Part 9 out of 12
"I would not put it in, even if there was room. Go away," said Raphael,
The unaccustomed accents gave Pinchas a salutary shock. He borrowed two
shillings and left, and Raphael was afraid to look up lest he should see
his head wedged in the doorway. Soon after Gluck and his one compositor
carried out the forms to be machined. Little Sampson, arriving with a
gay air on his lips, met them at the door.
On the Friday, Raphael sat in the editorial chair, utterly dispirited, a
battered wreck. The Committee had just left him. A heresy had crept into
a bit of late news not inspected by them, and they declared that the
paper was not worth twopence and had better be stopped. The demand for
this second number was, moreover, rather poor, and each man felt his ten
pound share melting away, and resolved not to pay up the half yet
unpaid. It was Raphael's first real experience of men--after the
enchanted towers of Oxford, where he had foregathered with dreamers.
His pipe hung listless in his mouth; an extinct volcano. His first fit
of distrust in human nature, nay, even in the purifying powers of
orthodoxy, was racking him. Strangely enough this wave of scepticism
tossed up the thought of Esther Ansell, and stranger still on the top of
this thought, in walked Mr. Henry Goldsmith. Raphael jumped up and
welcomed his late host, whose leathery countenance shone with the polish
of a sweet smile. It appeared that the communal pillar had been passing
casually, and thought he'd look Raphael up.
"So you don't pull well together," he said, when he had elicited an
outline of the situation from the editor.
"No, not altogether," admitted Raphael.
"Do you think the paper'll live?"
"I can't say," said Raphael, dropping limply into his chair. "Even if it
does. I don't know whether it will do much good if run on their lines,
for although it is of great importance that we get _kosher_ food and
baths. I hardly think they go about it in the right spirit. I may be
wrong. They are older men than I and have seen more of actual life, and
know the class we appeal to better."
"No, no, you are not wrong," said Mr. Goldsmith vehemently. "I am
myself dissatisfied with some of the Committee's contributions to this
second number. It is a great opportunity to save English Judaism, but it
is being frittered away."
"I am afraid it is," said Raphael, removing his empty pipe from his
mouth, and staring at it blankly.
Mr. Goldsmith brought his fist down sharp on the soft litter that
covered the editorial table.
"It shall not be frittered away!" he cried. "No, not if I have to buy
Raphael looked up eagerly.
"What do you say?" said Goldsmith. "Shall I buy it up and let you work
it on your lines?"
"I shall be very glad," said Raphael, the Messianic look returning to
"How much will they want for it?"
"Oh, I think they'll be glad to let you take it over. They say it's not
worth twopence, and I'm sure they haven't got the funds to carry it on,"
replied Raphael, rising. "I'll go down about it at once. The Committee
have just been here, and I dare say they are still in Schlesinger's
"No, no," said Goldsmith, pushing him down into his seat. "It will never
do if people know I'm the proprietor."
"Oh, lots of reasons. I'm not a man to brag; if I want to do a good
thing for Judaism, there's no reason for all the world to know it. Then
again, from my position on all sorts of committees I shall be able to
influence the communal advertisements in a way I couldn't if people knew
I had any connection with the paper. So, too, I shall be able to
recommend it to my wealthy friends (as no doubt it will deserve to be
recommended) without my praise being discounted."
"Well, but then what am I to say to the Committee?"
"Can't you say you want to buy it for yourself? They know you can afford
Raphael hesitated. "But why shouldn't I buy it for myself?"
"Pooh! Haven't you got better use for your money?"
It was true. Raphael had designs more tangibly philanthropic for the
five thousand pounds left him by his aunt. And he was business-like
enough to see that Mr. Goldsmith's money might as well be utilized for
the good of Judaism. He was not quite easy about the little fiction that
would he necessary for the transaction, but the combined assurances of
Mr. Goldsmith and his own common sense that there was no real deception
or harm involved in it, ultimately prevailed. Mr. Goldsmith left,
promising to call again in an hour, and Raphael, full of new hopes,
burst upon the Committee.
But his first experience of bargaining was no happier than the rest of
his worldly experience. When he professed his willingness to relieve
them of the burden of carrying on the paper they first stared, then
laughed, then shook their fists. As if they would leave him to corrupt
the Faith! When they understood he was willing to pay something, the
value of _The Flag of Judah_ went up from less than twopence to more
than two hundred pounds. Everybody was talking about it, its reputation
was made, they were going to print double next week.
"But it has not cost you forty pounds yet?" said the astonished Raphael.
"What are you saying? Look at the posters alone!" said Sugarman.
"But you don't look at it fairly," argued De Haan, whose Talmudical
studies had sharpened wits already super-subtle. "Whatever it has cost
us, it would have cost as much more if we had had to pay our editor, and
it is very unfair of you to leave that out of account."
Raphael was overwhelmed. "It's taking away with the left hand what you
gave us with the right," added De Haan, with infinite sadness. "I had
thought better of you, Mr. Leon."
"But you got a good many twopences back," murmured Raphael.
"It's the future profits that we're losing," explained Schlesinger.
In the end Raphael agreed to give a hundred pounds, which made the
members inwardly determine to pay up the residue on their shares at
once. De Haan also extorted a condition that the _Flag_ should continue
to be the organ of the Kosher Co-operative Society, for at least six
months, doubtless perceiving that should the paper live and thrive over
that period, it would not then pay the proprietor to alter its
principles. By which bargain the Society secured for itself a sum of
money together with an organ, gratis, for six months and, to all
seeming, in perpetuity, for at bottom they knew well that Raphael's
heart was sound. They were all on the free list, too, and they knew he
would not trouble to remove them.
Mr. Henry Goldsmith, returning, was rather annoyed at the price, but did
not care to repudiate his agent.
"Be economical," he said. "I will get you a better office and find a
proper publisher and canvasser. But cut it as close as you can."
Raphael's face beamed with joy. "Oh, depend upon me," he said.
"What is your own salary?" asked Goldsmith.
"Nothing," said Raphael.
A flash passed across Goldsmith's face, then he considered a moment.
"I wish you would let it be a guinea," he said. "Quite nominal, you
know. Only I like to have things in proper form. And if you ever want to
go, you know, you'll give me a month's notice and," here he laughed
genially, "I'll do ditto when I want to get rid of you. Ha! Ha! Ha! Is
that a bargain?"
Raphael smiled in reply and the two men's hands met in a hearty clasp.
"Miss Ansell will help you, I know," said Goldsmith cheerily. "That
girl's got it in her, I can tell you. She'll take the shine out of some
of our West Enders. Do you know I picked her out of the gutter, so to
"Yes, I know," said Raphael. "It was very good and discriminating of
you. How is she?"
"She's all right. Come up and see her about doing something for you. She
goes to the Museum sometimes in the afternoons, but you'll always find
her in on Sundays, or most Sundays. Come up and dine with us again
soon, will you? Mrs. Goldsmith will be so pleased."
"I will," said Raphael fervently. And when the door closed upon the
communal pillar, he fell to striding feverishly about his little den.
His trust in human nature was restored and the receding wave of
scepticism bore off again the image of Esther Ansell. Now to work for
The sub-editor made his first appearance that day, carolling joyously.
"Sampson," said Raphael abruptly, "your salary is raised by a guinea a
The joyous song died away on little Sampson's lips. His eyeglass
dropped. He let himself fall backwards, impinging noiselessly upon a
heap of "returns" of number one.
A WOMAN'S GROWTH.
The sloppy Sunday afternoon, which was the first opportunity Raphael had
of profiting by Mr. Henry Goldsmith's general invitation to call and see
Esther, happened to be that selected by the worthy couple for a round of
formal visits. Esther was left at home with a headache, little expecting
pleasanter company. She hesitated about receiving Raphael, but on
hearing that he had come to see her rather than her patrons, she
smoothed her hair, put on a prettier frock, and went down into the
drawing-room, where she found him striding restlessly in bespattered
boots and moist overcoat. When he became aware of her presence, he went
towards her eagerly, and shook her hand with jerky awkwardness.
"How are you?" he said heartily.
"Very well, thank you," she replied automatically. Then a twinge, as of
reproach at the falsehood, darted across her brow, and she added, "A
trifle of the usual headache. I hope you are well."
"Quite, thank you," he rejoined.
His face rather contradicted him. It looked thin, pale, and weary.
Journalism writes lines on the healthiest countenance. Esther looked at
him disapprovingly; she had the woman's artistic instinct if not the
artist's, and Raphael, with his damp overcoat, everlastingly crumpled at
the collar, was not an aesthetic object. Whether in her pretty moods or
her plain, Esther was always neat and dainty. There was a bit of ruffled
lace at her throat, and the heliotrope of her gown contrasted agreeably
with the dark skin of the vivid face.
"Do take off your overcoat and dry yourself at the fire," she said.
While he was disposing of it, she poked the fire into a big cheerful
blaze, seating herself opposite him in a capacious arm-chair, where the
flame picked her out in bright tints upon the dusky background of the
great dim room.
"And how is _The Flag of Judah_?" she said.
"Still waving," he replied. "It is about that that I have come."
"About that?" she said wonderingly. "Oh, I see; you want to know if the
one person it is written at has read it. Well, make your mind easy. I
have. I have read it religiously--No, I don't mean that; yes, I do; it's
the appropriate word."
"Really?" He tried to penetrate behind the bantering tone.
"Yes, really. You put your side of the case eloquently and well. I look
forward to Friday with interest. I hope the paper is selling?"
"So, so," he said. "It is uphill work. The Jewish public looks on
journalism as a branch of philanthropy, I fear, and Sidney suggests
publishing our free-list as a 'Jewish Directory.'"
She smiled. "Mr. Graham is very amusing. Only, he is too well aware of
it. He has been here once since that dinner, and we discussed you. He
says he can't understand how you came to be a cousin of his, even a
second cousin. He says he is _L'Homme qui rit_, and you are _L'Homme qui
"He has let that off on me already, supplemented by the explanation that
every extensive Jewish family embraces a genius and a lunatic. He
admits that he is the genius. The unfortunate part for me," ended
Raphael, laughing, "is, that he _is_ a genius."
