Page:Court Royal.djvu/360

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‘you’d behold your own self curled up there—like a maggot ill a hazel-nut. But there, I’m launching into poetry again.’

Joanna vouchsafed no remark. He sat and watched her, but she showed no symptoms of relenting.

‘I’m not now what I once was,’ he went on, ‘Then I had an object before me for which I toiled and stinted. Now that object is attained, and I need stint and toil no more. Hitherto life has been to both of us a time of privation, now it shall become a holiday. I will deny you nothing on which your heart is set. I have money in abundance, and as you have helped me to make it, you must help me to spend it. If you want rings, take them from my drawer. Chains and bracelets are at your disposal. Select what gowns you like, they are all yours.’

‘Go to bed,’ said Joanna; ‘the whisky has got into your old head.’

After that she would not speak to him. He made many attempts to draw her into conversation, but all failed. When he was about to retire to rest, he stood in the doorway, the picture of distress, and sighed, and said in a soft tone, ‘Good-night, Joanna.’

She poked the kitchen fire savagely, and said nothing.

‘Won’t you say “good-night” to me who’ve been so kind to you?’

Still no answer.

‘I’ll think about the ball, Joanna.*

Still obdurate.

‘You—you shall go to the ball, Joanna.’

‘Good-night, Mr. Lazarus.’

The change in the Jew’s manner caused the girl uneasiness. She was shrewd enough to see what it meant. He had fallen in love with her after a peculiar fashion. For a long time he had used her as a drudge, as a mere slave, without compunction what he laid upon her and how hard he treated her. By degrees he came to realise the value of her services, and he began to ask himself what would become of him were they withdrawn. Where could he find a substitute? She had grown into his ways, to understand his requirements, almost to think his thoughts. She had been educated in the business and comprehended it thoroughly in all its parts and turns. Then, when he had come to appreciate her worth to him, Charles Cheek appeared on the stage, admiring her, hanging about the house, and threatening, as the Jew feared, to carry