Page:Court Royal.djvu/421

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
409
WITHOUT A WATCH-DOG

without lighting the wood, and when the wood was kindled with the application of a candle, it refused to communicate its fire to the coals.

So he sat in the cold and dark, growling and miserable. Then he heard a scratching noise about him, like the uncurling of crumbled paper. He struck a match, relit the candle which had been extinguished whilst applied to the sticks in the grate, and saw that the floor was alive with blackbeetles, which fled in all directions when the match flared.

He left the candle lighted on the table, and relapsed into his chair, and into brooding over his wrongs.

He was dissatisfied with the prospect before him. He would never be able to replace Joanna. Mrs. Thresher was a voracious eater, and would expect her meals at his house. He would have to keep Polly as well, and he was doubtful whether Polly would settle into the business after the more lively experiences of the bar. He reasoned with himself that life with Joanna would have been a daily struggle. Set a beggar on horseback and he will ride to the devil; give a savage clothes, and a wardrobe will not suffice him. Translated from the kitchen to the parlour, from being in subjection to sharing the rule, she would have indulged in extravagance, have loved idleness, neglected business for pleasure. Then he thought of Charles Cheek; and he asked whether Joanna was not really fond of him. How she had interceded for him! His picture taken hand-in-hand with her he had discovered in her bedroom. If he had Joamia as his wife, might he not expect a similar experience to that he had undergone with Rachel?

Then he felt again the sting of the blows Charles had dealt him, the shaking, the humiliation before the eyes of Joanna, and his blood rushed to his face. Charles had been in confinement since Saturday afternoon. On Monday, being a Bank holiday, no magistrate was sitting. Tuesday, at eleven, he would go and take out a proper summons against him. The police were not likely to act heartily in the matter. They knew Charles Cheek, and had received many a tip from him.

How badly the candle burned! What was that? He had lighted a wax candle from upstairs instead of a kitchen dip. That came of having strangers in the house! Mrs. Thresher could use nothing but the best for the kitchen. A curl of wax was formed at the side of the candle, folding over and over like a winding-sheet. No wonder the candle burnt