"I saw two of his little things the other day at the Impressionist
Exhibition in Piccadilly. They are very clever and dashing."
"I am told he draws ballet-girls," said Raphael, moodily.
"Yes, he is a disciple of Degas."
"You don't like that style of art?" he said, a shade of concern in his
"I do not," said Esther, emphatically. "I am a curious mixture. In art,
I have discovered in myself two conflicting tastes, and neither is for
the modern realism, which I yet admire in literature. I like poetic
pictures, impregnated with vague romantic melancholy; and I like the
white lucidity of classic statuary. I suppose the one taste is the
offspring of temperament, the other of thought; for intellectually, I
admire the Greek ideas, and was glad to hear you correct Sidney's
perversion of the adjective. I wonder," she added, reflectively, "if one
can worship the gods of the Greeks without believing in them."
"But you wouldn't make a cult of beauty?"
"Not if you take beauty in the narrow sense in which I should fancy your
cousin uses the word; but, in a higher and broader sense, is it not the
one fine thing in life which is a certainty, the one ideal which is not
"Nothing is illusion," said Raphael, earnestly. "At least, not in your
sense. Why should the Creator deceive us?"
"Oh well, don't let us get into metaphysics. We argue from different
platforms," she said. "Tell me what you really came about in connection
with the _Flag_."
"Mr. Goldsmith was kind enough to suggest that you might write for it."
"What!" exclaimed Esther, sitting upright in her arm-chair. "I? I write
for an orthodox paper?"
"Yes, why not?"
"Do you mean I'm to take part in my own conversion?"
"The paper is not entirely religious," he reminded her.
"No, there are the advertisements." she said slily.
"Pardon me," he said. "We don't insert any advertisements contrary to
the principles of orthodoxy. Not that we are much tempted."
"You advertise soap," she murmured.
"Oh, please! Don't you go in for those cheap sarcasms."
"Forgive me," she said. "Remember my conceptions of orthodoxy are drawn
mainly from the Ghetto, where cleanliness, so far from being next to
godliness, is nowhere in the vicinity. But what can I do for you?"
"I don't know. At present the staff, the _Flag_-staff as Sidney calls
it, consists of myself and a sub-editor, who take it in turn to
translate the only regular outside contributor's articles into English."
"Melchitsedek Pinchas, the poet I told you of."
"I suppose he writes in Hebrew."
"No, if he did the translation would be plain sailing enough. The
trouble is that he will write in English. I must admit, though, he
improves daily. Our correspondents, too, have the same weakness for the
vernacular, and I grieve to add that when they do introduce a Hebrew
word, they do not invariably spell it correctly."
She smiled; her smile was never so fascinating as by firelight.
Raphael rose and paced the room nervously, flinging out his arms in
uncouth fashion to emphasize his speech.
"I was thinking you might introduce a secular department of some sort
which would brighten up the paper. My articles are so plaguy dull."
"Not so dull, for religious articles," she assured him.
"Could you treat Jewish matters from a social standpoint--gossipy sort
She shook her head. "I'm afraid to trust myself to write on Jewish
subjects. I should be sure to tread on somebody's corns."
"Oh, I have it!" he cried, bringing his arms in contact with a small
Venetian vase which Esther, with great presence of mind, just managed to
catch ere it reached the ground.
"No, I have it," she said, laughing. "Do sit down, else nobody can
answer for the consequences."
She half pushed him into his chair, where he fell to warming his hands
"Well?" she said after a pause. "I thought you had an idea."
"Yes, yes," he said, rousing himself. "The subject we were just
"But there is nothing Jewish about art."
"All noble work has its religious aspects. Then there are Jewish
"Oh yes! your contemporaries do notice their exhibits, and there seem to
be more of them than the world ever hears of. But if I went to a
gathering for you how should I know which were Jews?"
"By their names, of course."
"By no means of course. Some artistic Jews have forgotten their own
"That's a dig at Sidney."
"Really, I wasn't thinking of him for the moment," she said a little
sharply. "However, in any case there's nothing worth doing till May, and
that's some months ahead. I'll do the Academy for you if you like."
"Thank you. Won't Sidney stare if you pulverize him in _The Flag of
Judah_? Some of the pictures have also Jewish subjects, you know."
"Yes, but if I mistake not, they're invariably done by Christian
"Nearly always," he admitted pensively. "I wish we had a Jewish
allegorical painter to express the high conceptions of our sages."
"As he would probably not know what they are,"--she murmured. Then,
seeing him rise as if to go, she said: "Won't you have a cup of tea?"
"No, don't trouble," he answered.
"Oh yes, do!" she pleaded. "Or else I shall think you're angry with me
for not asking you before." And she rang the bell. She discovered, to
her amusement, that Raphael took two pieces of sugar per cup, but that
if they were not inserted, he did not notice their absence. Over tea,
too, Raphael had a new idea, this time fraught with peril to the Sevres
"Why couldn't you write us a Jewish serial story?" he said suddenly.
"That would be a novelty in communal journalism."
Esther looked startled by the proposition.
"How do you know I could?" she said after a silence.
"I don't know," he replied. "Only I fancy you could. Why not?" he said
encouragingly. "You don't know what you can do till you try. Besides you
"The Jewish public doesn't like the looking-glass," she answered him,
shaking her head.
"Oh, you can't say that. They've only objected as yet to the distorting
mirror. You're thinking of the row over that man Armitage's book. Now,
why not write an antidote to that book? There now, there's an idea for
"It _is_ an idea!" said Esther with overt sarcasm. "You think art can be
degraded into an antidote."
"Art is not a fetish," he urged. "What degradation is there in art
teaching a noble lesson?"
"Ah, that is what you religious people will never understand," she said
scathingly. "You want everything to preach."
"Everything does preach something," he retorted. "Why not have the
"I consider the original sermon _was_ good," she said defiantly. "It
doesn't need an antidote."
"How can you say that? Surely, merely as one who was born a Jewess, you
wouldn't care for the sombre picture drawn by this Armitage to stand as
a portrait of your people."
She shrugged her shoulders--the ungraceful shrug of the Ghetto. "Why
not? It is one-sided, but it is true."
"I don't deny that; probably the man was sincerely indignant at certain
aspects. I am ready to allow he did not even see he was one-sided. But
if _you_ see it, why not show the world the other side of the shield?"
She put her hand wearily to her brow.
"Do not ask me," she said. "To have my work appreciated merely because
the moral tickled the reader's vanity would be a mockery. The suffrages
of the Jewish public--I might have valued them once; now I despise
them." She sank further back on the chair, pale and silent.
"Why, what harm have they done you?" he asked.
"They are so stupid," she said, with a gesture of distaste.
"That is a new charge against the Jews."
"Look at the way they have denounced this Armitage, saying his book is
vulgar and wretched and written for gain, and all because it does not
"Can you wonder at it? To say 'you're another' may not be criticism, but
it is human nature."
Esther smiled sadly. "I cannot make you out at all," she said.
"Why? What is there strange about me?"
"You say such shrewd, humorous things sometimes; I wonder how you can
"Now I can't understand _you_," he said, puzzled.
"Oh well. Perhaps if you could, you wouldn't be orthodox. Let us remain
mutual enigmas. And will you do me a favor?"
"With pleasure," he said, his face lighting up.
"Don't mention Mr. Armitage's book to me again. I am sick of hearing
"So am I," he said, rather disappointed. "After that dinner I thought it
only fair to read it, and although I detect considerable crude power in
it, still I am very sorry it was ever published. The presentation of
Judaism is most ignorant. All the mystical yearnings of the heroine
might have found as much satisfaction in the faith of her own race as
they find expression in its poetry."
He rose to go. "Well, I am to take it for granted you will not write
"I'm afraid it would be impossible for me to undertake it," she said
more mildly than before, and pressed her hand again to her brow.
"Pardon me," he said in much concern. "I am too selfish. I forgot you
are not well. How is your head feeling now?"
"About the same, thank you," she said, forcing a grateful smile. "You
may rely on me for art; yes, and music, too, if you like."
"Thank you," he said. "You read a great deal, don't you?"
She nodded her head. "Well, every week books are published of more or
less direct Jewish interest. I should be glad of notes about such to
brighten up the paper."
"For anything strictly unorthodox you may count on me. If that antidote
turns up, I shall not fail to cackle over it in your columns. By the by,
are you going to review the poison? Excuse so many mixed metaphors," she
added, with a rather forced laugh.
"No, I shan't say anything about it. Why give it an extra advertisement
by slating it?"
"Slating," she repeated with a faint smile. "I see you have mastered all
the slang of your profession."
"Ah, that's the influence of my sub-editor," he said, smiling in return.
"You're forgetting your overcoat," she said, and having smoothed out
that crumpled collar, she accompanied him down the wide soft-carpeted
staircase into the hall with its rich bronzes and glistening statues.
"How are your people in America?" he bethought himself to ask on the way
"They are very well, thank you," she said. "I send my brother Solomon
_The Flag of Judah_. He is also, I am afraid, one of the unregenerate.
You see I am doing my best to enlarge your congregation."
He could not tell whether it was sarcasm or earnest.
"Well, good-bye," he said, holding out his hand. "Thank you for your
"Oh, that's not worth thanking me for," she said, touching his long
white fingers for an instant. "Look at the glory of seeing myself in
print. I hope you're not annoyed with me for refusing to contribute
fiction," she ended, growing suddenly remorseful at the moment of
"Of course not. How could I be?"
"Couldn't your sister Adelaide do you a story?"
"Addle?" he repeated laughing, "Fancy Addie writing stories! Addie has
no literary ability."
"That's always the way with brothers. Solomon says--" She paused
"I don't remember for the moment that Solomon has any proverb on the
subject," he said, still amused at the idea of Addie as an authoress.
