, it’s the coldness. There is a sort of damp chill about these cold artichokes, like grey November fog solidified into vegetable pills. Joanna is a long time about her business. I know what it is—the great dinners she gets there, goose and sage stuffing, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, the beef with little white curls of horse-radish on it, like the first locks on the head of an innocent babe, that a mother loves to play with. One of the first things that ever I can remember, when I turn my eyes lovingly back upon childhood, is tapioca pudding; how delicious it was, golden on top like cream, and browned here and there, made with good milk and an egg. There is a deal of difference between the tapioca now and what it was then. Now best Rio is eightpence-half penny, Penang is fivepence; then it cost me nothing. Those childish days were lovely. I paid for nothing, I consumed everything gratis. They will never return, never. I wish Joanna were back; I can’t stomach these artichokes. I’d make her eat them, it is a sin to waste them, and I’d get myself a cheesecake.’ The door was thrown open, and Joanna appeared, thrusting her box before her with one hand and both knees, whilst with the left hand she clasped a flower-pot.

‘There!’ said she, ‘I’m back, Mr. Lazarus. The man outside is waiting to be paid for carrying my box. He wants a