Part 11 out of 12
She found Malka brooding over the fire; on the side-table was the
clothes-brush. The great events of a crowded decade of European history
had left Malka's domestic interior untouched. The fall of dynasties,
philosophies and religions had not shaken one china dog from its place;
she had not turned a hair of her wig; the black silk bodice might have
been the same; the gold chain at her bosom was. Time had written a few
more lines on the tan-colored equine face, but his influence had been
only skin deep. Everybody grows old: few people grow. Malka was of the
It was only with difficulty that she recollected Esther, and she was
visibly impressed by the young lady's appearance.
"It's very good of you to come and see an old woman," she said in her
mixed dialect, which skipped irresponsibly from English to Yiddish and
back again. "It's more than my own _Kinder_ do. I wonder they let you
come across and see me."
"I haven't been to see them yet," Esther interrupted.
"Ah, that explains it," said Malka with satisfaction. "They'd have told
you, 'Don't go and see the old woman, she's _meshuggah_, she ought to be
in the asylum.' I bring children into the world and buy them husbands
and businesses and bed-clothes, and this is my profit. The other day my
Milly--the impudent-face! I would have boxed her ears if she hadn't been
suckling Nathaniel. Let her tell me again that ink isn't good for the
ring-worm, and my five fingers shall leave a mark on her face worse than
any of Gabriel's ring-worms. But I have washed my hands of her; she can
go her way and I'll go mine. I've taken an oath I'll have nothing to do
with her and her children--no, not if I live a thousand years. It's all
through Milly's ignorance she has had such heavy losses."
"What! Mr. Phillips's business been doing badly? I'm so sorry."
"No, no! my family never does bad business. It's my Milly's children.
She lost two. As for my Leah, God bless her, she's been more unfortunate
still; I always said that old beggar-woman had the Evil Eye! I sent her
to Liverpool with her Sam."
"I know," murmured Esther.
"But she is a good daughter. I wish I had a thousand such. She writes to
me every week and my little Ezekiel writes back; English they learn them
in that heathen school," Malka interrupted herself sarcastically, "and
it was I who had to learn him to begin a letter properly with 'I write
you these few lines hoping to find you in good health as, thank God, it
leaves me at present;' he used to begin anyhow--"
She came to a stop, having tangled the thread of her discourse and
bethought herself of offering Esther a peppermint. But Esther refused
and bethought herself of inquiring after Mr. Birnbaum.
"My Michael is quite well, thank God," said Malka, "though he is still
pig-headed in business matters! He buys so badly, you know; gives a
hundred pounds for what's not worth twenty."
"But you said business was all right?"
"Ah, that's different. Of course he sells at a good profit,--thank God.
If I wanted to provoke Providence I could keep my carriage like any of
your grand West-End ladies. But that doesn't make him a good buyer. And
the worst of it is he always thinks he has got a bargain. He won't
listen to reason, at all," said Malka, shaking her head dolefully. "He
might be a child of mine, instead of my husband. If God didn't send him
such luck and blessing, we might come to want bread, coal, and meat
tickets ourselves, instead of giving them away. Do you know I found out
that Mrs. Isaacs, across the square, only speculates her guinea in the
drawings to give away the tickets she wins to her poor relations, so
that she gets all the credit of charity and her name in the papers,
while saving the money she'd have to give to her poor relations all the
same! Nobody can say I give my tickets to my poor relations. You should
just see how much my Michael vows away at _Shool_--he's been _Parnass_
for the last twelve years straight off; all the members respect him so
much; it isn't often you see a business man with such fear of Heaven.
Wait! my Ezekiel will be _Barmitzvah_ in a few years; then you shall see
what I will do for that _Shool_. You shall see what an example of
_Yiddshkeit_ I will give to a _link_ generation. Mrs. Benjamin, of the
Ruins, purified her knives and forks for Passover by sticking them
between the boards of the floor. Would you believe she didn't make them
red hot first? I gave her a bit of my mind. She said she forgot. But not
she! She's no cat's head. She's a regular Christian, that's what she is.
I shouldn't wonder if she becomes one like that blackguard, David
Brandon; I always told my Milly he was not the sort of person to allow
across the threshold. It was Sam Levine who brought him. You see what
comes of having the son of a proselyte in the family! Some say Reb
Shemuel's daughter narrowly escaped being engaged to him. But that story
has a beard already. I suppose it's the sight of you brings up _Olov
Hashotom_ times. Well, and how _are_ you?" she concluded abruptly,
becoming suddenly conscious of imperfect courtesy.
"Oh, I'm very well, thank you," said Esther.
"Ah, that's right. You're looking very well, _imbeshreer_. Quite a grand
lady. I always knew you'd be one some day. There was your poor mother,
peace be upon him! She went and married your father, though I warned her
he was a _Schnorrer_ and only wanted her because she had a rich family;
he'd have sent you out with matches if I hadn't stopped it. I remember
saying to him, 'That little Esther has Aristotle's head--let her learn
all she can, as sure as I stand here she will grow up to be a lady; I
shall have no need to be ashamed of owning her for a cousin.' He was not
so pig-headed as your mother, and you see the result."
She surveyed the result with an affectionate smile, feeling genuinely
proud of her share in its production. "If my Ezekiel were only a few
years older," she added musingly.
"Oh, but I am not a great lady," said Esther, hastening to disclaim
false pretensions to the hand of the hero of the hoop, "I've left the
Goldsmiths and come back to live in the East End."
"What!" said Malka. "Left the West End!" Her swarthy face grew darker;
the skin about her black eyebrows was wrinkled with wrath.
"Are you _Meshuggah_?" she asked after an awful silence. "Or have you,
perhaps, saved up a tidy sum of money?"
Esther flushed and shook her head.
"There's no use coming to me. I'm not a rich woman, far from it; and I
have been blessed with _Kinder_ who are helpless without me. It's as I
always said to your father. 'Meshe,' I said, 'you're a _Schnorrer_ and
your children'll grow up _Schnorrers_.'"
Esther turned white, but the dwindling of Malka's semi-divinity had
diminished the old woman's power of annoying her.
"I want to earn my own living," she said, with a smile that was almost
contemptuous. "Do you call that being a _Schnorrer_?"
"Don't argue with me. You're just like your poor mother, peace be upon
him!" cried the irate old woman. "You God's fool! You were provided for
in life and you have no right to come upon the family."
"But isn't it _Schnorring_ to be dependent on strangers?" inquired
Esther with bitter amusement.
"Don't stand there with your impudence-face!" cried Malka, her eyes
blazing fire. "You know as well as I do that a _Schnorrer_ is a person
you give sixpences to. When a rich family takes in a motherless girl
like you and clothes her and feeds her, why it's mocking Heaven to run
away and want to earn your own living. Earn your living. Pooh! What
living can you earn, you with your gloves? You're all by yourself in the
world now; your father can't help you any more. He did enough for you
when you were little, keeping you at school when you ought to have been
out selling matches. You'll starve and come to me, that's what you'll
"I may starve, but I'll never come to you," said Esther, now really
irritated by the truth in Malka's words. What living, indeed, could she
earn! She turned her back haughtily on the old woman; not without a
recollection of a similar scene in her childhood. History was repeating
itself on a smaller scale than seemed consistent with its dignity. When
she got outside she saw Milly in conversation with a young lady at the
door of her little house, diagonally opposite. Milly had noticed the
strange visitor to her mother, for the rival camps carried on a system
of espionage from behind their respective gauze blinds, and she had come
to the door to catch a better glimpse of her when she left. Esther was
passing through Zachariah Square without any intention of recognizing
Milly. The daughter's flaccid personality was not so attractive as the
mother's; besides, a visit to her might be construed into a mean revenge
on the old woman. But, as if in response to a remark of Milly's, the
young lady turned her face to look at Esther, and then Esther saw that
it was Hannah Jacobs. She felt hot and uncomfortable, and half reluctant
to renew acquaintance with Levi's family, but with another impulse she
crossed over to the group, and went through the inevitable formulae.
Then, refusing Milly's warm-hearted invitation to have a cup of tea, she
shook hands and walked away.
"Wait a minute, Miss Ansell," said Hannah. "I'll come with you."
Milly gave her a shilling, with a facetious grimace, and she rejoined
"I'm collecting money for a poor family of _Greeners_ just landed," she
said. "They had a few roubles, but they fell among the usual sharks at
the docks, and the cabman took all the rest of their money to drive them
to the Lane. I left them all crying and rocking themselves to and fro in
the street while I ran round to collect a little to get them a lodging."
"Poor things!" said Esther.
"Ah, I can see you've been away from the Jews," said Hannah smiling. "In
the olden days you would have said _Achi-nebbich_."
"Should I?" said Esther, smiling in return and beginning to like Hannah.
She had seen very little of her in those olden days, for Hannah had been
an adult and well-to-do as long as Esther could remember; it seemed
amusing now to walk side by side with her in perfect equality and
apparently little younger. For Hannah's appearance had not aged
perceptibly, which was perhaps why Esther recognized her at once. She
had not become angular like her mother, nor coarse and stout like other
mothers. She remained slim and graceful, with a virginal charm of
expression. But the pretty face had gained in refinement; it looked
earnest, almost spiritual, telling of suffering and patience, not
unblent with peace.
Esther silently extracted half-a-crown from her purse and handed it to
"I didn't mean to ask you, indeed I didn't," said Hannah.
"Oh, I am glad you told me," said Esther tremulously.
The idea of _her_ giving charity, after the account of herself she had
just heard, seemed ironical enough. She wished the transfer of the coin
had taken place within eyeshot of Malka; then dismissed the thought as
"You'll come in and have a cup of tea with us, won't you, after we've
lodged the _Greeners_?" said Hannah. "Now don't say no. It'll brighten
up my father to see 'Reb Moshe's little girl.'"
Esther tacitly assented.
"I heard of all of you recently," she said, when they had hurried on a
little further. "I met your brother at the theatre."
Hannah's face lit up.
"How long was that ago?" she said anxiously.
"I remember exactly. It was the night before the first _Seder_ night."
"Was he well?"
"Oh, I am so glad."
She told Esther of Levi's strange failure to appear at the annual family
festival. "My father went out to look for him. Our anxiety was
intolerable. He did not return until half-past one in the morning. He
was in a terrible state. 'Well,' we asked, 'have you seen him?' 'I have
seen him,' he answered. 'He is dead.'"
Esther grew pallid. Was this the sequel to the strange episode in Mr.
Henry Goldsmith's library?
"Of course he wasn't really dead," pursued Hannah to Esther's relief.
"My father would hardly speak a word more, but we gathered he had seen
him doing something very dreadful, and that henceforth Levi would be
dead to him. Since then we dare not speak his name. Please don't refer
to him at tea. I went to his rooms on the sly a few days afterwards, but
he had left them, and since then I haven't been able to hear anything of
him. Sometimes I fancy he's gone off to the Cape."