"I was thinking of something else. Good-bye. Remember me to your sister,
"Certainly," he said. Then he exclaimed, "Oh, what a block-head I am! I
forgot to remember her to you. She says she would be so pleased if you
would come and have tea and a chat with her some day. I should like you
and Addie to know each other."
"Thanks, I will. I will write to her some day. Good-bye, once more."
He shook hands with her and fumbled at the door.
"Allow me!" she said, and opened it upon the gray dulness of the
dripping street. "When may I hope for the honor of another visit from a
real live editor?"
"I don't know," he said, smiling. "I'm awfully busy, I have to read a
paper on Ibn Ezra at Jews' College to-day fortnight."
"Outsiders admitted?" she asked.
"The lectures _are_ for outsiders," he said. "To spread the knowledge of
our literature. Only they won't come. Have you never been to one?"
She shook her head.
"There!" he said. "You complain of our want of culture, and you don't
even know what's going on."
She tried to take the reproof with a smile, but the corners of her mouth
quivered. He raised his hat and went down the steps.
She followed him a little way along the Terrace, with eyes growing dim
with tears she could not account for. She went back to the drawing-room
and threw herself into the arm-chair where he had sat, and made her
headache worse by thinking of all her unhappiness. The great room was
filling with dusk, and in the twilight pictures gathered and dissolved.
What girlish dreams and revolts had gone to make that unfortunate book,
which after endless boomerang-like returns from the publishers, had
appeared, only to be denounced by Jewry, ignored by its journals and
scantily noticed by outside criticisms. _Mordecai Josephs_ had fallen
almost still-born from the press; the sweet secret she had hoped to tell
her patroness had turned bitter like that other secret of her dead love
for Sidney, in the reaction from which she had written most of her book.
How fortunate at least that her love had flickered out, had proved but
the ephemeral sentiment of a romantic girl for the first brilliant man
she had met. Sidney had fascinated her by his verbal audacities in a
world of narrow conventions; he had for the moment laughed away
spiritual aspirations and yearnings with a raillery that was almost like
ozone to a young woman avid of martyrdom for the happiness of the world.
How, indeed, could she have expected the handsome young artist to feel
the magic that hovered about her talks with him, to know the thrill that
lay in the formal hand-clasp, to be aware that he interpreted for her
poems and pictures, and incarnated the undefined ideal of girlish
day-dreams? How could he ever have had other than an intellectual
thought of her; how could any man, even the religious Raphael? Sickly,
ugly little thing that she was! She got up and looked in the glass now
to see herself thus, but the shadows had gathered too thickly. She
snatched up a newspaper that lay on a couch, lit it, and held it before
the glass; it flared up threateningly and she beat it out, laughing
hysterically and asking herself if she was mad. But she had seen the
ugly little face; its expression frightened her. Yes, love was not for
her; she could only love a man of brilliancy and culture, and she was
nothing but a Petticoat Lane girl, after all. Its coarseness, its
vulgarity underlay all her veneer. They had got into her book; everybody
said so. Raphael said so. How dared she write disdainfully of Raphael's
people? She an upstart, an outsider? She went to the library, lit the
gas, got down a volume of Graetz's history of the Jews, which she had
latterly taken to reading, and turned over its wonderful pages. Then she
wandered restlessly back to the great dim drawing-room and played
amateurish fantasias on the melancholy Polish melodies of her childhood
till Mr. and Mrs. Henry Goldsmith returned. They had captured the Rev.
Joseph Strelitski and brought him back to dinner, Esther would have
excused herself from the meal, but Mrs. Goldsmith insisted the minister
would think her absence intentionally discourteous. In point of fact,
Mrs. Goldsmith, like all Jewesses a born match-maker, was not
disinclined to think of the popular preacher as a sort of adopted
son-in-law. She did not tell herself so, but she instinctively resented
the idea of Esther marrying into the station of her patroness.
Strelitski, though his position was one of distinction for a Jewish
clergyman, was, like Esther, of humble origin; it would be a match which
she could bless from her pedestal in genuine good-will towards both
The fashionable minister was looking careworn and troubled. He had aged
twice ten years since his outburst at the Holy Land League. The black
curl hung disconsolately on his forehead. He sat at Esther's side, but
rarely looking at her, or addressing her, so that her taciturnity and
scarcely-veiled dislike did not noticeably increase his gloom. He
rallied now and again out of politeness to his hostess, flashing out a
pregnant phrase or two. But prosperity did not seem to have brought
happiness to the whilom, poor Russian student, even though he had fought
his way to it unaided.
COMEDY OR TRAGEDY?
The weeks went on and Passover drew nigh. The recurrence of the feast
brought no thrill to Esther now. It was no longer a charmed time, with
strange things to eat and drink, and a comparative plenty of
them--stranger still. Lack of appetite was the chief dietary want now.
Nobody had any best clothes to put on in a world where everything was
for the best in the way of clothes. Except for the speckled Passover
cakes, there was hardly any external symptom of the sacred Festival.
While the Ghetto was turning itself inside out, the Kensington Terrace
was calm in the dignity of continuous cleanliness. Nor did Henry
Goldsmith himself go prowling about the house in quest of vagrant
crumbs. Mary O'Reilly attended to all that, and the Goldsmiths had
implicit confidence in her fidelity to the traditions of their faith.
Wherefore, the evening of the day before Passover, instead of being
devoted to frying fish and provisioning, was free for more secular
occupations; Esther, for example, had arranged to go to see the _debut_
of a new Hamlet with Addie. Addie had asked her to go, mentioned that
Raphael, who was taking her, had suggested that she should bring her
friend. For they had become great friends, had Addie and Esther, ever
since Esther had gone to take that cup of tea, with the chat that is
more essential than milk or sugar.
The girls met or wrote every week. Raphael, Esther never met nor heard
from directly. She found Addie a sweet, lovable girl, full of frank
simplicity and unquestioning piety. Though dazzlingly beautiful, she had
none of the coquetry which Esther, with a touch of jealousy, had been
accustomed to associate with beauty, and she had little of the petty
malice of girlish gossip. Esther summed her up as Raphael's heart
without his head. It was unfair, for Addie's own head was by no means
despicable. But Esther was not alone in taking eccentric opinions as the
touchstone of intellectual vigor. Anyhow, she was distinctly happier
since Addie had come into her life, and she admired her as a mountain
torrent might admire a crystal pool--half envying her happier
The Goldsmiths were just finishing dinner, when the expected ring came.
To their surprise, the ringer was Sidney. He was shown into the
"Good evening, all," he said. "I've come as a substitute for Raphael."
Esther grew white. "Why, what has happened to him?" she asked.
"Nothing, I had a telegram to say he was unexpectedly detained in the
city, and asking me to take Addie and to call for you."
Esther turned from white to red. How rude of Raphael! How disappointing
not to meet him, after all! And did he think she could thus
unceremoniously be handed over to somebody else? She was about to beg to
be excused, when it struck her a refusal would look too pointed.
Besides, she did not fear Sidney now. It would be a test of her
indifference. So she murmured instead, "What can detain him?"
"Charity, doubtless. Do you know, that after he is fagged out with
upholding the _Flag_ from early morning till late eve, he devotes the
later eve to gratuitous tuition, lecturing and the like."
"No," said Esther, softened. "I knew he came home late, but I thought he
had to report communal meetings."
"That, too. But Addie tells me he never came home at all one night last
week. He was sitting up with some wretched dying pauper."
"He'll kill himself," said Esther, anxiously.
"People are right about him. He is quite hopeless," said Percy Saville,
the solitary guest, tapping his forehead significantly.
"Perhaps it is we who are hopeless," said Esther, sharply.
"I wish we were all as sensible," said Mrs. Henry Goldsmith, turning on
the unhappy stockbroker with her most superior air. "Mr. Leon always
reminds me of Judas Maccabaeus."
He shrank before the blaze of her mature beauty, the fulness of her
charms revealed by her rich evening dress, her hair radiating strange,
subtle perfume. His eye sought Mr. Goldsmith's for refuge and
"That is so," said Mr. Goldsmith, rubbing his red chin. "He is an
excellent young man."
"May I trouble you to put on your things at once, Miss Ansell?" said
Sidney. "I have left Addie in the carriage, and we are rather late. I
believe it is usual for ladies to put on 'things,' even when in evening
dress. I may mention that there is a bouquet for you in the carriage,
and, however unworthy a substitute I may be for Raphael, I may at least
claim he would have forgotten to bring you that."
Esther smiled despite herself as she left the room to get her cloak. She
was chagrined and disappointed, but she resolved not to inflict her
ill-humor on her companions.
She had long since got used to carriages, and when they arrived at the
theatre, she took her seat in the box without heart-fluttering. It was
an old discovery now that boxes had no connection with oranges nor
stalls with costers' barrows.
The house was brilliant. The orchestra was playing the overture.
"I wish Mr. Shakspeare would write a new play," grumbled Sidney. "All
these revivals make him lazy. Heavens! what his fees must tot up to! If
I were not sustained by the presence of you two girls, I should no more
survive the fifth act than most of the characters. Why don't they
brighten the piece up with ballet-girls?"
"Yes, I suppose you blessed Mr. Leon when you got his telegram," said
Esther. "What a bore it must be to you to be saddled with his duties!"
"Awful!" admitted Sidney gravely. "Besides, it interferes with my work."
"Work?" said Addie. "You know you only work by sunlight."
"Yes, that's the best of my profession--in England. It gives you such
opportunities of working--at other professions."
"Why, what do you work at?" inquired Esther, laughing.
"Well, there's amusement, the most difficult of all things to achieve!
Then there's poetry. You don't know what a dab I am at rondeaux and
barcarolles. And I write music, too, lovely little serenades to my
lady-loves and reveries that are like dainty pastels."
"All the talents!" said Addie, looking at him with a fond smile. "But if
you have any time to spare from the curling of your lovely silken
moustache, which is entirely like a delicate pastel, will you kindly
tell me what celebrities are present?"
