Page:Court Royal.djvu/385

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time I saw you, I took you to the light to see your face; and the face I then saw has haunted me ever since. Come here, and let me see your face again. I will see if this be cursed earnest or cruel joke.’ He drew her within the radiance of the lamp, and turned the head up. She offered no resistance, but looked firmly at him.

There was no mischief lurking in the dimples at the corners of her mouth, no devilry in her eyes. There were dark lines in her face, gloom in her deep great irises, and set determination in her mouth. She felt that the hand that raised her chin to expose her face was trembling and cold. She was glad when he withdrew it, and her face relapsed into shadow. Perhaps she could not have maintained composure much longer under the scrutiny of his eyes.

‘I cannot help myself,’ she said in a low voice. ‘Judge for yourself if I can. Lazarus has resolved that I shall be his wife. I suppose he is afraid of losing me unless he ties me fast. But what can I do? I have no home, no father. I must wait here till my mother returns. I am number 617. I have been 617 in the shop for seven years. Everything else in the shop has changed, but I have remained. Old goods have gone, and new come in, and the same numbers have represented scores of new objects; only 617 has not changed. Some of the articles have been redeemed, but I have not. Some have lapsed, and I am lapsing. Some have been sold, and I am about to be sold. I remain uncancelled in the books, 617, and nothing can cancel me but the return of my mother or the expiration of my time. Here I must remain. I am not free. I dare not go. What would my mother say were I to run away? She would be ashamed of her child. What if she were to return, and I were gone—should we ever meet again? Lazarus would never tell her where I was if I had left him—even if he knew, just out of spite to her and me. But it is not that, not that,’ she said sadly; ‘I daresay you can’t understand me, but I feel it here.’ She touched her heart. ‘It would not be right. I cannot go. You have a Christian conscience because you have been brought up as a Christian. I have a pawnbroking conscience because I have been brought up as a pawnbroker. There are different denominations and different consciences belonging to them. What is right to one is wrong to another. All that I know of right and wrong Lazarus has taught me, or it has grown up unsown, like the grass and weeds in my back yard, that shoot between the