Page:Court Royal.djvu/47

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speak. He looked at her. She was a girl of about seventeen, tall, slightly built, with olive complexion, very dark hair, and large shrewd eyes. The match flame repeated itself in them as red stars. She had outgrown her garments, which were too tight and too short. Her arms were bare. She was in her stocking-soles. Her lips were compressed; she remained immovable till the match burnt to her fingers; then, instead of throwing the red end on the ground, she extinguished it in her mouth. She said not a word, but turned in the dark and went away as softly as she had come.

Presently Lazarus came back with the candle in one hand and a bottle of ink in the other.

‘I could not remember where I had put it,’ he said; ‘at last I found the ink in the howdah.’

‘In the what?’

‘There was an elephant brought over from India for a showman a few years back, and the howdah was brought over with it. Sixpence a ride, children half price, would soon have recouped the howdah and the beast. But it was not to be. It was to be dead loss. Such is life! The elephant died on board ship, and the howdah was sold. I bought it, but have not yet been able to dispose of it. Do you happen to want a howdah?’

‘Certainly not?’

‘You needn’t pay cash down,’ said the Jew. ‘You’d deduct the howdah from your bill. Perhaps you’ll consult your missus about it when you get home.’

The Jew put candle and ink on the table.

‘I’ve been considering,’ he said, ‘that it would be well for you to go down to Court Royal and have a look at the place and the people. Then you will be able to give me an account of how the land lies. I can’t go myself; I have my loan office, as well as the shop, and I can’t leave the girl to manage both.’

‘A queer piece of goods she seems,’ said the lawyer.

‘That she is; queer here,’ said the Jew, touching his head; ‘an idle minx with an egregious appetite. Eats everything, even the candle-ends. But enough of her; she has nothing to do with Court Royal, and never will have. What do you say to my proposal?’

‘I can’t travel and spend valuable time without proper remuneration.’

‘You shall be paid,’ answered the Jew. ‘I will not grudge a small sum in this instance. I shall be easier in my mind