Page:Court Royal.djvu/46

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to make a way over it for his daughter to win a coronet. The Marquess is only forty, is a handsome man—that will be the checkmate they will play!’

‘The Marquess is forty, as you say, or thereabouts. He has been languidly looking out for heiresses these ten years, but heiresses don’t fly into your mouth like roast partridges in the land of Cockaigne. He must stalk them. He must make efforts to find them. However, that is no concern of mine. All I have to look to is your pecuniary interest in the Kingsbridge estates.’

‘Five thousand will nigh upon finish them up, will it?’ said the Jew. ‘They take a deal of finishing, like a painting by Meissonier. I thought the last loan would have done that. What is the property worth? Have you an idea? What are the old mortgages on the other estates?’

‘That is more than I can say. I know what is owing to you. You have the mortgage on the manor of Court Royal, the sun and centre of the whole system.’

Lazarus considered, then drew a key from his pocket, opened an iron box walled into tho side of the house, and drew from it an account-book and his cheque-book.

‘Now,’ said Mr. Crudge, ‘see the result of getting excited. You upset the ink, and now you want to use it.’

‘If you do not mind being left a moment in the dark, I will fetch some ink,’ answered the Jew. ‘I see that what lies on the table is useless; it is a flux of coalash, ink, and paste; a picture of our social system, eh, Mr. Crudge!—a mixture of messes.’

Lazarus withdrew with the candle.

Mr. Crudge sat back in his chair and crossed his legs. A very little grey light stole in through the upper part of the window.

‘Bah!’ said he to himself. ‘This sort of people object to fresh air. What with the onions, and the sour paste, and the dead rats, and the pervading Levitical savour, I am asphyxiated. No washing apparatus in the room, I perceive. I should have perceived it without a light.’ Then he heard soft steps approach. The door was thrown open and feet entered the room. In another moment a match was struck and flared. Mr. Crudge, who had turned his head, saw through the window of the sedan-chair that the girl stood in the room. Joanna came forward and held the match before his face, studying him intently. She said nothing. Mr. Crudge was too surprised to