Page:Court Royal.djvu/420

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He wondered at himself, as he stood in the carpeted and furnished rooms, for having been induced to change his old mode of life. His object for many years had been to revenge himself on the Marquess. For that he had stinted himself; and when his opportunity was taken from him he had been unsettled, without an object for which to work and deny himself. Man must have some aim; when one is taken from him he finds another. When revenge was disappointed, love occupied the held. He had begun to dream of a happy life, such as he had dreamed of when he married his first wife. He had been disappointed in his first dream, now the second was dispelled.

‘I’ll send for Crudge to-morrow,’ he said. ‘I’ll see if I can’t have that confounded settlement altered. What a fool I was to have any at all, but I was infatuated. I thought, after all the marks of tenderness I showered on the girl, she must love me. What wicked ingratitude after all I have done! Her keep must have cost five-and-twenty pounds per annum, and she has been with me seven years, that is a hundred-and-seventy-five pounds—then her clothing. Why! I’ve spent on the minx two hundred pounds at the lowest computation—and now to desert me! What I have wasted on her would have brought me in ten pound per annum at five per cent.’

He fussed about his shop, now closed. He routed in the drawers, he poked about in the kitchen, in the vain hope of discovering that he had been robbed of something by Joanna, so as to be able to take out a summons against her. He could not find that anything was gone. Darkness closed in. The wind piped and sobbed under the doors and in at the keyholes, and the rain drizzled against the window-panes.

‘Ah!’ said Lazarus, shuddering, ‘a south-west wind blowing up Channel, charged with moisture. Twenty-four hours of rain. I hope Joanna and her mother are out in it, without shelter for their heads to-night.’ He listened to the drip from the window-ledges, and the pour down the fall pipe. ‘They were wet when first they came into this house, may they be as wet and shivery now they leave it!’

He groped for sticks to light his fire. He was unsuccessful. The art of making a fire is not in man, it is instinctive in woman. He either lays it or lights it wrong. Lazarus found out that he had to deal with a most intractable art. The sticks were too thick, or the paper too profuse, or the coals sluggish in kindling. A whole newspaper went in a flare