Page:Court Royal.djvu/373

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Mrs. Yellowleaf had promised repeatedly to repay the loan, and had not done so. His patience was exhausted. He was a poor man, he had put himself to great inconvenience to find her the money; if she could not or would not pay, he must cast her into court, and if that failed, he would put in an execution. Mrs. Yellowleaf turned green at the threat, and nearly fainted.

‘I cannot find the money,’ she said—‘I simply cannot. My husband, as you know, is with the China squadron. My remittances have not arrived. My aunt is very kind, but she is out of humour with me just now, and I dare not press for more.’

When he had reduced her to a condition of abject despair, then only did he offer relief. Relief could be bought—but on hard terms. She must take under her protection to the ball a young lady who particularly desired to attend.

The Hon. Mrs. Yellowleaf was aghast. This was a sheer impossibility. She could not, she would not run such a risk. The tears came into her eyes. She knew nothing of the ‘person,’ neither her name, nor character, nor antecedents. The ball was most select. She might get into serious social trouble by taking there an individual unqualified to associate with good society. There were so many denied admission whose claims were urgent.

‘Very well,’ said Lazarus, rising. ‘Then prepare to see your name in the West of England papers. You shall have your summons to-morrow.’

‘Who is she?’ asked Mrs. Yellowleaf, after a pause for consideration.

Lazarus explained that she was a Miss Rosevere, an heiress, an orphan, of irreproachable character. ‘No relations in Plymouth, none that I know of in Devon or Cornwall.’

‘What is she like?’ asked Mrs. Yellowleaf, doubtfully.

‘Like!—there won’t be one in the room will surpass her in looks, I can assure you.’

‘She is not—not an Israelite.’ She thought ‘Jewess’ might sound rude, so she said ‘Israelite.’

‘You need not fear. Not a bit. Cornish—comes from the dark lot down the coast by Veryan and Goran; dark hair, dark eyes, olive skin. She’ll be the belle of the ball and the richest girl there too.’

The Hon. Mrs. Yellowleaf drew a sigh of relief.