Page:Court Royal.djvu/22

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customer, and took stock of what she wore. He soon satisfied himself that she had nothing about her in his way, except a gold wedding-ring.

Mr. Lazarus looked suspiciously and threateningly at the child. He detested children. They played marbles, ball, tip-cat on the pavement, and broke his windows. They shouted after him, ‘Rags and bones!’ or ‘Old clo’!’ through their noses, or put their heads into his shop, and asked how he was off for soap, or ‘Any black puddings or bacon rashers to-day.’

The pawnbroker was frequently engaged, behind his counter, whittling at a stick, lying in wait to rush forth with it upon the urchins who offended him. It was rarely, however, that he caught the delinquents. He more often fell upon, or fell over, an inoffensive and unoffending child, and rattled his stick about its sides. Then the parents—the mother certainly—would appear on the scene and join in the noise, belabouring Mr. Lazarus with her tongue. When matters reached this point, Mr. Lazarus would return to his shop, with the stick tucked under his arm, growling Levitical imprecations.

‘What do you want?’ asked Mr. Lazarus, looking up from an account-book, and laying the stick on the table.

‘Please, sir,’ answered the woman in a faint, frightened voice, ‘I want a set of dry clothes for myself and Joanna.’

‘Certainly,’ answered the Jew with alacrity. ‘Tumbled into the Pool, eh? About what figure, pray?’

‘This is all I have,’ answered she, extending her hand and opening it.

‘One half-crown, two shillings, one’—he rang it—‘bad, two sixpences, and eight threepenny bits, also one French ha’penny, which don’t pass current. I return you the shilling. You may be able to get others to take it, less wideawake. That makes six-and-six. Can’t do much for you at that price.’

Then the poor creature said, ‘Please, sir, you’ll be liberal, I hope. I’ve nothing else, and am wet to the marrow. I have brought the child. I thought to raise a few shillings on her.’

‘The child! What do you mean?’

‘My darling, my Joanna.’

Mr. Lazarus turned a green hue.

‘You’re trying to make sport of me!’ he exclaimed, clutching at his stick. ‘You’ve been put up to it. I won’t stand this sort of game. Get out at once.’

‘Please, sir,’ said the woman, trembling with cold and