"Yes, do," added Esther, "I have only been to two first nights, and then
I had nobody to point out the lions."
"Well, first of all I see a very celebrated painter in a box--a man who
has improved considerably on the weak draughtsmanship displayed by
Nature in her human figures, and the amateurishness of her glaring
"Who's that?" inquired Addie and Esther eagerly.
"I think he calls himself Sidney Graham--but that of course is only a
_nom de pinceau_."
"Oh!" said, the girls, with a reproachful smile.
"Do be serious!" said Esther. "Who is that stout gentleman with the bald
head?" She peered down curiously at the stalls through her opera-glass.
"What, the lion without the mane? That's Tom Day, the dramatic critic of
a dozen papers. A terrible Philistine. Lucky for Shakspeare he didn't
flourish in Elizabethan times."
He rattled on till the curtain rose and the hushed audience settled down
to the enjoyment of the tragedy.
"This looks as if it is going to be the true Hamlet," said Esther, after
the first act.
"What do you mean by the true Hamlet?" queried Sidney cynically.
"The Hamlet for whom life is at once too big and too little," said
"And who was at once mad and sane," laughed Sidney. "The plain truth is
that Shakspeare followed the old tale, and what you take for subtlety is
but the blur of uncertain handling. Aha! You look shocked. Have I found
your religion at last?"
"No; my reverence for our national bard is based on reason," rejoined
Esther seriously. "To conceive Hamlet, the typical nineteenth-century
intellect, in that bustling picturesque Elizabethan time was a creative
feat bordering on the miraculous. And then, look at the solemn
inexorable march of destiny in his tragedies, awful as its advance in
the Greek dramas. Just as the marvels of the old fairy-tales were an
instinctive prevision of the miracles of modern science, so this idea
of destiny seems to me an instinctive anticipation of the formulas of
modern science. What we want to-day is a dramatist who shall show us the
great natural silent forces, working the weal and woe of human life
through the illusions of consciousness and free will."
"What you want to-night, Miss Ansell, is black coffee," said Sidney,
"and I'll tell the attendant to get you a cup, for I dragged you away
from dinner before the crown and climax of the meal; I have always
noticed myself that when I am interrupted in my meals, all sorts of
bugbears, scientific or otherwise, take possession of my mind."
He called the attendant.
"Esther has the most nonsensical opinions," said Addie gravely. "As if
people weren't responsible for their actions! Do good and all shall be
well with thee, is sound Bible teaching and sound common sense."
"Yes, but isn't it the Bible that says, 'The fathers have eaten a sour
grape and the teeth of the children are set on edge'?" Esther retorted.
Addie looked perplexed. "It sounds contradictory," she said honestly.
"Not at all, Addie," said Esther. "The Bible is a literature, not a
book. If you choose to bind Tennyson and Milton in one volume that
doesn't make them a book. And you can't complain if you find
contradictions in the text. Don't you think the sour grape text the
truer, Mr. Graham?"
"Don't ask me, please. I'm prejudiced against anything that appears in
In his flippant way Sidney spoke the truth. He had an almost physical
repugnance for his fathers' ways of looking at things.
"I think you're the two most wicked people in the world," exclaimed
"We are," said Sidney lightly. "I wonder you consent to sit in the same
box with us. How you can find my company endurable I can never make
Addie's lovely face flushed and her lip quivered a little.
"It's your friend who's the wickeder of the two," pursued Sidney. "For
she's in earnest and I'm not. Life's too short for us to take the
world's troubles on our shoulders, not to speak of the unborn millions.
A little light and joy, the flush of sunset or of a lovely woman's face,
a fleeting strain of melody, the scent of a rose, the flavor of old
wine, the flash of a jest, and ah, yes, a cup of coffee--here's yours,
Miss Ansell--that's the most we can hope for in life. Let us start a
religion with one commandment: 'Enjoy thyself.'"
"That religion has too many disciples already," said Esther, stirring
"Then why not start it if you wish to reform the world," asked Sidney.
"All religions survive merely by being broken. With only one commandment
to break, everybody would jump at the chance. But so long as you tell
people they mustn't enjoy themselves, they will, it's human nature, and
you can't alter that by Act of Parliament or Confession of Faith. Christ
ran amuck at human nature, and human nature celebrates his birthday with
"Christ understood human nature better than the modern young man," said
Esther scathingly, "and the proof lies in the almost limitless impress
he has left on history."
"Oh, that was a fluke," said Sidney lightly. "His real influence is only
superficial. Scratch the Christian and you find the Pagan--spoiled."
"He divined by genius what science is slowly finding out," said Esther,
"when he said, 'Forgive them for they know not what they do'!--"
Sidney laughed heartily. "That seems to be your King Charles's
head--seeing divinations of modern science in all the old ideas.
Personally I honor him for discovering that the Sabbath was made for
man, not man for the Sabbath. Strange he should have stopped half-way to
"What is the truth?" asked Addie curiously.
"Why, that morality was made for man, not man for morality," said
Sidney. "That chimera of meaningless virtue which the Hebrew has brought
into the world is the last monster left to slay. The Hebrew view of life
is too one-sided. The Bible is a literature without a laugh in it. Even
Raphael thinks the great Radical of Galilee carried spirituality too
"Yes, he thinks he would have been reconciled to the Jewish doctors and
would have understood them better," said Addie, "only he died so young."
"That's a good way of putting it!" said Sidney admiringly. "One can see
Raphael is my cousin despite his religious aberrations. It opens up new
historical vistas. Only it is just like Raphael to find excuses for
everybody, and Judaism in everything. I am sure he considers the devil a
good Jew at heart; if he admits any moral obliquity in him, he puts it
down to the climate."
This made Esther laugh outright, even while there were tears for Raphael
in the laugh. Sidney's intellectual fascination reasserted itself over
her; there seemed something inspiring in standing with him on the free
heights that left all the clogging vapors and fogs of moral problems
somewhere below; where the sun shone and the clear wind blew and talk
was a game of bowls with Puritan ideals for ninepins. He went on amusing
her till the curtain rose, with a pretended theory of Mohammedology
which he was working at. Just as for the Christian Apologist the Old
Testament was full of hints of the New, so he contended was the New
Testament full of foreshadowings of the Koran, and he cited as a most
convincing text, "In Heaven, there shall be no marrying, nor giving in
marriage." He professed to think that Mohammedanism was the dark horse
that would come to the front in the race of religions and win in the
west as it had won in the east.
"There's a man staring dreadfully at you, Esther," said Addie, when the
curtain fell on the second act.
"Nonsense!" said Esther, reluctantly returning from the realities of the
play to the insipidities of actual life. "Whoever it is, it must be at
She looked affectionately at the great glorious creature at her side,
tall and stately, with that winning gentleness of expression which
spiritualizes the most voluptuous beauty. Addie wore pale sea-green, and
there were lilies of the valley at her bosom, and a diamond star in her
hair. No man could admire her more than Esther, who felt quite vain of
her friend's beauty and happy to bask in its reflected sunshine. Sidney
followed her glance and his cousin's charms struck him with almost novel
freshness. He was so much with Addie that he always took her for
granted. The semi-unconscious liking he had for her society was based on
other than physical traits. He let his eyes rest upon her for a moment
in half-surprised appreciation, figuring her as half-bud, half-blossom.
Really, if Addie had not been his cousin and a Jewess! She was not much
of a cousin, when he came to cipher it out, but then she was a good deal
of a Jewess!
"I'm sure it's you he's staring at," persisted Addie.
"Don't be ridiculous," persisted Esther. "Which man do you mean?"
"There! The fifth row of stalls, the one, two, four, seven, the seventh
man from the end! He's been looking at you all through, but now he's
gone in for a good long stare. There! next to that pretty girl in pink."
"Do you mean the young man with the dyed carnation in his buttonhole and
the crimson handkerchief in his bosom?"
"Yes, that's the one. Do you know him?"
"No," said Esther, lowering her eyes and looking away. But when Addie
informed her that the young man had renewed his attentions to the girl
in pink, she levelled her opera-glass at him. Then she shook her head.
"There seems something familiar about his face, but I cannot for the
life of me recall who it is."
"The something familiar about his face is his nose," said Addie
laughing, "for it is emphatically Jewish."
"At that rate," said Sidney, "nearly half the theatre would be familiar,
including a goodly proportion of the critics, and Hamlet and Ophelia
themselves. But I know the fellow."
"You do? Who is he?" asked the girls eagerly.
"I don't know. He's one of the mashers of the _Frivolity_. I'm another,
and so we often meet. But we never speak as we pass by. To tell the
truth, I resent him."
"It's wonderful how fond Jews are of the theatre," said Esther, "and
how they resent other Jews going."
"Thank you," said Sidney. "But as I'm not a Jew the arrow glances off."
"Not a Jew?" repeated Esther in amaze.
"No. Not in the current sense. I always deny I'm a Jew."
"How do you justify that?" said Addie incredulously.
"Because it would be a lie to say I was. It would be to produce a false
impression. The conception of a Jew in the mind of the average Christian
is a mixture of Fagin, Shylock, Rothschild and the caricatures of the
American comic papers. I am certainly not like that, and I'm not going
to tell a lie and say I am. In conversation always think of your
audience. It takes two to make a truth. If an honest man told an old
lady he was an atheist, that would be a lie, for to her it would mean he
was a dissolute reprobate. To call myself 'Abrahams' would be to live a
daily lie. I am not a bit like the picture called up by Abrahams. Graham
is a far truer expression of myself."
"Extremely ingenious," said Esther smiling. "But ought you not rather to
utilize yourself for the correction of the portrait of Abrahams?"
Sidney shrugged his shoulders. "Why should I subject myself to petty
martyrdom for the sake of an outworn creed and a decaying sect?"
"We are not decaying," said Addie indignantly.