"More likely to the provinces with a band of strolling players. He told
me he thought of throwing up the law for the boards, and I know you
cannot make a beginning in London."
"Do you think that's it?" said Hannah, looking relieved in her turn.
"I feel sure that's the explanation, if he's not in London. But what in
Heaven's name can your father have seen him doing?"
"Nothing very dreadful, depend upon it," said Hannah, a slight shade of
bitterness crossing her wistful features. "I know he's inclined to be
wild, and he should never have been allowed to get the bit between his
teeth, but I dare say it was only some ceremonial crime Levi was caught
"Certainly. That would be it," said Esther. "He confessed to me that he
was very _link_. Judging by your tone, you seem rather inclined that way
yourself," she said, smiling and a little surprised.
"Do I? I don't know," said Hannah, simply. "Sometimes I think I'm very
"Surely you know what you are?" persisted Esther. Hannah shook her head.
"Well, you know whether you believe in Judaism or not?"
"I don't know what I believe. I do everything a Jewess ought to do, I
suppose. And yet--oh, I don't know."
Esther's smile faded; she looked at her companion with fresh interest.
Hannah's face was full of brooding thought, and she had unconsciously
come to a standstill. "I wonder whether anybody understands herself,"
she said reflectively. "Do you?"
Esther flushed at the abrupt question without knowing why. "I--I don't
know," she stammered.
"No, I don't think anybody does, quite," Hannah answered. "I feel sure I
don't. And yet--yes, I do. I must be a good Jewess. I must believe my
Somehow the tears came into her eyes; her face had the look of a saint.
Esther's eyes met hers in a strange subtle glance. Then their souls were
knit. They walked on rapidly.
"Well, I do hope you'll hear from him soon," said Esther.
"It's cruel of him not to write," replied Hannah, knowing she meant
Levi; "he might easily send me a line in a disguised hand. But then, as
Miriam Hyams always says, brothers are so selfish."
"Oh, how is Miss Hyams? I used to be in her class."
"I could guess that from your still calling her Miss," said Hannah with
a gentle smile.
"Why, is she married?"
"No, no; I don't mean that. She still lives with her brother and his
wife; he married Sugarman the _Shadchan's_ daughter, you know."
"Bessie, wasn't it?"
"Yes; they are a devoted couple, and I suspect Miriam is a little
jealous; but she seems to enjoy herself anyway. I don't think there is a
piece at the theatres she can't tell you about, and she makes Daniel
take her to all the dances going."
"Is she still as pretty?" asked Esther. "I know all her girls used to
rave over her and throw her in the faces of girls with ugly teachers.
She certainly knew how to dress."
"She dresses better than ever," said Hannah evasively.
"That sounds ominous," observed Esther, laughingly.
"Oh, she's good-looking enough! Her nose seems to have turned up more;
but perhaps that's an optical illusion; she talks so sarcastically
now-a-days that I seem to see it." Hannah smiled a little. "She doesn't
think much of Jewish young men. By the way, are you engaged yet,
"What an idea!" murmured Esther, blushing beneath her spotted veil.
"Well, you're very young," said Hannah, glancing down at the smaller
figure with a sweet matronly smile.
"I shall never marry," Esther said in low tones.
"Don't be ridiculous, Esther! There's no happiness for a woman without
it. You needn't talk like Miriam Hyams--at least not yet. Oh yes, I know
what you're thinking--"
"No, I'm not," faintly protested Esther
"Yes, you are," said Hannah, smiling at the paradoxical denial. "But
who'd have _me_? Ah, here are the _Greeners_!" and her smile softened to
It was a frowzy, unsightly group that sat on the pavement, surrounded by
a semi-sympathetic crowd--the father in a long grimy coat, the mother
covered, as to her head, with a shawl, which also contained the baby.
But the elders were naively childish and the children uncannily elderly;
and something in Esther's breast seemed to stir with a strange sense of
kinship. The race instinct awoke to consciousness of itself. Dulled by
contact with cultured Jews, transformed almost to repulsion by the
spectacle of the coarsely prosperous, it leaped into life at the appeal
of squalor and misery. In the morning the Ghetto had simply chilled her;
her heart had turned to it as to a haven, and the reality was dismal.
Now that the first ugliness had worn off, she felt her heart warming.
Her eyes moistened. She thrilled from head to foot with the sense of a
mission--of a niche in the temple of human service which she had been
predestined to fill. Who could comprehend as she these stunted souls,
limited in all save suffering? Happiness was not for her; but service
remained. Penetrated by the new emotion, she seemed to herself to have
found the key to Hannah's holy calm.
With the money now in hand, the two girls sought a lodging for the poor
waifs. Esther suddenly remembered the empty back garret in No. 1 Royal
Street, and here, after due negotiations with the pickled-herring dealer
next door, the family was installed. Esther's emotions at the sight of
the old place were poignant; happily the bustle of installation, of
laying down a couple of mattresses, of borrowing Dutch Debby's
tea-things, and of getting ready a meal, allayed their intensity. That
little figure with the masculine boots showed itself but by fits and
flashes. But the strangeness of the episode formed the undercurrent of
all her thoughts; it seemed to carry to a climax the irony of her
initial gift to Hannah.
Escaping from the blessings of the _Greeners_, she accompanied her new
friend to Reb Shemuel's. She was shocked to see the change in the
venerable old man; he looked quite broken up. But he was chivalrous as
of yore: the vein of quiet humor was still there, though his voice was
charged with gentle melancholy. The Rebbitzin's nose had grown sharper
than ever; her soul seemed to have fed on vinegar. Even in the presence
of a stranger the Rebbitzin could not quite conceal her dominant
thought. It hardly needed a woman to divine how it fretted Mrs. Jacobs
that Hannah was an old maid; it needed a woman like Esther to divine
that Hannah's renunciation was voluntary, though even Esther could not
divine her history nor understand that her mother's daily nagging was
the greater because the pettier part of her martyrdom.
* * * * *
They all jumbled themselves into grotesque combinations, the things of
to-day and the things of endless yesterdays, as Esther slept in the
narrow little bed next to Dutch Debby, who squeezed herself into the
wall, pretending to revel in exuberant spaciousness. It was long before
she could get to sleep. The excitement of the day had brought on her
headache; she was depressed by restriking the courses of so many narrow
lives; the glow of her new-found mission had already faded in the
thought that she was herself a pauper, and she wished she had let the
dead past lie in its halo, not peered into the crude face of reality.
But at bottom she felt a subtle melancholy joy in understanding herself
at last, despite Hannah's scepticism; in penetrating the secret of her
pessimism, in knowing herself a Child of the Ghetto.
And yet Pesach Weingott played the fiddle merrily enough when she went
to Becky's engagement-party in her dreams, and galoped with Shosshi
Shmendrik, disregarding the terrible eyes of the bride to be: when
Hannah, wearing an aureole like a bridal veil, paired off with Meckisch,
frothing at the mouth with soap, and Mrs. Belcovitch, whirling a
medicine-bottle, went down the middle on a pair of huge stilts, one a
thick one and one a thin one, while Malka spun round like a teetotum,
throwing Ezekiel in long clothes through a hoop; what time Moses Ansell
waltzed superbly with the dazzling Addie Leon, quite cutting out Levi
and Miriam Hyams, and Raphael awkwardly twisted the Widow Finkelstein,
to the evident delight of Sugarman the _Shadchan_, who had effected the
introduction. It was wonderful how agile they all were, and how
dexterously they avoided treading on her brother Benjamin, who lay
unconcernedly in the centre of the floor, taking assiduous notes in a
little copy-book for incorporation in a great novel, while Mrs. Henry
Goldsmith stooped down to pat his brown hair patronizingly.
Esther thought it very proper of the grateful _Greeners_ to go about
offering the dancers rum from Dutch Debby's tea-kettle, and very selfish
of Sidney to stand in a corner, refusing to join in the dance and making
cynical remarks about the whole thing for the amusement of the earnest
little figure she had met on the stairs.
THE DEAD MONKEY AGAIN.
Esther woke early, little refreshed. The mattress was hard, and in her
restricted allowance of space she had to deny herself the luxury of
tossing and turning lest she should arouse Debby. To open one's eyes on
a new day is not pleasant when situations have to be faced. Esther felt
this disagreeable duty could no longer be shirked. Malka's words rang in
her ears. How, indeed, could she earn a living? Literature had failed
her; with journalism she had no point of contact save _The Flag of
Judah_, and that journal was out of the question. Teaching--the last
resort of the hopeless--alone remained. Maybe even in the Ghetto there
were parents who wanted their children to learn the piano, and who would
find Esther's mediocre digital ability good enough. She might teach as
of old in an elementary school. But she would not go back to her
own--all the human nature in her revolted at the thought of exposing
herself to the sympathy of her former colleagues. Nothing was to be
gained by lying sleepless in bed, gazing at the discolored wallpaper and
the forlorn furniture. She slipped out gently and dressed herself, the
absence of any apparatus for a bath making her heart heavier with
reminders of the realities of poverty. It was not easy to avert her
thoughts from her dainty bedroom of yesterday. But she succeeded; the
cheerlessness of the little chamber turned her thoughts backwards to the
years of girlhood, and when she had finished dressing she almost
mechanically lit the fire and put the kettle to boil. Her childish
dexterity returned, unimpaired by disuse. When Debby awoke, she awoke to
a cup of tea ready for her to drink in bed--an unprecedented luxury,
which she received with infinite consternation and pleasure.
"Why, it's like the duchesses who have lady's-maids," she said, "and
read French novels before getting up." To complete the picture, her
hand dived underneath the bed and extracted a _London Journal_, at the
risk of upsetting the tea. "But it's you who ought to be in bed, not
"I've been a sluggard too often," laughed Esther, catching the contagion
of good spirits from Debby's radiant delight. Perhaps the capacity for
simple pleasures would come back to her, too.
At breakfast they discussed the situation.
"I'm afraid the bed's too small," said Esther, when Debby kindly
suggested a continuance of hospitality.
"Perhaps I took up too much room," said the hostess.
"No, dear; you took up too little. We should have to have a wider bed
and, as it is, the bed is almost as big as the room."
"There's the back garret overhead! It's bigger, and it looks on the back
yard just as well. I wouldn't mind moving there," said Debby, "though I
wouldn't let old Guggenheim know that I value the view of the back yard,
or else he'd raise the rent."
"You forget the _Greeners_ who moved in yesterday."
"Oh, so I do!" answered Debby with a sigh.
"Strange," said Esther, musingly, "that I should have shut myself out of
my old home."
The postman's knuckles rapping at the door interrupted her reflections.
In Royal Street the poor postmen had to mount to each room separately;
fortunately, the tenants got few letters. Debby was intensely surprised
to get one.
"It isn't for me at all," she cried, at last, after a protracted
examination of the envelope; "it's for you, care of me."
