Page:Court Royal.djvu/408

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easily smoothed. It was unreasonable of Joanna to ask him to forgive Charles. Who is disposed to forgive injuries on an empty stomach? Lazarus was heated, fretted, fuming, his cunning eyes sparkling with feverish light.

A small room on the ground floor had been cleared for Joanna as a place in which she could sit instead of occupying the kitchen. Hitherto it had been filled with goods. It was rather bare of furniture, and was uncarpeted, but then, as Lazarus said, why launch out into extravagance over a room no one would be received into?

The sun had set. Joanna was seated in this room. The shutters had been put up in the shop. There was twilight at this time of the year, and the girl sat in the window looking out into the street, in the twilight. The guests were arriving; the ladies in their richest dresses—handsome young Jewesses with splendid eyes, and elderly Jewesses gross and coarse; Jews in evening suits under their overcoats, with white ties, and white kid gloves, and waistcoats festooned with chains. The cohen had come, and had been received with respect.

Joanna would not appear till the last moment. She heard the trampling of the feet in the passage, Mrs. Thresher’s voice as she divested the ladies of their wraps. She heard the feet go up the steep stairs, and then the buzz of the voices overhead.

Polly Thresher was there, the daughter of the ham shop, a young lady who was barmaid at an inn, but who had come for the occasion to help. Polly was not an old bird, she fed on chaff; she gave chaff also. She was thought to be pretty, and assumed the airs of a beauty—a forward, fast young lady, accustomed to the society of the gentlemen who hang about a bar. She and a young Jewess were to be Joanna’s bridesmaids, and lead her to the dining-room and the howdah, when all were arrived and ready for the performance of the ceremony.

Joanna sat by the window, looking wistfully into the street, without looking at anything in particular. She had her hands in her lap, folded. A hard despairing expression was on her face.

Miss Thresher put her head in. ‘Oh my! not got your veil on, miss? The gents and ladies is nigh all assembled, also the minister, with a long beard.’

‘Polly,’ said Joanna, ‘do me a favour. Ask Mr. Lazarus to come down.’