Page:Court Royal.djvu/91

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‘Master,’ said Joanna, ‘lock the door and admit no one. The fire-engines will be here before long. Come with me to the roof; we must protect that. We must carry up carpets, and spread them over the slates.’

‘Carpets!’ exclaimed Lazarus. ‘They will be burnt.’

‘The carpets rather than the whole house.’

‘Not number 247, that is a lovable old Persian, worth a lot of money, not much worn. Don’t take that.’

‘Not if we can do without. We will carry up the worst, and I will scramble on to the ridge, and spread the carpets over the roof. Then you must pass me water, and I will keep them moist. I’ll take a mop, and when sparks fall I’ll mop them out.’

‘Oh, Joanna, you are a clever girl! Run! This is better than the engines; I sha’n’t have to pay for salvage if they send a little squirt over me.’

Joanna made no answer, but fetched buckets. At the top of the house was an open lead rain-water tank.

‘You must help me with the carpets,’ said she, hastily. ‘Come, this is not the time to stand bewildered and irresolute.’

The light shone fiercely, brilliantly illumining the room where they stood, like sunlight. Everything in it was distinctly visible.

‘Not that Brussels!’ cried the Jew; ‘it is worth four shillings a yard, and there are a hundred in it, that makes twenty pounds. I cannot afford it; I will not throw away such a lot of money. Here, if it must be, take this old bedroom Kidderminster, it is full of holes. No, Joanna, keep your hands off the Axminster, it is good as new, and has a border round it.’

‘Give me the Axminster, I must have it—it is thick and will keep sopped with water longest. Help me up with it.’

Joanna went out upon the roof dragging the heavy carpets after her by means of a rope which she had looped about them, assisted by Lazarus from below, who thrust the bundles up the ladder and through the trap-door. He assisted, but tempered his assistance with protests and groans. The girl scrambled, cat-like, up the low pitched roof, and flung the carpets across the ridge, or fastened two together, and spread one on each side upon the slates.

‘Give me another,’ she shouted. ‘Time is precious; I must, I will, have both the Persian and the Brussels.’

‘The Persian is not to be parted with under fifteen guineas,’