Page:Court Royal.djvu/218

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‘Perhaps you would like to stand up on the breasting of the box, to let folks see your red shoes?’

‘I shouldn’t mind,’ said Joanna.

‘But I do. Sit down and be quiet. The orchestra are going to begin. I did not bring you here to make a fool of yourself.’

‘Very well, master. I’ll fan myself, and then they can see my bracelets.’

Joanna was like a child with a box of new toys. She looked at herself in the little strip of mirror in the box, she played with and admired her jewelry, she took peeps at her feet shod in crimson satin shoes, she pressed back her chin to be able to see the glitter of a diamond brooch on her bosom. One bitter disappointment she had been forced to endure. She had desired to appear in low dress, but on trying one on, it was found that the contrast in colour between her face and one half of her neck and her bosom, and the other half of her neck, was too startling to allow of her thus appearing.

A tap at the door behind, and a gentleman entered the box. Joanna uttered a cry of delight, and took several stops to meet him. The gentleman was Charles Cheek.

‘Why, Joanna!’ he exclaimed, ‘you here, in the royal box, as queen of beauty, wearing all the Crown jewels stolen by Lazarus from the Tower!’

‘I am glad to see you again,’ she said heartily. ‘Here is a chair, sit down beside me and talk till the play begins, and then be mum.’

‘I was in the stalls. I could hardly believe my eyes,’ he said, ‘but I looked and looked through my glasses till I had nearly satisfied myself you were my little friend of the roof-tree, when Lazarus’s nose came round the corner, and a bit of a cheek-bone, and then I was sure.—What has induced you, Father Abraham, to come here dressed like a Christian? Have you brought the girl to show off a set of diamonds you want to sell?’

‘I’ve brought her here,’ answered the Jew, ‘because I am a generous and indulgent master. She saved my house from fire and from burglars, and has deserved a treat for other services she has rendered me, so I have stepped out of my usual course of life to indulge her.’

‘Do you often come to the play?’ asked Joanna.

‘Very often. I would come always if I thought you would be here.’