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Title: The Grandchildren of the Ghetto
Author: Zangwill, Israel, 1864-1926
Language: English
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[Illustration: "_Levi! A great cry of anguish rent the air._"
_Chapter VIII_]


The Wayfarers Library

THE GRANDCHILDREN OF THE GHETTO

by

ISRAEL ZANGWILL



J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd.
London



CONTENTS.


  CHAP.                                                      PAGE

      I. THE CHRISTMAS DINNER                                   3

     II. RAPHAEL LEON                                          24

    III. 'THE FLAG OF JUDAH'                                   45

     IV. THE TROUBLES OF AN EDITOR                             63

      V. A WOMAN'S GROWTH                                      77

     VI. COMEDY OR TRAGEDY?                                    88

    VII. WHAT THE YEARS BROUGHT                               112

   VIII. THE ENDS OF A GENERATION                             122

     IX. THE 'FLAG' FLUTTERS                                  126

      X. ESTHER DEFIES THE UNIVERSE                           137

     XI. GOING HOME                                           150

    XII. A SHEAF OF SEQUELS                                   161

   XIII. THE DEAD MONKEY AGAIN                                185

    XIV. SIDNEY SETTLES DOWN                                  192

     XV. FROM SOUL TO SOUL                                    200

    XVI. LOVE'S TEMPTATIONS                                   219

   XVII. THE PRODIGAL SON                                     232

  XVIII. HOPES AND DREAMS                                     239

         GLOSSARY                                             249



GRANDCHILDREN OF THE GHETTO



CHAPTER I

THE CHRISTMAS DINNER


Daintily-embroidered napery, beautiful porcelain, Queen Anne silver,
exotic flowers, glittering glass, soft rosy light, creamy expanses of
shirt-front, elegant low-necked dresses--all the conventional
accompaniments of Occidental gastronomy.

It was not a large party. Mrs. Henry Goldsmith professed to collect
guests on artistic principles, as she did _bric-à-brac_, and with an
eye to general conversation. The elements of the social salad were
sufficiently incongruous to-night, yet all the ingredients were
Jewish.

For the history of the Grandchildren of the Ghetto, which is mainly a
history of the middle classes, is mainly a history of isolation. 'The
Upper Ten' is a literal phrase in Judah, whose aristocracy just about
suffices for a synagogue quorum. Great majestic luminaries, each with
its satellites, they swim serenely in the golden heavens. And the
middle classes look up in worship, and the lower classes in
supplication. 'The Upper Ten' have no spirit of exclusiveness; they
are willing to entertain royalty, rank, and the arts with a catholic
hospitality that is only Eastern in its magnificence, while some of
them remain Jews only for fear of being considered snobs by society.
But the middle-class Jew has been more jealous of his caste, and for
caste reasons. To exchange hospitalities with the Christian when you
cannot eat his dinners were to get the worst of the bargain; to invite
his sons to your house when they cannot marry your daughters were to
solicit awkward complications. In business, in civic affairs, in
politics, the Jew has mixed freely with his fellow-citizens; but
indiscriminate social relations only become possible through a
religious decadence which they in turn accelerate. A Christian in a
company of middle-class Jews is like a lion in a den of Daniels. They
show him deference and their prophetic side.

Mrs. Henry Goldsmith was of the upper middle classes, and her husband
was the financial representative of the Kensington Synagogue at the
United Council; but her swan-like neck was still bowed beneath the
yoke of North London, not to say provincial, Judaism. So to-night
there were none of those external indications of Christmas which are
so frequent at 'good' Jewish houses--no plum-pudding, snap-dragon,
mistletoe, not even a Christmas-tree. For Mrs. Henry Goldsmith did not
countenance these coquettings with Christianity. She would have told
you that the incidence of her dinner on Christmas Eve was merely an
accident, though a lucky accident, in so far as Christmas found Jews
perforce at leisure for social gatherings. What she was celebrating
was the Feast of Chanukah--of the re-dedication of the Temple after
the pollutions of Antiochus Epiphanes--and the memory of the national
hero, Judas Maccabæus. Christmas crackers would have been incompatible
with the Chanukah candles which the housekeeper, Mary O'Reilly, forced
her master to light, and would have shocked that devout old dame. For
Mary O'Reilly, as good a soul as she was a Catholic, had lived all her
life with Jews, assisting while yet a girl in the kitchen of Henry
Goldsmith's father, who was a pattern of ancient piety and a prop of
the Great Synagogue. When the father died, Mary, with all the other
family belongings, passed into the hands of the son, who came up to
London from a provincial town, and, with a grateful recollection of
her motherliness, domiciled her in his own establishment. Mary knew
all the ritual laws and ceremonies far better than her new mistress,
who, although a native of the provincial town in which Mr. Henry
Goldsmith had established a thriving business, had received her
education at a Brussels boarding-school. Mary knew exactly how long to
keep the meat in salt, and the heinousness of frying steaks in butter.
She knew that the fire must not be poked on the Sabbath, nor the gas
lit or extinguished, and that her master must not smoke till three
stars appeared in the sky. She knew when the family must fast, and
when and how it must feast. She knew all the Hebrew and Jargon
expressions which her employers studiously boycotted, and she was the
only member of the household who used them habitually in her
intercourse with the other members. Too late the Henry Goldsmiths
awoke to the consciousness of her tyranny, which did not permit them
to be irreligious even in private. In the fierce light which beats
upon a provincial town with only one synagogue, they had been
compelled to conform outwardly with many galling restrictions, and
they had subconsciously looked forward to emancipation in the mighty
Metropolis. But Mary had such implicit faith in their piety, and was
so zealous in the practice of her own faith, that they had not the
courage to confess that they scarcely cared a pin about a good deal of
that for which she was so solicitous. They hesitated to admit that
they did not respect their religion (or what she thought was their
religion) as much as she did hers. It would have equally lowered them
in her eyes to admit that their religion was not so good as hers,
besides being disrespectful to the cherished memory of her ancient
master. At first they had deferred to Mary's Jewish prejudices out of
good-nature and carelessness, but every day strengthened her hold upon
them; every act of obedience to the ritual law was a tacit
acknowledgment of its sanctity, which made it more and more difficult
to disavow its obligation. The dread of shocking Mary came to dominate
their lives, and the fashionable house near Kensington Gardens was
still a veritable centre of true Jewish orthodoxy, with little to make
old Aaron Goldsmith turn in his grave.

It is probable, though, that Mrs. Henry Goldsmith would have kept a
_kosher_ table even if Mary had never been born. Many of their
acquaintances and relatives were of an orthodox turn. A _kosher_
dinner could be eaten even by the heterodox, whereas a _tripha_ dinner
choked off the orthodox. Thus it came about that even the Rabbinate
might safely stoke its spiritual fires at Mrs. Henry Goldsmith's.

Hence, too, the prevalent craving for a certain author's blood could
not be gratified at Mrs. Henry Goldsmith's Chanukah dinner. Besides,
nobody knew where to lay hands upon Edward Armitage, the author in
question, whose opprobrious production _Mordecai Josephs_, had
scandalised West-End Judaism.

'Why didn't he describe our circle?' asked the hostess, an angry fire
in her beautiful eyes. 'It would have at least corrected the picture.
As it is, the public will fancy that we are all daubed with the same
brush--that we have no thought in life beyond dress, money and
solo-whist.'

'He probably painted the life he knew,' said Sidney Graham, in
defence.

'Then I am sorry for him,' retorted Mrs. Goldsmith. 'It's a great pity
he had such detestable acquaintances. Of course, he has cut himself
off from the possibility of any better now.'

The wavering flush on her lovely face darkened with disinterested
indignation, and her beautiful bosom heaved with judicial grief.

'I should hope so,' put in Miss Cissy Levine sharply. She was a pale,
bent woman, with spectacles, who believed in the mission of Israel,
and wrote domestic novels to prove that she had no sense of humour.
'No one has a right to foul his own nest. Are there not plenty of
subjects for the Jew's pen without his attacking his own people? The
calumniator of his race should be ostracised from decent society.'

'As according to him there is none,' laughed Sidney Graham, 'I cannot
see where the punishment comes in.'

'Oh, he may say so in that book,' said Mrs. Montagu Samuels, an
amiable, loose-thinking lady of florid complexion, who dabbled
exasperatingly in her husband's philanthropic concerns from a vague
idea that the wife of a committee-man is a committee-woman. 'But he
knows better.'

'Yes, indeed,' said Mr. Montagu Samuels. 'The rascal has only written
it to make money. He knows it's all exaggeration and distortion. But
anything spicy pays nowadays.'

'As a West Indian merchant, he ought to know,' murmured Sidney Graham
to his charming cousin, Adelaide Leon.

The girl's soft eyes twinkled as she surveyed the serious little City
magnate with his placid spouse. Montagu Samuels was narrow-minded and
narrow-chested, and managed to be pompous on a meagre allowance of
body. He was earnest and charitable (except in religious wrangles,
when he was earnest and uncharitable), and knew himself a pillar of
the community, an exemplar to the drones and sluggards who shirked
their share of public burdens and were callous to the dazzlement of
communal honours.

'Of course it was written for money, Monty,' his brother, Percy
Saville, the stockbroker, reminded him. 'What else do authors write
for? It's the way they earn their living.'

Strangers found difficulty in understanding the fraternal relation of
Percy Saville and Montagu Samuels, and did not readily grasp that
Percy Saville was an Anglican version of Pizer Samuels, more in tune
with the handsome, well-dressed personality it denoted. Montagu had
stuck loyally to his colours, but Pizer had drooped under the burden
of carrying his patronymic through the theatrical and artistic circles
he favoured after business hours. Of such is the brotherhood of
Israel.

'The whole book's written with gall,' went on Percy Saville
emphatically. 'I suppose the man couldn't get into good Jewish houses,
and he's revenged himself by slandering them.'

'Then he ought to have got into good Jewish houses,' said Sidney. 'The
man has talent, nobody can deny that, and if he couldn't get into good
Jewish society because he didn't have money enough, isn't that proof
enough his picture is true?'

'I don't deny that there are people among us who make money the one
Open Sesame to their houses,' said Mrs. Henry Goldsmith magnanimously.

'Deny it, indeed! Money is the Open Sesame to everything,' rejoined
Sidney Graham, delightedly scenting an opening for a screed. He liked
to talk bombshells, and did not often get pillars of the community to
shatter. 'Money manages the schools and the charities and the
synagogues, and indirectly controls the press. A small body of
persons--always the same--sits on all councils, on all boards! Why?
Because they pay the piper.'

'Well, sir, and is not that a good reason?' asked Montagu Samuels.
'The community is to be congratulated on having a few public-spirited
men left in days when there are wealthy German Jews in our midst who
not only disavow Judaism, but refuse to support its institutions. But,
Mr. Graham, I would join issue with you. The men you allude to are
elected, not because they are rich, but because they are good men of
business, and most of the work to be done is financial.'

'Exactly,' said Sidney Graham in sinister agreement. 'I have always
maintained that the United Synagogue could be run as a joint-stock
company for the sake of a dividend, and that there wouldn't be an atom
of difference in the discussions if the councillors were directors. I
do believe the pillars of the community figure the Millennium as a
time when every Jew shall have enough to eat, a place to worship in,
and a place to be buried in. Their State Church is simply a financial
system, to which the doctrines of Judaism happen to be tacked on. How
many of the councillors believe in their established religion? Why,
the very beadles of their synagogues are prone to surreptitious
shrimps and unobtrusive oysters! Then take that institution for
supplying _kosher_ meat. I am sure there are lots of its committee who
never inquire into the necrologies of their own chops and steaks, and
who regard kitchen Judaism as obsolete; but, all the same, they look
after the finances with almost fanatical zeal. Finance fascinates
them. Long after Judaism has ceased to exist, excellent gentlemen will
be found regulating its finances.'

There was that smile on the faces of the graver members of the party
which arises from reluctance to take a dangerous speaker seriously.

Sidney Graham was one of those favourites of society who are allowed
Touchstone's licence. He had just as little wish to reform, and just
as much wish to abuse, society as society has to be reformed and
abused. He was a dark, bright-eyed young artist with a silky
moustache. He had lived much in Paris, where he studied impressionism
and perfected his natural talent for causerie, and his inborn
preference for the hedonistic view of life. Fortunately he had plenty
of money, for he was a cousin of Raphael Leon on the mother's side,
and the remotest twigs of the Leon genealogical tree bear apples of
gold. His real name was Abrahams, which is a shade too Semitic. Sidney
was the black sheep of the family--good-natured to the core, and
artistic to the finger-tips, he was an avowed infidel in a world where
avowal is the unpardonable sin. He did not even pretend to fast on the
Day of Atonement. Still, Sidney Graham was a good deal talked of in
artistic circles, his name was often in the newspapers, and so more
orthodox people than Mrs. Henry Goldsmith were not averse to having
him at their table, though they would have shrunk from being seen at
his. Even Cousin Addie, who had a charming religious cast of mind,
liked to be with him, though she ascribed this to family piety--for
there is a wonderful solidarity about many Jewish families, the richer
members of which assemble loyally at one another's births, marriages,
funerals, and card-parties, often to the entire exclusion of
outsiders. An ordinary well-regulated family (so prolific is the
stream of life) will include in its bosom ample elements for every
occasion.

'Really, Mr. Graham, I think you are wrong about the _kosher_ meat,'
said Mr. Henry Goldsmith. 'Our statistics show no falling off in the
number of bullocks killed, while there is a rise of two per cent. in
the sheep slaughtered. No, Judaism is in a far more healthy condition
than pessimists imagine. So far from sacrificing our ancient faith, we
are learning to see how tuberculosis lurks in the lungs of unexamined
carcases and is communicated to the consumer. As for the members of
the _Shechitah_ Board not eating _Kosher_, look at me.'

