Page:Court Royal.djvu/24

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of children. I wish I might. I’d set up shambles and reduce their nunbers.’

‘I don’t want to sell Joanna,’ said the woman in a dull, distressed voice, ‘I wouldn’t sell her for a thousand guineas. But I thought, no offence, I might pawn her for a time, so as to make up the difference, and get a fit out of dry clothes for both of us.’

‘Be off with you! This is no foundling hospital where every troublesome child may be left. Get out of this, or I’ll rattle my stick about the bones of the monkey.’

‘I have nowhere to go to, sir. I have passed my word not to fling myself into the sea again. You shall have Joanna, sir, for half-a-sovereign.’

‘Half-a-sovereign!’ cried Mr. Lazarus, starting back. ‘Have I human ears to hear such a proposition? Half-a-sovereign for a little maggot that’ll eat her own weight of nourishing victuals every day! I won’t have her at any price. Chuck her into Sutton Pool.’

‘I won’t be drownded,’ said the child resolutely.

‘I throwed her in once, and her crawled out like a spider running along its cobweb.’

‘Do with her what you will. I’ll have nothing to say to her,’ cried the angry pawnbroker. Then working himself into fury, ‘Will you be off? Look what a pond you two have made in my shop. The floor is swimming. A mop won’t take it up in a week; and all the iron-ware, and the forks and knives, will be rusted, and the cloth and leather mildewed.’

‘Well, sir,’ sighed the woman, ‘give me back the money, and I’ll go.’

‘Six-and-six!’ said Mr. Lazarus in a softer tone, ‘six-and-six is six-and-six. Can’t we deal reasonably and quietly? What is the advantage of your working yourself up into fever and fury?’

‘Please, sir,’ said the woman with pertinacity, such as could hardly be looked for in one so timid and dazed, ‘I can have a situation if I get rid of the child.’

‘Well, what is that to me?’

‘I won’t sell her, sir! and I won’t send her to the Union. If you’ll be so kind as to take her, and lend me half-a-sovereign on her, I’ll throw in my wedding-ring beside.’

‘Let me look at it. I dare be sworn it is brass.’

‘We were well off when us married, and could afford it,’ explained the woman. Then, whilst the Jew was examining