"Personally you are blossoming," said Sidney, with a mock bow. "But
nobody can deny that our recent religious history has been a series of
dissolving views. Look at that young masher there, who is still ogling
your fascinating friend; rather, I suspect, to the annoyance of the
young lady in pink, and compare him with the old hard-shell Jew. When I
was a lad named Abrahams, painfully training in the way I wasn't going
to go, I got an insight into the lives of my ancestors. Think of the
people who built up the Jewish prayer-book, who added line to line and
precept to precept, and whose whole thought was intertwined with
religion, and then look at that young fellow with the dyed carnation and
the crimson silk handkerchief, who probably drives a drag to the Derby,
and for aught I know runs a music hall. It seems almost incredible he
should come of that Puritan old stock."
"Not at all," said Esther. "If you knew more of our history, you would
see it is quite normal. We were always hankering after the gods of the
heathen, and we always loved magnificence; remember our Temples. In
every land we have produced great merchants and rulers, prime-ministers,
viziers, nobles. We built castles in Spain (solid ones) and palaces in
Venice. We have had saints and sinners, free livers and ascetics,
martyrs and money-lenders. Polarity, Graetz calls the self-contradiction
which runs through our history. I figure the Jew as the eldest-born of
Time, touching the Creation and reaching forward into the future, the
true _blase_ of the Universe; the Wandering Jew who has been everywhere,
seen everything, done everything, led everything, thought everything and
"Bravo, quite a bit of Beaconsfieldian fustian," said Sidney laughing,
yet astonished. "One would think you were anxious to assert yourself
against the ancient peerage of this mushroom realm."
"It is the bare historical truth," said Esther, quietly. "We are so
ignorant of our own history--can we wonder at the world's ignorance of
it? Think of the part the Jew has played--Moses giving the world its
morality, Jesus its religion, Isaiah its millennial visions, Spinoza its
cosmic philosophy, Ricardo its political economy, Karl Marx and Lassalle
its socialism, Heine its loveliest poetry, Mendelssohn its most restful
music, Rachael its supreme acting--and then think of the stock Jew of
the American comic papers! There lies the real comedy, too deep for
"Yes, but most of the Jews you mention were outcasts or apostates,"
retorted Sidney. "There lies the real tragedy, too deep for tears. Ah,
Heine summed it up best: 'Judaism is not a religion; it is a
misfortune.' But do you wonder at the intolerance of every nation
towards its Jews? It is a form of homage. Tolerate them and they spell
'Success,' and patriotism is an ineradicable prejudice. Since when have
you developed this extraordinary enthusiasm for Jewish history? I
always thought you were an anti-Semite."
Esther blushed and meditatively sniffed at her bouquet, but fortunately
the rise of the curtain relieved her of the necessity far a reply. It
was only a temporary relief, however, for the quizzical young artist
returned to the subject immediately the act was over.
"I know you're in charge of the aesthetic department of the _Flag_," he
said. "I had no idea you wrote the leaders."
"Don't be absurd!" murmured Esther.
"I always told Addie Raphael could never write so eloquently; didn't I,
Addie? Ah, I see you're blushing to find it fame, Miss Ansell."
Esther laughed, though a bit annoyed. "How can you suspect me of writing
orthodox leaders?" she asked.
"Well, who else _is_ there?" urged Sidney, with mock _naivete_. "I went
down there once and saw the shanty. The editorial sanctum was crowded.
Poor Raphael was surrounded by the queerest looking set of creatures I
ever clapped eyes on. There was a quaint lunatic in a check suit,
describing his apocalyptic visions; a dragoman with sore eyes and a
grievance against the Board of Guardians; a venerable son of Jerusalem
with a most artistic white beard, who had covered the editorial table
with carved nick-nacks in olive and sandal-wood; an inventor who had
squared the circle and the problem of perpetual motion, but could not
support himself; a Roumanian exile with a scheme for fertilizing
Palestine; and a wild-eyed hatchet-faced Hebrew poet who told me I was a
famous patron of learning, and sent me his book soon after with a Hebrew
inscription which I couldn't read, and a request for a cheque which I
didn't write. I thought I just capped the company of oddities, when in
came a sallow red-haired chap, with the extraordinary name of
Karlkammer, and kicked up a deuce of a shine with Raphael for altering
his letter. Raphael mildly hinted that the letter was written in such
unintelligible English that he had to grapple with it for an hour before
he could reduce it to the coherence demanded of print. But it was no
use; it seems Raphael had made him say something heterodox he didn't
mean, and he insisted on being allowed to reply to his own letter! He
had brought the counter-blast with him; six sheets of foolscap with all
the t's uncrossed, and insisted on signing it with his own name. I said,
'Why not? Set a Karlkammer to answer to a Karlkammer.' But Raphael said
it would make the paper a laughing-stock, and between the dread of that
and the consciousness of having done the man a wrong, he was quite
unhappy. He treats all his visitors with angelic consideration, when in
another newspaper office the very office-boy would snub them. Of course,
nobody has a bit of consideration for him or his time or his purse."
"Poor Raphael!" murmured Esther, smiling sadly at the grotesque images
conjured up by Sidney's description.
"I go down there now whenever I want models," concluded Sidney gravely.
"Well, it is only right to hear what those poor people have to say,"
Addie observed. "What is a paper for except to right wrongs?"
"Primitive person!" said Sidney. "A paper exists to make a profit."
"Raphael's doesn't," retorted Addie.
"Of course not," laughed Sidney. "It never will, so long as there's a
conscientious editor at the helm. Raphael flatters nobody and reserves
his praises for people with no control of the communal advertisements.
Why, it quite preys upon his mind to think that he is linked to an
advertisement canvasser with a gorgeous imagination, who goes about
representing to the unwary Christian that the _Flag_ has a circulation
of fifteen hundred."
"Dear me!" said Addie, a smile of humor lighting up her beautiful
"Yes," said Sidney, "I think he salves his conscience by an extra hour's
slumming in the evening. Most religious folks do their moral
book-keeping by double entry. Probably that's why he's not here
"It's too bad!" said Addie, her face growing grave again. "He comes home
so late and so tired that he always falls asleep over his books."
"I don't wonder," laughed Sidney. "Look what he reads! Once I found him
nodding peacefully over Thomas a Kempis."
"Oh, he often reads that," said Addie. "When we wake him up and tell him
to go to bed, he says he wasn't sleeping, but thinking, turns over a
page and falls asleep again."
They all laughed.
"Oh, he's a famous sleeper," Addie continued. "It's as difficult to get
him out of bed as into it. He says himself he's an awful lounger and
used to idle away whole days before he invented time-tables. Now, he has
every hour cut and dried--he says his salvation lies in regular hours."
"Addie, Addie, don't tell tales out of school," said Sidney.
"Why, what tales?" asked Addie, astonished. "Isn't it rather to his
credit that he has conquered his bad habits?"
"Undoubtedly; but it dissipates the poetry in which I am sure Miss
Ansell was enshrouding him. It shears a man of his heroic proportions,
to hear he has to be dragged out of bed. These things should be kept in
Esther stared hard at the house. Her cheeks glowed as if the limelight
man had turned his red rays on them. Sidney chuckled mentally over his
insight. Addie smiled.
"Oh, nonsense. I'm sure Esther doesn't think less of him because he
keeps a time-table."
"You forget your friend has what you haven't--artistic instinct. It's
ugly. A man should be a man, not a railway system. If I were you, Addie,
I'd capture that time-table, erase lecturing and substitute
'cricketing.' Raphael would never know, and every afternoon, say at 2
P.M., he'd consult his time-table, and seeing he had to cricket, he'd
take up his stumps and walk to Regent's Park."
"Yes, but he can't play cricket," said Esther, laughing and glad of the
"Oh, can't he?" Sidney whistled. "Don't insult him by telling him that.
Why, he was in the Harrow eleven and scored his century in the match
with Eton; those long arms of his send the ball flying as if it were a
"Oh yes," affirmed Addie. "Even now, cricket is his one temptation."
Esther was silent. Her Raphael seemed toppling to pieces. The silence
seemed to communicate itself to her companions. Addie broke it by
sending Sidney to smoke a cigarette in the lobby. "Or else I shall feel
quite too selfish," she said. "I know you're just dying to talk to some
sensible people. Oh, I beg your pardon, Esther."
The squire of dames smiled but hesitated.
"Yes, do go," said Esther. "There's six or seven minutes more interval.
This is the longest wait."
"Ladies' will is my law," said Sidney, gallantly, and, taking a
cigarette case from his cloak, which was hung on a peg at the back of a
box, he strolled out. "Perhaps," he said, "I shall skip some Shakspeare
if I meet a congenial intellectual soul to gossip with."
He had scarce been gone two minutes when there came a gentle tapping at
the door and, the visitor being invited to come in, the girls were
astonished to behold the young gentleman with the dyed carnation and the
crimson silk handkerchief. He looked at Esther with an affable smile.
"Don't you remember me?" he said. The ring of his voice woke some
far-off echo in her brain. But no recollection came to her.
"I remembered you almost at once," he went on, in a half-reproachful
tone, "though I didn't care about coming up while you had another fellow
in the box. Look at me carefully, Esther."
The sound of her name on the stranger's lips set all the chords of
memory vibrating--she looked again at the dark oval face with the
aquiline nose, the glittering eyes, the neat black moustache, the
close-shaved cheeks and chin, and in a flash the past resurged and she
murmured almost incredulously, "Levi!"
The young man got rather red. "Ye-e-s!" he stammered. "Allow me to
present you my card." He took it out of a little ivory case and handed
it to her. It read, "Mr. Leonard James."
An amused smile flitted over Esther's face, passing into one of welcome.
She was not at all displeased to see him.
"Addie," she said. "This is Mr. Leonard James, a friend I used to know
in my girlhood."
