Page:Court Royal.djvu/94

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you will be overwhelmed with fire. The engine must play upon this roof.’

‘I’ll have no squirting here,’ said the Jew. ‘Joanna and I can manage beautifully.’

‘She will be killed if she stays there,’ said the gentleman.

‘Not she; she’ll slip into the tank and duck, as before.’

‘The engine cannot play till she descends,’ remonstrated Mr. Cheek.

‘She sha’n’t stir. You only want an excuse to make me pay. Mark my protest. Squirt as you will, you’ll pump no money out of my pocket. Joanna and I can manage first-rate without you.’

Without wasting another word on the Jew, Mr. Cheek crept up the slope of the roof, and seated himself on the ridge, astride, opposite Joanna. The girl was wet through and through. Her dark hair was loose, flapping about her neck and shoulders, dank with moisture. The yellow glare of the burning house was on her face, the flames leaping in her dark eyes; she held the mop in one hand, and the empty pail dangled from the other. Opposite her was Mr. Cheek, in fine black cloth evening suit, patent leather boots, white tie, and diamond studs.

‘Come down, you wild cat! The roof yonder will be in with a crash directly. Come down at once, and let the engines play over this house.’

‘Who are you? Go your way, or I will knock you into the street with my mop.’

‘Come down, you fool! do you not realise the danger? You will be burned in a wave of flame in another moment. Down at once, or I give the signal, and a jet of water will knock you over as sure as if you were shot.’

Joanna looked down into the street, and realised the position. ‘I will come,’ she said quietly; ‘you are right.’

She threw her foot over the ridge, and slipped down. Mr. Cheek followed.

‘Oh dear!’ exclaimed the Jew. ‘Young gent! you’ve done for your dress suit; but I’ve some second-hand articles below you shall have cheap.’

‘Come out of the tank,’ said Mr. Cheek. ‘Come under cover at once, before the fire-shower falls. Come in, as you value your life.’

‘Mr. Charles Cheek!’ exclaimed Lazarus. ‘Bless me! I did not recognise you at first. We’ve done business together