Page:Court Royal.djvu/404

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‘My dear, he said, ‘I’ve got a book of etiquette written by a lady of rank among the lots here, and I’ve read it. I learn from it that in good society it is not thought the chic for us to be married from the same house. So I’ve spoken to Mrs. Thresher—a very motherly body, though her line is ham and sausage—and she will take you in; she has a spare room on the second floor, where you can reside till our nuptials. I hope you will find nothing to complain of in the marriage agreement which I have instructed Grudge to draw up and bring with him the day before our wedding. I have made over everything to you, because I really do not think I have a relative near enough for me to know him. With us of the seed of Israel, Joanna, maidens are always married on a Wednesday, and widows on a Friday; but, as you are not one of us it really does not matter what day is chosen, so I have fixed on Whitsuneve as suitable, then the honeymoon can coincide with the Bank holiday, when excursion trips are cheap. With us, the marriage agreement is called the kynos, and is made on a Sunday, but, as you don’t belong to the house of Israel, any day will do for that; and I’ve told Crudge to be here on the Friday. Then, on the Sabbath we’ll walk over together to the registrar, as you’re a Christian; and after sundown, when the Sabbath is over, and the Sunday begins, a cohen will come from Bristol and will marry us by religious ceremonial, as is customary among us. What a fortunate thing it is, Joanna, that I kept the howdah all these years. At last it will come in serviceable; for in our marriage ceremony the bridegroom and the bride stand under a canopy of silk or some precious stuff, and the cohen blesses them, and takes a ring from me and puts it on your finger, whilst I say, “Verily thou art espoused unto me, according to the rites of Moses and Israel.” After that a gobletful of red wine is handed to the cohen, and he blesses it, just puts his lips to it, and passes it to us. We shall have to empty it between us, and then I dash the goblet on the ground and break it, by way of putting you in mind that you are but brittle ware.’ Lazarus shook his head. ‘Ah, Joanna! what are ceremonies without a moral meaning?’

‘Is that all?’

‘Yes, that is all. Now, although you must sleep and have your meals at Mrs. Thresher’s, I don’t see that you need neglect the shop. I shall be very much engaged, as the three rooms upstairs have to be cleared, and a new range put in the kitchen. Talking of ranges,’ said Mr. Lazarus, rubbing his chin in his