"Yes, we were boys together, as the song says," said Leonard James,
Addie inclined her head in the stately fashion which accorded so well
with her beauty and resumed her investigation of the stalls. Presently
she became absorbed in a tender reverie induced by the passionate waltz
music and she forgot all about Esther's strange visitor, whose words
fell as insensibly on her ears as the ticking of a familiar clock. But
to Esther, Leonard James's conversation was full of interest. The two
ugly ducklings of the back-pond had become to all appearance swans of
the ornamental water, and it was natural that they should gabble of auld
lang syne and the devious routes by which they had come together again.
"You see, I'm like you, Esther," explained the young man. "I'm not
fitted for the narrow life that suits my father and mother and my
sister. They've got no ideas beyond the house, and religion, and all
that sort of thing. What do you think my father wanted me to be? A
minister! Think of it! Ha! ha! ha! Me a minister! I actually did go for
a couple of terms to Jews' College. Oh, yes, you remember! Why, I was
there when you were a school-teacher and got taken up by the swells. But
our stroke of fortune came soon after yours. Did you never hear of it?
My, you must have dropped all your old acquaintances if no one ever told
you that! Why, father came in for a couple of thousand pounds! I thought
I'd make you stare. Guess who from?"
"I give it up," said Esther.
"Thank you. It was never yours to give," said Leonard, laughing jovially
at his wit. "Old Steinwein--you remember his death. It was in all the
papers; the eccentric old buffer, who was touched in the upper story,
and used to give so much time and money to Jewish affairs, setting up
lazy old rabbis in Jerusalem to shake themselves over their Talmuds. You
remember his gifts to the poor--six shillings sevenpence each because he
was seventy-nine years old and all that. Well, he used to send the
pater a basket of fruit every _Yomtov_. But he used to do that to every
Rabbi, all around, and my old man had not the least idea he was the
object of special regard till the old chap pegged out. Ah, there's
nothing like Torah, after all."
"You don't know what you may have lost through not becoming a minister,"
suggested Esther slily.
"Ah, but I know what I've gained. Do you think I could stand having my
hands and feet tied with phylacteries?" asked Leonard, becoming vividly
metaphoric in the intensity of his repugnance to the galling bonds of
orthodoxy. "Now, I do as I like, go where I please, eat what I please.
Just fancy not being able to join fellows at supper, because you mustn't
eat oysters or steak? Might as well go into a monastery at once. All
very well in ancient Jerusalem, where everybody was rowing in the same
boat. Have you ever tasted pork, Esther?"
"No," said Esther, with a faint smile.
"I have," said Leonard. "I don't say it to boast, but I have had it
times without number. I didn't like it the first time--thought it would
choke me, you know, but that soon wears off. Now I breakfast off ham and
eggs regularly. I go the whole hog, you see. Ha! ha! ha!"
"If I didn't see from your card you're not living at home, that would
have apprised me of it," said Esther.
"Of course, I couldn't live at home. Why the guvnor couldn't bear to let
me shave. Ha! ha! ha! Fancy a religion that makes you keep your hair on
unless you use a depilatory. I was articled to a swell solicitor. The
old man resisted a long time, but he gave in at last, and let me live
near the office."
"Ah, then I presume you came in for some of the two thousand, despite
your non-connection with Torah?"
"There isn't much left of it now," said Leonard, laughing. "What's two
thousand in seven years in London? There were over four hundred guineas
swallowed up by the premium, and the fees, and all that."
"Well, let us hope it'll all come back in costs."
"Well, between you and me," said Leonard, seriously, "I should be
surprised if it does. You see, I haven't yet scraped through the Final;
they're making the beastly exam. stiffer every year. No, it isn't to
that quarter I look to recoup myself for the outlay on my education."
"No?" said Esther.
"No. Fact is--between you and me--I'm going to be an actor."
"Oh!" said Esther.
"Yes. I've played several times in private theatricals; you know we Jews
have a knack for the stage; you'd be surprised to know how many pros are
Jews. There's heaps of money to be made now-a-days on the boards. I'm in
with lots of 'em, and ought to know. It's the only profession where you
don't want any training, and these law books are as dry as the Mishna
the old man used to make me study. Why, they say to-night's 'Hamlet' was
in a counting-house four years ago."
"I wish you success," said Esther, somewhat dubiously. "And how is your
sister Hannah? Is she married yet?"
"Married! Not she! She's got no money, and you know what our Jewish
young men are. Mother wanted her to have the two thousand pounds for a
dowry, but fortunately Hannah had the sense to see that it's the man
that's got to make his way in the world. Hannah is always certain of her
bread and butter, which is a good deal in these hard times. Besides,
she's naturally grumpy, and she doesn't go out of her way to make
herself agreeable to young men. It's my belief she'll die an old maid.
Well, there's no accounting for tastes."
"And your father and mother?"
"They're all right, I believe. I shall see them to-morrow
night--Passover, you know. I haven't missed a single _Seder_ at home,"
he said, with conscious virtue. "It's an awful bore, you know. I often
laugh to think of the chappies' faces if they could see me leaning on a
pillow and gravely asking the old man why we eat Passover cakes." He
laughed now to think of it. "But I never miss; they'd cut up rough, I
expect, if I did."
"Well, that's something in your favor," murmured Esther gravely.
He looked at her sharply; suddenly suspecting that his auditor was not
perfectly sympathetic. She smiled a little at the images passing through
her mind, and Leonard, taking her remark for badinage, allowed his own
features to relax to their original amiability.
"You're not married, either, I suppose," he remarked.
"No," said Esther. "I'm like your sister Hannah."
He shook his head sceptically.
"Ah, I expect you'll be looking very high," he said.
"Nonsense," murmured Esther, playing with her bouquet.
A flash passed across his face, but he went on in the same tone. "Ah,
don't tell me. Why shouldn't you? Why, you're looking perfectly charming
"Please, don't," said Esther, "Every girl looks perfectly charming when
she's nicely dressed. Who and what am I? Nothing. Let us drop the
"All right; but you _must_ have grand ideas, else you'd have sometimes
gone to see my people as in the old days."
"When did I visit your people? You used to come and see me sometimes." A
shadow of a smile hovered about the tremulous lips. "Believe me, I
didn't consciously drop any of my old acquaintances. My life changed; my
family went to America; later on I travelled. It is the currents of
life, not their wills, that bear old acquaintances asunder."
He seemed pleased with her sentiments and was about to say something,
but she added: "The curtain's going up. Hadn't you better go down to
your friend? She's been looking up at us impatiently."
"Oh, no, don't bother about her." said Leonard, reddening a little.
"She--she won't mind. She's only--only an actress, you know, I have to
keep in with the profession in case any opening should turn up. You
never know. An actress may become a lessee at any moment. Hark! The
orchestra is striking up again; the scene isn't set yet. Of course I'll
go if you want me to!"
"No, stay by all means if you want to," murmured Esther. "We have a
"Do you expect that fellow Sidney Graham back?"
"Yes, sooner or later. But how do you know his name?" queried Esther in
"Everybody about town knows Sidney Graham, the artist. Why, we belong to
the same club--the Flamingo--though he only turns up for the great
glove-fights. Beastly cad, with all due respect to your friends, Esther.
I was introduced to him once, but he stared at me next time so haughtily
that I cut him dead. Do you know, ever since then I've suspected he's
one of us; perhaps you can tell me, Esther? I dare say he's no more
Sidney Graham than I am."
"Hush!" said Esther, glancing warningly towards Addie, who, however,
betrayed no sign of attention.
"Sister?" asked Leonard, lowering his voice to a whisper.
Esther shook her head. "Cousin; but Mr. Graham is a friend of mine as
well and you mustn't talk of him like that."
"Ripping fine girl!" murmured Leonard irrelevantly. "Wonder at his
taste." He took a long stare at the abstracted Addie.
"What do you mean?" said Esther, her annoyance increasing. Her old
friend's tone jarred upon her.
"Well, I don't know what he could see in the girl he's engaged to."
Esther's face became white. She looked anxiously towards the unconscious
"You are talking nonsense," she said, in a low cautious tone. "Mr.
Graham is too fond of his liberty to engage himself to any girl."
"Oho!" said Leonard, with a subdued whistle. "I hope you're not sweet on
Esther gave an impatient gesture of denial. She resented Leonard's rapid
resumption of his olden familiarity.
"Then take care not to be," he said. "He's engaged privately to Miss
Hannibal, a daughter of the M.P. Tom Sledge, the sub-editor of the
_Cormorant_, told me. You know they collect items about everybody and
publish them at what they call the psychological moment. Graham goes to
the Hannibals' every Saturday afternoon. They're very strict people; the
father, you know, is a prominent Wesleyan and she's not the sort of girl
to be played with."
"For Heaven's sake speak more softly," said Esther, though the
orchestra was playing _fortissimo_ now and they had spoken so quietly
all along that Addie could scarcely have heard without a special effort.
"It can't be true; you are repeating mere idle gossip."
"Why, they know everything at the _Cormorant_," said Leonard,
indignantly. "Do you suppose a man can take such a step as that without
its getting known? Why, I shall be chaffed--enviously--about you two
to-morrow! Many a thing the world little dreams of is an open secret in
Club smoking-rooms. Generally more discreditable than Graham's, which
must be made public of itself sooner or later."
To Esther's relief, the curtain rose. Addie woke up and looked round,
but seeing that Sidney had not returned, and that Esther was still in
colloquy with the invader, she gave her attention to the stage. Esther
could no longer bend her eye on the mimic tragedy; her eyes rested
pityingly upon Addie's face, and Leonard's eyes rested admiringly upon
Esther's. Thus Sidney found the group, when he returned in the middle of
the act, to his surprise and displeasure. He stood silently at the back
of the box till the act was over. Leonard James was the first to
perceive him; knowing he had been telling tales about him, he felt
uneasy under his supercilious gaze. He bade Esther good-bye, asking and
receiving permission to call upon her. When he was gone, constraint fell
upon the party. Sidney was moody; Addie pensive, Esther full of stifled
wrath and anxiety. At the close of the performance Sidney took down the
girls' wrappings from the pegs. He helped Esther courteously, then
hovered over his cousin with a solicitude that brought a look of calm
happiness into Addie's face, and an expression of pain into Esther's. As
they moved slowly along the crowded corridors, he allowed Addie to get a
few paces in advance. It was his last opportunity of saying a word to
"If I were you, Miss Ansell, I would not allow that cad to presume on
any acquaintance he may have."
