Page:Court Royal.djvu/292

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‘I receive no wages, I am a pawn.’

‘A hundred pounds! You will obtain that for me?’

’You shall know about it to-morrow. To-morrow you go to your father.’

‘I will go, certainly. How will you find the hundred pounds?’

‘Never mind. It shall be done to restore the credit of my name, as the snail bears it.’

‘I wish you would tell me how it is to be got.’

‘No, you will find out in time. I am not doing this for you, but for the sake of the snail that bears my name.’

‘Thank you, Joanna; you said something different when you made the offer. I must pay Captain Finch before he sails; a debt of honour is binding and must be paid, a debt to a tradesman may. If I had been unable to find the money, I think I should have destroyed myself.’

‘No,’ said the girl, shaking her head. ‘To do that demands a firmer character than you have got. How would you have done it, pray?’

‘I do not know. I dare say I should have jumped into the sea.’

‘That is bad,’ said Joanna; ‘I have tried it.’

‘What is good?’

‘There must be some easy way of slipping out of life when life becomes unendurable.’

‘Oh yes. The simplest of all is laudanum. That sends you to sleep, and you sleep away into the never-ending slumber.’

‘Repeat the name.’

‘What on earth can you want with laudanum? You are not tired of existence, I suppose?’

Joanna said nothing.

‘Oh, look at the snail!’ exclaimed the young man. ‘She is getting out of the saucer, she is lively again. I might race her again and win back my hundred pounds.’

‘No,’ said Joanna, ‘you have done with these follies. Life is serious, Mr. Cheek. It is a time for making money, not of throwing it away. I wish you had some of the monokeratic principle in you.’

The young man started from the counter, and coloured to the roots of his hair. ‘What do you know of that?’ he asked sharply. ‘I hate the sound, and now it issues from your lips.’

‘Why should you hate it? It has been the means of making a fortune.’