and worked hard and eaten next to nothing, I’ll allow you, as a treat, to put on the general’s uniform, sword, epaulette, and all; or the admiral’s, with his cocked hat; or my lady’s silk and ermine, bare arms and low body. It will be as good as going to the play, and it will air the suits also, and prevent them getting mouldy.’
Joanna clapped her hands and laughed.
‘There is one thing further,’ said Lazarus. ‘You’ll have to go to bed in the dark, winter and summer. I never allow waste of candle. Who knows? you might take to reading in bed—under the counter—and set everything in a blaze. Why, bless me! if this establishment caught, the fire would run through it. Nothing in the world would arrest the flames. Now you may go down stairs. No—stay. There is one point more to particularise. I spend a penny every week in getting shaved, and fourpence a quarter in having my hair cut. That amounts to five-and-fourpence in the twelvemonth—clear waste, nothing to show for it. You will have to learn to shave me and cut my hair. Here is an old muff that the moth has played the mischief with. I don’t think it will sell. Practise on that. Lather it first, and then work along it gently with a razor. You’ll soon get into the way, and save me five-and-four per annum. Only—mind! Don’t waste the soap!’
In all the many years that Emmanuel Lazarus had done business he had never made so good a bargain as when he took Joanna in pawn. Ten shillings! She was worth to him over ten pounds a year, that is two thousand per cent. interest. He soon discovered her worth, and congratulated himself on having secured her.
Joanna worked from grey dawn to late at night harder than any day-labourer. She slept under the counter, and slept so lightly that at the least alarm of burglars she woke and screamed loud enough to scare away the rogues, arouse the neighbours, and collect the police.
She dusted the weevils out of their lurking-places; not a grub could conceal itself under the felling; the bamboo reduced it to pulp. Not a moth could spread wing; it was clapped to dust between her palms. Wherever, in cloth, dress, or fur cloak, she spied a rent, her dexterous needle mended it so neatly that it remained unperceived by purchasers. She never forgot to lock the doors, bar and bell the windows, at