Page:Court Royal.djvu/419

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407
WITHOUT A WATCH-DOG

the girl might claim as her own. She had pleaded for nothing but the pot of lily of the valley, and that he refused.

When Lazarus had thrust Joanna forth, he returned to his room to dress. He trembled with anger, anger that had been simmering in his mind since Sunday morning, but which he had kept in control till he was strong enough to give it vent.

‘I am well rid of her,’ he said, laying aside his stick. ‘Blighted be the day that I took her in. This is the gratitude I receive for having nurtured her in my bosom, a viper that turns and stings me. What is the world coming to? Where is morality left? Here is this girl that I have cared for, and instructed, and fed, and given my society to, turns my head, puts me to frightful expense, makes me sell off a lot of capital furniture at half its value, and involves me in bills to tradesmen for painting and papering, and carpentering and plumbing, turns the whole house upside down, and in the end—flouts me in the face of my own people, makes me ridiculous. Well said the Rabbi Nathan that Manoah was a fool, because it is written in the Book of Judges, “He followed his wife.” For whoever runs after a woman takes leave of his senses.’

Lazarus wandered about his house looking at the changes that had been made in it, and groaning. The bills of the tradesmen had not come in. He would have to pay them. He climbed the stairs to Joanna’s attic-room, and found a malicious pleasure in flinging her pots of flowers out of the window on the stones of the quay or into the water, hoping that she might be near to see and bewail the destruction of her cherished possessions. He found the photograph of herself and Charles Cheek. He had not seen it before.

‘That’s the way my money went! Oh, if I could but find a case on which to prosecute her!’ He tore the picture to pieces and flung it into the street.

There was nothing else in the room that Joanna could have called her own, on which he might vent his spite. He crept downstairs again. His legs were not firm under him, the laudanum or the Ems water had weakened him, and they shook.

‘I’ll have Mrs. Thresher to look in on me every day, I will. She is a sensible woman, and took Joanna’s conduct to heart. I’ll get her to let Polly come and mind the shop. She’s a sharp girl, and if I promise to deal handsomely by her, perhaps she’ll give up the bar and take to the counter. I’ll let that scorpion know that I can do without her.’