Style unbecoming. Something warm and useful. I understand. Here is the ticket. Number six hundred and seventeen your daughter is, ma’am. Six hundred and seventeen. Now your name, please?’
‘And my little maid is——’
‘Six hundred and seventeen.’
When the mother was gone, with dry and decent garments, and the drumming and roaring at the cellar door had ceased, Mr. Lazarus went to the coalhole and unlocked it.
Then Joanna walked forth. She had gone in wet; she emerged caked in coal-dust, black as a sweep. Clothing, hands, face, hair, were all black. Nothing was clean about her but the white of her eyes, her red lips and shining teeth.
Mr. Lazarus held the door and stood back. He expected her to fly forth, snapping and snarling like a spiteful dog. He feared for his shins, and therefore held a stick for protection. But Joanna came forth composedly, without a word.
‘I must confess,’ said the pawnbroker, reassured, ‘you do look like a little devil. I don’t think you could come it more natural, got up for the occasion with theatrical properties.’
‘I am not a little devil,’ said the girl, standing in the midst of the kitchen, and looking at Mr. Lazarus. ‘I am a girl; I am not bad, I am good; I am gold, not brass; I am not idle, I work hard; I rise early; I break nothing; I knit; I sew; I cook; I scream. Where is my mother? Is she gone?’
‘Gone, gone right away on end. She has pawned you to me for seven years; raised ten shillings on you—more than you are worth, if coined.’
‘I am worth more than ten shillings; I am worth ten pounds.’
‘You understand you can’t go to mother; you are pawned. If your mother does not come back in seven years, then you fall to me altogether as my own. Do you understand?’
‘Yes,’ said the girl. ‘Mother has pawned everything else she had down to me. Now is my turn. I will stay.’