The only person who looked at the host was the hostess. Her look was
one of approval--it could not be of æsthetic approval, like the look
Percy Saville devoted to herself, for her husband was a cadaverous
little man with prominent ears and teeth.

'And if Mr. Graham should ever join us on the Council of the United
Synagogue,' added Montagu Samuels, addressing the table generally, 'he
will discover that there is no communal problem with which we do not
loyally grapple.'

'No, thank you,' said Sidney with a shudder. 'When I visit Raphael, I
sometimes pick up a Jewish paper and amuse myself by reading the
debates of your public bodies. I understand most of your verbiage is
edited away,' he looked Montagu Samuels full in the face, with
audacious _naïveté_; 'but there is enough left to show that our
monotonous group of public men consists of narrow-minded mediocrities.
The chief public work they appear to do, outside finance, is, when
public exams. fall on Sabbaths or holidays, getting special dates for
Jewish candidates, to whom these examinations are the avenues to
atheism. They never see the joke. How can they? Why, they take even
themselves seriously.'

'Oh, come!' said Miss Cissy Levine indignantly. 'You often see
"laughter" in the reports.'

'That must mean the speaker was laughing,' explained Sidney, 'for you
never see anything to make the audience laugh. I appeal to Mr. Montagu
Samuels.'

'It is useless discussing a subject with a man who admittedly speaks
without knowledge,' replied that gentleman with dignity.

'Well, how do you expect me to get the knowledge?' grumbled Sidney.
'You exclude the public from your gatherings--I suppose to prevent
them rubbing shoulders with the swells, the privilege of being snubbed
by whom is the reward of public service. Wonderfully practical idea
that--to utilise snobbery as a communal force! The United Synagogue
is founded on it. Your community coheres through it.'

'There you are scarcely fair,' said the hostess, with a charming smile
of reproof. 'Of course there are snobs amongst us, but is it not the
same in all sects?'

'Emphatically not,' said Sidney. 'If one of our swells sticks to a
shred of Judaism, people seem to think the God of Judah should be
thankful; and if he goes to synagogue once or twice a year, it is
regarded as a particular condescension to the Creator.'

'The mental attitude you caricature is not so snobbish as it seems,'
said Raphael Leon, breaking into the conversation for the first time.
'The temptations to the wealthy and the honoured to desert their
struggling brethren are manifold, and sad experience has made our race
accustomed to the loss of its brightest sons.'

'Thanks for the compliment, fair coz,' said Sidney, not without a
complacent cynical pleasure in the knowledge that Raphael spoke truly,
that he owed his own immunity from the obligations of the faith to his
artistic success, and that the outside world was disposed to accord
him a larger charter of morality on the same grounds. 'But if you can
only deny nasty facts by accounting for them, I dare say Mr.
Armitage's book will afford you ample opportunities for explanation.
Or have Jews the brazenness to assert it is all invention?'

'No; no one would do that,' said Percy Saville, who had just done it.
'Certainly, there is a good deal of truth in the sketch of the
ostentatious, over-dressed Johnsons, who, as everybody knows, are
meant for the Jonases.'

'Oh yes,' said Mrs. Henry Goldsmith. 'And it's quite evident that the
stockbroker who drops half his _h's_, and all his poor acquaintances,
and believes in one Lord, is no other than Joel Friedman.'

'And the house where people drive up in broughams for supper and
solo-whist after the theatre is the Davises', in Maida Vale,' said
Miss Cissy Levine.

'Yes, the book's true enough,' began Mrs. Montagu Samuels. She stopped
suddenly, catching her husband's eye, and the colour heightened on her
florid cheek. 'What I say is,' she concluded awkwardly, 'he ought to
have come among us, and shown the world a picture of the cultured
Jews.'

'Quite so, quite so!' said the hostess. Then, turning to the tall,
thoughtful-looking young man who had hitherto contributed but one
remark to the conversation, she said, half in sly malice, half to draw
him out: 'Now you, Mr. Leon, whose culture is certified by our leading
University, what do you think of this latest portrait of the Jew?'

'I don't know; I haven't read it,' replied Raphael apologetically.

'No more have I,' murmured the table generally.

'I wouldn't touch it with a pitchfork,' said Miss Cissy Levine.

'I think it's a shame they circulate it at the libraries,' said Mrs.
Montagu Samuels. 'I just glanced over it at Mrs. Hugh Marston's house.
It's vile. There are actually Jargon words in it. Such vulgarity!'

'Shameful!' murmured Percy Saville; 'Mr. Lazarus was telling me about
it. It's plain treachery and disloyalty, this putting of weapons into
the hands of our enemies. Of course we have our faults, but we should
be told of them privately or from the pulpit.'

'That would be just as efficacious,' said Sidney admiringly.

'More efficacious,' said Percy Saville unsuspiciously. 'A preacher
speaks with authority, but this penny-a-liner----'

'With truth?' queried Sidney.

Saville stopped, disgusted, and the hostess answered Sidney half
coaxingly.

'Oh, I am sure you can't think that. The book is so one-sided. Not a
word about our generosity, our hospitality, our domesticity--the
thousand and one good traits all the world allows us.'

'Of course not; since all the world allows them, it was unnecessary,'
said Sidney.

'I wonder the Chief Rabbi doesn't stop it,' said Mrs. Montagu
Samuels.

'My dear, how can he?' inquired her husband. 'He has no control over
the publishing trade.'

'He ought to talk to the man,' persisted Mrs. Samuels.

'But we don't even know who he is,' said Percy Saville; 'probably
"Edward Armitage" is only a _nom de plume_. You'd be surprised to
learn the real names of some of the literary celebrities I meet
about.'

'Oh, if he's a Jew you may be sure it isn't his real name,' laughed
Sidney. It was characteristic of him that he never spared a shot, even
when himself hurt by the kick of the gun. Percy coloured slightly,
unmollified by being in the same boat with the satirist.

'I have never seen the name in the subscription lists,' said the
hostess with ready tact.

'There is an Armitage who subscribes two guineas a year to the Board
of Guardians,' said Mrs. Montagu Samuels. 'But his Christian name is
George.'

'"Christian" name is distinctly good for "George,"' murmured Sidney.

'There was an Armitage who sent a cheque to the Russian Fund,' said
Mr. Henry Goldsmith; 'but that can't be an author: it was quite a
large cheque!'

'I am sure I have seen Armitage among the Births, Marriages, and
Deaths,' said Miss Cissy Levine.

'How well read they all are in the national literature!' Sidney
murmured to Addie.

Indeed, the sectarian advertisements served to knit the race together,
counteracting the unravelling induced by the fashionable dispersion of
Israel, and waxing the more important as the other links, the old
traditional jokes, bywords, ceremonies, card-games, prejudices, and
tunes, which are more important than laws and more cementatory than
ideals, were disappearing before the over-zealousness of a parvenu
refinement that had not yet attained to self-confidence. The
Anglo-Saxon stolidity of the West-End synagogue service, on week days
entirely given over to paid praying-men, was a typical expression of
the universal tendency to exchange the picturesque primitiveness of
the Orient for the sobrieties of fashionable civilisation. When
Jeshurun waxed fat, he did not always kick, but he yearned to
approximate as much as possible to John Bull without merging in him;
to sink himself and yet not be absorbed--not to be, and yet to be. The
attempt to realise the asymptote in human mathematics was not quite
successful, too near an approach to John Bull generally assimilating
Jeshurun away. For such is the nature of Jeshurun. Enfranchise him,
give him his own way, and you make a new man of him; persecute him,
and he is himself again.

'But if nobody has read the man's book,' Raphael Leon ventured to
interrupt at last, 'is it quite fair to assume his book isn't fit to
read?'

The shy dark little girl he had taken down to dinner darted an
appreciative glance at her neighbour. It was in accordance with
Raphael's usual anxiety to give the devil his due that he should be
unwilling to condemn even the writer of an anti-Semitic novel unheard.
But, then, it was an open secret in the family that Raphael was mad.
They did their best to hush it up, but among themselves they pitied
him behind his back. Even Sidney considered his cousin Raphael pushed
a dubious virtue too far, in treating people's very prejudices with
the deference due to earnest, reasoned opinions.

'But we know enough of the book to know we are badly treated,'
protested the hostess.

'We have always been badly treated in literature,' said Raphael. 'We
are made either angels or devils. On the one hand, Lessing and George
Eliot; on the other, the stock dramatist and novelist, with their
low-comedy villain.'

'Oh!' said Mrs. Goldsmith doubtfully, for she could not quite think
Raphael had become infected by his cousin's propensity for paradox.
'Do you think George Eliot and Lessing didn't understand the Jewish
character?'

'They are the only writers who have ever understood it,' affirmed Miss
Cissy Levine emphatically.

A little scornful smile played for a second about the mouth of the
dark little girl.

'Stop a moment,' said Sidney. 'I've been so busy doing justice to this
delicious asparagus that I have allowed Raphael to imagine nobody
here has read _Mordecai Josephs_. I have, and I say there is more
actuality in it than in _Daniel Deronda_ and _Nathan der Weise_ put
together. It is a crude production, all the same; the writer's
artistic gift seems handicapped by a dead weight of moral platitudes
and high falutin, and even mysticism. He not only presents his
characters, but moralises over them--actually cares whether they are
good or bad, and has yearnings after the indefinable. It is all very
young. Instead of being satisfied that Judæa gives him characters that
are interesting, he actually laments their lack of culture. Still,
what he has done is good enough to make one hope his artistic instinct
will shake off his moral.'

'Oh, Sidney, what are you saying?' murmured Addie.

'It's all right, little girl. You don't understand Greek.'

'It's not Greek,' put in Raphael. 'In Greek art beauty of soul and
beauty of form are one. It's French you are talking, though the
ignorant ateliers where you picked it up flatter themselves it's
Greek.'

'It's Greek to Addie, anyhow,' laughed Sidney. 'But that's what makes
the anti-Semitic chapters so unsatisfactory.'

'We all felt their unsatisfactoriness, if we could not analyse it so
cleverly,' said the hostess.

'We all felt it,' said Mrs. Montagu Samuels.

'Yes, that's it,' said Sidney blandly. 'I could have forgiven the
rose-colour of the picture if it had been more artistically painted.'

'Rose-colour!' gasped Mrs. Henry Goldsmith.

Rose-colour indeed! Not even Sidney's authority could persuade the
table into that.

Poor rich Jews! The upper middle classes had every excuse for being
angry. They knew they were excellent persons, well educated and well
travelled, interested in charities (both Jewish and Christian),
people's concerts, district-visiting, new novels, magazines, reading
circles, operas, symphonies, politics, volunteer regiments, Show
Sunday and Corporation banquets; that they had sons at Rugby and
Oxford, and daughters who played and painted and sang, and homes that
were bright oases of optimism in a jaded society; that they were good
Liberals and Tories, supplementing their duties as Englishmen with a
solicitude for the best interests of Judaism; that they left no stone
unturned to emancipate themselves from the secular thraldom of
prejudice; and they felt it very hard that a little vulgar section
should always be chosen by their own novelists, and their efforts to
raise the tone of Jewish society passed by.

Sidney, whose conversation always had the air of aloofness from the
race, so that his own foibles often came under the lash of his
sarcasm, proceeded to justify his assertion of the rose-colour picture
in _Mordecai Josephs_. He denied that modern English Jews had any
religion whatever, claiming that their faith consisted of forms that
had to be kept up in public, but which they were too shrewd and cute
to believe in or to practise in private, though every one might
believe every one else did; that they looked upon due payment of their
synagogue bills as discharging all their obligations to Heaven; that
the preachers secretly despised the old formulas, and that the
Rabbinate declared its intention of dying for Judaism only as a way of
living by it; that the body politic was dead and rotten with
hypocrisy, though the augurs said it was alive and well. He admitted
that the same was true of Christianity. Raphael reminded him that a
number of Jews had drifted quite openly from the traditional teaching,
that thousands of well-ordered households found inspiration and
spiritual satisfaction in every form of it, and that hypocrisy was too
crude a word for the complex motives of those who obeyed it without
inner conviction.

'For instance,' said he, 'a gentleman said to me the other day--I was
much touched by the expression--"I believe with my father's heart."'

'It is a good epigram,' said Sidney, impressed. 'But what is to be
said of a rich community which recruits its clergy from the lowest
classes? The method of election by competitive performance--common as
it is, among poor Dissenters--emphasises the subjection of the
shepherd to his flock. You catch your ministers young--when they are
saturated with suppressed scepticism--and bribe them with small
salaries that seem affluence to the sons of poor immigrants. That the
ministry is not an honourable profession may be seen from the anxiety
of the minister to raise his children in the social scale by bringing
them up to some other line of business.'

'That is true,' said Raphael gravely. 'Our wealthy families must be
induced to devote a son each to the synagogue.'

'I wish they would,' said Sidney. 'At present every second man is a
lawyer. We ought to have more officers and doctors, too. I like those
old Jews who smote the Philistines hip and thigh--it is not good for a
race to run all to brain--I suppose, though, we had to develop cunning
to survive at all. There was an enlightened minister whose Friday
evenings I used to go to when a youth--delightful talk we had there,
too; you know whom I mean. Well, one of his sons is a solicitor, and
the other a stockbroker. The rich men he preached to helped to place
his sons. He was a charming man, but imagine him preaching to them the
truths in _Mordecai Josephs_, as Mr. Saville suggested.'

'_Our_ minister lets us have it hot enough, though,' said Mr. Henry
Goldsmith, with a guffaw.

His wife hastened to obliterate the unrefined expression.

'Mr. Strelitski is a wonderfully eloquent young man, so quiet and
reserved in society, but like an ancient prophet in the pulpit.'

