Page:Court Royal.djvu/221

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None observed this but Joanna, not even Lazarus, who had drawn back and covered his eyes. There was something in the look that startled Joanna. The colour mounted and suffused her face and throat. Her pleasure in the play was gone; she wished she were away. She hid her arms lest the bracelets should be seen; she threw a kerchief round her neck to hide the chains. With a look the actress had revenged the laugh.

Joanna was not able to recover her interest in the play. She looked on, but her thoughts were elsewhere. She was glad that Lazarus had withdrawn and concealed himself in the shadow, leaning against the side of the box.

When the first act was over, she signed with her fan to Charles Cheek, and he came up from the stalls.

‘A poor company,’ said he, taking the seat she indicated. ‘I hold that the educated are quite right in staying away; in the provinces the star system is reduced to absurdity. What a stiff Lady Capulet! and a nurse without humour. Romeo is a stick. We have not seen yet what La Palma is made of. She is beautiful, but plump. A few years ago, may be, she was irresistible. Hollo, some vis-à-vis, I see.’

The box-keeper was introducing a party of two gentlemen and two ladies into the stage-box immediately opposite. Joanna at once recognised the Marquess of Saltcombe, the Rigsbys, and Miss Stokes. Lazarus, leaning back with his face to the curtain, did not notice the arrivals; Joanna glanced over her shoulder at him, and saw that he was too preoccupied with his own thoughts to look about him.

She fixed her eyes very attentively on the Marquess. He was serene, polite to Miss Rigsby, contending with the aunt which should hold the niece’s scarf of woven blue and crimson silk and gold fibre—an Indian manufacture.

The curtain rose; Romeo proceeded to climb the wall into Capulet’s garden. The lights were turned down, and a ray was cast, purporting to be that of the moon, on Juliet’s window. There was not sufficient light in the stage-box opposite for Joanna to see the face of Lord Saltcombe. The moonbeam was unsteady on Juliet’s window, and badly focussed. But when Juliet sighed ‘Ah me!’ she thought she saw him start. Joanna watched the box opposite throughout the scene far more closely than the stage.

The footlights were turned up for the next scene, that in Friar Laurence’s cell, and then Joanna was able to see the face