Page:Court Royal.djvu/362

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from the hot into the frozen zone. The drive was delightful. Joanna and Mrs. Thresher sat facing the horses, and the latter talked of the drop in the price of pork and the quality of imported bacon, during the greater part of the journey. The Jew occupied the position that disagreed with him. Joanna entreated him to change seats with her, but his gallantry was proof against her solicitations. He cast yellow, malevolent glances at Mrs. Thresher, who made no such offer, which, had it been made, he would have accepted. He maintained his place, sitting sideways, and his face became momentarily more sallow. He wore a straw nautical hat, with a blue riband about it with fluttering ends, and in golden characters on the front, an anchor and the name ‘Nausicaa.’ His black vest was very open, exhibiting a starched white front set with coral studs, and a black tie à la Byron slipped through a cornelian ring. Over his waistcoat dangled a massive golden chain, and his fingers were covered with rings.

As the unfortunate man became really unwell, the ladies insisted on his mounting the box. ‘But then,’ said he gallantly, ‘I am turning my back on the finest view,’ and he bowed to Joanna and raised his cap, exposing a very discoloured lining.

Joanna enjoyed the drive, especially that part of it when Lazarus was not opposite her, getting yellow in face and grey in lip.

She did not talk to Mrs. Thresher; she was not interested in American bacon; she was engaged in looking about her, at the views, the hedges, the rocks, the rushing stream that danced and feathered over the granite boulders. The hedges were starred with primroses. Here and there they were white, and here and there pink. The larks were singing and twinkling high aloft, the busy rooks were cawing and flashing in the sunlight, looking sometimes white. From the beech-groves came the liquid coo of the doves, and the gush of the throstle’s song, and the fluting of blackbirds. Nature teemed with music, poetry, and the exuberance of life. Only one thing lacked, thought the girl, to make the day perfect: Charles Cheek should have been there with his joyous humour and lively prattle. At length they reached Prince’s Town, and ordered dinner at the inn. Whilst the meal was in preparation, the holiday makers wandered about the prison, and watched the warders and the convicts.

‘This is very improving,’ said Lazarus. ‘It screws up our