'Yes, we were very lucky to get him,' said Mr. Henry Goldsmith.

The little dark girl shuddered.

'What is the matter?' asked Raphael softly.

'I don't know. I don't like the Rev. Joseph Strelitski. He is
eloquent, but his dogmatism irritates me. I don't believe he is
sincere. He doesn't like me either.'

'Oh, you're both wrong,' he said in concern.

'Strelitski is a draw, I admit,' said Mr. Montagu Samuels, who was the
President of a rival synagogue. 'But Rosenbaum is a good pull-down on
the other side, eh?'

Mr. Henry Goldsmith groaned. The second minister of the Kensington
synagogue was the scandal of the community. He wasn't expected to
preach, and he didn't practise.

'I've heard of that man,' said Sidney, laughing. 'He's a bit of a
gambler and a spendthrift, isn't he? Why do you keep him on?'

'He has a fine voice, you see,' said Mr. Goldsmith. 'That makes a
Rosenbaum faction at once. Then he has a wife and family; that makes
another.'

'Strelitski isn't married, is he?' asked Sidney.

'No,' said Mr. Goldsmith; 'not yet. The congregation expect him to,
though. I don't care to give him the hint myself, he is a little queer
sometimes.'

'He owes it to his position,' said Miss Cissy Levine.

'That is what we think,' said Mrs. Henry Goldsmith, with the majestic
manner that suited her opulent beauty.

'I wish we had him in our synagogue,' said Raphael. 'Michaels is a
well-meaning, worthy man, but he is dreadfully dull.'

'Poor Raphael!' said Sidney. 'Why did you abolish the old style of
minister who had to slaughter the sheep? Now the minister reserves all
his powers of destruction for his own flock.'

'I have given him endless hints to preach only once a month,' said Mr.
Montagu Samuels dolefully. 'But every Saturday our hearts sink as we
see him walk to the pulpit.'

'You see, Addie, how a sense of duty makes a man criminal,' said
Sidney. 'Isn't Michaels the minister who defends orthodoxy in a way
that makes the orthodox rage over his unconscious heresies, while the
heterodox enjoy themselves by looking out for his historical and
grammatical blunders?'

'Poor man! he works hard,' said Raphael gently. 'Let him be.'

Over the dessert the conversation turned by way of the Rev.
Strelitski's marriage to the growing willingness of the younger
generation to marry out of Judaism. The table discerned in
intermarriage the beginning of the end.

'But why postpone the inevitable?' asked Sidney calmly. 'What is this
mania for keeping up an effeteism? Are we to cripple our lives for the
sake of a word? It's all romantic fudge, the idea of perpetual
isolation. You get into little cliques, and mistake narrow-mindedness
for fidelity to an ideal. I can live for months and forget there are
such beings as Jews in the world. I have floated down the Nile in a
_dahabiya_ while you were beating your breasts in the synagogue, and
the palm-trees and the pelicans knew nothing of your sacrosanct
chronological crisis, your annual epidemic of remorse.'

The table thrilled with horror, without, however, quite believing in
the speaker's wickedness. Addie looked troubled.

'A man and wife of different religions can never know true happiness,'
said the hostess.

'Granted,' retorted Sidney. 'But why shouldn't Jews without Judaism
marry Christians without Christianity? Must a Jew needs have a Jewess
to help him break the Law?'

'Intermarriage must not be tolerated,' said Raphael. 'It would hurt us
less if we had a country. Lacking that, we must preserve our human
boundaries.'

'You have good phrases sometimes,' admitted Sidney. 'But why must we
preserve any boundaries? Why must we exist at all as a separate
people?'

'To fulfil the mission of Israel,' said Mr. Montagu Samuels solemnly.

'Ah, what is that? That is one of the things nobody ever seems able to
tell me.'

'We are God's witnesses,' said Mrs. Henry Goldsmith, snipping off for
herself a little bunch of hot-house grapes.

'False witnesses mostly, then,' said Sidney. 'A Christian friend of
mine, an artist, fell in love with a girl and courted her regularly at
her house for four years. Then he proposed; she told him to ask her
father, and he then learnt for the first time that the family was
Jewish, and his suit could not therefore be entertained. Could a
satirist have invented anything funnier? Whatever it was Jews have to
bear witness to, these people had been bearing witness to so
effectually that a constant visitor never heard a word of the evidence
during four years. And this family is not an exception; it is a type.
Abroad the English Jew keeps his Judaism in the background, at home in
the back kitchen. When he travels, his Judaism is not packed up among
his _impedimenta_. He never obtrudes his creed, and even his Jewish
newspaper is sent to him in a wrapper labelled something else. How's
that for witnesses? Mind you, I'm not blaming the men, being one of
'em. They may be the best fellows going, honourable, high-minded,
generous--why expect them to be martyrs more than other Englishmen?
Isn't life hard enough without inventing a new hardship? I declare
there's no narrower creature in the world than your idealist; he sets
up a moral standard which suits his own line of business, and rails at
men of the world for not conforming to it. God's witnesses, indeed! I
say nothing of those who are rather the devil's witnesses, but think
of the host of Jews like myself who, whether they marry Christians or
not, simply drop out, and whose absence of all religion escapes notice
in the medley of creeds. We no more give evidence than those old
Spanish Jews--Marannos they were called, weren't they?--who wore the
Christian mask for generations. Practically many of us are Marannos
still--I don't mean the Jews who are on the stage, and the press, and
all that, but the Jews who have gone on believing. One Day of
Atonement I amused myself by noting the pretexts on the shutters of
shops that were closed in the Strand. "Our annual holiday,"
"Stocktaking day," "Our annual beanfeast," "Closed for repairs."'

'Well, it's something if they keep the Fast at all,' said Mr. Henry
Goldsmith. 'It shows spirituality is not dead in them.'

'Spirituality!' sneered Sidney. 'Sheer superstition, rather. A dread
of thunderbolts. Besides, fasting is a sensuous _attraction_. But for
the fasting, the Day of Atonement would have long since died out for
these men. "Our annual beanfeast"! There's witnesses for you!'

'We cannot help it if we have false witnesses among us,' said Raphael
Leon quietly. 'Our mission is to spread the truth of the Torah till
the earth is filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover
the sea.'

'But we don't spread it.'

'We do. Christianity and Mohammedanism are offshoots of Judaism;
through them we have won the world from paganism, and taught it that
God is one with the moral law.'

'Then we are somewhat in the position of an ancient schoolmaster
lagging superfluous in the schoolroom, where his whilom pupils are
teaching.'

'By no means. Rather of one who stays on to protest against the false
additions of his whilom pupils.'

'But we don't protest.'

'Our mere existence, since the Dispersion, is a protest,' urged
Raphael. 'When the stress of persecution lightens, we may protest more
consciously. We cannot have been preserved in vain through so many
centuries of horrors, through the invasions of the Goths and Huns,
through the Crusades, through the Holy Roman Empire, through the times
of Torquemada. It is not for nothing that a handful of Jews loom so
large in the history of the world, that their past is bound up with
every noble human effort, every high ideal, every development of
science, literature, and art. The ancient faith that has united us so
long must not be lost just as it is on the very eve of surviving the
faiths that sprung from it, even as it has survived Egypt, Assyria,
Rome, Greece, and the Moors. If any of us fancy we have lost it, let
us keep together still. Who knows but that it will be born again in
us, if we are only patient? Race affinity is a potent force, why be in
a hurry to dissipate it? The Marannos you speak of were but maimed
heroes, yet one day the olden flame burst through the layers of three
generations of Christian profession and intermarriage, and a brilliant
company of illustrious Spaniards threw up their positions and sailed
away in voluntary exile to serve the God of Israel. We shall yet see
a spiritual revival even among our brilliant English Jews who have hid
their face from their own flesh.'

The dark little girl looked up into his face with ill-suppressed
wonder.

'Have you done preaching at me, Raphael?' inquired Sidney. 'If so,
pass me a banana.'

Raphael smiled sadly and obeyed.

'I'm afraid if I see much of Raphael I shall be converted to Judaism,'
said Sidney, peeling the banana. 'I had better take a hansom to the
Riviera at once. I intended to spend Christmas there; I never dreamt I
should be talking theology in London.'

'Oh, I think Christmas in London is best,' said the hostess
unguardedly.

'Oh, I don't know. Give me Brighton,' said the host.

'Well, yes, I suppose Brighton _is_ pleasanter,' said Mr. Montagu
Samuels.

'Oh, but so many Jews go there,' observed Percy Saville.

'Yes, that _is_ the drawback,' said Mrs. Henry Goldsmith. 'Do you
know, some years ago I discovered a delightful village in Devonshire,
and took the household there in the summer. The very next year when I
went down I found no less than two Jewish families temporarily located
there. Of course I have never gone there since.'

'Yes, it's wonderful how Jews scent out all the nicest places,' agreed
Mrs. Montagu Samuels. 'Five years ago you could escape them by not
going to Ramsgate; now even the Highlands are getting impossible.'

Thereupon the hostess rose and the ladies retired to the drawing-room,
leaving the gentlemen to discuss coffee, cigars, and the paradoxes of
Sidney, who, tired of religion, looked to dumb-show plays for the
salvation of dramatic literature.

There was a little milk-jug on the coffee-tray. It represented a
victory over Mary O'Reilly. The late Aaron Goldsmith never took milk
till six hours after meat, and it was with some trepidation that the
present Mr. Goldsmith ordered it to be sent up one evening after
dinner. He took an early opportunity of explaining apologetically to
Mary that some of his guests were not so pious as himself, and
hospitality demanded the concession.

Mr. Henry Goldsmith did not like his coffee black. His dinner-table
was hardly ever without a guest.



CHAPTER II

RAPHAEL LEON


When the gentlemen joined the ladies, Raphael instinctively returned
to his companion of the dinner-table. She had been singularly silent
during the meal, but her manner had attracted him. Over his black
coffee and cigarette, it struck him that she might have been unwell,
and that he had been insufficiently attentive to the little duties of
the table, and he hastened to ask if she had a headache.

'No, no,' she said, with a grateful smile. 'At least, not more than
usual.'

Her smile was full of pensive sweetness, which made her face
beautiful. It was a face that would have been almost plain but for the
soul behind. It was dark, with great earnest eyes. The profile was
disappointing, the curves were not perfect, and there was a reminder
of Polish origin in the lower jaw and the cheek-bone. Seen from the
front, the face fascinated again, in the Eastern glow of its
colouring, in the flash of the white teeth, in the depths of the
brooding eyes, in the strength of the features that yet softened to
womanliest tenderness and charm when flooded by the sunshine of a
smile. The figure was _petite_ and graceful, set off by a simple,
tight-fitting, high-necked dress of ivory silk draped with lace, with
a spray of Neapolitan violets at the throat. They sat in a niche of
the spacious and artistically furnished drawing-room, in the soft
light of the candles, talking quietly while Addie played Chopin.

Mrs. Henry Goldsmith's æsthetic instincts had had full play in the
elaborate carelessness of the ensemble, and the result was a triumph,
a medley of Persian luxury and Parisian grace, a dream of somniferous
couches and armchairs, rich tapestry, vases, fans, engravings, books,
bronzes, tiles, plaques, and flowers. Mr. Henry Goldsmith was himself
a connoisseur in the arts, his own and his father's fortunes having
been built up in the curio and antique business, though to old Aaron
Goldsmith appreciation had meant strictly pricing, despite his genius
for detecting false Correggios and sham Louis Quatorze cabinets.

'Do you suffer from headaches?' inquired Raphael solicitously.

'A little. The doctor says I studied too much and worked too hard when
a little girl. Such is the punishment of perseverance. Life isn't like
the copy-books.'

'Oh, but I wonder your parents let you over-exert yourself.'

A melancholy smile played about the mobile lips. 'I brought myself
up,' she said. 'You look puzzled. Oh, I know! Confess you think I'm
Miss Goldsmith!'

'Why--are--you not?' he stammered.

'No, my name is Ansell--Esther Ansell.'

'Pardon me. I am so bad at remembering names in introductions. But
I've just come back from Oxford, and it's the first time I've been to
this house, and seeing you here without a cavalier when we arrived, I
thought you lived here.'

'You thought rightly; I do live here.' She laughed gently at his
changing expression.

'I wonder Sidney never mentioned you to me,' he said.

'Do you mean Mr. Graham?' she said, with a slight blush.

'Yes? I know he visits here.'

'Oh, he is an artist. He has eyes only for the beautiful.'

She spoke quickly, a little embarrassed.

'You wrong him; his interests are wider than that.'

'Do you know, I am so glad you didn't pay me the obvious compliment,'
she said, recovering herself. 'It looked as if I were fishing for it.
I'm so stupid.'

He looked at her blankly.

'_I_'m stupid,' he said, 'for I don't know what compliment I missed
paying.'

'If you regret it, I shall not think so well of you,' she said. 'You
know I've heard all about your brilliant success at Oxford.'

'They put all those petty little things in the Jewish papers, don't
they?'

'I read it in the _Times_,' retorted Esther. 'You took a double-first
and the prize for poetry, and a heap of other things; but I noticed
the prize for poetry, because it is so rare to find a Jew writing
poetry.'

'Prize poetry is not poetry,' he reminded her. 'But considering the
Jewish Bible contains the finest poetry in the world, I do not see why
you should be surprised to find a Jew trying to write some.'

'Oh, you know what I mean,' answered Esther. 'What is the use of
talking about the old Jews? We seem to be a different race now. Who
cares for poetry?'

'Our poet's scroll reaches on uninterruptedly through the Middle Ages.
The passing phenomenon of to-day must not blind us to the real traits
of our race,' said Raphael.

