Page:Court Royal.djvu/212

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Lazarus understand. She would work for him as hard as before, but she would insist on being treated properly.

But her own condition was not that which disturbed Joanna; that which troubled her was the knowledge that she had been made use of by her master to work mischief against a family she had learned to respect. Of the Duke, indeed, she knew little, except what she had heard, but that had impressed her more than she acknowledged to herself. His greatness, the deference with which all regarded him—the way in which he was looked to as the source of all benefits, as the one who was the mainstay of the social order, as the one to whom, in cases of dispute, the ultimate appeal lay—this had formed an atmosphere of public opinion which she had inhaled, and which had nourished in her respect. She had seen little of Lord Ronald, but she had heard him spoken of as a man of strict integrity and perfect guilelessness. She had seen and spoken with the Marquess. Her box was unpacked. On the chimney-piece stood the canary yellow Dresden cup and saucer he had given her. Once he had come to his sister’s room whilst she was having a dancing lesson, had recognised and spoken kindly to her. She could not feel towards him other than friendly regard.

‘As for running away with Rachel,’ she mused, ‘I dare swear Rachel wanted to be run away with. If I had been the wife of Lazarus, I’d have done the same, have run with him to Palermo or Hong Kong—anywhere to be rid of Lazarus and the Barbican. To be married and to be pawned are two totally different cases,’ argued the girl. ‘To be married one gives consent, and if the situation don’t suit, you leave it; but pawned is another matter—mother did that, and I can’t run away. She must come with the ticket and release me. One would be wickedness, the other would not.’

Lady Grace she knew and loved as she loved no one else. She was miserable at the thought that she had been acting towards her with ingratitude, that Lady Grace might be able with justice one day to reproach her for having ill-repaid the kindness shown her. What would Lady Grace think of her now! of the way in which she had left her situation? Would she be told that she was detected at the account-books? Joanna’s bosom heaved, her face was crimson, her cheeks stained with tears. She could not, she would not, leave the dear, good lady troubled with thoughts that she was ungrateful.

Joanna stood up, washed her face, and went downstairs.