Page:Court Royal.djvu/29

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‘Your number is six hundred and seventeen. Look in my ledger; there you are till cancelled. Why did you scream so horribly?’

‘Because I wanted to be with mother.’

‘And now you are content to remain with me?’

‘I am pawned; I can’t help myself. Mother has raised the money on me. I must stay till she returns with the ticket and the half-sovereign.’

‘And the interest—the interest at ten per cent.,’ insisted Mr. Lazarus.

‘I know nothing about that,’ said the girl. ‘I will stay till mother brings the money. I cannot help myself.’

‘Come along, you squalling cockatoo,’ said the pawnbroker; ‘I will show you over the place, and tell you what your work will be. This is the kitchen.’

‘And that is your nose. I have eyes. You wouldn’t make me believe this a parlour if you swore to it.’

‘You are a queer imp.’

‘I am good,’ said the girl. ‘I will cook the dinner, and then you will say the same.’

‘No waste of coals here,’ observed Lazarus gravely. ‘To think of the profligate waste among the rich! The tons of coal they burn; nothing to show for it but smoke and ashes! I never turned a penny by coals in all my life, never.’

‘I have,’ said Joanna.

‘I shall be glad to hear how you managed that.’

‘It was this way. We’d a little garden ran down to the water, where the coal-barges went by. I corked an empty soda-water bottle and hung it to the branch of an apple-tree. When the bargemen went by they couldn’t hold off having a shy at the bottle, and they shied lumps of coal. I went out every day with a shovel. We kept the kitchen fire with that bottle, and the beauty was she never broke. Couldn’t, you understand, because her swung when hit.’

Lazarus looked at the child with admiration. ‘Beautiful! upon my word, beautiful! You are a genius, Six hundred and seventeen. Follow me.’

He led her into the shop. ‘There,’ he said, ‘you sleep under the counter. There are blankets about to make a bed of. Only mind everything goes back into place in the morning; nothing torn and no tickets off.’

‘I understand.’

‘Look at me. You see I hold a stick that I’ve been