Page:Court Royal.djvu/93

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broker’s house. Joanna saw the peril, and slipped down the opposite incline of roof into the tank. Directly the danger was over, she rose, scrambled again to her perch, drawing a pail of water after her, which she emptied over some fire-flakes that had fallen on the roof. The spectators had held their breath, believing that the flame had swept her away and cast her down, broken and burnt. When she reappeared she was greeted by a cheer, of which she took no notice, not supposing it was given to her.

‘There is a hole burnt in the Axminster,’ she called to Lazarus.

The Jew, standing in the tank, streaming with water, held up his arm and answered, ‘Oh, Joanna, don’t say so! If that occurs again I’ll whack you.’

‘I cannot help it. I will mend the hole after, if I can.’

‘Ah,’ said Lazarus, dipping a bucket, ‘mend it, mend it!’

In the meantime a consultation had taken place in the street. ‘That girl must come off the roof,’ said the Captain. ‘We must throw our water over it. We can’t send the jet till she removes; it would knock her down. Lord! she is like a monkey cutting about up there.’

Joanna had seen a spark resting on the roof beyond her reach, and had gone after it with a mop and extinguished it. The firemen knocked at the house-door, but met with no reply. They tried to force it open, but it was so firmly barred that it resisted their efforts.

‘Let be!’ shouted a gentleman in evening dress. ‘Captain James, let me run up and dislodge her.’

‘If you like, Mr. Cheek. It must be done at once.’

A ladder was applied to the Jew’s house, and the gentleman, mounted, armed with an axe, broke one of the windows, and swung himself into the house. Joanna and Lazarus, who had observed nothing that went on below, were amazed to see him emerge from the attic door upon the roof.

‘Robbers! burglars!’ screamed the Jew. ‘I’ll call the police and have you taken into custody. I’ll shoot you! What is it that you want here?’

‘Come down at once!’ shouted the gentleman in evening dress to the girl. ‘Come down from the roof immediately.’

‘She is protecting my house from fire!’ said the Jew. ‘She shall ’bide where she is.’

‘Come down!’ called Mr. Cheek, disregarding Lazarus. ‘The roof of the house opposite will give way in a minute, and