Page:Court Royal.djvu/214

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her presence, assisted by a corps of artists, all of eminence only inferior to her own.

The first performance would be a revival of Shakespeare’s tragedy of ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ to be performed the ensuing week.

Joanna had never been to a play, but she was a greedy devourer of playbills. To her imagination, nothing—hardly a ball—could surpass the delight of a dramatic performance. She had read plays that had come into the shop—old comedies, tragedies, modern farces, and had formed an idea of what a theatre was, but Lazarus had never allowed her the pleasure of seeing a performance, even from the gallery.

Whilst she was studying the bill, suddenly Lazarus burst into the shop with livid face. He saw what she was reading, seized it, and crumpled it in his hands.

‘Why do you do that?’ asked Joanna.

‘I have seen her,’ gasped the Jew. ‘She is here—in Plymouth.’

‘Seen whom—Lady Grace?’

‘I have seen her—Rachel. She has dared to come here!’

‘What has she come here for? Does she want to return to you? If so, she’s a fool.’

‘This is she,’ he said, opening out the bill he had crushed, and with trembling finger he pointed to the name. ‘She calls herself Palma Kaminski, but she is Rachel Lazarus. A Pole! She is nothing of the sort; she was born on Ratcliff Highway, and bred in Princes Street, Leicester Square.’

‘Are you going to reclaim her, or kill yourself, like Romeo, because she is lost to you?’

‘I do not know what I shall do. I am in a maze,’ gasped the Jew. ‘I’d serve her bad if I knew how. I’d beat her brains out if it weren’t against the law. Where is the liberty of the subject, I’d like to know, as is so boasted of in this precious British empire? Ah! Joanna, I wish I could get her here and put her to sleep in the press-bed, and shut it up when she was sound. The coroner and jury would be sure to find “accidental death,” and one could have a raffle of half-a-crown a share for the press-bed afterwards, and make a lot of money. I’ve known five pounds got out of a rope a man hanged himself with. The English lower orders are passionately attached to crime; they like to read about it, and talk about it, and think about it, and relish it in every way. If you come to consider, Joanna, what a dreary world this would