Page:Court Royal.djvu/363

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351
AN APRIL FOOL.

morals like the tuning of fiddles. You see, Joanna, the miserable end of men who allow themselves to be found out.’

After dinner, Joanna slipped away, to be alone in the wilderness, and inhale with long draughts the sparkling air that pours into the lungs like atmospheric champagne. She climbed a height, and ensconced herself among the piles of granite, away from the cold wind, in the glow of the glorious sun. To the south lay Plymouth harbour and the glittering sea. Fold on fold of blue hill stretching away for miles to the rugged peaks of the Cornish moors lay to her right.

As she sat in her nook, believing herself alone, she was disturbed by a head with a sailor hat protruding itself from behind a rock. In another moment, Lazarus was before her. He threw himself in the short grass at her feet, picked a rush, and nibbled at the end.

‘Joanna,’ he said, ‘why did you run away? Why did you leave me with old Thresher? What do I care for old Thresher?I brought Thresher to-day as gooseberry picker. In the upper walks of life, to which we are going to belong, gooseberry pickers are the thing. Young people must have them as incumbrances when out junketing. I’ve left old Thresher examining some pigs fed by the warders off the scraps left by the convicts. Did you mark how the old lady ate? I did. It was a race between us; especially over the roly-poly pudding. She didn’t want to have the doughy end without the jam, and I was determined she should. A roly-poly has but two ends, not three, so two must have ends, and only one can enjoy the middle. I was resolved that you should have the best part and that Thresher and I should have the ends. I cared for your interests above my own, you’ll allow that, Joanna. I took one end, and Thresher pulled a mow when I gave her the other. Did you see it? But you had the middle, oozing out with whortleberry jam; and that shows, if demonstration were needed’ (he lowered his voice), ‘how I regard you. I wouldn’t have done that in the old days, would I?’

‘No, sir’

‘And let me assure you of this, Joanna, the round globe does not contain another woman for whom I would do it now.’ He took off his hat, and exposed his forehead scored with a black ring. ‘I hope you see, Joanna, what a change has taken place in my feelings towards you. You may have noticed in me the wakings of tenderness of late. Ah, Joanna! do me a favour! You saved my house from fire, my property from