'Nor must we be blind to the passing phenomenon of to-day,' retorted
Esther. 'We have no ideals now.'

'I see Sidney has been infecting you,' he said gently.

'No, no; I beg you will not think that,' she said, flushing almost
resentfully. 'I have thought these things, as the Scripture tells us
to meditate on the Law, day and night, sleeping and waking, standing
up and sitting down.'

'You cannot have thought of them without prejudice, then,' he
answered,'if you say we have no ideals.'

'I mean, we're not responsive to great poetry--to the message of a
Browning, for instance.'

'I deny it. Only a small percentage of his own race is responsive. I
would wager our percentage is proportionally higher. But Browning's
philosophy of religion is already ours--for hundreds of years every
Saturday night every Jew has been proclaiming the view of life and
Providence in "Pisgah Sights":

    '"All's lend and borrow,
    Good, see, wants evil,
    Joy demands sorrow,
    Angel weds devil."

What is this but the philosophy of our formula for ushering out the
Sabbath and welcoming in the day of toil, accepting the holy and the
profane, the light and the darkness?'

'Is that in the Prayer-Book?' said Esther, astonished.

'Yes, you see you are ignorant of our own ritual while admiring
everything non-Jewish. Excuse me if I am frank, Miss Ansell, but there
are many people among us who rave over Italian antiquities, but can
see nothing poetical in old Judaism. They listen eagerly to Dante, but
despise David.'

'I shall certainly look up the liturgy,' said Esther. 'But that will
not alter my opinion. The Jew may say these fine things, but they are
only a tune to him. Yes, I begin to recall the passage in Hebrew--I
see my father making _Havdalah_--the melody goes in my head like a
sing-song. But I never in my life thought of the meaning. As a little
girl I always got my conscious religious inspiration out of the New
Testament. It sounds very shocking, I know.'

'Undoubtedly you put your finger on an evil. But there is religious
edification in common prayers and ceremonies even when divorced from
meaning. Remember the Latin prayers of the Catholic poor. Jews may be
below Judaism, but are not all men below their creed? If the race
which gave the world the Bible knows it least----'

He stopped suddenly, for Addie was playing _pianissimo_, and although
she was his sister, he did not like to put her out.

'It comes to this,' said Esther, when Chopin spoke louder: 'our
Prayer-Book needs depolarisation, as Wendell Holmes says of the
Bible.'

'Exactly,' assented Raphael. 'And what our people need is to make
acquaintance with the treasure of our own literature. Why go to
Browning for theism, when the words of his "Rabbi Ben Ezra" are but a
synopsis of a famous Jewish argument?

          '"I see the whole design,
    I, who saw Power, see now Love, perfect too.
          Perfect I call Thy plan,
          Thanks that I was a man!
    Maker, remaker, complete, I trust what Thou shalt do."

It sounds like a bit of Bachja. That there is a Power outside us
nobody denies; that this Power works for our good and wisely is not so
hard to grant when the facts of the soul are weighed with the facts of
Nature. Power, Love, Wisdom--there you have a real trinity which makes
up the Jewish God. And in this God we trust--incomprehensible as are
His ways, unintelligible as is His essence. "Thy ways are not My ways,
nor thy thoughts My thoughts." That comes into collision with no
modern philosophies--we appeal to experience, and make no demands upon
the faculty for believing things "because they are impossible." And we
are proud and happy in that the dread Unknown God of the infinite
universe has chosen our race as the medium by which to reveal His will
to the world. We are sanctified to His service. History testifies that
this has verily been our mission, that we have taught the world
Religion as truly as Greece has taught Beauty and Science. Our
miraculous survival through the cataclysms of ancient and modern
dynasties is a proof that our mission is not yet over.'

The sonata came to an end. Percy Saville started a comic song, playing
his own accompaniment. Fortunately, it was loud and rollicking.

'And do you really believe that we are sanctified to God's service?'
said Esther, casting a melancholy glance at Percy's grimaces.

'Can there be any doubt of it? God made choice of one race to be
messengers and apostles, martyrs at need to His truth. Happily the
sacred duty is ours,' he said earnestly, utterly unconscious of the
incongruity that struck Esther so keenly. And yet, of the two, he had
by far the greater gift of humour. It did not destroy his idealism,
but kept it in touch with things mundane. Esther's vision, though more
penetrating, lacked this corrective of humour, which makes always for
breadth of view. Perhaps it was because she was a woman that the
trivial sordid details of life's comedy hurt her so acutely that she
could scarce sit out the play patiently. Where Raphael would have
admired the lute, Esther was troubled by the little rifts in it.

'But isn't that a narrow conception of God's revelation?' she asked.

'No. Why should God not teach through a great race as through a great
man?'

'And you really think that Judaism is not dead, intellectually
speaking?'

'How can it die? Its truths are eternal, deep in human nature, and the
constitution of things. Ah, I wish I could get you to see with the
eyes of the great Rabbis and sages in Israel; to look on this human
life of ours, not with the pessimism of Christianity, but as a holy
and precious gift, to be enjoyed heartily, yet spent in God's
service--birth, marriage, death, all holy; good, evil, alike holy.
Nothing on God's earth common or purposeless; everything chanting the
great song of God's praise, "The morning stars singing together," as
we say in the Dawn Service.'

As he spoke Esther's eyes filled with strange tears. Enthusiasm always
infected her, and for a brief instant her sordid universe seemed to be
transfigured to a sacred joyous reality, full of infinite
potentialities of worthy work and noble pleasure. A thunder of
applausive hands marked the end of Percy Saville's comic song. Mr.
Montagu Samuels was beaming at his brother's grotesque drollery. There
was an interval of general conversation, followed by a round game, in
which Raphael and Esther had to take part. It was very dull, and they
were glad to find themselves together again.

'Ah, yes,' said Esther sadly, resuming the conversation as if there
had been no break; 'but this is a Judaism of your own creation. The
real Judaism is a religion of pots and pans. It does not call to the
soul's depths like Christianity.'

'Again, it is a question of the point of view taken. From a practical,
our ceremonialism is a training in self-conquest, while it links the
generations, "bound each to each by natural piety," and unifies our
atoms, dispersed to the four corners of the earth, as nothing else
could. From a theoretical, it is but an extension of the principle I
tried to show you. Eating, drinking, every act of life is holy, is
sanctified by some relation to Heaven. We will not arbitrarily divorce
some portions of life from religion, and say these are of the world,
the flesh, or the devil, any more than we will save up our religion
for Sundays. There is no devil, no original sin, no need of salvation
from it, no need of a mediator. Every Jew is in as direct relation
with God as the Chief Rabbi. Christianity is an historical failure:
its counsels of perfection, its command to turn the other cheek, a
farce. When a modern spiritual genius, a Tolstoi, repeats it, all
Christendom laughs as at a new freak of insanity. All practical
honourable men are Jews at heart. Judaism has never tampered with
human dignity, nor perverted the moral consciousness. Our housekeeper,
a Christian, once said to my sister Addie: "I'm so glad to see you do
so much charity, miss. _I_ need not, because I'm saved already."
Judaism is the true "religion of humanity." It does not seek to make
men and women angels before their time. Our marriage service blesses
the King of the Universe, who has created "joy and gladness,
bridegroom and bride, mirth and exultation, pleasure and delight,
love, brotherhood, peace and fellowship."'

'It is all very beautiful in theory,' said Esther; 'but so is
Christianity, which is also not to be charged with its historical
caricatures, nor with its superiority to average human nature. As for
the doctrine of original sin, it is the one thing that the science of
heredity has demonstrated, with a difference. But do not be alarmed; I
do not call myself a Christian because I see some relation between the
dogmas of Christianity and the truths of experience, nor even
because'--here she smiled wistfully--'I should like to believe in
Jesus. But you are less logical. When you said there was no devil, I
felt sure I was right, that you belong to the modern schools that get
rid of all the old beliefs, but cannot give up the old names. You know
as well as I do that, take away the belief in hell--a real
old-fashioned hell of fire and brimstone--even such Judaism as
survives would freeze to death without that genial warmth.'

'I know nothing of the kind,' he said. 'And I am in no sense a
modern. I am (to adopt a phrase which is to me tautologous) an
orthodox Jew.'

Esther smiled.

'Forgive my smiling,' she said. 'I am thinking of the orthodox Jews I
used to know, who used to bind their phylacteries on their arms and
foreheads every morning.'

'I bind my phylacteries on my arm and forehead every morning,' he said
simply.

'What!' gasped Esther. 'You, an Oxford man!'

'Yes,' he said gravely. 'Is it so astonishing to you?'

'Yes, it is. You are the first educated Jew I have ever met who
believed in that sort of thing.'

'Nonsense?' he said inquiringly. 'There are hundreds like me.'

She shook her head. 'There's the Rev. Joseph Strelitski. I suppose
_he_ does, but then he's paid for it.'

'Oh, why will you sneer at Strelitski?' he said, pained. 'He has a
noble soul. It is to the privilege of his conversation that I owe my
best understanding of Judaism.'

'Ah, I was wondering why the old arguments sounded so different, so
much more convincing from your lips,' murmured Esther. 'Now I know:
because he wears a white tie. That sets up all my bristles of
contradiction when he opens his mouth.'

'But I wear a white tie, too,' said Raphael, his smile broadening in
sympathy with the slow response on the girl's serious face.

'That's not a trade-mark,' she protested. 'But forgive me, I didn't
know Strelitski was a friend of yours. I won't say a word against him
any more. His sermons really are above the average, and he strives
more than the others to make Judaism more spiritual.'

'More spiritual!' he repeated, the pained expression returning. 'Why,
the very theory of Judaism has always been the spiritualisation of the
material.'

'And the practice of Judaism has always been the materialisation of
the spiritual,' she answered.

He pondered the saying thoughtfully, his face growing sadder.

'You have lived among your books,' Esther went on. 'I have lived among
the brutal facts. I was born in the Ghetto, and when you talk of the
mission of Israel, silent sardonic laughter goes through me as I think
of the squalor and the misery.'

'God works through human sufferings. His ways are large,' said
Raphael, almost in a whisper.

'And wasteful,' said Esther. 'Spare me clerical platitudes _à la_
Strelitski. I have seen so much.'

'And suffered much?' he asked gently.

She nodded, scarce perceptibly.

'Oh, if you only knew my life!'

'Tell it me,' he said. His voice was soft and caressing. His frank
soul seemed to pierce through all conventionalities, and to go
straight to hers.

'I cannot--not now,' she murmured. 'There is so much to tell.'

'Tell me a little,' he urged.

She began to speak of her history, scarce knowing why, forgetting he
was a stranger. Was it racial affinity, or was it merely the spiritual
affinity of souls that feel their identity through all differences of
brain?

'What is the use?' she said. 'You with your childhood could never
realise mine. My mother died when I was seven; my father was a Russian
pauper alien who rarely got work. I had an elder brother of brilliant
promise. He died before he was thirteen. I had a lot of brothers and
sisters and a grandmother, and we all lived, half starved, in a
garret.'

Her eyes grew humid at the recollection; she saw the spacious
drawing-room and the dainty _bric à brac_ through a mist.

'Poor child!' murmured Raphael.

'Strelitski, by the way, lived in our street then. He sold cigars on
commission and earned an honest living; sometimes I used to think that
is why he never cares to meet my eye, he remembers me and knows I
remember him; at other times I thought he knew that I saw through his
professions of orthodoxy. But as you champion him, I suppose I must
look for a more creditable reason for his inability to look me
straight in the face. Well, I grew up, I got on well at school, and
about ten years ago I won a prize given by Mrs. Henry Goldsmith, whose
kindly interest I excited thenceforward. At thirteen I became a
teacher. This had always been my aspiration; when it was granted I was
more unhappy than ever. I began to realise acutely that we were
terribly poor. I found it difficult to dress so as to ensure the
respect of my pupils and colleagues; the work was unspeakably hard and
unpleasant; tiresome and hungry little girls had to be ground to suit
the inspectors, and fell victims to the then prevalent competition
among teachers for a high percentage of passes; I had to teach
Scripture history, and I didn't believe in it. None of us believed in
it--the talking serpent, the Egyptian miracles, Samson, Jonah and the
whale, and all that. Everything about me was sordid and unlovely. I
yearned for a fuller, wider life, for larger knowledge. I hungered for
the sun. In short, I was intensely miserable. At home things went from
bad to worse; often I was the sole bread-winner, and my few shillings
a week were our only income. My brother Solomon grew up, but could not
get into a decent situation, because he must not work on the Sabbath.
Oh, if you knew how young lives are cramped and shipwrecked at the
start by this one curse of the Sabbath, you would not wish us to
persevere in our isolation. It sent a mad thrill of indignation
through me to find my father daily entreating the deaf heavens.'

He would not argue now. His eyes were moist.

'Go on,' he murmured.

'The rest is nothing. Mrs. Henry Goldsmith stepped in as the _dea ex
machinâ_. She had no children, and she took it into her head to adopt
me. Naturally I was dazzled, though anxious about my brothers and
sisters. But my father looked upon it as a godsend. Without consulting
me, Mrs. Goldsmith arranged that he and the other children should be
shipped to America; she got him some work at a relative's in Chicago.
I suppose she was afraid of having the family permanently hanging
about the Terrace. At first I was grieved; but when the pain of
parting was over I found myself relieved to be rid of them, especially
of my father. It sounds shocking, I know, but I can confess all my
vanities now, for I have learnt all is vanity. I thought Paradise was
opening before me; I was educated by the best masters, and graduated
at the London University. I travelled and saw the Continent, had my
fill of sunshine and beauty. I have had many happy moments, realised
many childish ambitions, but happiness is as far away as ever. My old
school colleagues envy me; yet I do not know whether I would not go
back without regret.'

'Is there anything lacking in your life, then?' he asked gently.