"But that's stranger still." said Esther. "Nobody in the world knows my
The mystery was not lessened by the contents. There was simply a blank
sheet of paper, and when this was unfolded a half-sovereign rolled out.
The postmark was Houndsditch. After puzzling herself in vain, and
examining at length the beautiful copy-book penmanship of the address,
Esther gave up the enigma. But it reminded her that it would be
advisable to apprise her publishers of her departure from the old
address, and to ask them to keep any chance letter till she called. She
betook herself to their offices, walking. The day was bright, but
Esther walked in gloom, scarcely daring to think of her position. She
entered the office, apathetically hopeless. The junior partner welcomed
"I suppose you've come about your account," he said. "I have been
intending to send it you for some months, but we are so busy bringing
out new things before the dead summer season comes on." He consulted his
books. "Perhaps you would rather not be bothered," he said, "with a
formal statement. I have it all clearly here--the book's doing fairly
well--let me write you a cheque at once!"
She murmured assent, her cheeks blanching, her heart throbbing with
excitement and surprise.
"There you are--sixty-two pounds ten," he said. "Our profits are just
one hundred and twenty-five. If you'll endorse it, I'll send a clerk to
the bank round the corner and get it cashed for you at once."
The pen scrawled an agitated autograph that would not have been accepted
at the foot of a cheque, if Esther had had a banking account of her own.
"But I thought you said the book was a failure," she said.
"So it was," he answered cheerfully, "so it was at first. But gradually,
as its nature leaked out, the demand increased. I understand from
Mudie's that it was greatly asked for by their Jewish clients. You see,
when there's a run on a three-volume book, the profits are pretty fair.
I believed in it myself, or I should never have given you such good
terms nor printed seven hundred and fifty copies. I shouldn't be
surprised if we find ourselves able to bring it out in one-volume form
in the autumn. We shall always be happy to consider any further work of
yours; something on the same lines, I should recommend."
The recommendation did not convey any definite meaning to her at the
moment. Still in a pleasant haze, she stuffed the twelve five-pound
notes and the three gold-pieces into her purse, scribbled a receipt, and
departed. Afterwards the recommendation rang mockingly in her ears. She
felt herself sterile, written out already. As for writing again on the
same lines, she wondered what Raphael would think if he knew of the
profits she had reaped by bespattering his people. But there! Raphael
was a prig like the rest. It was no use worrying about _his_ opinions.
Affluence had come to her--that was the one important and exhilarating
fact. Besides, had not the hypocrites really enjoyed her book? A new
wave of emotion swept over her--again she felt strong enough to defy the
When she got "home," Debby said, "Hannah Jacobs called to see you."
"Oh, indeed, what did she want?"
"I don't know, but from something she said I believe I can guess who
sent the half-sovereign."
"Not Reb Shemuel?" said Esther, astonished.
"No, _your_ cousin Malka. It seems that she saw Hannah leaving Zachariah
Square with you, and so went to her house last night to get your
Esther did not know whether to laugh or be angry; she compromised by
crying. People were not so bad, after all, nor the fates so hard to her.
It was only a little April shower of tears, and soon she was smiling and
running upstairs to give the half-sovereign to the _Greeners_. It would
have been ungracious to return it to Malka, and she purchased all the
luxury of doing good, including the effusive benedictions of the whole
family, on terms usually obtainable only by professional almoners.
Then she told Debby of her luck with the publishers. Profound was
Debby's awe at the revelation that Esther was able to write stories
equal to those in the _London Journal_. After that, Debby gave up the
idea of Esther living or sleeping with her; she would as soon have
thought of offering a share of her bed to the authoresses of the tales
under it. Debby suffered scarce any pang when her one-night companion
transferred herself to Reb Shemuel's.
For it was to suggest this that Hannah had called. The idea was her
father's; it came to him when she told him of Esther's strange position.
But Esther said she was going to America forthwith, and she only
consented on condition of being allowed to pay for her keep during her
stay. The haggling was hard, but Esther won. Hannah gave up her room to
Esther, and removed her own belongings to Levi's bedroom, which except
at Festival seasons had been unused for years, though the bed was always
kept ready for him. Latterly the women had had to make the bed from time
to time, and air the room, when Reb Shemuel was at synagogue. Esther
sent her new address to her brothers and sisters, and made inquiries as
to the prospects of educated girls in the States. In reply she learned
that Rachel was engaged to be married. Her correspondents were too taken
up with this gigantic fact to pay satisfactory attention to her
inquiries. The old sense of protecting motherhood came back to Esther
when she learned the news. Rachel was only eighteen, but at once Esther
felt middle-aged. It seemed of the fitness of things that she should go
to America and resume her interrupted maternal duties. Isaac and Sarah
were still little more than children, perhaps they had not yet ceased
bickering about their birthdays. She knew her little ones would jump for
joy, and Isaac still volunteer sleeping accommodation in his new bed,
even though the necessity for it had ceased. She cried when she received
the cutting from the American Jewish paper; under other circumstances
she would have laughed. It was one of a batch headed "Personals," and
ran: "Sam Wiseberg, the handsome young drummer, of Cincinnati, has
become engaged to Rachel Ansell, the fair eighteen-year-old type-writer
and daughter of Moses Ansell, a well-known Chicago Hebrew. Life's
sweetest blessings on the pair! The marriage will take place in the
Fall." Esther dried her eyes and determined to be present at the
ceremony. It is so grateful to the hesitant soul to be presented with a
landmark. There was nothing to be gained now by arriving before the
marriage; nay, her arrival just in time for it would clench the
festivities. Meantime she attached herself to Hannah's charitable
leading-strings, alternately attracted to the Children of the Ghetto by
their misery, and repulsed by their failings. She seemed to see them now
in their true perspective, correcting the vivid impressions of childhood
by the insight born of wider knowledge of life. The accretion of pagan
superstition was greater than she had recollected. Mothers averted
fever by a murmured charm and an expectoration, children in new raiment
carried bits of coal or salt in their pockets to ward off the evil-eve.
On the other hand, there was more resourcefulness, more pride of
independence. Her knowledge of Moses Ansell had misled her into too
sweeping a generalization. And she was surprised to realize afresh how
much illogical happiness flourished amid penury, ugliness and pain.
After school-hours the muggy air vibrated with the joyous laughter of
little children, tossing their shuttlecocks, spinning their tops,
turning their skipping-ropes, dancing to barrel-organs or circling
hand-in-hand in rings to the sound of the merry traditional chants of
childhood. Esther often purchased a pennyworth of exquisite pleasure by
enriching some sad-eyed urchin. Hannah (whose own scanty surplus was
fortunately augmented by an anonymous West-End Reform Jew, who
employed her as his agent) had no prepossessions to correct, no
pendulum-oscillations to distract her, no sentimental illusions to
sustain her. She knew the Ghetto as it was; neither expected gratitude
from the poor, nor feared she might "pauperize them," knowing that the
poor Jew never exchanges his self-respect for respect for his
benefactor, but takes by way of rightful supplement to his income. She
did not drive families into trickery, like ladies of the West, by being
horrified to find them eating meat. If she presided at a stall at a
charitable sale of clothing, she was not disheartened if articles were
snatched from under her hand, nor did she refuse loans because borrowers
sometimes merely used them to evade the tallyman by getting their
jewelry at cash prices. She not only gave alms to the poor, but made
them givers, organizing their own farthings into a powerful auxiliary of
the institutions which helped them. Hannah's sweet patience soothed
Esther, who had no natural aptitude for personal philanthropy; the
primitive, ordered pieties of the Reb's household helping to give her
calm. Though she accepted the inevitable, and had laughed in melancholy
mockery at the exaggerated importance given to love by the novelists
(including her cruder self), she dreaded meeting Raphael Leon. It was
very unlikely her whereabouts would penetrate to the West; and she
rarely went outside of the Ghetto by day, or even walked within it in
the evening. In the twilight, unless prostrated by headache, she played
on Hannah's disused old-fashioned grand piano. It had one cracked note
which nearly always spoiled the melody; she would not have the note
repaired, taking a morbid pleasure in a fantastic analogy between the
instrument and herself. On Friday nights after the Sabbath-hymns she
read _The Flag of Judah_. She was not surprised to find Reb Shemuel
beginning to look askance at his favorite paper. She noted a growing
tendency in it to insist mainly on the ethical side of Judaism,
salvation by works being contrasted with the salvation by spasm of
popular Christianity. Once Kingsley's line, "Do noble things, not dream
them all day long," was put forth as "Judaism _versus_ Christianity in a
nut-shell;" and the writer added, "for so thy dreams shall become noble,
too." Sometimes she fancied phrases and lines of argument were aimed at
her. Was it the editor's way of keeping in touch with her, using his
leaders as a medium of communication--a subtly sweet secret known only
to him and her? Was it fair to his readers? Then she would remember his
joke about the paper being started merely to convert her, and she would
laugh. Sometimes he repeated what he already said to her privately, so
that she seemed to hear him talking.
Then she would shake her head, and say, "I love you for your blindness,
but I have the terrible gift of vision."
SIDNEY SETTLES DOWN.
Mrs. Henry Goldsmith's newest seaside resort had the artistic charm
which characterized everything she selected. It was a straggling, hilly,
leafy village, full of archaic relics--human as well as
architectural--sloping down to a gracefully curved bay, where the blue
waves broke in whispers, for on summer days a halcyon calm overhung this
magic spot, and the great sea stretched away, unwrinkled, ever young.
There were no neutral tones in the colors of this divine picture--the
sea was sapphire, the sky amethyst. There were dark-red houses nestling
amid foliage, and green-haired monsters of gray stone squatted about on
the yellow sand, which was strewn with quaint shells and mimic
earth-worms, cunningly wrought by the waves. Half a mile to the east a
blue river rippled into the bay. The white bathing tents which Mrs.
Goldsmith had pitched stood out picturesquely, in harmonious contrast
with the rich boscage that began to climb the hills in the background.
Mrs. Goldsmith's party lived in the Manse; it was pretty numerous, and
gradually overflowed into the bedrooms of the neighboring cottages. Mr.
Goldsmith only came down on Saturday, returning on Monday. One Friday
Mr. Percy Saville, who had been staying for the week, left suddenly for
London, and next day the beautiful hostess poured into her husband's
projecting ears a tale that made him gnash his projecting teeth, and cut
the handsome stockbroker off his visiting-list for ever. It was only an
indiscreet word that the susceptible stockbroker had spoken--under the
poetic influences of the scene. His bedroom came in handy, for Sidney
unexpectedly dropped down from Norway, _via_ London, on the very Friday.
