Page:Court Royal.djvu/409

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.


The good-natured girl nodded, and ran up-stairs. A moment after the usurer entered the room.

‘Heigh, Joanna,’ he said; ‘looking beautiful in that dress; wanting in colour rather. I wish I could persuade you to use a little rouge de théâtre. There is a make-up box in that cupboard. One always reads of a “blushing bride,” and you look as though you had dusted your face over with blanc de perle. Put on diamonds. Don’t shrink. The ladies upstairs have piled on all the jewelry they could borrow, and I don’t want you to fall short. I’ve not made as much show hitherto as others, but I’ve made more money than any man in the room up-stairs.’

‘Mr. Lazarus,’ she said, ‘I have sent for you once more to entreat you not to appear against Mr. Charles Cheek. He has just turned over a new leaf, has left his father and entered an office—he is with shipping agents—and he lives on what he earns. Let him go quietly back on Monday. Do not stand in his way. I ask you this as a personal favour. I have not asked you many favours. This shall be my last. Will you grant it me?

‘No, Joanna, most certainly not. It is of no use your interceding with me for that scapegrace. It is a principle with me that no one shall touch me without suffering for it, and I am sure you would not have me go against principle.’

‘I implore you, let him go! I will ask you on my knees.’

‘No,’ answered the Jew, ‘I will not. Not now, and never.’

Then he left.

‘In five minutes we shall expect you,’ he said, in the door. ‘Miss Phillips will come down for you.’

She remained seated. Her lips moved. She plucked a little bunch of lily of the valley from her bosom, looked at it, kissed it, and replaced it. Then she folded her hands again, and remained motionless.

People passed in the street. Boys romped, women scolded. A cart went by laden with fish, then a wheelbarrow with whiting. Some sailors, half tipsy, drifted past, singing, squabbling. The lamplighter came to turn the gas and ignite it. She watched him, bending forward to observe how often he missed the tap. She put her hand to her brow; it was burning, but her hands and feet were like ice. She was in white silk, and beside her, over a chair, hung a rich lace veil.

Seven years ago, on that very day, her mother had brought her to the Golden Balls. Every circumstance came back upon