'No; I happen to be a nasty, discontented little thing--that is all,'
she said, with a faint smile. 'Look on me as a psychological paradox,
or a text for the preacher.'

'And do the Goldsmiths know of your discontent?'

'Heaven forbid! They have been so very kind to me. We get along very
well together. I never discuss religion with them, only the services
and the minister.'

'And your relatives?'

'Oh, they are all well and happy. Solomon has a store in Detroit. He
is only nineteen, and dreadfully enterprising. Father is a pillar of a
Chicago _Chevrah_. He still talks Yiddish. He has escaped learning
American just as he escaped learning English. I buy him a queer old
Hebrew book sometimes with my pocket-money, and he is happy. One
little sister is a typewriter, and the other is just out of school and
does the house-work. I suppose I shall go out and see them all some
day.'

'What became of the grandmother you mentioned?'

'She had a charity funeral a year before the miracle happened. She was
very weak and ill, and the charity doctor warned her that she must not
fast on the day of Atonement. But she wouldn't even moisten her
parched lips with a drop of cold water. And so she died, exhorting my
father with her last breath to beware of Mrs. Simons (a good-hearted
widow who was very kind to us) and to marry a pious Polish woman.'

'And did he?'

'No, I am still stepmotherless. Your white tie's gone wrong. It's all
on one side.'

'It generally is,' said Raphael, fumbling perfunctorily at the little
bow.

'Let me put it straight. There! And now you know all about me, I hope
you are going to repay my confidences in kind.'

'I am afraid I cannot oblige with anything so romantic,' he said,
smiling. 'I was born of rich but honest parents, of a family settled
in England for three generations, and went to Harrow and Oxford in due
course. That is all. I saw a little of the Ghetto, though, when I was
a boy. I had some correspondence on Hebrew literature with a great
Jewish scholar, Gabriel Hamburg (he lives in Stockholm now), and one
day when I was up from Harrow I went to see him. By good fortune I
assisted at the foundation of the Holy Land League, now presided over
by Gideon, the Member for Whitechapel. I was moved to tears by the
enthusiasm. It was there I made the acquaintance of Strelitski. He
spoke as if inspired. I also met a poverty-stricken poet, Melchitzedek
Pinchas, who afterwards sent me his work, _Metatoron's Flames_, to
Harrow. A real neglected genius. Now, there's the man to bear in mind
when one speaks of Jews and poetry! After that night I kept up a
regular intercourse with the Ghetto, and have been there several times
lately.'

'But surely you don't also long to return to Palestine?'

'I do. Why should we not have our own country?'

'It would be too chaotic. Fancy all the Ghettos of the world
amalgamating! Everybody would want to be ambassador at Paris, as the
old joke says.'

'It would be a problem for the statesmen among us. Dissenters,
Churchmen, atheists, slum-savages, clod-hoppers, philosophers,
aristocrats, make up Protestant England. It is the popular ignorance
of the fact that Jews are as diverse as Protestants that makes such
novels as we were discussing at dinner harmful.'

'But is the author to blame for that? He does not claim to present the
whole truth, but a facet. English society lionised Thackeray for his
pictures of it. Good heavens! do Jews suppose they alone are free
from the snobbery, hypocrisy and vulgarity that have shadowed every
society that has ever existed?'

'In no work of art can the spectator be left out of account,' he
urged. 'In a world full of smouldering prejudices a scrap of paper may
start the bonfire. English society can afford to laugh where Jewish
society must weep. That is why our papers are always so effusively
grateful for Christian compliments. You see, it is quite true that the
author paints not the Jew, but bad Jews; but, in the absence of
paintings of good Jews, bad Jews are taken as identical with Jews.'

'Oh, then you agree with the others about the book?' she said, in a
disappointed tone.

'I haven't read it; I am speaking generally. Have you?'

'Yes.'

'And what do you think of it? I don't remember your expressing an
opinion at table.'

She pondered an instant.

'I thought highly of it, and agreed with every word of it----'

She paused. He looked expectantly into the dark intense face; he saw
it was charged with further speech.

'Till I met you,' she concluded abruptly.

A wave of emotion passed over his face.

'You don't mean that?' he murmured.

'Yes, I do. You have shown me new lights.'

'I thought I was speaking platitudes,' he said simply. 'It would be
nearer the truth to say you have given me new lights.'

The little face flushed with pleasure, the dark skin shining, the eyes
sparkling. Esther looked quite pretty.

'How is that possible?' she said. 'You have read and thought twice as
much as I.'

'Then you must be indeed poorly off,' he said, smiling. 'But I am
really glad we met. I have been asked to edit a new Jewish paper, and
our talk has made me see more clearly the lines on which it must be
run if it is to do any good. I am awfully indebted to you.'

'A new Jewish paper?' she said, deeply interested. 'We have so many
already. What is its _raison d'être_?'

'To convert you,' he said, smiling, but with a ring of seriousness in
the words.

'Isn't that like a steam-hammer cracking a nut, or Hoti burning down
his house to roast a pig? And suppose I refuse to take in the new
Jewish paper? Will it suspend publication?'

He laughed.

'What's this about a new Jewish paper?' said Mrs. Goldsmith, suddenly
appearing in front of them with her large genial smile. 'Is that what
you two have been plotting? I notice you've laid your heads together
all the evening. Ah well, birds of a feather flock together. Do you
know my little Esther took the scholarship for logic at London? I
wanted her to proceed to the M.A. at once, but the doctor said she
must have a rest.' She laid her hand affectionately on the girl's
hair.

Esther looked embarrassed.

'And so she is still a Bachelor?' said Raphael, smiling, but evidently
impressed.

'Yes, but not for long, I hope,' returned Mrs. Goldsmith. 'Come,
darling, everybody's dying to hear one of your little songs.'

'The dying is premature,' said Esther. 'You know I only sing for my
own amusement.'

'Sing for mine, then,' pleaded Raphael.

'To make you laugh?' queried Esther. 'I know you'll laugh at the way I
play the accompaniment. One's fingers have to be used to it from
childhood----'

Her eyes finished the sentence, 'and you know what mine was.'

The look seemed to seal their secret sympathy.

She went to the piano and sang in a thin but trained soprano. The song
was a ballad with a quaint air full of sadness and heart-break. To
Raphael, who had never heard the psalmic wails of the Sons of the
Covenant or the Polish ditties of Fanny Belcovitch, it seemed also
full of originality. He wished to lose himself in the sweet
melancholy, but Mrs. Goldsmith, who had taken Esther's seat at his
side, would not let him.

'Her own composition, words and music,' she whispered. 'I wanted her
to publish it, but she is so shy and retiring. Who would think she was
the child of a pauper immigrant, a rough jewel one has picked up and
polished? If you really are going to start a new Jewish paper, she
might be of use to you. And then there is Miss Cissy Levine: you have
read her novels, of course? Sweetly pretty. Do you know, I think we
are badly in want of a new paper, and you are the only man in the
community who could give it us. We want educating, we poor people, we
know so little of our faith and our literature.'

'I am so glad you feel the want of it,' whispered Raphael, forgetting
Esther in his pleasure at finding a soul yearning for the light.

'Intensely. I suppose it will be advanced?'

Raphael looked at her a moment a little bewildered.

'No, it will be orthodox. It is the orthodox party that supplies the
funds.'

A flash of light leapt into Mrs. Goldsmith's eyes.

'I am so glad it is not as I feared,' she said. 'The rival party has
hitherto monopolised the press, and I was afraid that, like most of
our young men of talent, you would give it that tendency. Now at last
we poor orthodox will have a voice. It will be written in English?'

'As far as I can,' he said, smiling.

'No, you know what I mean. I thought the majority of the orthodox
couldn't read English, and that they have their jargon papers. Will
you be able to get a circulation?'

'There are thousands of families in the East End now among whom
English is read, if not written. The evening papers sell as well there
as anywhere else in London.'

'Bravo!' murmured Mrs. Goldsmith, clapping her hands.

Esther had finished her song. Raphael awoke to the remembrance of her.
But she did not come to him again, sitting down instead on a lounge
near the piano, where Sidney bantered Addie with his most paradoxical
persiflage.

Raphael looked at her. Her expression was abstracted; her eyes had an
inward look. He hoped her headache had not got worse. She did not look
at all pretty now. She seemed a frail little creature with a sad,
thoughtful face and an air of being alone in the midst of a merry
company. Poor little thing! He felt as if he had known her for years.
She seemed curiously out of harmony with all these people. He doubted
even his own capacity to commune with her inmost soul. He wished he
could be of service to her, could do anything for her that might
lighten her gloom and turn her morbid thoughts in healthier
directions.

The butler brought in some claret negus. It was the break-up signal.
Raphael drank his negus with a pleasant sense of arming himself
against the cold air. He wanted to walk home smoking his pipe, which
he always carried in his overcoat. He clasped Esther's hand with a
cordial smile of farewell.

'We shall meet again soon, I trust,' he said.

'I hope so,' said Esther. 'Put me down as a subscriber to that paper.'

'Thank you,' he said; 'I won't forget.'

'What's that?' said Sidney, pricking up his ears, 'doubled your
circulation already?'

Sidney put Cousin Addie into a hansom, as she did not care to walk,
and got in beside her.

'My feet are tired,' she said; 'I danced a lot last night, and was out
a lot this afternoon. It's all very well for Raphael, who doesn't know
whether he's walking on his head or his heels. Here, put your collar
up, Raphael; not like that, it's all crumpled. Haven't you got a
handkerchief to put round your throat? Where's that one I gave you?
Lend him yours, Sidney.'

'You don't mind if _I_ catch my death of cold. I've got to go on to a
Christmas dance when I deposit you on your doorstep,' grumbled Sidney.
'Catch! There, you duffer! It's gone into the mud. Sure you won't jump
in? Plenty of room. Addie can sit on my knee. Well, ta-ta! Merry
Christmas!'

Raphael lit his pipe and strode off with long ungainly strides. It
was a clear, frosty night, and the moonlight glistened on the silent
spaces of street and square.

'Go to bed, my dear,' said Mrs. Goldsmith, returning to the lounge
where Esther still sat brooding. 'You look quite worn out.'

Left alone, Mrs. Goldsmith smiled pleasantly at Mr. Goldsmith, who,
uncertain of how he had behaved himself, always waited anxiously for
the verdict. He was pleased to find it was 'Not guilty' this time.

'I think that went off very well,' she said. She was looking very
lovely to-night, the low bodice emphasising the voluptuous outlines of
the bust.

'Splendidly!' he returned. He stood with his coat-tails to the fire,
his coarse-grained face beaming like an extra lamp. 'The people and
those croquettes were A 1. The way Mary's picked up French cookery is
wonderful.'

'Yes, especially considering she denies herself butter. But I'm not
thinking of that, nor of our guests.' He looked at her, wondering.
'Henry,' she continued impressively, 'how would you like to get into
Parliament?'

'Eh, Parliament? Me?' he stammered.

'Yes, why not? I've always had it in my eye.'

His face grew gloomy.

'It is not practicable,' he said, shaking the head with the prominent
teeth and ears.

'Not practicable!' she echoed sharply. 'Just think of what you've
achieved already, and don't tell me you're going to stop now. Not
practicable, indeed! Why, that's the very word you used years ago in
the provinces when I said you ought to be President. You said old
Winkelstein had been in the position too long to be ousted. And yet I
felt certain your superior English would tell in the long-run in such
a miserable congregation of foreigners, and when Winkelstein had made
that delicious blunder about the "university" of the Exodus instead of
the "anniversary" and I went about laughing over it in all the best
circles, the poor man's day was over. And when we came to London, and
seemed to fall again to the bottom of the ladder because our greatness
was swallowed up in the vastness, didn't you despair then? Didn't you
tell me that we should never rise to the surface?'

'It didn't seem probable, did it?' he murmured in self-defence.

'Of course not. That's just my point. Your getting into the House of
Commons doesn't seem probable now. But in those days your getting
merely to know M.P.'s was equally improbable. The synagogal dignities
were all filled up by old hands; there was no way of getting on the
Council and meeting our magnates.'

'Yes, but your solution of that difficulty won't do here. I had not
much difficulty in persuading the United Synagogue that a new
synagogue was a crying want in Kensington, but I could hardly persuade
the Government that a new constituency is a crying want in London.'

He spoke pettishly; his ambition required rousing, and was easily
daunted.

'No, but somebody's going to start a new something else, Henry,' said
Mrs. Goldsmith with enigmatic cheerfulness. 'Trust in me; think of
what we have done in less than a dozen years at comparatively trifling
cost, thanks to that happy idea of a new synagogue--you, the
representative of the Kensington synagogue, with a "Sir" for a
colleague and a congregation that from exceptionally small beginnings
has sprung up to be the most fashionable in London; likewise a member
of the Council of the Anglo-Jewish Association and an honorary officer
of the _Shechitah_ Board; I, connected with several first-class
charities, on the committee of our leading school, and acknowledged
discoverer of a girl who gives promise of doing something notable in
literature or music. We have a reputation for wealth, culture, and
hospitality, and it is quite two years since we shook off the last of
the Maida Vale lot, who are so graphically painted in that novel of
Mr. Armitage's. Who are our guests now? Take to-night's. A celebrated
artist, a brilliant young Oxford man, both scions of the same wealthy
and well-considered family; an authoress of repute, who dedicates her
books (by permission) to the very first families of the community;
and, lastly, the Montagu Samuels, with the brother, Percy Saville,
who go only to the best houses. Is there any other house, where the
company is so exclusively Jewish, that could boast of a better
gathering?'

'I don't say anything against the company,' said her husband
awkwardly; 'it's better than we got in the provinces. But your company
isn't your constituency. What constituency would have me?'