The poetic influences of the scene soon infected the newcomer, too. On
the Saturday he was lost for hours, and came up smiling, with Addie on
his arm. On the Sunday afternoon the party went boating up the river--a
picturesque medley of flannels and parasols. Once landed, Sidney and
Addie did not return for tea, prior to re-embarking. While Mr. Montagu
Samuels was gallantly handing round the sugar, they were sitting
somewhere along the bank, half covered with leaves, like babes in the
wood. The sunset burned behind the willows--a fiery rhapsody of crimson
and orange. The gay laughter of the picnic-party just reached their
ears; otherwise, an almost solemn calm prevailed--not a bird twittered,
not a leaf stirred.
"It'll be all over London to-morrow," said Sidney in a despondent tone.
"I'm afraid so," said Addie, with a delicious laugh.
The sweet English meadows over which her humid eyes wandered were
studded with simple wild-flowers. Addie vaguely felt the angels had
planted such in Eden. Sidney could not take his eyes off his terrestrial
angel clad in appropriate white. Confessed love had given the last touch
to her intoxicating beauty. She gratified his artistic sense almost
completely. But she seemed to satisfy deeper instincts, too. As he
looked into her limpid, trustful eyes, he felt he had been a weak fool.
An irresistible yearning to tell her all his past and crave forgiveness
swept over him.
"Addie," he said, "isn't it funny I should be marrying a Jewish girl,
He wanted to work round to it like that, to tell her of his engagement
to Miss Hannibal at least, and how, on discovering with whom he was
really in love, he had got out of it simply by writing to the Wesleyan
M.P. that he was a Jew--a fact sufficient to disgust the disciple of
Dissent and the claimant champion of religious liberty. But Addie only
smiled at the question.
"You smile," he said: "I see you do think it funny."
"That's not why I am smiling."
"Then why are you smiling?" The lovely face piqued him; he kissed the
lips quickly with a bird-like peck.
"Oh--I--no, you wouldn't understand."
"That means _you_ don't understand. But there! I suppose when a girl is
in love, she's not accountable for her expression. All the same, it is
strange. You know, Addie dear, I have come to the conclusion that
Judaism exercises a strange centrifugal and centripetal effect on its
sons--sometimes it repulses them, sometimes it draws them; only it never
leaves them neutral. Now, here had I deliberately made up my mind not to
marry a Jewess."
"Oh! Why not?" said Addie, pouting.
"Merely because she would be a Jewess. It's a fact."
"And why have you broken your resolution?" she said, looking up naively
into his face, so that the scent of her hair thrilled him.
"I don't know." he said frankly, scarcely giving the answer to be
expected. "_C'est plus fort que moi_. I've struggled hard, but I'm
beaten. Isn't there something of the kind in Esther--in Miss Ansell's
book? I know I've read it somewhere--and anything that's beastly subtle
I always connect with her."
"Poor Esther!" murmured Addie.
Sidney patted her soft warm hand, and smoothed the finely-curved arm,
and did not seem disposed to let the shadow of Esther mar the moment,
though he would ever remain grateful to her for the hint which had
simultaneously opened his eyes to Addie's affection for him, and to his
own answering affection so imperceptibly grown up. The river glided on
softly, glorified by the sunset.
"It makes one believe in a dogged destiny," he grumbled, "shaping the
ends of the race, and keeping it together, despite all human volition.
To think that I should be doomed to fall in love, not only with a Jewess
but with a pious Jewess! But clever men always fall in love with
conventional women. I wonder what makes you so conventional, Addie."
Addie, still smiling, pressed his hand in silence, and gazed at him in
"Ah, well, since you are so conventional, you may as well kiss me."
Addie's blush deepened, her eyes sparkled ere she lowered them, and
subtly fascinating waves of expression passed across the lovely face.
"They'll be wondering what on earth has become of us," she said.
"It shall be nothing on earth--something in heaven," he answered. "Kiss
me, or I shall call you unconventional."
She touched his cheek hurriedly with her soft lips.
"A very crude and amateur kiss," he said critically. "However, after
all, I have an excuse for marrying you--which all clever Jews who marry
conventional Jewesses haven't got--you're a fine model. That is another
of the many advantages of my profession. I suppose you'll be a model
wife, in the ordinary sense, too. Do you know, my darling, I begin to
understand that I could not love you so much if you were not so
religious, if you were not so curiously like a Festival Prayer-Book,
with gilt edges and a beautiful binding."
"Ah, I am so glad, dear, to hear you say that," said Addie, with the
faintest suspicion of implied past disapproval.
"Yes," he said musingly. "It adds the last artistic touch to your
relation to me."
"But you will reform!" said Addie, with girlish confidence.
"Do you think so? I might commence by becoming a vegetarian--that would
prevent me eating forbidden flesh. Have I ever told you my idea that
vegetarianism is the first step in a great secret conspiracy for
gradually converting the world to Judaism? But I'm afraid I can't be
caught as easily as the Gentiles, Addie dear. You see, a Jewish sceptic
beats all others. _Corruptio optimi pessima_, probably. Perhaps you
would like me to marry in a synagogue?"
"Why, of course! Where else?"
"Heavens!" said Sidney, in comic despair. "I feared it would come to
that. I shall become a pillar of the synagogue when I am married, I
"Well, you'll have to take a seat," said Addie seriously, "because
otherwise you can't get buried."
"Gracious, what ghoulish thoughts for an embryo bride! Personally, I
have no objection to haunting the Council of the United Synagogue till
they give me a decently comfortable grave. But I see what it will be! I
shall be whitewashed by the Jewish press, eulogized by platform orators
as a shining light in Israel, the brilliant impressionist painter, and
all that. I shall pay my synagogue bill and never go. In short, I shall
be converted to Philistinism, and die in the odor of respectability. And
Judaism will continue to flourish. Oh, Addie, Addie, if I had thought of
all that, I should never have asked you to be my wife."
"I am glad you didn't think of it," laughed Addie, ingenuously.
"There! You never will take me seriously!" he grumbled. "Nobody ever
takes me seriously--I suppose because I speak the truth. The only time
you ever took me seriously in my life was a few minutes ago. So you
actually think I'm going to submit to the benedictions of a Rabbi."
"You must," said Addie.
"I'll be blest If I do," he said.
"Of course you will," said Addie, laughing merrily.
"Thanks--I'm glad you appreciate my joke. You perhaps fancy it's yours.
However, I'm in earnest. I won't be a respectable high-hatted member of
the community--not even for your sake, dear. Why, I might as well go
back to my ugly real name, Samuel Abrahams, at once."
"So you might, dear," said Addie boldly, and smiled into his eyes to
temper her audacity.
"Ah, well, I think it'll be quite enough if _you_ change your name," he
said, smiling back.
"It's just as easy for me to change it to Abrahams as to Graham," she
said with charming obstinacy.
He contemplated her for some moments in silence, with a whimsical look
on his face. Then he looked up at the sky--the brilliant color harmonies
were deepening into a more sober magnificence.
"I'll tell you what I will do. Ill join the Asmoneans. There! that's a
great concession to your absurd prejudices. But you must make a
concession to mine. You know how I hate the Jewish canvassing of
engagements. Let us keep ours entirely _entre nous_ a fortnight--so that
the gossips shall at least get their material stale, and we shall be
hardened. I wonder why you're so conventional," he said again, when she
had consented without enthusiasm. "You had the advantage of Esther--of
Miss Ansell's society."
"Call her Esther if you like; I don't mind," said Addie.
"I wonder Esther didn't convert you," he went on musingly. "But I
suppose you had Raphael on your right hand, as some prayer or other
says. And so you really don't know what's become of her?"
"Nothing beyond what I wrote to you. Mrs. Goldsmith discovered she had
written the nasty book, and sent her packing. I have never liked to
broach the subject myself to Mrs. Goldsmith, knowing how unpleasant it
must be to her. Raphael's version is that Esther went away of her own
accord; but I can't see what grounds he has for judging."
"I would rather trust Raphael's version," said Sidney, with an
adumbration of a wink in his left eyelid. "But didn't you look for her?"
"Where? If she's in London, she's swallowed up. If she's gone to another
place, it's still more difficult to find her."
"There's the Agony Column!"
"If Esther wanted us to know her address, what can prevent her sending
it?" asked Addie, with dignity.
"I'd find her soon enough, if I wanted to," murmured Sidney.
"Yes; but I'm not sure we want to. After all, she cannot be so nice as I
thought. She certainly behaved very ungratefully to Mrs. Goldsmith. You
see what becomes of wild opinions."
"Addie! Addie!" said Sidney reproachfully, "how _can_ you be so
"I'm _not_ conventional!" protested Addie, provoked at last. "I always
liked Esther very much. Even now, nothing would give me greater pleasure
than to have her for a bridesmaid. But I can't help feeling she deceived
"Stuff and nonsense!" said Sidney warmly. "An author has a right to be
anonymous. Don't you think I'd paint anonymously if I dared? Only, if I
didn't put my name to my things no one would buy them. That's another of
the advantages of my profession. Once make your name as an artist, and
you can get a colossal income by giving up art."
"It was a vulgar book!" persisted Addie, sticking to the point.
"Fiddlesticks! It was an artistic book--bungled."
"Oh, well!" said Addie, as the tears welled from her eyes, "if you're so
fond of unconventional girls, you'd better marry them."
"I would," said Sidney, "but for the absurd restriction against
Addie got up with an indignant jerk. "You think I'm a child to be played
She turned her back upon him. His face changed instantly; he stood
still a moment, admiring the magnificent pose. Then he recaptured her
"Don't be jealous already, Addie," he said. "It's a healthy sign of
affection, is a storm-cloud, but don't you think it's just a wee, tiny,
weeny bit too previous?"
A pressure of the hand accompanied each of the little adjectives. Addie
sat down again, feeling deliriously happy. She seemed to be lapped in a
great drowsy ecstasy of bliss.
The sunset was fading into sombre grays before Sidney broke the silence;
then his train of thought revealed itself.
"If you're so down on Esther, I wonder how you can put up with me! How
Addie did not hear the question.
"You think I'm a very wicked, blasphemous boy," he insisted. "Isn't that
the thought deep down in your heart of hearts?"
"I'm sure tea must be over long ago," said Addie anxiously.
"Answer me," said Sidney inexorably.
"Don't bother. Aren't they cooeying for us?"
"I do believe that was a water-rat. Look! the water is still eddying."
"I'm a very wicked, blasphemous boy. Isn't that the thought deep down in
your heart of hearts?"
"You are there, too," she breathed at last, and then Sidney forgot her
beauty for an instant, and lost himself in unaccustomed humility. It
seemed passing wonderful to him--that he should be the deity of such a
spotless shrine. Could any man deserve the trust of this celestial soul?
Suddenly the thought that he had not told her about Miss Hannibal after
all, gave him a chilling shock. But he rallied quickly. Was it really
worth while to trouble the clear depths of her spirit with his turbid
past? No; wiser to inhale the odor of the rose at her bosom, sweeter to
surrender himself to the intoxicating perfume of her personality, to the
magic of a moment that must fade like the sunset, already grown gray.