All the latent irritation in Esther's breast burst into flame at the
idea of Sidney's constituting himself a judge.
"If I had not cultivated his acquaintance I should not have had the
pleasure of congratulating you on your engagement," she replied, almost
in a whisper. To Sidney it sounded like a shout. His color heightened;
he was visibly taken aback.
"What are you talking about?" he murmured automatically.
"About your engagement to Miss Hannibal."
"That blackguard told you!" he whispered angrily, half to himself.
"Well, what of it? I am not bound to advertise it, am I? It's my private
business, isn't it? You don't expect me to hang a placard round my
breast like those on concert-room chairs--'Engaged'!"
"Certainly not," said Esther. "But you might have told your friends, so
as to enable them to rejoice sympathetically."
"You turn your sarcasm prettily," he said mildly, "but the sympathetic
rejoicing was just what I wanted to avoid. You know what a Jewish
engagement is, how the news spreads like wildfire from Piccadilly to
Petticoat Lane, and the whole house of Israel gathers together to
discuss the income and the prospects of the happy pair. I object to
sympathetic rejoicing from the slums, especially as in this case it
would probably be exchanged for curses. Miss Hannibal is a Christian,
and for a Jew to embrace a Christian is, I believe, the next worse thing
to his embracing Christianity, even when the Jew is a pagan." His wonted
flippancy rang hollow. He paused suddenly and stole a look at his
companion's face, in search of a smile, but it was pale and sorrowful.
The flush on his own face deepened; his features expressed internal
conflict. He addressed a light word to Addie in front. They were nearing
the portico; it was raining outside and a cold wind blew in to meet
them; he bent his head down to the delicate little face at his side, and
his tones were changed.
"Miss Ansell," he said tremulously, "if I have in any way misled you by
my reticence, I beg you to believe it was unintentionally. The memory of
the pleasant quarters of an hour we have spent together will always--"
"Good God!" said Esther hoarsely, her cheeks flaming, her ears tingling.
"To whom are you apologising?" He looked at her perplexed. "Why have
you not told Addie?" she forced herself to say.
In the press of the crowd, on the edge of the threshold, he stood still.
Dazzled as by a flash of lightning, he gazed at his cousin, her
beautifully poised head, covered with its fleecy white shawl, dominating
the throng. The shawl became an aureole to his misty vision.
"Have you told her?" he whispered with answering hoarseness.
"No," said Esther.
"Then don't tell her," he whispered eagerly.
"I must. She must hear it soon. Such things must ooze out sooner or
"Then let it be later. Promise me this."
"No good can come of concealment."
"Promise me, for a little while, till I give you leave."
His pleading, handsome face was close to hers. She wondered how she
could ever have cared for a creature so weak and pitiful.
"So be it," she breathed.
"Miss Leon's carriage," bawled the commissionaire. There was a confusion
of rain-beaten umbrellas, gleaming carriage-lamps, zigzag rejections on
the black pavements, and clattering omnibuses full inside. But the air
"Don't go into the rain, Addie," said Sidney, pressing forwards
anxiously. "You're doing all my work to-night. Hallo! where did _you_
It was Raphael who had elicited the exclamation. He suddenly loomed upon
the party, bearing a decrepit dripping umbrella. "I thought I should be
in time to catch you--and to apologize," he said, turning to Esther.
"Don't mention it," murmured Esther, his unexpected appearance
completing her mental agitation.
"Hold the umbrella over the girls, you beggar," said Sidney.
"Oh, I beg your pardon," said Raphael, poking the rim against a
policeman's helmet in his anxiety to obey.
"Don't mention it," said Addie smiling.
"All right, sir," growled the policeman good-humoredly.
Sidney laughed heartily.
"Quite a general amnesty," he said. "Ah! here's the carriage. Why didn't
you get inside it out of the rain or stand in the entrance--you're
"I didn't think of it," said Raphael. "Besides, I've only been here a
few minutes. The 'busses are so full when it rains I had to walk all the
way from Whitechapel."
"You're incorrigible," grumbled Sidney. "As if you couldn't have taken a
"Why waste money?" said Raphael. They got into the carriage.
"Well, did you enjoy yourselves?" he asked cheerfully.
"Oh yes, thoroughly," said Sidney. "Addie wasted two
pocket-handkerchiefs over Ophelia; almost enough to pay for that hansom.
Miss Ansell doated on the finger of destiny and I chopped logic and
swopped cigarettes with O'Donovan. I hope you enjoyed yourself equally."
Raphael responded with a melancholy smile. He was seated opposite
Esther, and ever and anon some flash of light from the street revealed
clearly his sodden, almost shabby, garments and the weariness of his
expression. He seemed quite out of harmony with the dainty
pleasure-party, but just on that account the more in harmony with
Esther's old image, the heroic side of him growing only more lovable for
the human alloy. She bent towards him at last and said: "I am sorry you
were deprived of your evening's amusement. I hope the reason didn't add
to the unpleasantness."
"It was nothing," he murmured awkwardly. "A little unexpected work. One
can always go to the theatre."
"Ah, I am afraid you overwork yourself too much. You mustn't. Think of
your own health."
His look softened. He was in a harassed, sensitive state. The sympathy
of her gentle accents, the concern upon the eager little face, seemed to
flood his own soul with a self-compassion new to him.
"My health doesn't matter," he faltered. There were sweet tears in his
eyes, a colossal sense of gratitude at his heart. He had always meant
to pity her and help her; it was sweeter to be pitied, though of course
she could not help him. He had no need of help, and on second thoughts
he wondered what room there was for pity.
"No, no, don't talk like that," said Esther. "Think of your parents--and
WHAT THE YEARS BROUGHT.
The next morning Esther sat in Mrs. Henry Goldsmith's boudoir, filling
up some invitation forms for her patroness, who often took advantage of
her literary talent in this fashion. Mrs. Goldsmith herself lay back
languidly upon a great easy-chair before an asbestos fire and turned
over the leaves of the new number of the _Acadaeum_. Suddenly she
uttered a little exclamation.
"What is it?" said Esther.
"They've got a review here of that Jewish novel."
"Have they?" said Esther, glancing up eagerly. "I'd given up looking for
"You seem very interested in it," said Mrs. Goldsmith, with a little
"Yes, I--I wanted to know what they said about it," explained Esther
quickly; "one hears so many worthless opinions."
"Well, I'm glad to see we were all right about it," said Mrs. Goldsmith,
whose eye had been running down the column. "Listen here. 'It is a
disagreeable book at best; what might have been a powerful tragedy being
disfigured by clumsy workmanship and sordid superfluous detail. The
exaggerated unhealthy pessimism, which the very young mistake for
insight, pervades the work and there are some spiteful touches of
observation which seem to point to a woman's hand. Some of the minor
personages have the air of being sketched from life. The novel can
scarcely be acceptable to the writer's circle. Readers, however, in
search of the unusual will find new ground broken in this immature study
of Jewish life.'"
"There, Esther, isn't that just what I've been saying in other words?"
"It's hardly worth bothering about the book now," said Esther in low
tones, "it's such a long time ago now since it came out. I don't know
what's the good of reviewing it now. These literary papers always seem
so cold and cruel to unknown writers."
"Cruel, it isn't half what he deserves," said Mrs. Goldsmith, "or ought
I to say she? Do you think there's anything, Esther, in that idea of its
being a woman?"
"Really, dear, I'm sick to death of that book," said Esther. "These
reviewers always try to be very clever and to see through brick walls.
What does it matter if it's a he, or a she?"
"It doesn't matter, but it makes it more disgraceful, if it's a woman. A
woman has no business to know the seamy side of human nature."
At this instant, a domestic knocked and announced that Mr. Leonard James
had called to see Miss Ansell. Annoyance, surprise and relief struggled
to express themselves on Esther's face.
"Is the gentleman waiting to see me?" she said.
"Yes, miss, he's in the hall."
Esther turned to Mrs. Goldsmith. "It's a young man I came across
unexpectedly last night at the theatre. He's the son of Reb Shemuel, of
whom you may have heard. I haven't met him since we were boy and girl
together. He asked permission to call, but I didn't expect him so soon."
"Oh, see him by all means, dear. He is probably anxious to talk over old
"May I ask him up here?"
"No--unless you particularly want to introduce him to me. I dare say he
would rather have you to himself." There was a touch of superciliousness
about her tone, which Esther rather resented, although not particularly
anxious for Levi's social recognition.
"Show him into the library," she said to the servant. "I will be down
in a minute." She lingered a few indifferent remarks with her companion
and then went down, wondering at Levi's precipitancy in renewing the
acquaintance. She could not help thinking of the strangeness of life.
That time yesterday she had not dreamed of Levi, and now she was about
to see him for the second time and seemed to know him as intimately as
if they had never been parted.
Leonard James was pacing the carpet. His face was perturbed, though his
stylishly cut clothes were composed and immaculate. A cloak was thrown
loosely across his shoulders. In his right hand he held a bouquet of
Spring flowers, which he transferred to his left in order to shake hands
"Good afternoon, Esther," he said heartily. "By Jove, you have got among
tip-top people. I had no idea. Fancy you ordering Jeames de la Pluche
about. And how happy you must be among all these books! I've brought you
a bouquet. There! Isn't it a beauty? I got it at Covent Garden this
"It's very kind of you," murmured Esther, not so pleased as she might
have been, considering her love of beautiful things. "But you really
ought not to waste your money like that."
"What nonsense, Esther! Don't forget I'm not in the position my father
was. I'm going to be a rich man. No, don't put it into a vase; put it in
your own room where it will remind you of me. Just smell those violets,
they are awfully sweet and fresh. I flatter myself, it's quite as swell
and tasteful as the bouquet you had last night. Who gave you that.