'Certainly no ordinary constituency would have you,' admitted his wife
frankly. 'I am thinking of Whitechapel.'

'But Gideon represents Whitechapel.'

'Certainly; as Sidney Graham says, he represents it very well. But he
has made himself unpopular; his name has appeared in print as a guest
at City banquets, where the food can't be _kosher_. He has alienated a
goodly proportion of the Jewish vote.'

'Well?' said Mr. Goldsmith, still wonderingly.

'Now is the time to bid for his shoes. Raphael Leon is about to
establish a new Jewish paper. I was mistaken about that young man. You
remember my telling you I had heard he was eccentric, and despite his
brilliant career a little touched on religious matters. I naturally
supposed his case was like that of one or two other Jewish young men
we know, and that he yearned for spirituality, and his remarks at
table rather confirmed the impression. But he is worse than that--and
I nearly put my foot in it--his craziness is on the score of
orthodoxy. Fancy that!--a man who has been to Harrow and Oxford
longing for a gaberdine and side-curls! Well, well, live and learn!
What a sad trial for his parents!'

She paused, musing.

'But, Rosetta, what has Raphael Leon to do with my getting into
Parliament?'

'Don't be stupid, Henry! Haven't I explained to you that Leon is going
to start an orthodox paper which will be circulated among your future
constituents? It's extremely fortunate that we have always kept to our
religion. We have a widespread reputation for orthodoxy. We are
friends with Leon, and we can get Esther to write for the paper (I
could see he was rather struck by her). Through this paper we can
keep you and your orthodoxy constantly before the constituency. The
poor people are quite fascinated by the idea of rich Jews like us
keeping a strictly _kosher_ table, but the image of a Member of
Parliament with phylacteries on his forehead will simply intoxicate
them.'

She smiled herself at the image--the smile that always intoxicated
Percy Saville.

'You're a wonderful woman, Rosetta,' said Henry, smiling in response
with admiring affection and making his incisors more prominent. He
drew her head down to him and kissed her lips.

She returned his kiss lingeringly, and they had a flash of that
happiness which is born of mutual fidelity and trust.

'Can I do anything for you, mum, afore I go to bed?' said stout old
Mary O'Reilly, appearing at the door.

Mary was a privileged person, unappalled even by the butler. Having no
relatives, she never took a holiday, and never went out, except to
chapel.

'No, Mary, thank you. The dinner was excellent. Good-night, and merry
Christmas!'

'Same to you, mum'; and as the unconscious instrument of Henry
Goldsmith's candidature turned away, the Christmas bells broke merrily
upon the night. The peals fell upon the ears of Raphael Leon, still
striding along, casting a gaunt shadow on the hoar-frosted pavement,
but he marked them not: upon Addie, sitting by her bedroom mirror
thinking of Sidney speeding to the Christmas dance; upon Esther,
turning restlessly on the luxurious eider-down, oppressed by panoramic
pictures of the martyrdom of her race. Lying between sleep and waking,
especially when her brain had been excited, she had the faculty of
seeing wonderful vivid visions, indistinguishable from realities. The
martyrs who mounted the scaffold and the stake all had the face of
Raphael.

'The mission of Israel' buzzed through her brain. Oh, the irony of
history! Here was another life going to be wasted on an illusory
dream. The figures of Raphael and her father suddenly came into
grotesque juxtaposition. A bitter smile passed across her face.

The Christmas bells rang on, proclaiming peace in the name of Him who
came to bring a sword into the world.

'Surely,' she thought, 'the people of Christ has been the Christ of
peoples.'

And then she sobbed meaninglessly in the darkness.



CHAPTER III

'THE FLAG OF JUDAH'


The call to edit the new Jewish paper seemed to Raphael the voice of
Providence. It came just when he was hesitating about his future,
divided between the attractions of the ministry, pure Hebrew
scholarship, and philanthropy. The idea of a paper destroyed these
conflicting claims by comprehending them all. A paper would be at once
a pulpit, a medium for organising effective human service, and an
incentive to serious study in the preparation of scholarly articles.

The paper was to be the property of the Co-operative Kosher Society,
an association originally founded to supply unimpeachable Passover
cakes. It was suspected by the pious that there was a taint of heresy
in the flour used by the ordinary bakers, and it was remarked that the
Rabbinate itself imported its _Motsos_ from abroad. Successful in its
first object, the Co-operative Kosher Society extended its operations
to more perennial commodities, and sought to save Judaism from dubious
cheese and butter, as well as to provide public baths for women in
accordance with the precepts of Leviticus.

But these ideals were not so easy to achieve, and so gradually the
idea of a paper to preach them to a godless age formed itself. The
members of the Society met in Aaron Schlesinger's back office to
consider them. Schlesinger was a cigar-merchant, and the discussions
of the Society were invariably obscured by gratuitous smoke.
Schlesinger's junior partner, Lewis De Haan, who also had a separate
business as a surveyor, was the soul of the Society, and talked a
great deal. He was a stalwart old man, with a fine imagination and
figure, boundless optimism, a big biceps, a long venerable white
beard, a keen sense of humour, and a versatility which enabled him to
turn from the price of real estate to the elucidation of a Talmudical
difficulty, and from the consignment of cigars to the organisation of
apostolic movements. Among the leading spirits were our old friends
Karlkammer the red-haired zealot, Sugarman the Shadchan, and Guedalyah
the Greengrocer, together with Gradkoski the scholar, fancy-goods
merchant, and man of the world. A furniture-dealer, who was always
failing, was also an important personage; while Ebenezer Sugarman, a
young man who had once translated a romance from the Dutch, acted as
secretary. Melchitzedek Pinchas invariably turned up at the meetings,
and smoked Schlesinger's cigars. He was not a member; he had not
qualified himself by taking ten pound shares (far from fully paid up),
but nobody liked to eject him, and no hint less strong than a physical
would have moved the poet.

All the members of the council of the Co-operative Kosher Society
spoke English volubly, and more or less grammatically, but none had
sufficient confidence in the others to propose one of them for editor,
though it is possible that none would have shrunk from having a shot.
Diffidence is not a mark of the Jew. The claims of Ebenezer Sugarman
and of Melchitzedek Pinchas were put forth most vehemently by Ebenezer
and Melchitzedek respectively, and their mutual accusations of
incompetence enlivened Mr. Schlesinger's back office.

'He ain't able to spell the commonest English words,' said Ebenezer,
with a contemptuous guffaw that sounded like the croak of a raven.

The young littérateur, the sumptuousness of whose _Bar-mitzvah_ party
was still a memory with his father, had lank black hair, with a long
nose that supported blue spectacles.

'What does he know of the Holy Tongue?' croaked Melchitzedek
witheringly, adding in a confidential whisper to the cigar-merchant,
'I and you, Schlesinger, are the only two men in England who can write
the Holy Tongue grammatically.'

The little poet was as insinuative and volcanic (by turns) as ever.
His beard was, however, better trimmed, and his complexion healthier,
and he looked younger than ten years ago. His clothes were quite
spruce. For several years he had travelled about the Continent, mainly
at Raphael's expense. He said his ideas came better in touring and at
a distance from the unappreciative English Jewry. It was a pity, for
with his linguistic genius his English would have been immaculate by
this time. As it was, there was a considerable improvement in his
writing, if not so much in his accent.

'What do I know of the Holy Tongue!' repeated Ebenezer scornfully.
'Hold yours!'

The committee laughed, but Schlesinger, who was a serious man, said:

'Business, gentlemen, business!'

'Come, then! I'll challenge you to translate a page of _Metatoron's
Flames_,' said Pinchas, skipping about the office like a sprightly
grasshopper. 'You know no more than the Reverend Joseph Strelitski,
vith his vite tie and his princely income.'

De Haan seized the poet by the collar, swung him off his feet, and
tucked him up in the coal-scuttle.

'Yah!' croaked Ebenezer. 'Here's a fine editor. Ho! ho! ho!'

'We cannot have either of them. It's the only way to keep them quiet,'
said the furniture-dealer who was always failing.

Ebenezer's face fell and his voice rose.

'I don't see why I should be sacrificed to _'im_. There ain't a man in
England who can write English better than me. Why, everybody says so.
Look at the success of my book, _The Old Burgomaster_, the best Dutch
novel ever written. The _St. Pancras Press_ said it reminded them of
Lord Lytton--it did indeed. I can show you the paper. I can give you
one each if you like. And, then, it ain't as if I didn't know 'Ebrew,
too. Even if I was in doubt about anything, I could always go to my
father. You give me this paper to manage, and I'll make your fortunes
for you in a twelvemonth; I will, as sure as I stand here.'

Pinchas had made spluttering interruptions as frequently as he could
in resistance of De Haan's brawny hairy hand, which was pressed
against his nose and mouth to keep him down in the coal-scuttle, but
now he exploded with a force that shook off the hand like a bottle of
soda-water expelling its cork.

'You Man-of-the-Earth,' he cried, sitting up in the coal-scuttle, 'you
are not even orthodox. Here, my dear gentlemen, is the very position
created by Heaven for me, in this disgraceful country vhere genius
starves. Here at last you have the opportunity of covering yourself
vid eternal glory. Have I not given you the idea of starting this
paper? And vas I not born to be a Rédacteur, a editor, as you call it?
Into the paper I vill pour all the fires of my song.'

'Yes, burn it up,' croaked Ebenezer.

'I vill lead the Freethinkers and the Reformers back into the fold. I
vill be Elijah, and my vings shall be quill pens. I vill save
Judaism.'

He started up, swelling, but De Haan caught him by his waistband, and
readjusted him in the coal-scuttle.

'Here, take another cigar, Pinchas,' he said, passing Schlesinger's
private box as if with a twinge of remorse for his treatment of one he
admired as a poet, though he could not take him seriously as a man.

The discussion proceeded; the furniture-dealer's counsel was followed.
It was definitely decided to let the two candidates neutralise each
other.

'Vat vill you give me if I find you a Rédacteur?' suddenly asked
Pinchas. 'I give up my editorial seat----'

'Editorial coal-scuttle,' growled Ebenezer.

'Pooh! I find you a first-class Rédacteur, who vill not vant a big
salary; perhaps he vill do it for nothing. How much commission vill
you give me?'

'Ten shillings on every pound if he does not want a big salary,' said
De Haan instantly, 'and twelve and sixpence on every pound if he does
it for nothing.'

And Pinchas, who was easily bamboozled when finance became complex,
went out to find Raphael.

Thus, at the next meeting, the poet produced Raphael in triumph, and
Gradkoski, who loved a reputation for sagacity, turned a little green
with disgust at his own forgetfulness. Gradkoski was among those
founders of the Holy Land League with whom Raphael had kept up
relations, and he could not deny that the young enthusiast was the
ideal man for the post. De Haan, who was busy directing the clerks to
write out ten thousand wrappers for the first number, and who had
never heard of Raphael before, held a whispered confabulation with
Gradkoski and Schlesinger, and in a few moments Raphael was rescued
from obscurity and appointed to the editorship of _The Flag of Judah_
at a salary of nothing a year. De Haan immediately conceived a vast
contemptuous admiration of the man.

'You von't forget me,' whispered Pinchas, buttonholing the editor at
the first opportunity, and placing his forefinger insinuatively
alongside his nose. 'You vill remember that I expect a commission on
your salary.'

Raphael smiled good-naturedly, and, turning to De Haan, said:

'But do you think there is any hope of a circulation?'

'A circulation, sir, a circulation!' repeated De Haan. 'Why, we shall
not be able to print fast enough. There are seventy thousand orthodox
Jews in London alone.'

'And besides,' added Gradkoski, in a corroboration strongly like a
contradiction, 'we shall not have to rely on the circulation.
Newspapers depend on their advertisements.'

'Do they?' said Raphael helplessly.

'Of course,' said Gradkoski, with his air of worldly wisdom. 'And
don't you see, being a religious paper, we are bound to get all the
communal advertisements. Why, we get the Co-operative Kosher Society
to start with.'

'Yes, but we ain't going to pay for that,' said Sugarman the Shadchan.

'That doesn't matter,' said De Haan. 'It'll look well. We can fill up
a whole page with it. You know what Jews are; they won't ask, "Is this
paper wanted?" they'll balance it in their hand, as if weighing up the
value of the advertisements, and ask, "Does it pay?" But it _will_
pay! it must pay! With you at the head of it, Mr. Leon, a man whose
fame and piety are known and respected wherever a _Mezuzah_ adorns a
doorpost; a man who is in sympathy with the East End, and has the ear
of the West; a man who will preach the purest Judaism in the best
English--with such a man at the head of it we shall be able to ask
bigger prices for advertisements than the existing Jewish papers.'

Raphael left the office in a transport of enthusiasm, full of
Messianic emotions.

At the next meeting he announced that he was afraid he could not
undertake the charge of the paper. Amid universal consternation,
tempered by the exultation of Ebenezer, he explained that he had been
thinking it over, and did not see how it could be done. He said he had
been carefully studying the existing communal organs, and saw that
they dealt with many matters of which he knew nothing; whilst he might
be competent to form the taste of the community in religious and
literary matters, it appeared that the community was chiefly excited
about elections and charities.

'Moreover,' said he, 'I noticed that it is expected of these papers to
publish obituaries of communal celebrities, for whose biographies no
adequate materials are anywhere extant. It would scarcely be decent to
obtrude upon the sacred grief of the bereaved relatives with a request
for particulars.'

'Oh, that's all right,' laughed De Haan. 'I'm sure _my_ wife would be
glad to give you any information.'

'Of course, of course,' said Gradkoski soothingly. 'You will get the
obituaries sent in of themselves by the relatives.'

Raphael's brow expressed surprise and incredulity.