So Addie never knew.
FROM SOUL TO SOUL.
On the Friday that Percy Saville returned to town, Raphael, in a state
of mental prostration modified by tobacco, was sitting in the editorial
chair. He was engaged in his pleasing weekly occupation of discovering,
from a comparison with the great rival organ, the deficiencies of _The
Flag of Judah_ in the matter of news, his organization for the
collection of which partook of the happy-go-lucky character of little
Sampson. Fortunately, to-day there were no flagrant omissions, no
palpable shortcomings such as had once and again thrown the office of
the _Flag_ into mourning when communal pillars were found dead in the
The arrival of a visitor put an end to the invidious comparison.
"Ah, Strelitski!" cried Raphael, jumping up in glad surprise. "What an
age it is since I've seen you!" He shook the black-gloved hand of the
fashionable minister heartily; then his face grew rueful with a sudden
recollection. "I suppose you have come to scold me for not answering the
invitation to speak at the distribution of prizes to your religion
class?" he said; "but I _have_ been so busy. My conscience has kept up a
dull pricking on the subject, though, for ever so many weeks. You're
such an epitome of all the virtues that you can't understand the
sensation, and even I can't understand why one submits to this
undercurrent of reproach rather than take the simple step it exhorts one
to. But I suppose it's human nature." He puffed at his pipe in humorous
"I suppose it is," said Strelitski wearily.
"But of course I'll come. You know that, my dear fellow. When my
conscience was noisy, the _advocatus diaboli_ used to silence it by
saying, 'Oh, Strelitski'll take it for granted.' You can never catch the
_advocatus diaboli_ asleep," concluded Raphael, laughing.
"No," assented Strelitski. But he did not laugh.
"Oh!" said Raphael, his laugh ceasing suddenly and his face growing
long. "Perhaps the prize-distribution is over?"
Strelitski's expression seemed so stern that for a second it really
occurred to Raphael that he might have missed the great event. But
before the words were well out of his mouth he remembered that it was an
event that made "copy," and little Sampson would have arranged with him
as to the reporting thereof.
"No; it's Sunday week. But I didn't come to talk about my religion class
at all," he said pettishly, while a shudder traversed his form. "I came
to ask if you know anything about Miss Ansell."
Raphael's heart stood still, then began to beat furiously. The sound of
her name always affected him incomprehensibly. He began to stammer, then
took his pipe out of his mouth and said more calmly;
"How should I know anything about Miss Ansell?"
"I thought you would," said Strelitski, without much disappointment in
"Wasn't she your art-critic?"
"Who told you that?"
"Mrs. Henry Goldsmith."
"Oh!" said Raphael.
"I thought she might possibly be writing for you still, and so, as I was
passing, I thought I'd drop in and inquire. Hasn't anything been heard
of her? Where is she? Perhaps one could help her."
"I'm sorry, I really know nothing, nothing at all," said Raphael
gravely. "I wish I did. Is there any particular reason why you want to
As he spoke, a strange suspicion that was half an apprehension came into
his head. He had been looking the whole time at Strelitski's face with
his usual unobservant gaze, just seeing it was gloomy. Now, as in a
sudden flash, he saw it sallow and careworn to the last degree. The eyes
were almost feverish, the black curl on the brow was unkempt, and there
was a streak or two of gray easily visible against the intense sable.
What change had come over him? Why this new-born interest in Esther?
Raphael felt a vague unreasoning resentment rising in him, mingled with
distress at Strelitski's discomposure.
"No; I don't know that there is any _particular_ reason why I want to
know," answered his friend slowly. "She was a member of my congregation.
I always had a certain interest in her, which has naturally not been
diminished by her sudden departure from our midst, and by the knowledge
that she was the author of that sensational novel. I think it was cruel
of Mrs. Henry Goldsmith to turn her adrift; one must allow for the
effervescence of genius."
"Who told you Mrs. Henry Goldsmith turned her adrift?" asked Raphael
"Mrs. Henry Goldsmith," said Strelitski with a slight accent of wonder.
"Then it's a lie!" Raphael exclaimed, thrusting out his arms in intense
agitation. "A mean, cowardly lie! I shall never go to see that woman
again, unless it is to let her know what I think of her."
"Ah, then you do know something about Miss Ansell?" said Strelitski,
with growing surprise. Raphael in a rage was a new experience. There
were those who asserted that anger was not among his gifts.
"Nothing about her life since she left Mrs. Goldsmith; but I saw her
before, and she told me it was her intention to cut herself adrift.
Nobody knew about her authorship of the book; nobody would have known to
this day if she had not chosen to reveal it."
The minister was trembling.
"She cut herself adrift?" he repeated interrogatively. "But why?"
"I will tell you," said Raphael in low tones. "I don't think it will be
betraying her confidence to say that she found her position of
dependence extremely irksome; it seemed to cripple her soul. Now I see
what Mrs. Goldsmith is. I can understand better what life in her society
meant for a girl like that."
"And what has become of her?" asked the Russian. His face was agitated,
the lips were almost white.
"I do not know," said Raphael, almost in a whisper, his voice failing in
a sudden upwelling of tumultuous feeling. The ever-whirling wheel of
journalism--that modern realization of the labor of Sisyphus--had
carried him round without giving him even time to remember that time was
flying. Day had slipped into week and week into month, without his
moving an inch from his groove in search of the girl whose unhappiness
was yet always at the back of his thoughts. Now he was shaken with
astonished self-reproach at his having allowed her to drift perhaps
irretrievably beyond his ken.
"She is quite alone in the world, poor thing!" he said after a pause.
"She must be earning her own living, somehow. By journalism, perhaps.
But she prefers to live her own life. I am afraid it will be a hard
one." His voice trembled again. The minister's breast, too, was laboring
with emotion that checked his speech, but after a moment utterance came
to him--a strange choked utterance, almost blasphemous from those
"By God!" he gasped. "That little girl!"
He turned his back upon his friend and covered his face with his hands,
and Raphael saw his shoulders quivering. Then his own vision grew dim.
Conjecture, resentment, wonder, self-reproach, were lost in a new and
absorbing sense of the pathos of the poor girl's position.
Presently the minister turned round, showing a face that made no
pretence of calm.
"That was bravely done," he said brokenly. "To cut herself adrift! She
will not sink; strength will be given her even as she gives others
strength. If I could only see her and tell her! But she never liked me;
she always distrusted me. I was a hollow windbag in her eyes--a thing of
shams and cant--she shuddered to look at me. Was it not so? You are a
friend of hers, you know what she felt."
"I don't think it was you she disliked," said Raphael in wondering pity.
"Only your office."
"Then, by God, she was right!" cried the Russian hoarsely. "It was
this--this that made me the target of her scorn." He tore off his white
tie madly as he spoke, threw it on the ground, and trampled upon it.
"She and I were kindred in suffering; I read it in her eyes, averted as
they were at the sight of this accursed thing! You stare at me--you
think I have gone mad. Leon, you are not as other men. Can you not guess
that this damnable white tie has been choking the life and manhood out
of me? But it is over now. Take your pen, Leon, as you are my friend,
and write what I shall dictate."
Silenced by the stress of a great soul, half dazed by the strange,
unexpected revelation, Raphael seated himself, took his pen, and wrote:
"We understand that the Rev. Joseph Strelitski has resigned his position
in the Kensington Synagogue."
Not till he had written it did the full force of the paragraph overwhelm
"But you will not do this?" he said, looking up almost incredulously at
the popular minister.
"I will; the position has become impossible. Leon, do you not
understand? I am not what I was when I took it. I have lived, and life
is change. Stagnation is death. Surely you can understand, for you, too,
have changed. Cannot I read between the lines of your leaders?"
"Cannot you read in them?" said Raphael with a wan smile. "I have
modified some opinions, it is true, and developed others; but I have
"Not consciously, perhaps, but you do not speak all your thought."
"Perhaps I do not listen to it," said Raphael, half to himself. "But
you--whatever your change--you have not lost faith in primaries?"
"No; not in what I consider such."
"Then why give up your platform, your housetop, whence you may do so
much good? You are loved, venerated."
Strelitski placed his palms over his ears.
"Don't! don't!" he cried. "Don't you be the _advocatus diaboli_! Do you
think I have not told myself all these things a thousand times? Do you
think I have not tried every kind of opiate? No, no, be silent if you
can say nothing to strengthen me in my resolution: am I not weak enough
already? Promise me, give me your hand, swear to me that you will put
that paragraph in the paper. Saturday. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday,
Wednesday, Thursday--in six days I shall change a hundred times. Swear
to me, so that I may leave this room at peace, the long conflict ended.
Promise me you will insert it, though I myself should ask you to cancel
"But--" began Raphael.
Strelitski turned away impatiently and groaned.
"My God!" he cried hoarsely. "Leon, listen to me," he said, turning
round suddenly. "Do you realize what sort of a position you are asking
me to keep? Do you realize how it makes me the fief of a Rabbinate that
is an anachronism, the bondman of outworn forms, the slave of the
_Shulcan Aruch_ (a book the Rabbinate would not dare publish in
English), the professional panegyrist of the rich? Ours is a generation
of whited sepulchres." He had no difficulty about utterance now; the
words flowed in a torrent. "How can Judaism--and it alone--escape going
through the fire of modern scepticism, from which, if religion emerge at
all, it will emerge without its dross? Are not we Jews always the first
prey of new ideas, with our alert intellect, our swift receptiveness,
our keen critical sense? And if we are not hypocrites, we are
indifferent--which is almost worse. Indifference is the only infidelity
I recognize, and it is unfortunately as conservative as zeal.
Indifference and hypocrisy between them keep orthodoxy alive--while they
"Oh, I can't quite admit that," said Raphael. "I admit that scepticism
is better than stagnation, but I cannot see why orthodoxy is the
antithesis to Judaism Purified--and your own sermons are doing something
to purify it--orthodoxy--"
"Orthodoxy cannot be purified unless by juggling with words,"
interrupted Strelitski vehemently. "Orthodoxy is inextricably entangled
with ritual observance; and ceremonial religion is of the ancient world,
not the modern."
"But our ceremonialism is pregnant with sublime symbolism, and its
discipline is most salutary. Ceremony is the casket of religion."
"More often its coffin," said Strelitski drily. "Ceremonial religion is
so apt to stiffen in a _rigor mortis_. It is too dangerous an element;
it creates hypocrites and Pharisees. All cast-iron laws and dogmas do.
Not that I share the Christian sneer at Jewish legalism. Add the Statute
Book to the New Testament, and think of the network of laws hampering
the feet of the Christian. No; much of our so-called ceremonialism is
merely the primitive mix-up of everything with religion in a theocracy.
