‘I entreat you to pass this over. Do not appear against him.’
‘No, no, Joanna. Do not try this on too soon. We are not wed yet, and when we are, you will have to learn that wedlock does not make a missus of you over me. Mistress of the house, of the pots and pans, and the servant if we have one—though I dare say we can manage if Mrs. Thresher will come in charing—mistress over Mrs. Thresher if you like, but not over me. Do you know that every day I say the Berochos shel shachrit, and bless Providence that I am not born a Gentile, born a slave, and born a woman. Among you Christians the order of the domestic world is inverted, and the woman dominates over man and beast. It is not so with us. The Parsees have a very good custom. Every morning the wife falls down before her husband’s feet and worships him. Even we Jews have not attained to such a pitch of enlightenment as that. In the Aisher-Yotsar every day we thank Providence for having made openings in us, eyes wherewith to see, ears wherewith to hear, nostrils wherewith to smell, doors these for the acquisition of information, and we pray that they may ever be kept open; and now, through these same doors to-day imbibe the lesson that, in this house, I remain master. In whatsoever capacity you be, whether as maid-of-all-work, or as pawn, or as wife, I remain above you, as the sun is above the earth. Your orbit is about me, not mine round you.’
Preparations had been made in the house for the change in the condition of the two usual inmates. Three upper rooms had been completely cleared of their contents, and they had been adapted for habitation. That commanding the street, immediately over the shop, was to be the drawing-room, another was furnished as the dining-room. In one way or another Lazarus disposed of a great deal of rubbish. He groaned over it, because he was losing money. ‘This sofa,’ said he, ‘must go for twelve and three, and the cabinet for fifteen and nine. If I bided my time I might dispose of the sofa for two guineas, and the cabinet for fifty shillings, but let this loss of three pound four—say three guineas—be an evidence to my Joanna of the love and self-sacrifice lodged in this bosom. Love may well be described as a devouring flame; it consumes a lot of capital.’
The beds, the tables, chairs, wardrobes, uniforms, crockery, were disposed of, and space made for the painters and paperers to get to work. The staircase was put to rights, the floors relaid.