'And, besides, we are not going to crack up the same people as the
other papers,' said De Haan: 'otherwise we should not supply a want.
We must dole out our praise and blame quite differently, and we must
be very scrupulous to give only a little praise, so that it shall be
valued the more.'

He stroked his white beard tranquilly.

'But how about meetings?' urged Raphael; 'I find that sometimes two
take place at once. I can go to one, but I can't be at both.'

'Oh, that will be all right,' said De Haan airily. 'We will leave out
one, and people will think it is unimportant. We are bringing out a
paper for our own ends--not to report the speeches of busybodies.'

Raphael was already exhibiting a conscientiousness which must be
nipped in the bud. Seeing him silenced, Ebenezer burst forth
anxiously:

'But Mr. Leon is right. There must be a sub-editor.'

'Certainly there must be a sub-editor,' cried Pinchas eagerly.

'Very well, then,' said De Haan, struck with a sudden thought; 'it is
true Mr. Leon cannot do all the work. I know a young fellow who'll be
just the very thing. He'll come for a pound a week.'

'But I'll come for a pound a week,' said Ebenezer.

'Yes, but you won't get it,' said Schlesinger impatiently.

'_Sha_, Ebenezer!' said old Sugarman imperiously.

De Haan thereupon hunted up a young gentleman who dwelt in his mind as
'Little Sampson,' and straightway secured him at the price named. He
was a lively young Bohemian, born in Australia, who had served an
apprenticeship on the Anglo-Jewish press, worked his way up into the
larger journalistic world without, and was now engaged in organising a
comic-opera touring company, and in drifting back again into Jewish
journalism. This young gentleman, who always wore long curling locks,
an eyeglass, and a romantic cloak which covered a multitude of
shabbinesses, fully allayed Raphael's fears as to the difficulties of
editorship.

'Obituaries!' he said scornfully; 'you rely on me for that. The people
who are worth chronicling are sure to have lived in the back numbers
of our contemporaries, and I can always hunt them up in the Museum. As
for the people who are not, their families will send them in, and your
only trouble will be to conciliate the families of those you ignore.'

'But about all those meetings?' said Raphael.

'I'll go to some,' said the sub-editor good-naturedly, 'whenever they
don't interfere with the rehearsals of my opera. You know, of course,
I am bringing out a comic opera, composed by myself. Some lovely tunes
in it! One goes like this: "Ta-ra-ra-ta, ta-dee-dum-dee." That'll
knock 'em. Well, as I was saying, I'll help you as much as I can find
time for. You rely on me for that.'

'Yes,' said poor Raphael, with a sickly smile; 'but suppose neither of
us goes to some important meeting.'

'No harm done. God bless you! I know the styles of all our chief
speakers--ahem, ha!--pauperisation of the East End, ha!--I would
emphatically say that this scheme--ahem!--his lordship's untiring zeal
for--hum!--the welfare of--and so on. Ta-dee-dum-da, ta-ra, rum-dee.
They always send on the agenda beforehand. That's all I want, and I'll
lay you twenty to one I'll turn out as good a report as any of our
rivals. You rely on me for _that_. I know exactly how debates go. At
the worst I can always swop with another reporter--a prize
distribution for an obituary; or a funeral for a concert.'

'And do you really think we two between us can fill up the paper every
week?' said Raphael doubtfully.

Little Sampson broke into a shriek of laughter, dropped his eyeglass,
and collapsed helplessly into the coal-scuttle. The committee-men
looked up from their confabulations in astonishment.

'Fill up the paper! Ho, ho, ho!' roared Little Sampson, still doubled
up. 'Evidently _you've_ never had anything to do with papers. Why, the
reports of London and provincial sermons alone would fill three papers
a week.'

'Yes; but how are we to get these reports, especially from the
provinces?'

'How? Ho, ho, ho!' and for some time Little Sampson was physically
incapable of speech. 'Don't you know,' he gasped, 'that the ministers
always send up their own sermons, pages upon pages of foolscap?'

'Indeed?' murmured Raphael.

'What, haven't you noticed all Jewish sermons are "eloquent"?'

'They write that themselves?'

'Of course; sometimes they put "able," and sometimes "learned," but
as a rule they prefer to be "eloquent." The run on that epithet is
tremendous. Ta-dee-dum-da. In holiday seasons they are also very fond
of "enthralling the audience," and of "melting them to tears"; but
this is chiefly during the Ten Days of Repentance, or when a boy is
_Bar-mitzvah_. Then think of the people who send in accounts of the
oranges they gave away to Distressed Widows, or of the prizes won by
their children at fourth-rate schools, or of the silver pointers they
present to the synagogue. Whenever a reader sends a letter to an
evening paper, he will want you to quote it, and if he writes a
paragraph in the obscurest leaflet, he will want you to note it as
"Literary Intelligence." Why, my dear fellow, your chief task will be
to cut down. Ta-ra-ra-ta! Any Jewish paper could be entirely supported
by voluntary contributions--as, for the matter of that, could any
newspaper in the world.' He got up and shook the coal-dust languidly
from his cloak.

'Besides, we shall all be helping you with articles,' said De Haan
encouragingly.

'Yes, we shall all be helping you,' said Ebenezer.

'I vill give you from the Pierian Spring--bucketsful,' said Pinchas in
a flush of generosity.

'Thank you, I shall be much obliged,' said Raphael heartily; 'for I
don't quite see the use of a paper filled up as Mr. Sampson suggests.'
He flung his arms out and drew them in again. It was a way he had when
in earnest. 'Then, I should like to have some foreign news. Where's
that to come from?'

'You rely on me for _that_,' said Little Sampson cheerfully. 'I will
write at once to all the chief Jewish papers in the world, French,
German, Dutch, Italian, Hebrew, and American, asking them to exchange
with us. There is never any dearth of foreign news. I translate a
thing from the Italian _Vessillo Israelitico_, and the _Israelitische
Nieuwsbode_ of Amsterdam copies it from us; _Der Israelit_ then
translates it into German, whence it gets into Hebrew, in _Hamagid_,
thence into _L'Univers Israélite_ of Paris, and thence into the
_American Hebrew_. When I see it in American, not having to translate
it, it strikes me as fresh, and so I transfer it bodily to our
columns, whence it gets translated into Italian, and so the
merry-go-round goes eternally on. Ta-dee-rum-day. You rely on me for
your foreign news. Why, I can get you foreign telegrams if you'll only
allow me to stick "Trieste, December 21," or things of that sort at
the top. Ti-tum, tee-ti.' He went on humming a sprightly air, then
suddenly interrupting himself, he said, 'But have you got an
advertisement canvasser, Mr. De Haan?'

'No, not yet,' said De Haan, turning round. The committee had resolved
itself into animated groups, dotted about the office, each group
marked by a smoke-drift. The clerks were still writing the ten
thousand wrappers, swearing inaudibly.

'Well, when are you going to get him?'

'Oh, we shall have advertisements rolling in of themselves,' said De
Haan, with a magnificent sweep of the arm. 'And we shall all assist in
that department. Help yourself to another cigar, Sampson.' And he
passed Schlesinger's box. Raphael and Karlkammer were the only two men
in the room not smoking cigars--Raphael because he preferred his pipe,
and Karlkammer for some more mystic reason.

'We must not ignore Cabbalah,' the zealot's voice was heard to
observe.

'You can't get advertisements by Cabbalah,' dryly interrupted
Guedalyah the Greengrocer, a practical man, as everybody knew.

'No, indeed,' protested Sampson. 'The advertisement canvasser is a
more important man than the editor.'

Ebenezer pricked up his ears.

'I thought _you_ undertook to do some canvassing for your money,' said
De Haan.

'So I will, so I will; rely on me for that. I shouldn't be surprised
if I get the capitalists who are backing up my opera to give you the
advertisements of the tour, and I'll do all I can in my spare time.
But I feel sure you'll want another man--only you must pay him well
and give him a good commission. It'll pay you best in the long-run to
have a good man, there are so many seedy duffers about,' said Little
Sampson, drawing his faded cloak loftily around him. 'You want an
eloquent, persuasive man, with a gift of the gab----'

'Didn't I tell you so?' interrupted Pinchas, putting his finger to his
nose. 'I vill go to the advertisers and speak burning words to them. I
vill----'

'Garn! They'd kick you out!' croaked Ebenezer. 'They'll only listen to
an Englishman.' His coarse-featured face glistened with spite.

'My Ebenezer has a good appearance,' said old Sugarman, 'and his
English is fine, and dat is half de battle.'

Schlesinger, appealed to, intimated that Ebenezer might try, but that
they could not well spare him any percentage at the start. After much
haggling, Ebenezer consented to waive his commission if the committee
would consent to allow an original tale of his to appear in the paper.

The stipulation having been agreed to, he capered joyously about the
office, and winked periodically at Pinchas from behind the battery of
his blue spectacles. The poet was, however, rapt in a discussion as to
the best printer. The committee were for having Gluck, who had done
odd jobs for most of them; but Pinchas launched into a narrative of
how, when he edited a great organ in Buda-Pesth, he had effected vast
economies by starting a little printing office of his own in
connection with the paper.

'You vill set up a little establishment,' he said. 'I vill manage it
for a few pounds a veek. Then I vill not only print your paper--I vill
get you large profits from extra printing. Vith a man of great
business talent at the head of it----'

De Haan made a threatening movement, and Pinchas edged away from the
proximity of the coal-scuttle.

'Gluck's our printer!' said De Haan peremptorily. 'He has Hebrew type.
We shall want a lot of that. We must have a lot of Hebrew
quotations--not spell Hebrew words in English like the other papers.
And the Hebrew date must come before the English. The public must see
at once that our principles are superior. Besides, Gluck's a Jew,
which will save us from the danger of having any of the printing done
on Saturdays.'

'But shan't we want a publisher?' asked Sampson.

'That's vat I say,' cried Pinchas. 'If I set up this office, I can be
your publisher, too. Ve must do things business-like.'

'Nonsense, nonsense! We are our own publishers,' said De Haan. 'Our
clerks will send out the invoices and the subscription copies, and an
extra office-boy can sell the papers across the counter.'

Sampson smiled in his sleeve.

'All right. That will do--for the first number,' he said cordially.
'Ta-ra-ra-ta.'

'Now then, Mr. Leon, everything is settled,' said De Haan, stroking
his beard briskly. 'I think I'll ask you to help us to draw up the
posters. We shall cover all London, sir--all London.'

'But wouldn't that be wasting money?' said Raphael.

'Oh, we're going to do the thing properly. I don't believe in
meanness.'

'It'll be enough if we cover the East End,' said Schlesinger dryly.

'Quite so. The East End _is_ London, as far as we are concerned,' said
De Haan readily.

Raphael took the pen and the paper which De Haan tendered him, and
wrote '_The Flag of Judah_,' the title having been fixed at their
first interview.

'The only orthodox paper!' dictated De Haan. 'Largest circulation of
any Jewish paper in the world!'

'No, how can we say that?' said Raphael, pausing.

'No, of course not,' said De Haan. 'I was thinking of the subsequent
posters. Look out for the first number--on Friday, January 1st! The
best Jewish writers! The truest Jewish teachings! Latest Jewish news,
and finest Jewish stories! Every Friday, twopence.'

'Twopence?' echoed Raphael, looking up. 'I thought you wanted to
appeal to the masses. I should say it must be a penny.'

'It _will_ be a penny,' said De Haan oracularly.

'We have thought it all over,' interposed Gradkoski. 'The first number
will be bought up out of curiosity whether at a penny or at twopence.
The second will go almost as well, for people will be anxious to see
how it compares with the first. In that number we shall announce that,
owing to the enormous success, we have been able to reduce it to a
penny. Meantime, we make all the extra pennies.'

'I see,' said Raphael dubiously.

'We must have _Chochmah_,' said De Haan. 'Our sages recommend that.'

Raphael still had his doubts, but he had also a painful sense of his
lack of the 'practical wisdom' recommended by the sages cited. He
thought these men were probably in the right. Even religion could not
be pushed on the masses without business methods--and so long as they
were in earnest about the doctrines to be preached, he could even feel
a dim admiration for their superior shrewdness in executing a task in
which he himself would have hopelessly broken down. Raphael's mind was
large, and larger by being conscious of its cloistral limitations. And
the men were in earnest; not even their most intimate friends could
call this into question.

'We are going to save London,' De Haan put it in one of his
dithyrambic moments. 'Orthodoxy has too long been voiceless, and yet
it is five-sixths of Judea. A small minority has had all the say. We
must redress the balance. We must plead the cause of the People
against the Few.'

Raphael's breast throbbed with similar hopes. His Messianic emotions
resurged. Sugarman's solicitous request that he should buy a Hamburg
lottery ticket scarcely penetrated his consciousness. Carrying the
copy of the poster, he accompanied De Haan to Gluck's. It was a small
shop in a back street, with Jargon papers and handbills in the window,
and a pervasive heavy oleaginous odour. A hand-press occupied the
centre of the interior, the back of which was partitioned off, and
marked 'private.' Gluck came forward, grinning welcome. He wore an
unkempt beard and a dusky apron.

'Can you undertake to print an eight-page paper?' inquired De Haan.

'If I can print at all, I can print anything,' responded Gluck
reproachfully. 'How many shall you want?'

'It's the orthodox paper we've been planning so long,' said De Haan
evasively.

Gluck nodded his head.

'There are seventy thousand orthodox Jews in London alone,' said De
Haan with rotund enunciation. 'So you see what you may have to print.
It'll be worth your while to do it extra cheap.'

Gluck agreed readily, naming a low figure. After half an hour's
discussion it was reduced by ten per cent.

