Page:Court Royal.djvu/33

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night. Her clothing cost nothing, and was always neat, so well was it washed, so neatly was it mended, darned and patched. As she was denied coals, she washed the house linen and her own garments in cold water.

When winter set in, Joanna found means of economising that had not entered the brain of Lazarus. Charitable people had instituted a soup-kitchen. The girl had gone thither with her mother in their abject poverty. She went there now clothed in rags, and brought away sufficient nourishing broth to form the staple of her own and her master’s dinner. Some potatoes and bread completed the meal. No one supposed that the wretched girl with worn face and appealing eyes was the maid-of-all-work to the rich Jew pawnbroker and money-lender of the Barbican.

Joanna had dark hair and large shining dark eyes too big for her face; the face was thin and sharp, but well cut. She was but twelve years old, therefore only a child; but the face was full of precocious shrewdness. The eyes twinkled, gleamed, flashed. Wonderful eyes, knowing eyes, without softness in them; eyes that saw everything, measured and valued everything, that went into those she encountered and found out their weakness. Her face was without colour, but the skin was clear and transparent.

‘Who and what are you, my child?’ asked a charitable woman once at the soup-kitchen.

‘I’m a pawn—Six hundred and seventeen!’ she replied, and disappeared.


Seven months after Joanna had been left in pawn with Mr. Lazarus, the Yorkshire skipper was again in Plymouth with a load of coals from Goole. He came to the shop to see the girl, and tell her about her mother. Captain Hull—that was his name—had bad news to communicate. Mrs. Rosevere had probably caught cold from her immersion, when she tried to drown herself, and on her voyage northward had been taken ill. On reaching Goole, she was carried on shore and sent to