Page:Court Royal.djvu/23

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alarm, ‘the gentleman outside as fished me from the Pool got up a subscription for me, that I might have dry clothes. I’ve no more, but if you’d consent to take the child——

‘I take the child—I—I!’ screamed Mr. Lazarus. ‘Children are the plague of my life. I wouldn’t have one if offered for nothing.’

‘Then, sir, I must take the money elsewhere.’

‘Oh!’ said the pawnbroker, ‘six-and-six is it? Pity it should be lost. Do you think the gentlemen would subscribe a little more? The charitable feelings, when well worked, are very yielding. If you’d make believe to be desperate, and about to fall or throw yourself in again, maybe the collecting cap would go round again, and the sum disposable mount to eleven-and-six. At eleven-and-six I might consider you. I can’t so much as look at you for six-and-six. Just cast your eyes over this myrtle-green trimmed with cream lace! Don’t it make your mouth water?’

‘I’m watering all over,’ sighed the woman. ‘I only want ordinary dry clothes.’

‘Or this Dolly Varden with panniers, a little passed in style, and a kiss-me-quick bonnet. Make you quite irresistible, miss—beg pardon—ma’am, I mean.’

‘I have no more. I can get no more. I need only a cotton dress and underclothing.’

‘Lor’ bless you!’ exclaimed the Jew, ‘what does that latter signify so long as the gown is gorgeous? Try to screw some more from the gents outside. If you cried, now, in a proper heart-rending way?’

The woman shook her head despairingly. ‘I did not ask for this. I want only necessaries. Why did they not let me drown, and be at rest?’

‘What, ma’am?’ said the Jew. ‘Drown with an available six-and-six on the quay awaiting you! The thing is ridiculous!’

‘Please, sir, will you take the child?’

‘What do you mean?’ asked Lazarus testily, turning green again.

‘I mean my Joanna,’ answered the woman, pointing to the little girl at her side.

Mr. Lazarus waxed wroth. ‘Do I take little girls? Eh! look round and see what are the articles in my shop. Dolls; yes, they don’t eat. China figures; yes, they don’t wear out clothes. I’m not a cannibal. Can’t make butcher’s meat out