Page:Court Royal.djvu/42

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Mr. Crudge looked about him. The room was small, lighted by day through a window, half of which was blocked up. Under the window was a table strewn with strips of paper, numbered—tickets to be affixed to pledges. Ink was in a broken liqueur-glass stuck into a cup full of shot. In an old dirty marmalade-pot was paste, and a brush. The paste was sour and watery. Against the wall on one side was a bedstead with a straw mattress on it, and a feather-bed to which hung a ticket. The bolster was labelled 145, the coverlet 374. Probably there were tickets to the blankets, but these Mr. Crudge did not see. Apparently no sheets were on the bed. Out of economy Lazarus used pledged goods; it saved the wear of what was his own. In the recesses on each side of the chimney were sedan-chairs, converted into cupboards. One was filled with bottles—laudanum, ipecacuanha, castor-oil, &c.

‘Ah!’ said Lazarus, marking the direction of his guest’s eye. ‘That was a bad bargain. Never able to dispose of this lot. Taken from a chemist. If either Joanna or I had been ill, and could have used some of them, the loss would not have been so dead. I keep ’em here, safe, as some of the lot may be poison.’

On the tops of the presses and sedan-chairs were boots, bottles, and crockery. On the chimneypiece were Chelsea figures. On a stool beside the table lay a scrap of newspaper, in which were a couple of onions and some salt.

Mr. Lazarus put the candle on the table, turned the chair about, and insisted on ensconcing the solicitor in it. Then he seated himself on the bed opposite his visitor.

Mr. Crudge was a tall, well-dressed man, of middle age, with reddish-brown hair. He wore whiskers and a moustache, but had his chin and jaw shaven below the moustache. He had grey eyes and a pair of bushy reddish eyebrows. His face expressed intelligence without imagination; it was a strong, practical, business face. His manner was that of a gentleman, easy and possessed. He took his place in the sedan-chair without a twitch of the muscles of his mouth. He was as insensible to the ludicrous as he was to poetry. Yet the situation was eminently grotesque. The sedan-chair had a roof and glass windows at the sides. It was open only in front, and Mr. Crudge was planted, as in a sentry-box, face to face with the Jew, sitting on the bed, with his legs folded like those of a Turk.

‘Now,’ said Mr. Lazarus, ‘let us proceed to business.