Page:Court Royal.djvu/357

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345

CHAPTER XLIX.
AN APRIL FOOL.

A great change had come over Lazarus. Whether it dated from the sprouting of the moustache, or from the conference at Court Royal, and the final imposition of terms on the great family, could not be determined by Joanna with nicety. She thought that the change began with the moustache and ripened after the latter event. Lazarus was elate. Old Cheek had retired without interference, and now that his heart was lifted up, he was more liberal than when he consented to an occasional bloater. Indeed this liberal tendency had swelled into large proportions. He had not shrunk from saddle of mutton with onion sauce, nor from fillet of veal with stuffing, nor from sirloin of beef and Yorkshire pudding—only at pork he had drawn a line, for he was strict in his Hebraic prejudices.

‘Have pig’s puddings if you like, Joanna. Don’t let my inclinations bar your way—yet, perhaps, such is the delicacy of your feelings, you don’t like to eat and see me fast.’ He spoke thickly, making strange efforts with his mouth to get out the words.

‘What is the matter with you, Mr. Lazarus? Your speech is queer, and your appearance changed——’ Joanna stopped short, and stared. Lazarus opened his mouth. He had provided himself with a double set of artificial teeth.

‘I thought I’d electrify you,’ he said. ‘Yes—I’ve had my jaw taken in hand by an artist—a dentist. Cost me a lot of money, Joanna, the charge was outrageous—a fancy price as for an object of vertu. But, so long as it pleases you, I don’t care.’

‘I wish,’ said Joanna, ‘that you’d be more particular about your hair, Mr. Lazarus. You make your pillow as black as if you used your head for a flue brush.’

Lazarus looked down.

‘You used to have grey hair.’

‘Not grey,’ said the Jew; ‘just a speckle here and there—like wood anemones in a grove.’

‘But now your hair is glossy black. Don’t use your head again on the chimney. If you object to a sweep I will use a holly bush.’