Page:Court Royal.djvu/207

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When Joanna came down, to her surprise she saw that the Jew had put a beefsteak pie and a plate of cheesecakes on the table, as well as a jug of porter. He had been across the street, and procured these delicacies. After a struggle with himself, he made the purchases, both because he was hungry himself, and because he was afraid of losing Joanna’s services unless he treated her better. The contrast between her life at Court Royal Lodge and the Golden Balls, Barbican, was too dreadful not to shock her; he resolved to bridge the chasm with beefsteak pie and cheesecakes.

‘There, there, my child,’ he said; ‘you see how I love you, and how glad I am to have you home. If you had given me earlier notice I would have had better fare ready for you; as it is, I have run out and spared no expense to provide you with dainties. Sit down, bring a chair from upstairs—two, one for me, I can endure that bottomless affair no longer, and tell me what of my business you have done at Court Royal.’

Joanna was mollified by what she saw. ‘I thank you,’ she said; ‘you have watered my plants whilst I have been away. I thank you.’

‘Don’t mention it,’ answered the Jew; ‘the water cost nothing. What have you ascertained?’

‘Here is the account,’ said the girl, extending to him the note-book Beavis had observed under her hand in the office. ‘I was caught taking my extracts, and I got away with difficulty. I lost my dance by it.’

The Jew clutched the book eagerly.

‘To-night,’ she said, ‘is the tenants’ ball, and I was to have been there. Lady Grace and Miss Lucy taught me to dance, and I should have been happy—but I was caught over the accounts and had to make off.’

The Jew was immersed in the accounts. He chuckled, and rubbed his knees.

‘Past all recovery,’ he said, and laughed.

‘I do not know that,’ said Joanna, helping herself to some pie. ‘The Marquess is going to marry an heiress, tremendously wealthy, and that will set the property afloat again.’

‘What—what is that?’ exclaimed the Jew, starting up with almost a scream.

‘There is a leathery coffee-planter come home from Ceylon with a pale daughter. Their name is Rigsby. A match has been made up between the Marquess of Saltcombe and Miss Rigsby. I don’t suppose he cares much for her; but she is