The Mosaic code has been largely embodied in civil law, and superseded
"That is just the flaw of the modern world, to keep life and religion
apart," protested Raphael; "to have one set of principles for week-days
and another for Sundays; to grind the inexorable mechanism of supply and
demand on pagan principles, and make it up out of the poor-box."
Strelitski shook his head.
"We must make broad our platform, not our phylacteries. It is because I
am with you in admiring the Rabbis that I would undo much of their work.
Theirs was a wonderful statesmanship, and they built wiser than they
knew; just as the patient labors of the superstitious zealots who
counted every letter of the Law preserved the text unimpaired for the
benefit of modern scholarship. The Rabbis constructed a casket, if you
will, which kept the jewel safe, though at the cost of concealing its
lustre. But the hour has come now to wear the jewel on our breasts
before all the world. The Rabbis worked for their time--we must work
for ours. Judaism was before the Rabbis. Scientific criticism shows its
thoughts widening with the process of the suns--even as its God, Yahweh,
broadened from a local patriotic Deity to the ineffable Name. For
Judaism was worked out from within--Abraham asked, 'Shall not the Judge
of all the earth do right?'--the thunders of Sinai were but the
righteous indignation of the developed moral consciousness. In every age
our great men have modified and developed Judaism. Why should it not be
trimmed into concordance with the culture of the time? Especially when
the alternative is death. Yes, death! We babble about petty minutiae of
ritual while Judaism is dying! We are like the crew of a sinking ship,
holy-stoning the deck instead of being at the pumps. No, I must speak
out; I cannot go on salving my conscience by unsigned letters to the
press. Away with all this anonymous apostleship!"
He moved about restlessly with animated gestures as he delivered his
harangue at tornado speed, speech bursting from him like some dynamic
energy which had been accumulating for years, and could no longer be
kept in. It was an upheaval of the whole man under the stress of pent
forces. Raphael was deeply moved. He scarcely knew how to act in this
unique crisis. Dimly he foresaw the stir and pother there would be in
the community. Conservative by instinct, apt to see the elements of good
in attacked institutions--perhaps, too, a little timid when it came to
take action in the tremendous realm of realities--he was loth to help
Strelitski to so decisive a step, though his whole heart went out to him
in brotherly sympathy.
"Do not act so hastily," he pleaded. "Things are not so black as you see
them--you are almost as bad as Miss Ansell. Don't think that I see them
rosy: I might have done that three months ago. But don't you--don't all
idealists--overlook the quieter phenomena? Is orthodoxy either so
inefficacious or so moribund as you fancy? Is there not a steady,
perhaps semi-conscious, stream of healthy life, thousands of cheerful,
well-ordered households, of people neither perfect nor cultured, but
more good than bad? You cannot expect saints and heroes to grow like
"Yes; but look what Jews set up to be--God's witnesses!" interrupted
Strelitski. "This mediocrity may pass in the rest of the world."
"And does lack of modern lights constitute ignorance?" went on Raphael,
disregarding the interruption. He began walking up and down, and
thrashing the air with his arms. Hitherto he had remained comparatively
quiet, dominated by Strelitski's superior restlessness. "I cannot help
thinking there is a profound lesson in the Bible story of the oxen who,
unguided, bore safely the Ark of the Covenant. Intellect obscures more
than it illumines."
"Oh, Leon, Leon, you'll turn Catholic, soon!" said Strelitski
"Not with a capital C," said Raphael, laughing a little. "But I am so
sick of hearing about culture, I say more than I mean. Judaism is so
human--that's why I like it. No abstract metaphysics, but a lovable way
of living the common life, sanctified by the centuries. Culture is all
very well--doesn't the Talmud say the world stands on the breath of the
school-children?--but it has become a cant. Too often it saps the moral
"You have all the old Jewish narrowness," said Strelitski.
"I'd rather have that than the new Parisian narrowness--the cant of
decadence. Look at my cousin Sidney. He talks as if the Jew only
introduced moral-headache into the world--in face of the corruptions of
paganism which are still flagrant all over Asia and Africa and
Polynesia--the idol worship, the abominations, the disregard of human
life, of truth, of justice."
"But is the civilized world any better? Think of the dishonesty of
business, the self-seeking of public life, the infamies and hypocrisies
of society, the prostitutions of soul and body! No, the Jew has yet to
play a part in history. Supplement his Hebraism by what Hellenic ideals
you will, but the Jew's ideals must ever remain the indispensable ones,"
said Strelitski, becoming exalted again. "Without righteousness a
kingdom cannot stand. The world is longing for a broad simple faith that
shall look on science as its friend and reason as its inspirer. People
are turning in their despair even to table-rappings and Mahatmas. Now,
for the first time in history, is the hour of Judaism. Only it must
enlarge itself; its platform must be all-inclusive. Judaism is but a
specialized form of Hebraism; even if Jews stick to their own special
historical and ritual ceremonies, it is only Hebraism--the pure
spiritual kernel--that they can offer the world."
"But that is quite the orthodox Jewish idea on the subject," said
"Yes, but orthodox ideas have a way of remaining ideas," retorted
Strelitski. "Where I am heterodox is in thinking the time has come to
work them out. Also in thinking that the monotheism is not the element
that needs the most accentuation. The formula of the religion of the
future will be a Jewish formula--Character, not Creed. The provincial
period of Judaism is over though even its Dark Ages are still lingering
on in England. It must become cosmic, universal. Judaism is too timid,
too apologetic, too deferential. Doubtless this is the result of
persecution, but it does not tend to diminish persecution. We may as
well try the other attitude. It is the world the Jewish preacher should
address, not a Kensington congregation. Perhaps, when the Kensington
congregation sees the world is listening, it will listen, too," he said,
with a touch of bitterness.
"But it listens to you now," said Raphael.
"A pleasing illusion which has kept me too long in my false position.
With all its love and reverence, do you think it forgets I am its
hireling? I may perhaps have a little more prestige than the bulk of my
fellows--though even that is partly due to my congregants being rich and
fashionable--but at bottom everybody knows I am taken like a house--on a
three years' agreement. And I dare not speak, I cannot, while I wear the
badge of office; it would be disloyal; my own congregation would take
alarm. The position of a minister is like that of a judicious
editor--which, by the way, you are not; he is led, rather than leads. He
has to feel his way, to let in light wherever he sees a chink, a cranny.
But let them get another man to preach to them the echo of their own
voices; there will be no lack of candidates for the salary. For my part,
I am sick of this petty jesuitry; in vain I tell myself it is spiritual
statesmanship like that of so many Christian clergymen who are silently
bringing Christianity back to Judaism."
"But it _is_ spiritual statesmanship," asserted Raphael.
"Perhaps. You are wiser, deeper, calmer than I. You are an Englishman, I
am a Russian. I am all for action, action, action! In Russia I should
have been a Nihilist, not a philosopher. I can only go by my feelings,
and I feel choking. When I first came to England, before the horror of
Russia wore off, I used to go about breathing in deep breaths of air,
exulting in the sense of freedom. Now I am stifling again. Do you not
understand? Have you never guessed it? And yet I have often said things
to you that should have opened your eyes. I must escape from the house
of bondage--must be master of myself, of my word and thought. Oh, the
world is so wide, so wide--and we are so narrow! Only gradually did the
web mesh itself about me. At first my fetters were flowery bands, for I
believed all I taught and could teach all I believed. Insensibly the
flowers changed to iron chains, because I was changing as I probed
deeper into life and thought, and saw my dreams of influencing English
Judaism fading in the harsh daylight of fact. And yet at moments the
iron links would soften to flowers again. Do you think there is no
sweetness in adulation, in prosperity--no subtle cajolery that soothes
the conscience and coaxes the soul to take its pleasure in a world of
make-believe? Spiritual statesmanship, forsooth!" He made a gesture of
resolution. "No, the Judaism of you English weighs upon my spirits. It
is so parochial. Everything turns on finance; the United Synagogue keeps
your community orthodox because it has the funds and owns the
burying-grounds. Truly a dismal allegory--a creed whose strength lies in
its cemeteries. Money is the sole avenue to distinction and to
authority; it has its coarse thumb over education, worship, society. In
my country--even in your own Ghetto--the Jews do not despise money, but
at least piety and learning are the titles to position and honor. Here
the scholar is classed with the _Schnorrer_; if an artist or an author
is admired, it is for his success. You are right; it is oxen that carry
your Ark of the Covenant--fat oxen. You admire them, Leon; you are an
Englishman, and cannot stand outside it all. But I am stifling under
this weight of moneyed mediocrity, this _regime_ of dull respectability.
I want the atmosphere of ideas and ideals."
He tore at his high clerical collar as though suffocating literally.
Raphael was too moved to defend English Judaism. Besides, he was used
to these jeremiads now--had he not often heard them from Sidney? Had he
not read them in Esther's book? Nor was it the first time he had
listened to the Russian's tirades, though he had lacked the key to the
internal conflict that embittered them.
"But how will you live?" he asked, tacitly accepting the situation. "You
will not, I suppose, go over to the Reform Synagogue?"
"That fossil, so proud of its petty reforms half a century ago that it
has stood still ever since to admire them! It is a synagogue for
snobs--who never go there."
Raphael smiled faintly. It was obvious that Strelitski on the war-path
did not pause to weigh his utterances.
"I am glad you are not going over, anyhow. Your congregation would--"
"Crucify me between two money-lenders?"
"Never mind. But how will you live?"'
"How does Miss Ansell live? I can always travel with cigars--I know the
line thoroughly." He smiled mournfully. "But probably I shall go to
America--the idea has been floating in my mind for months. There Judaism
is grander, larger, nobler. There is room for all parties. The dead
bones are not worshipped as relics. Free thought has its vent-holes--it
is not repressed into hypocrisy as among us. There is care for
literature, for national ideals. And one deals with millions, not petty
thousands. This English community, with its squabbles about rituals, its
four Chief Rabbis all in love with one another, its stupid Sephardim,
its narrow-minded Reformers, its fatuous self-importance, its invincible
ignorance, is but an ant-hill, a negligible quantity in the future of
the faith. Westward the course of Judaism as of empire takes its
way--from the Euphrates and Tigris it emigrated to Cordova and Toledo,
and the year that saw its expulsion from Spain was the year of the
Discovery of America. _Ex Oriente lux_. Perhaps it will return to you
here by way of the Occident. Russia and America are the two strongholds
of the race, and Russia is pouring her streams into America, where they
will be made free men and free thinkers. It is in America, then, that
the last great battle of Judaism will be fought out; amid the temples of
the New World it will make its last struggle to survive. It is there
that the men who have faith in its necessity must be, so that the
psychical force conserved at such a cost may not radiate uselessly away.
Though Israel has sunk low, like a tree once green and living, and has
become petrified and blackened, there is stored-up sunlight in him. Our
racial isolation is a mere superstition unless turned to great purposes.
