Page:Court Royal.djvu/407

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‘Though why the floors should be made pretty, when they will be covered by carpets, is more than I can see.’

On Saturday morning the Jew and Joanna, with Mrs. Thresher and her husband, appeared before the registrar the two latter as witnesses.

‘If I was to die intestate, and without a family,’ said Lazarus, ‘half of all I’m possessed of would go to the widow, and the other half to the next of kin, and it would take something to find a kinsman. But now I have made you to take all, Joanna, by my marriage settlement, which Grudge brought here yesterday for signature. Which is another proof—if proof were wanting—how fond I am of you. Joanna, when I come to consider all I’ve done for you, how I have lifted you out of the dirt, so to speak, to make you my consort, and how I have scattered the contents of the three upper rooms, and how I have made liberal provision for you should you survive me—I say that, considering all this, I think there should be no bounds to your gratitude and devotion to me.’

The upper room, intended as dining-room, was prepared for the occasion of the religious ceremonial. In the middle hung a brass lamp of seven nozzles, the Sabbatical lamp, with seven wicks, which were all burning. The howdah, raised on four poles, a richly decorated canopy of red silk embroidered with gold thread, rested against the wall; on an ormolu marble-topped side table stood a large crystal goblet filled with purple wine. The day was not quite set, but the blinds were drawn that the inquisitive people of the marine store opposite, who were well aware what was about to take place, and whose windows commanded the room, might be debarred participation in the ceremony. Directly the sun set, and the Sabbath was over, the Rabbi would arrive, together with some Plymouth Jews and Jewesses, invited to be present. For the occasion, Mrs. Thresher presided in the kitchen.

Lazarus was in high excitement. He had eaten nothing all day, as a Jew is required to fast on his wedding day. He was restless. He ran about the house to assure himself that all was in readiness. As the Saturday before a Bank holiday was one in which much business was done, he had sent Joanna into the shop. The opportunity of making something was not to be neglected. It took him some time to put himself to rights after the thrashing he had received from Charles Cheek. His shirt and his new cloth clothes, and his glossy dyed hair were all ruffled, but his temper was more ruffled than they, less