Page:Court Royal.djvu/31

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but the bamboo. Now you know what will be one of your regular duties—duties! pleasures, exercises. You will have to beat the clothes every day for a couple of hours. If after this I find a moth I’ll beat you, whack, whack, whack, with the bamboo, till I’ve beat the laziness out of you. You are intelligent. You can understand plain English, I suppose?’

Joanna nodded.

‘You will have to work hard in this house,’ said Mr. Lazarus further. He had beaten a carpet to illustrate his meaning, and raised a cloud of dust that made him cough. ‘No idleness is tolerated here. No spare hours are given during which you may slip into mischief. Not much food to fire the blood and make you want it. You will rise at five and get me a cup of coffee. No lighting of fires, mind. The coffee is made in an Etna. Then you beat the clothes in the back yard till the shop opens. About noon the fire is kindled and dinner is cooked for me. You can eat what I leave. There is often gravy in which to sop bread. Gravy is nourishing. I don’t consume it all myself. I am not greedy. Children only are greedy. In the afternoon you mind the shop, and mend what clothes are torn. About five o’clock I shall want a cup of tea. I take bread and cheese for supper at nine. My teeth are bad. I don’t eat the crusts and rinds; you may have them, and be grateful. There are many poor children with less. I had forgotten. You must have a change of clothes.’ He looked carefully about among the female garments. ‘There,’ said he, ‘I don’t think I could dispose of these traps; they are much worn. I bought ’em cheap; came off a girl as died of scarlet fever. Look sharp; go behind a heap of furniture, off with your wet and coaly rags, and tumble into these beauties. Then, if you like, you may wash your face and hands at the pump. Water costs no money. I allow no soap.’

Joanna did not take many minutes in changing. She went into the back yard—this house had one—and soused her head and arms well. Then she returned with the utmost promptitude to her master.

‘I couldn’t find a comb,’ she said, ‘so I used a broken kitchen fork.’

‘That’s right,’ answered the Jew approvingly; ‘never ask for two things where one will suffice.’

Mr. Lazarus relaxed into amiability. He was pleased with the ready instinct of the child to meet his views,

‘Let me tell you,’ he said, ‘when you’ve been a good girl,