We have done nothing _as Jews_ for centuries, though our Old Testament
has always been an arsenal of texts for the European champions of civil
and religious liberty. We have been unconsciously pioneers of modern
commerce, diffusers of folk-lore and what not. Cannot we be a conscious
force, making for nobler ends? Could we not, for instance, be the link
of federation among the nations, acting everywhere in favor of Peace?
Could we not be the centre of new sociologic movements in each country,
as a few American Jews have been the centre of the Ethical Culture
"You forget," said Raphael, "that, wherever the old Judaism has not been
overlaid by the veneer of Philistine civilization, we are already
sociological object-lessons in good fellowship, unpretentious charity,
domestic poetry, respect for learning, disrespect for respectability.
Our social system is a bequest from the ancient world by which the
modern may yet benefit. The demerits you censure in English Judaism are
all departures from the old way of living. Why should we not revive or
strengthen that, rather than waste ourselves on impracticable novelties?
And in your prognostications of the future of the Jews have you not
forgotten the all-important factor of Palestine?"
"No; I simply leave it out of count. You know how I have persuaded the
Holy Land League to co-operate with the movements for directing the
streams of the persecuted towards America. I have alleged with truth
that Palestine is impracticable for the moment. I have not said what I
have gradually come to think--that the salvation of Judaism is not in
the national idea at all. That is the dream of visionaries--and young
men," he added with a melancholy smile. "May we not dream nobler dreams
than political independence? For, after all, political independence is
only a means to an end, not an end in itself, as it might easily become,
and as it appears to other nations. To be merely one among the
nations--that is not, despite George Eliot, so satisfactory an ideal.
The restoration to Palestine, or the acquisition of a national centre,
may be a political solution, but it is not a spiritual idea. We must
abandon it--it cannot be held consistently with our professed attachment
to the countries in which our lot is cast--and we have abandoned it. We
have fought and slain one another in the Franco-German war, and in the
war of the North and the South. Your whole difficulty with your pauper
immigrants arises from your effort to keep two contradictory ideals
going at once. As Englishmen, you may have a right to shelter the exile;
but not as Jews. Certainly, if the nations cast us out, we could, draw
together and form a nation as of yore. But persecution, expulsion, is
never simultaneous; our dispersal has saved Judaism, and it may yet save
the world. For I prefer the dream that we are divinely dispersed to
bless it, wind-sown seeds to fertilize its waste places. To be a nation
without a fatherland, yet with a mother-tongue, Hebrew--there is the
spiritual originality, the miracle of history. Such has been the real
kingdom of Israel in the past--we have been 'sons of the Law' as other
men have been sons of France, of Italy, of Germany. Such may our
fatherland continue, with 'the higher life' substituted for 'the law'--a
kingdom not of space, not measured by the vulgar meteyard of an
Alexander, but a great spiritual Republic, as devoid of material form as
Israel's God, and congruous with his conception of the Divine. And the
conquest of this kingdom needs no violent movement--if Jews only
practised what they preach, it would be achieved to-morrow; for all
expressions of Judaism, even to the lowest, have common sublimities. And
this kingdom--as it has no space, so it has no limits; it must grow till
all mankind, are its subjects. The brotherhood of Israel will be the
nucleus of the brotherhood of man."
"It is magnificent," said Raphael; "but it is not Judaism. If the Jews
have the future you dream of, the future will have no Jews. America is
already decimating them with Sunday-Sabbaths and English Prayer-Books.
Your Judaism is as eviscerated as the Christianity I found in vogue when
I was at Oxford, which might be summed up: There is no God, but Jesus
Christ is His Son. George Eliot was right. Men are men, not pure spirit.
A fatherland focusses a people. Without it we are but the gypsies of
religion. All over the world, at every prayer, every Jew turns towards
Jerusalem. We must not give up the dream. The countries we live in can
never be more than 'step-fatherlands' to us. Why, if your visions were
realized, the prophecy of Genesis, already practically fulfilled, 'Thou
shalt spread abroad to the west and to the east, and to the north and to
the south; and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the
earth be blessed,' would be so remarkably consummated that we might
reasonably hope to come to our own again according to the promises."
"Well, well," said Strelitski, good-humoredly, "so long as you admit it
is not within the range of practical politics now."
"It is your own dream that is premature," retorted Raphael; "at any
rate, the cosmic part of it. You are thinking of throwing open the
citizenship of your Republic to the world. But to-day's task is to make
its citizens by blood worthier of their privilege."
"You will never do it with the old generation," said Strelitski. "My
hope is in the new. Moses led the Jews forty years through the
wilderness merely to eliminate the old. Give me young men, and I will
move the world."
"You will do nothing by attempting too much," said Raphael; "you will
only dissipate your strength. For my part, I shall be content to raise
Judaea an inch."
"Go on, then," said Strelitski. "That will give me a barley-corn. But
I've wasted too much' of your time, I fear. Good-bye. Remember your
He held out his hand. He had grown quite calm, now his decision was
"Good-bye," said Raphael, shaking it warmly. "I think I shall cable to
America, 'Behold, Joseph the dreamer cometh.'"
"Dreams are our life," replied Strelitski. "Lessing was
right--aspiration is everything."
"And yet you would rob the orthodox Jew of his dream of Jerusalem! Well,
if you must go, don't go without your tie," said Raphael, picking it up,
and feeling a stolid, practical Englishman in presence of this
enthusiast. "It is dreadfully dirty, but you must wear it a little
"Only till the New Year, which is bearing down upon us," said
Strelitski, thrusting it into his pocket. "Cost what it may, I shall no
longer countenance the ritual and ceremonial of the season of
Repentance. Good-bye again. If you should be writing to Miss Ansell, I
should like her to know how much I owe her."
"But I tell you I don't know her address," said Raphael, his uneasiness
"Surely you can write to her publishers?"
And the door closed upon the Russian dreamer, leaving the practical
Englishman dumbfounded at his never having thought of this simple
expedient. But before he could adopt it the door was thrown open again
by Pinchas, who had got out of the habit of knocking through Raphael
being too polite to reprimand him. The poet, tottered in, dropped
wearily into a chair, and buried his face in his hands, letting an
extinct cigar-stump slip through his fingers on to the literature that
carpeted the floor.
"What is the matter?" inquired Raphael in alarm.
"I am miserable--vairy miserable."
"Has anything happened?"
"Nothing. But I have been thinking vat have I come to after all these
years, all these vanderings. Nothing! Vat vill be my end? Oh. I am so
"But you are better off than you ever were in your life. You no longer
live amid the squalor of the Ghetto; you are clean and well dressed: you
yourself admit that you can afford to give charity now. That looks as if
you'd come to something--not nothing."
"Yes," said the poet, looking up eagerly, "and I am famous through the
vorld. _Metatoron's Flames_ vill shine eternally." His head drooped
again. "I have all I vant, and you are the best man in the vorld. But I
am the most miserable."
"Nonsense! cheer up," said Raphael.
"I can never cheer up any more. I vill shoot myself. I have realized the
emptiness of life. Fame, money, love--all is Dead Sea fruit."
His shoulders heaved convulsively; he was sobbing. Raphael stood by
helpless, his respect for Pinchas as a poet and for himself as a
practical Englishman returning. He pondered over the strange fate that
had thrown him among three geniuses--a male idealist, a female
pessimist, and a poet who seemed to belong to both sexes and categories.
And yet there was not one of the three to whom he seemed able to be of
real service. A letter brought in by the office-boy rudely snapped the
thread of reflection. It contained three enclosures. The first was an
epistle; the hand was the hand of Mr. Goldsmith, but the voice was the
voice of his beautiful spouse.
"DEAR MR. LEON:
"I have perceived many symptoms lately of your growing divergency
from the ideas with which _The Flag of Judah_ was started. It is
obvious that you find yourself unable to emphasize the olden
features of our faith--the questions of _kosher_ meat, etc.--as
forcibly as our readers desire. You no doubt cherish ideals which
are neither practical nor within the grasp of the masses to whom we
appeal. I fully appreciate the delicacy that makes you
reluctant--in the dearth of genius and Hebrew learning--to saddle
me with the task of finding a substitute, but I feel it is time for
me to restore your peace of mind even at the expense of my own. I
have been thinking that, with your kind occasional supervision, it
might be possible for Mr. Pinchas, of whom you have always spoken
so highly, to undertake the duties of editorship, Mr. Sampson
remaining sub-editor as before. Of course I count on you to
continue your purely scholarly articles, and to impress upon the
two gentlemen who will now have direct relations with me my wish to
remain in the background.
"P.S.--On second thoughts I beg to enclose a cheque for four
guineas, which will serve instead of a formal month's notice, and
will enable you to accept at once my wife's invitation, likewise
enclosed herewith. Your sister seconds Mrs. Goldsmith in the hope
that you will do so. Our tenancy of the Manse only lasts a few
weeks longer, for of course we return for the New Year holidays."
This was the last straw. It was not so much the dismissal that staggered
him, but to be called a genius and an idealist himself--to have his own
orthodoxy impugned--just at this moment, was a rough shock.
"Pinchas!" he said, recovering himself. Pinchas would not look up. His
face was still hidden in his hands. "Pinchas, listen! You are appointed
editor of the paper, instead of me. You are to edit the next number."
Pinchas's head shot up like a catapult. He bounded to his feet, then
bent down again to Raphael's coat-tail and kissed it passionately.
"Ah, my benefactor, my benefactor!" he cried, in a joyous frenzy. "Now
vill I give it to English Judaism. She is in my power. Oh, my
"No, no," said Raphael, disengaging himself. "I have nothing to do with
"But de paper--she is yours!" said the poet, forgetting his English in
"No, I am only the editor. I have been dismissed, and you are appointed
instead of me."
Pinchas dropped back into his chair like a lump of lead. He hung his
head again and folded his arms.
"Then they get not me for editor," he said moodily.
"Nonsense, why not?" said Raphael, flushing.
"Vat you think me?" Pinchas asked indignantly. "Do you think I have a
stone for a heart like Gideon M.P. or your English stockbrokers and
Rabbis? No, you shall go on being editor. They think you are not able
enough, not orthodox enough--they vant me--but do not fear. I shall not
"But then what will become of the next number?" remonstrated Raphael,
touched. "I must not edit it."
"Vat you care? Let her die!" cried Pinchas, in gloomy complacency. "You
have made her; vy should she survive you? It is not right another should
valk in your shoes--least of all, _I_."
"But I don't mind--I don't mind a bit," Raphael assured him. Pinchas
shook his head obstinately. "If the paper dies, Sampson will have
nothing to live upon," Raphael reminded him.
"True, vairy true," said the poet, patently beginning to yield. "That
alters things. Ve cannot let Sampson starve."
"No, you see!" said Raphael. "So you must keep it alive."
"Yes, but," said Pinchas, getting up thoughtfully, "Sampson is going off
soon on tour vith his comic opera. He vill not need the _Flag_."
