Page:Court Royal.djvu/90

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

spoiled? So they are raking out the fire, are they? Scared by the police, I suppose. It is wicked, inconsiderate waste to toss coals and sticks into the pool. The supper can wait; the apple won’t get cold, and it may ripen by delay.’

‘What is that?’ exclaimed the girl, as a flash of vivid yellow light smote in at the window. ‘They’ve surely never gone and lighted the bonfire again.’

‘They are burning what remains of the coal. Oh, the wicked waste!’

‘No!’ said Joanna, excitedly; ‘the light strikes from the wrong side of the street.’

She ran to the door, threw it open, and uttered an exclamation of dismay.

The tow and tallow store was in flames; it had burst into blaze at once; all the windows on the second floor were vividly illuminated, and from one a spout of fire issued and ran up the walls. No one lived in the storehouse; but an old woman, very deaf, occupied an attic, and she was wont to retire early to bed.

A light wind was blowing, likely to carry the flames across the street upon the house of the Jew.

Lazarus stood in the doorway behind the girl. He shared her dismay, but gave louder and more violent expression to it. He swore and stamped.

‘The fire will catch me! The fire will burn me and all my pretty, pretty things! Where are the police? Where are the fire-engines? What can I do to save myself?’

‘Master,’ said Joanna, recovering herself, ‘the shutters are up below, so that the basement is safe. There is not much danger to be apprehended till the flames issue from the roof; then it is possible they may be carried our way, or that sparks will be dropped on our roof and make the slates so hot that they will snap and the rafters ignite.’

‘Oh, Joanna! run, run with all your legs after the fire-engine!’ cried the Jew, wringing his hands. ‘If my house catches I am lost—ruined past recovery! I may as well die in it. I could not survive its destruction. I cannot bring my pretty things down; I have no place where to store them. If they are taken into the street they will be stolen. There are thousands of beautiful things here no money can replace. It would take an army of men to clear them all out in twenty-four hours; and the wicked flames allow no time. Run, Joanna, run for the engines! I’ll give a sovereign if they will save my place.’