Esther?" The "Esther" mitigated the off-handedness of the question, but
made the sentence jar doubly upon her ear. She might have brought
herself to call him "Levi" in exchange, but then she was not certain he
would like it. "Leonard" was impossible. So she forbore to call him by
"I think Mr. Graham brought it. Won't you sit down?" she said
"Thank you. I thought so. Luck that fellow's engaged. Do you know,
Esther. I didn't sleep all night."
"No?" said Esther. "You seemed quite well when I saw you."
"So I was, but seeing you again, so unexpectedly, excited me. You have
been whirling in my brain ever since. I hadn't thought of you for
"I hadn't thought of you," Esther echoed frankly.
"No, I suppose not," he said, a little ruefully. "But, anyhow, fate has
brought us together again. I recognized you the moment I set eyes on
you, for all your grand clothes and your swell bouquets. I tell you I
was just struck all of a heap; of course, I knew about your luck, but I
hadn't realized it. There wasn't any one in the whole theatre who looked
the lady more--'pon honor; you'd have no cause to blush in the company
of duchesses. In fact I know a duchess or two who don't look near so
refined. I was quite surprised. Do you know, if any one had told me you
used to live up in a garret--"
"Oh, please don't recall unpleasant things," interrupted Esther,
petulantly, a little shudder going through her, partly at the picture he
called up, partly at his grating vulgarity. Her repulsion to him was
growing. Why had he developed so disagreeably? She had not disliked him
as a boy, and he certainly had not inherited his traits of coarseness
from his father, whom she still conceived as a courtly old gentleman.
"Oh well, if you don't like it, I won't. I see you're like me; I never
think of the Ghetto if I can help it. Well, as I was saying, I haven't
had a wink of sleep since I saw you. I lay tossing about, thinking all
sorts of things, till I could stand it no longer, and I got up and
dressed and walked about the streets and strayed into Covent Garden
Market, where the inspiration came upon me to get you this bouquet. For,
of course, it was about you that I had been thinking."
"About me?" said Esther, turning pale.
"Yes, of course. Don't make _Schnecks_--you know what I mean. I can't
help using the old expression when I look at you; the past seems all
come back again. They were happy days, weren't they, Esther, when I used
to come up to see you in Royal Street; I think you were a little sweet
on me in those days, Esther, and I know I was regular mashed on you."
He looked at her with a fond smile.
"I dare say you were a silly boy," said Esther, coloring uneasily under
his gaze. "However, you needn't reproach yourself now."
"Reproach myself, indeed! Never fear that. What I have been reproaching
myself with all night is never having looked you up. Somehow, do you
know, I kept asking myself whether I hadn't made a fool of myself
lately, and I kept thinking things might have been different if--"
"Nonsense, nonsense," interrupted Esther with an embarrassed laugh.
"You've been doing very well, learning to know the world and studying
law and mixing with pleasant people."
"Ah, Esther," he said, shaking his head, "it's very good of you to say
that. I don't say I've done anything particularly foolish or out of the
way. But when a man is alone, he sometimes gets a little reckless and
wastes his time, and you know what it is. I've been thinking if I had
some one to keep me steady, some one I could respect, it would be the
best thing that could happen to me."
"Oh, but surely you ought to have sense enough to take care of yourself.
And there is always your father. Why don't you see more of him?"
"Don't chaff a man when you see he's in earnest. You know what I mean.
It's you I am thinking of."
"Me? Oh well, if you think my friendship can be of any use to you I
shall be delighted. Come and see me sometimes and tell me of your
"You know I don't mean that," he said desperately. "Couldn't we be more
than friends? Couldn't we commence again--where we left off"
"How do you mean?" she murmured.
"Why are you so cold to me?" he burst out. "Why do you make it so hard
for me to speak? You know I love you, that I fell in love with you all
over again last night. I never really forgot you; you were always deep
down in my breast. All that I said about steadying me wasn't a lie. I
felt that, too. But the real thing I feel is the need of you. I want you
to care for me as I care for you. You used to, Esther; you know you
"I know nothing of the kind," said Esther, "and I can't understand why a
young fellow like you wants to bother his head with such ideas. You've
got to make your way in the world--"
"I know, I know; that's why I want you. I didn't tell you the exact
truth last night, Esther, but I must really earn some money soon. All
that two thousand is used up, and I only get along by squeezing some
money out of the old man every now and again. Don't frown; he got a rise
of screw three years ago and can well afford it. Now that's what I said
to myself last night; if I were engaged, it would be an incentive to
"For a Jewish young man, you are fearfully unpractical," said Esther,
with a forced smile. "Fancy proposing to a girl without even prospects
"Oh, but I _have_ got prospects. I tell you I shall make no end of money
on the stage."
"Or no beginning," she said, finding the facetious vein easiest.
"No fear. I know I've got as much talent as Bob Andrews (he admits it
himself), and _he_ draws his thirty quid a week."
"Wasn't that the man who appeared at the police-court the other day for
being drunk and disorderly?"
"Y-e-es," admitted Leonard, a little disconcerted. "He is a very good
fellow, but he loses his head when he's in liquor."
"I wonder you can care for society of that sort," said Esther.
"Perhaps you're right. They're not a very refined lot. I tell you
what--I'd like to go on the stage, but I'm not mad on it, and if you
only say the word I'll give it up. There! And I'll go on with my law
studies; honor bright, I will."
"I should, if I were you," she said.
"Yes, but I can't do it without encouragement. Won't you say 'yes'?
Let's strike the bargain. I'll stick to law and you'll stick to me."
She shook her head. "I am afraid I could not promise anything you mean.
As I said before, I shall be always glad to see you. If you do well, no
one will rejoice more than I."
"Rejoice! What's the good of that to me? I want you to care for me; I
want to took forward to your being my wife."
"Really, I cannot take advantage of a moment of folly like this. You
don't know what you're saying. You saw me last night, after many years,
and in your gladness at seeing an old friend you flare up and fancy
you're in love with me. Why, who ever heard of such foolish haste? Go
back to your studies, and in a day or two you will find the flame
sinking as rapidly as it leaped up."
"No, no! Nothing of the kind!" His voice was thicker and there was real
passion in it. She grew dearer to him as the hope of her love receded.
"I couldn't forget you. I care for you awfully. I realized last night
that my feeling for you is quite unlike what I have ever felt towards
any other girl. Don't say no! Don't send me away despairing. I can
hardly realize that you have grown so strange and altered. Surely you
oughtn't to put on any side with me. Remember the times we have had
"I remember," she said gently. "But I do not want to marry any one:
indeed, I don't."
"Then if there is no one else in your thoughts, why shouldn't it be me?
There! I won't press you for an answer now. Only don't say it's out of
"I'm afraid I must."
"No, you mustn't, Esther, you mustn't," he exclaimed excitedly. "Think
of what it means for me. You are the only Jewish girl I shall ever care
for; and father would be pleased if I were to marry you. You know if I
wanted to marry a _Shiksah_ there'd be awful rows. Don't treat me as if
I were some outsider with no claim upon you. I believe we should get on
splendidly together, you and me. We've been through the same sort of
thing in childhood, we should understand each other, and be in sympathy
with each other in a way I could never be with another girl and I doubt
if you could with another fellow."
The words burst from him like a torrent, with excited foreign-looking
gestures. Esther's headache was coming on badly.
"What would be the use of my deceiving you?" she said gently. "I don't
think I shall ever marry. I'm sure I could never make you--or any one
else--happy. Won't you let me be your friend?"
"Friend!" he echoed bitterly. "I know what it is; I'm poor. I've got no
money bags to lay at your feet. You're like all the Jewish girls after
all. But I only ask you to wait; I shall have plenty of money by and by.
Who knows what more luck my father might drop in for? There are lots of
rich religious cranks. And then I'll work hard, honor bright I will."
"Pray be reasonable," said Esther quietly. "You know you are talking at
random. Yesterday this time you had no idea of such a thing. To-day you
are all on fire. To-morrow you will forget all about it."
"Never! Never!" he cried. "Haven't I remembered you all these years?
They talk of man's faithlessness and woman's faithfulness. It seems to
me, it's all the other way. Women are a deceptive lot."
"You know you have no right whatever to talk like that to me," said
Esther, her sympathy beginning to pass over into annoyance. "To-morrow
you will be sorry. Hadn't you better go before you give yourself--and
me--more cause for regret?"
"Ho, you're sending me away, are you?" he said in angry surprise.
"I am certainly suggesting it as the wisest course."
"Oh, don't give me any of your fine phrases!" he said brutally. "I see
what it is--I've made a mistake. You're a stuck-up, conceited little
thing. You think because you live in a grand house nobody is good enough
for you. But what are you after all? a _Schnorrer_--that's all. A
_Schnorrer_ living on the charity of strangers. If I mix with grand
folks, it is as an independent man and an equal. But you, rather than
marry any one who mightn't be able to give you carriages and footmen,
you prefer to remain a _Schnorrer_."
Esther was white and her lips trembled. "Now I must ask you to go," she
"All right, don't flurry yourself!" he said savagely. "You don't impress
me with your airs. Try them on people who don't know what you were--a
_Schnorrer's_ daughter. Yes, your father was always a _Schnorrer_ and
you are his child. It's in the blood. Ha! Ha! Ha! Moses Ansell's
daughter! Moses Ansell's daughter--a peddler, who went about the country
with brass jewelry and stood in the Lane with lemons and _schnorred_
half-crowns of my father. You took jolly good care to ship him off to
America, but 'pon my honor, you can't expect others to forget him as
quickly as you. It's a rich joke, you refusing me. You're not fit for me
to wipe my shoes on. My mother never cared for me to go to your garret;
she said I must mix with my equals and goodness knew what disease I
might pick up in the dirt; 'pon my honor the old girl was right."
"She _was_ right," Esther was stung into retorting. "You must mix only
with your equals. Please leave the room now or else I shall."