Page:Court Royal.djvu/204

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shilling, but he can be forced to be content with ninepence if you refuse to give more. I want some dinner.’

‘Here, take it,’ said Lazarus, handing her the plate; ‘do as you always have done—tear the very food from my mouth. You long-necked cormorant! You’ve done growing and ought to be ashamed of yourself.’

‘The porter is waiting to be paid,’ said Joanna.

‘I suppose eightpence and a French sou will do, if I slip it among the English coppers. Take this; you shall get no more. With a little effort you might have carried the box yourself.’

An altercation was heard outside when the girl offered the porter the eightpence and sou. Lazarus put his hands in his pockets and listened with composure. To put his hands in his pockets he was forced to stand up; then he sat down in the bottomless chair, and clenched them in the position where he had thrust them. Not another halfpenny would he give, but if the porter were inclined to deal, that was another matter.

Joanna returned triumphant. ‘He went away cursing all Jews,’ she said.

‘Let him curse,’ answered Lazarus; ‘that relieves temper and don’t hurt. There are your victuals, Joanna. I hope you’ve not been so pampered as to have your stomach spoiled. I suppose geese have been thick as quails in Kibroth-hataavah. I don’t like goose, it is greasy food. Mutton, boiled, with caper sauce, roast with currant jelly,—bah! you are puffy about the face, laying on fat in flakes. Tapioca, I suppose, every day, gorging yourself on it,—guzzling greengage trifle, making a beast of yourself on meringues. I had a meringue once, the day I was married, that ended in gall and bitterness. I don’t mean the meringue, I mean the marriage. The meringue cost me fourpence.’

Joanna took the plate of cold artichokes, turned them contemptuously over, and ate them.

‘I’ll tell you what it is, master,’ she said; ‘I’ve toiled and lied for you, and done a deal of dirty work. I’ve done dirty work here, mending old clothes, and patching and darning carpets, but the dirtiest work you ever set me to do is what I have done at Court Royal. What has come of it all? I am cheated out of two dances. You sent me there, just when I was about to get a little amusement and learn dancing, and when I got there, and did learn, you gave me work to do that forced me to run away and miss the tenants’ ball. It is not fair.’