Page:Court Royal.djvu/286

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

Jew, full of prismatic twinkle and colour. ‘You’ve only seen me under one aspect, and that the business one—appraising goods, whacking little boys, and scolding you. But there is more in me than you suppose. You’ve thought me hard, may be, but I’m like a sirloin of beef—I have my tender undercut. You’ve thought me cold, because I’m not given to blaze and crackle with emotion and sentiment, but I’m a slow combustion stove, lined with firebrick, and when alight I give out a lot of heat for my size. There are some men like the green-gage—all sweetness without, but the heart within is stony. There are others like the walnut, rugged and hard as to their exterior, but nutty and white and delicious when you get at their insides. Such, Joanna, am I.’

‘I’ve never tasted the nuttiness yet,’ said the girl.

‘But it is there.’ He shook his head. ‘Wait till my moustache is grown, and that Kingsbridge pack of cards is tossed about, and you’ll see wonders.’

‘I want to see no more of you than I am forced to,’ she muttered.

‘Oh, Joanna, don’t say that! I suppose now, taking all in all, that you have got a certain amount of liking for me.’

‘What do you mean by “taking all in all”? Do you mean taking your heap of greasy, patched clothes, and your frowsy face, and your long and dirty finger-nails, and your stingy habits, and the way you smack your lips over food that is palatable, and the way in which you are ogling me now—taking all this together I have a liking for you? No, nothing of the kind.’

‘Why do you say these offensive things, Joanna? We belong to each other like a pair of stockings; one can’t go on without the other.’

‘I think I could shift without you,’ said Joanna. ‘There is the bell; some one is at the door.’

A moment after Charles Cheek’s voice was heard in the passage.

‘Is the boss in? I want to see him. Not but what I wanted to see you also, Joanna; but that is a permanent craving.’

‘Here is Mr. Lazarus,’ said the girl, ushering the young man into the kitchen. ‘I’ve put him on a smock to keep him respectable.’

‘What do you want with me?’ asked Lazarus, with lowering brow and without a salutation.