Page:Court Royal.djvu/96

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CHAPTER XI.
WHO WAS RACHEL?

On the morrow of the fire, Lazarus ascended to the roof and wailed over the spoilt carpets. Joanna consoled him as best she could; she pointed out to him the masses of charcoal that had fallen on thorn, and which, flaming or glowing, would infallibly have split the slates had they fallen on them. ‘Then, even if the timbers did not burn, you would have had to call in the masons to mend the roof, and tradesmen, as you well know, are shameless. They would put their nails through the lead gutters to make work for the plumbers, and break additional slates to run up their own bills, and smash windows to force you to call in the glazier, and let the water in on the rafters to rot them, and necessitate the coming of the carpenter.’

‘That is true, very true, Joanna; tradesmen are scoundrels. Nevertheless, I must lament over my loss; it is terrible, it goes to my soul, it corrodes it like canker. The Persian was a real beauty, and the tapestry Brussels was a joy to contemplate. Such colours, such posies of flowers, and no defect anywhere, except an oil-stain in one spot where a lamp had been spilt, and that might have been cleaned for a few shillings. We must have the carpets down as soon as they are dry, and go over them carefully. With a darning needle and some coloured wools, and little patches put in from old carpets, I dare say you may disguise the worst blemishes. Then, my dear, when, you unroll them before purchasers take care to expose the uninjured end. There is a great deal, Joanna, in the rolling of fabrics. Always look well which end is most damaged, and begin rolling with that; then, when you show your goods you show to advantage.’

When they redescended to the storerooms, Mr. Lazarus said, ‘Dear me! a window broken! That was done last night by Mr. Charles Cheek. He meant well, no doubt, but he has done us a damage that will cost many shillings to repair. Not only are the panes broken, but the woodwork is cut away. He is a gentleman, and when he returns, as he said he would, you had better point out the damage, and make out a case to him that I hold you responsible, and that you will have to repair it from your own pocket. If you manage matters well you may