Page:Court Royal.djvu/205

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‘Run away!’ echoed Lazarus. ‘You haven’t run away, and not done what you was sent after? You can’t have been so wicked?’

‘I’ve done it,’ said Joanna,‘and truly ashamed of myself I am. I tell you what it is, Mr. Lazarus, unless I was pawned to you and couldn’t do otherwise, I’d strike. But you know you’ve got me, and can drive me where you will. I give you fair warning, I’ll kill myself rather than do more of that sort of dirty work; then you may whistle for your half-a-sovereign, and the interest—seven shillings. I reckon you’ll be careful not to drive me to extremities, lest you are left seventeen shillings to the bad.’ Joanna looked round the kitchen. ‘What a proper mess you’ve got everything into whilst I have been away! It is a piggery. No wonder Moses forbade you eating swine’s flesh, it would be sheer cannibalism. Everything was bad before, but it is bad and rusty and dirty now. I will not have it. Take yourself out of that seatless chair; you’re sinking through it so low that in another minute you’ll be sitting on the floor. Get out; I’ll bring you down a sound chair from upstairs.’

‘The chair is good, Joanna, it only wants the oven tray across it.’

‘I will not have it here. I have been in kitchens that were a pleasure to live in. There every bit of wood was white, and every bit of metal shone. I could have been happy there, but for what you’d set me at, and that took the pleasure out of everything. Look at that window-pane, cracked where the boys threw a stone eighteen months ago. A dab of putty holds it together, and stops the hole where the stone went through. It must be mended. I will not bear it left like this.’

‘Go along, Joanna; now you have glutted your appetite, go and get on your old clothes. Those you have on are too good for this shop.’

‘No—I will not put on such mean, miserable rags again. I have worn what are neat and clean, and neat and clean I shall dress henceforth. Unless I have my own way, I won’t light the fire and boil the kettle, I won’t peel the potatoes, nor turn uniforms, nor sell anything. I’ll lie in bed, and you won’t get me out except with dynamite.’

‘You’ve been spoiled,’ said the pawnbroker, ‘Oh, the wickedness of the world! I had you here, sheltered under my wing from every harm, and when I send you out a little way,