Page:Court Royal.djvu/217

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CHAPTER XXIX.
TWO STAGE BOXES.

It is impossible in words to describe the tumult of excitement, pride, admiration, in Joanna’s bosom, as she took her place in the left stage box at the Plymouth Theatre Royal. She had never been in a theatre before. Her highest ambition had been to battle for herself a way to the front in the gallery. She occupied the most luxurious and expensive place in the theatre. She was dressed so beautifully that her head was turned. The pink silk was nothing to the dress she now wore, crimson velvet and cream-coloured silk, the latter exquisitely hand-embroidered. Her neck, her bosom, her head, were profusely adorned with diamonds. It was a marvel to Joanna whence the Jew had got them all. She wore rings on all her fingers; if the rings were too large, a little silk wound inside enabled her to wear them. She looked with astonishment at the foot-lights, at the orchestra where the players were tuning, at that great mystery, the curtain. Then she turned to examine the audience. The gallery and the pit were packed; in the dress circle were about twenty persons, and in the stalls perhaps a dozen. A poor house, a house to take the heart out of an actor. Joanna could not understand it. The rich have money, why do they not come? The poor do not grudge their shillings and sixpences.

Joanna attracted the attention of the house. Opera-glasses were directed towards her. She saw those in the stalls put their heads together, and she knew they were asking each other who she was. She was conscious that she was being admired, and to enable the people to see her better she stood up.

Lazarus was in evening dress, sitting back, facing the stage, so that he was invisible; it was hardly likely he would have been recognised. An evening suit had completely transformed him. Besides, those who attended the theatre were not his clients. He did not shrink from being seen; he was indifferent.

‘Sit down, Joanna. How can you behave so strangely?’ he said.

‘No one could see my velvet bag with old Dutch silver clasps and chain and belt unless I stood up,’ she answered.