"Oh, well, edit it till then."
"Be it so," said the poet resignedly. "Till Sampson's comic-opera tour."
"Till Sampson's comic-opera tour," repeated Raphael contentedly.
Raphael walked out of the office, a free man. Mountains of
responsibility seemed to roll off his shoulders. His Messianic emotions
were conscious of no laceration at the failure of this episode of his
life; they were merged in greater. What a fool he had been to waste so
much time, to make no effort to find the lonely girl! Surely, Esther
must have expected him, if only as a friend, to give some sign that he
did not share in the popular execration. Perchance she had already left
London or the country, only to be found again by protracted knightly
quest! He felt grateful to Providence for setting him free for her
salvation. He made at once for the publishers' and asked for her
address. The junior partner knew of no such person. In vain Raphael
reminded him that they had published _Mordecai Josephs_. That was by Mr.
Edward Armitage. Raphael accepted the convention, and demanded this
gentleman's address instead. That, too, was refused, but all letters
would be forwarded. Was Mr. Armitage in England? All letters would be
forwarded. Upon that the junior partner stood, inexpugnable.
Raphael went out, not uncomforted. He would write to her at once. He got
letter-paper at the nearest restaurant and wrote, "Dear Miss Ansell."
The rest was a blank. He had not the least idea how to renew the
relationship after what seemed an eternity of silence. He stared
helplessly round the mirrored walls, seeing mainly his own helpless
stare. The placard "Smoking not permitted till 8 P.M.," gave him a
sudden shock. He felt for his pipe, and ultimately found it stuck, half
full of charred bird's eye, in his breast-pocket. He had apparently not
been smoking for some hours. That completed his perturbation. He felt he
had undergone too much that day to be in a fit state to write a
judicious letter. He would go home and rest a bit, and write the
letter--very diplomatically--in the evening. When he got home, he found
to his astonishment it was Friday evening, when letter-writing is of the
devil. Habit carried him to synagogue, where he sang the Sabbath hymn,
"Come, my beloved, to meet the bride," with strange sweet tears and a
complete indifference to its sacred allegorical signification. Next
afternoon he haunted the publishers' doorstep with the brilliant idea
that Mr. Armitage sometimes crossed it. In this hope, he did _not_ write
the letter; his phrases, he felt, would be better for the inspiration of
that gentleman's presence. Meanwhile he had ample time to mature them,
to review the situation in every possible light, to figure Esther under
the most poetical images, to see his future alternately radiant and
sombre. Four long summer days of espionage only left him with a
heartache, and a specialist knowledge of the sort of persons who visit
publishers. A temptation to bribe the office-boy he resisted as
Not only had he not written that letter, but Mr. Henry Goldsmith's
edict and Mrs. Henry Goldsmith's invitation were still unacknowledged.
On Thursday morning a letter from Addie indirectly reminded him both of
his remissness to her hostess, and of the existence of _The Flag of
Judah_. He remembered it was the day of going to press; a vision of the
difficulties of the day flashed vividly upon his consciousness; he
wondered if his ex-lieutenants were finding new ones. The smell of the
machine-room was in his nostrils; it co-operated with the appeal of his
good-nature to draw him to his successor's help. Virtue proved its own
reward. Arriving at eleven o'clock, he found little Sampson in great
excitement, with the fountain of melody dried up on his lips.--
"Thank God!" he cried. "I thought you'd come when you heard the news."
"Gideon the member for Whitechapel's dead. Died suddenly, early this
"How shocking!" said Raphael, growing white.
"Yes, isn't it?" said little Sampson. "If he had died yesterday, I
shouldn't have minded it so much, while to-morrow would have given us a
clear week. He hasn't even been ill," he grumbled. "I've had to send
Pinchas to the Museum in a deuce of a hurry, to find out about his early
life. I'm awfully upset about it, and what makes it worse is a telegram
from Goldsmith, ordering a page obituary at least with black rules,
besides a leader. It's simply sickening. The proofs are awful enough as
it is--my blessed editor has been writing four columns of his
autobiography in his most original English, and he wants to leave out
all the news part to make room for 'em. In one way Gideon's death is a
boon; even Pinchas'll see his stuff must be crowded out. It's frightful
having to edit your editor. Why wasn't he made sub?"
"That would have been just as trying for you," said Raphael with a
melancholy smile. He took up a galley-proof and began to correct it. To
his surprise he came upon his own paragraph about Strelitski's
resignation: it caused him fresh emotion. This great spiritual crisis
had quite slipped his memory, so egoistic are the best of us at times.
"Please be careful that Pinchas's autobiography does not crowd that
out," he said.
Pinchas arrived late, when little Sampson was almost in despair. "It is
all right." he shouted, waving a roll of manuscript. "I have him from
the cradle--the stupid stockbroker, the Man-of-the-Earth, who sent me
back my poesie, and vould not let me teach his boy Judaism. And vhile I
had the inspiration I wrote the leader also in the Museum--it is
here--oh, vairy beautiful! Listen to the first sentence. 'The Angel of
Death has passed again over Judaea; he has flown off vith our visest and
our best, but the black shadow of his ving vill long rest upon the House
of Israel.' And the end is vordy of the beginning. He is dead: but he
lives for ever enshrined in the noble tribute to his genius in
Little Sampson seized the "copy" and darted with it to the
composing-room, where Raphael was busy giving directions. By his joyful
face Raphael saw the crisis was over. Little Sampson handed the
manuscript to the foreman, then drawing a deep breath of relief, he
began to hum a sprightly march.
"I say, you're a nice chap!" he grumbled, cutting himself short with a
staccato that was not in the music.
"What have I done?" asked Raphael.
"Done? You've got me into a nice mess. The guvnor--the new guvnor, the
old guvnor, it seems--called the other day to fix things with me and
Pinchas. He asked me if I was satisfied to go on at the same screw. I
said he might make it two pound ten. 'What, more than double?' says he.
'No, only nine shillings extra,' says I, 'and for that I'll throw in
some foreign telegrams the late editor never cared for.' And then it
came out that he only knew of a sovereign, and fancied I was trying it
"Oh, I'm so sorry," said Raphael, in deep scarlet distress.
"You must have been paying a guinea out of your own pocket!" said little
Raphael's confusion increased. "I--I--didn't want it myself," he
faltered. "You see, it was paid me just for form, and you really did the
work. Which reminds me I have a cheque of yours now," he ended boldly.
"That'll make it right for the coming month, anyhow."
He hunted out Goldsmith's final cheque, and tendered it sheepishly.
"Oh no, I can't take it now," said little Sampson. He folded his arms,
and drew his cloak around him like a toga. No August sun ever divested
little Sampson of his cloak.
"Has Goldsmith agreed to your terms, then?" inquired Raphael timidly.
"Oh no, not he. But--"
"Then I must go on paying the difference," said Raphael decisively. "I
am responsible to you that you get the salary you're used to; it's my
fault that things are changed, and I must pay the penalty," He crammed
the cheque forcibly into the pocket of the toga.
"Well, if you put it in that way," said little Sampson, "I won't say I
couldn't do with it. But only as a loan, mind."
"All right," murmured Raphael.
"And you'll take it back when my comic opera goes on tour. You won't
"Give us your hand on it," said little Sampson huskily. Raphael gave him
his hand, and little Sampson swung it up and down like a baton.
"Hang it all! and that man calls himself a Jew!" he thought. Aloud he
said: "When my comic opera goes on tour."
They returned to the editorial den, where they found Pinchas raging, a
telegram in his hand.
"Ah, the Man-of-the-Earth!" he cried. "All my beautiful peroration he
spoils." He crumpled up the telegram and threw it pettishly at little
Sampson, then greeted Raphael with effusive joy and hilarity. Little
Sampson read the telegram. It ran as follows:
"Last sentence of Gideon leader. 'It is too early yet in this moment of
grief to speculate as to his successor in the constituency. But,
difficult as it will be to replace him, we may find some solace in the
thought that it will not be impossible. The spirit of the illustrious
dead would itself rejoice to acknowledge the special qualifications of
one whose name will at once rise to every lip as that of a brother Jew
whose sincere piety and genuine public spirit mark him out as the one
worthy substitute in the representation of a district embracing so many
of our poor Jewish brethren. Is it too much to hope that he will be
induced to stand?' Goldsmith."
"That's a cut above Henry," murmured little Sampson, who knew nearly
everything, save the facts he had to supply to the public. "He wired to
the wife, and it's hers. Well, it saves him from writing his own puffs,
anyhow. I suppose Goldsmith's only the signature, not intended to be the
last word on the subject. Wants touching up, though; can't have 'spirit'
twice within four lines. How lucky for him Leon is just off the box
seat! That queer beggar would never have submitted to any dictation any
more than the boss would have dared show his hand so openly."
While the sub-editor mused thus, a remark dropped from the editor's
lips, which turned Raphael whiter than the news of the death of Gideon
"Yes, and in the middle of writing I look up and see the maiden--oh,
vairy beautiful! How she gives it to English Judaism sharp in that
book--the stupid heads,--the Men-of-the-Earth! I could kiss her for it,
only I have never been introduced. Gideon, he is there! Ho! ho!" he
sniggered, with purely intellectual appreciation of the pungency.
"What maiden? What are you talking about?" asked Raphael, his breath
"Your maiden," said Pinchas, surveying him with affectionate
roguishness. "The maiden that came to see you here. She was reading; I
walk by and see it is about America."
"At the British Museum?" gasped Raphael. A thousand hammers beat "Fool!"
upon his brain. Why had he not thought of so likely a place for a
He rushed out of the office and into a hansom. He put his pipe out in
anticipation. In seven minutes he was at the gates, just in time--heaven
be thanked!--to meet her abstractedly descending the steps. His heart
gave a great leap of joy. He studied the pensive little countenance for
an instant before it became aware of him; its sadness shot a pang of
reproach through him. Then a great light, as of wonder and joy, came
into the dark eyes, and glorified the pale, passionate face. But it was
only a flash that faded, leaving the cheeks more pallid than before, the
"Mr. Leon!" she muttered.
He raised his hat, then held out a trembling hand that closed upon hers
with a grip that hurt her.
"I'm so glad to see you again!" he said, with unconcealed enthusiasm. "I
have been meaning to write to you for days--care of your publishers. I
wonder if you will ever forgive me!"
"You had nothing to write to me," she said, striving to speak coldly.
"Oh yes, I had!" he protested.
She shook her head.
"Our journalistic relations are over--there were no others."
"Oh!" he said reproachfully, feeling his heart grow chill. "Surely we
She did not answer.
"I wanted to write and tell you how much," he began desperately, then
stammered, and ended--"how much I liked _Mordecai Josephs_."
This time the reproachful "Oh!" came from her lips. "I thought better of
you," she said. "You didn't say that in _The Flag of Judah_; writing it