'Good-bye, then,' said De Haan. 'So let it stand. We shall start with
a thousand copies of the first number, but where we shall end, the
Holy One--blessed be He!--alone knows. I will now leave you and the
editor to talk over the rest. To-day's Monday. We must have the first
number out by Friday week. Can you do that, Mr. Leon?'

'Oh, that will be ample,' said Raphael, shooting out his arms.

He did not remain of that opinion. Never had he gone through such an
awful, anxious time, not even in his preparations for the stiffest
exams. He worked sixteen hours a day at the paper. The only evening he
allowed himself off was when he dined with Mrs. Henry Goldsmith and
met Esther. First numbers invariably take twice as long to produce as
second numbers, even in the best regulated establishments. All sorts
of mysterious sticks and leads and founts and formes are found wanting
at the eleventh hour. As a substitute for grey hair-dye, there is
nothing in the market to compete with the production of first numbers.
But in Gluck's establishment these difficulties were multiplied by a
hundred. Gluck spent a great deal of time in going round the corner to
get something from a brother printer. It took enormous time to get a
proof of any article out of Gluck.

'My men are so careful,' Gluck explained. 'They don't like to pass
anything till it's free from typos.'

The men must have been highly disappointed, for the proofs were
invariably returned bristling with corrections and having a highly
hieroglyphic appearance. Then Gluck would go in and slang his men. He
kept them behind the partition painted 'Private.'

The fatal Friday drew nearer and nearer. By Thursday not a single page
had been made up. Still Gluck pointed out that there were only eight,
and the day was long. Raphael had not the least idea in the world how
to make up a paper, but about eleven Little Sampson kindly strolled
into Gluck's and explained to his editor his own method of pasting the
proofs on sheets of paper of the size of the pages. He even made up
one page himself to a blithe vocal accompaniment. When the busy
composer and acting-manager hurried off to conduct a rehearsal,
Raphael expressed his gratitude warmly. The hours flew; the paper
evolved as by geologic stages. As the fateful day wore on, Gluck was
scarcely visible for a moment. Raphael was left alone eating his heart
out in the shop, and solacing himself with huge whiffs of smoke. At
immense intervals Gluck appeared from behind the partition bearing a
page or a galley-slip. He said his men could not be trusted to do
their work unless he was present. Raphael replied that he had not seen
the compositors come through the shop to get their dinners, and he
hoped Gluck would not find it necessary to cut off their meal-times.
Gluck reassured him on this point; he said his men were so loyal that
they preferred to bring their food with them rather than have the
paper delayed. Later on he casually mentioned that there was a back
entrance. He would not allow Raphael to talk to his workmen
personally, arguing that it spoiled their discipline. By eleven
o'clock at night seven pages had been pulled and corrected, but the
eighth page was not forthcoming. The _Flag_ had to be machined, dried,
folded, and a number of copies put into wrappers and posted by three
in the morning. The situation looked desperate. At a quarter to twelve
Gluck explained that a column of matter already set up had been 'pied'
by a careless compositor. It happened to be the column containing the
latest news, and Raphael had not even seen a proof of it. Still,
Gluck conjured him not to trouble further; he would give his reader
strict injunctions not to miss the slightest error. Raphael had
already seen and passed the first column of this page, let him leave
it to Gluck to attend to this second column; all would be well without
his remaining later, and he would receive a copy of the _Flag_ by the
first post. The poor editor, whose head was splitting, weakly yielded;
he just caught the midnight train to the West End, and he went to bed
feeling happy and hopeful.

At seven o'clock the next morning the whole Leon household was aroused
by a thunderous double rat-tat at the door. Addie was even heard to
scream. A housemaid knocked at Raphael's door and pushed a telegram
under it. Raphael jumped out of bed, and read:

    'Third of column more matter wanted. Come at once.--GLUCK.'

'How can that be?' he asked himself in consternation. 'If the latest
news made a column when it was first set up before the accident, how
can it make less now?'

He dashed up to Gluck's office in a hansom and put the conundrum to
him.

'You see, we had no time to distribute the "pie," and we had no more
type of that kind, so we had to reset it smaller,' answered Gluck
glibly.

His eyes were bloodshot; his face was haggard. The door of the private
compartment stood open.

'Your men are not come yet, I suppose,' said Raphael.

'No,' said Gluck. 'They didn't go away till two, poor fellows! Is that
the copy?' he asked as Raphael handed him a couple of slips he had
distractedly scribbled in the cab under the heading of 'Talmudic
Tales.' 'Thank you; it's just about the size. I shall have to set it
myself.'

'But won't we be terribly late?' said poor Raphael.

'We shall be out to-day,' responded Gluck cheerfully. 'We shall be in
time for the Sabbath, and that's the important thing. Don't you see
they're half printed already?' He indicated a huge pile of sheets.
Raphael examined them with beating heart. 'We've only to print 'em on
the other side and the thing's done,' said Gluck.

'Where are your machines?'

'There,' said Gluck, pointing.

'That hand-press!' said Raphael, astonished. 'Do you mean to say you
print them all with your own hand?'

'Why not?' said the dauntless Gluck. 'I shall wrap them up for the
post, too.' And he shut himself up with the last of the 'copy.'

Raphael, having exhausted his interest in the half-paper, fell to
striding about the little shop, when who should come in but Pinchas,
smoking a cigar of the Schlesinger brand!

'Ah, my prince of Rédacteurs,' said Pinchas, darting at Raphael's hand
and kissing it. 'Did I not say you vould produce the finest paper in
the kingdom? But vy have I not my copy by post? You must not listen to
Ebenezer ven he says I must not be on the free list, the blackguard!'

Raphael explained to the incredulous poet that Ebenezer had not said
anything of the kind. Suddenly Pinchas's eye caught sight of the
sheets. He swooped down upon them like a hawk. Then he uttered a
shriek of grief.

'Vere's my poem, my great poesie?'

Raphael looked embarrassed.

'This is only half the paper,' he said evasively.

'Ha, then it vill appear in the other half, _hein_?' he said, with
hope tempered by a terrible suspicion.

'N-n-o,' stammered Raphael timidly.

'No?' shrieked Pinchas.

'You see--the--the fact is, it wouldn't scan. Your Hebrew poetry is
perfect, but English poetry is made rather differently, and I've been
too busy to correct it.'

'But it is exactly like Lord Byron's!' shrieked Pinchas. 'Mein Gott!
All night I lie avake, vaiting for the post. At eight o'clock the post
comes, but the _Flag of Judah_ she vaves not. I rush round here, and
now my beautiful poem vill not appear!' He seized the sheet again,
then cried fiercely: 'You have a tale, "The Waters of Babylon," by
Ebenezer the fool-boy, but my poesie have you not. _Gott in Himmel!_'
He tore the sheet frantically across, and rushed from the shop. In
five minutes he reappeared. Raphael was absorbed in reading the last
proof. Pinchas plucked timidly at his coat-tails. 'You vill put it in
next veek?' he said winningly.

'I dare say,' said Raphael gently.

'Ah, promise me! I vill love you like a brother. I vill be grateful to
you for ever and ever. I vill never ask another favour of you in all
my life. Ve are already like brothers--_hein?_--I and you, the only
two men----'

'Yes, yes,' interrupted Raphael. 'It shall appear next week.'

'God bless you!' said Pinchas, kissing Raphael's coat-tails
passionately and rushing without.

Looking up accidentally some minutes afterwards, Raphael was
astonished to see the poet's grinning head thrust through the
half-open door with a finger laid insinuatingly on the side of the
nose. The head was fixed there as if petrified, waiting to catch the
editor's eye.

The first number of _The Flag of Judah_ appeared early in the
afternoon.



CHAPTER IV

THE TROUBLES OF AN EDITOR


The new organ did not create a profound impression. By the rival party
it was mildly derided, though many fair-minded persons were impressed
by the rather unusual combination of rigid orthodoxy with a high
spiritual tone, and Raphael's conception of Judaism as outlined in his
first leader, his view of it as a happy human compromise between an
empty, unpractical spiritualism and a choked-up, over-practical
formalism, avoiding the opposite extremes of its offshoots,
Christianity and Mohammedanism, was novel to many of his readers,
unaccustomed to think about their faith. Dissatisfied as Raphael was
with the number, he felt he had fluttered some of the dove-cotes at
least. Several people of taste congratulated him during Saturday and
Sunday; it was with a continuance of Messianic emotions and with
agreeable anticipations that he repaired on Monday morning to the
little den which had been inexpensively fitted up for him above the
offices of Messrs. Schlesinger and De Haan. To his surprise, he found
it crammed with the committee, all gathered round Little Sampson, who,
with flushed face and cloak tragically folded, was expostulating at
the top of his voice. Pinchas stood at the back in silent amusement.
As Raphael entered jauntily, a change came over the company: a low
premonitory roar issued from a dozen lips, the lowering faces turned
quickly towards him. Involuntarily Raphael started back in alarm, then
stood rooted to the threshold. There was a dread ominous silence. Then
the storm burst.

'_Du Shaigatz! Du Pasha Yisroile!_' came from all quarters of the
compass.

To be called a graceless Gentile and a sinner in Israel is not
pleasant to a pious Jew; but all Raphael's minor sensations were
swallowed up in a great wonderment.

'We are ruined!' moaned the furniture-dealer who was always failing.

'You have ruined us!' came the chorus from the thick, sensuous lips,
and swarthy fists were shaken threateningly.

Sugarman's hairy paw was almost against his face. Raphael turned cold,
then a rush of red-hot blood flooded his veins. He put out his good
right hand, and smote the nearest fist aside. Sugarman blenched and
skipped back, and the line of fists wavered.

'Don't be fools, gentlemen,' said De Haan, his keen sense of humour
asserting itself. 'Let Mr. Leon sit down.'

Raphael, still dazed, took his seat on the editorial chair.

'Now what can I do for you?' he said courteously.

The fists drooped at his calm.

'Do for us?' said Schlesinger dryly. 'You've done for the paper. It's
not worth twopence.'

'Well, bring it out at a penny at once, then,' laughed Little Sampson,
reinforced by the arrival of his editor.

Guedalyah the Greengrocer glowered at him.

'I am very sorry, gentlemen, I have not been able to satisfy you,'
said Raphael; 'but in a first number one can't do much.'

'Can't they?' said De Haan. 'You've done so much damage to orthodoxy
that we don't know whether to go on with the paper.'

'You're joking,' murmured Raphael.

'I wish I was,' laughed De Haan bitterly.

'But you astonish me,' persisted Raphael. 'Would you be so good as to
point out where I have gone wrong?'

'With pleasure, or rather with pain,' said De Haan.

Each of the committee drew a tattered copy from his pocket, and
followed De Haan's demonstration with a murmured accompaniment of
lamentation.

'The paper was founded to inculcate the inspection of cheese, the
better supervision of the sale of meat, the construction of ladies'
baths, and all the principles of true Judaism,' said De Haan gloomily.
'And there's not one word about these things, but a great deal about
spirituality and the significance of the ritual. But I will begin at
the beginning. Page 1.'

'But that's advertisements,' muttered Raphael.

'The part surest to be read! The very first line of the paper is
simply shocking. It reads:

    '"DEATH.

    '"On the 29th ult., at 22 Buckley Street, the Rev. Abraham
    Barnett, in his fifty-fourth----"'

'But death is always shocking. What's wrong about that?' interposed
Little Sampson.

'Wrong!' repeated De Haan witheringly. 'Where did you get that from?
That was never sent in.'

'No, of course not,' said the sub-editor; 'but we had to have at least
one advertisement of that kind, just to show we should be pleased to
advertise our readers' deaths. I looked in the daily papers to see if
there were any births or marriages with Jewish names, but I couldn't
find any, and that was the only Jewish-sounding death I could see.'

'But the Rev. Abraham Barnett was a _Meshumad_!' shrieked Sugarman the
Shadchan.

Raphael turned pale. To have inserted an advertisement about an
apostate missionary was indeed terrible; but Little Sampson's audacity
did not desert him.

'I thought the orthodox party would be pleased to hear of the death of
a _Meshumad_,' he said suavely, screwing his eyeglass more tightly
into its orbit, 'on the same principle that anti-Semites take in the
Jewish papers to hear of the death of Jews.'

For a moment De Haan was staggered.

'That would be all very well,' he said. 'Let him be an atonement for
us all; but then you've gone and put, "May his soul be bound up in the
bundle of life!"'

It was true. The stock Hebrew equivalent for 'R.I.P.' glared from the
page.

'Fortunately, that taking advertisement of _kosher_ trousers comes
just underneath,' said De Haan, 'and that may draw off the attention.
On page 2 you actually say in a note that Rabbenu Bachja's great poem
on Repentance should be incorporated in the ritual, and might
advantageously replace the obscure _Piyut_ by Kalir. But this is rank
Reform; it's worse than the papers we came to supersede.'

'But surely you know it is only the printing-press that has
stereotyped our liturgy; that for Maimonides and Ibn Ezra, for David
Kimchi and Joseph Albo, the contents were fluid; that----'

'We don't deny that,' interrupted Schlesinger; 'but we can't have any
more alterations nowadays. Who is there worthy to alter them? You?'

'Certainly not. I merely suggest.'

'You are playing into the hands of our enemies,' said De Haan, shaking
his head. 'We must not let our readers even imagine that the
Prayer-Book can be tampered with. It's the thin end of the wedge. To
trim our liturgy is like trimming living flesh; wherever you cut, the
blood oozes. The four cubits of the _Halachah_, that is what is
wanted, not changes in the liturgy. Once touch anything, and where are
you to stop? Our religion becomes a flux. Our old Judaism is like an
old family mansion, where each generation has left a memorial, and
where every room is hallowed with traditions of merry-making and
mourning. We do not want our fathers' home decorated in the latest
style; the next step will be removal to a new dwelling altogether. On
page 3 you refer to the second Isaiah.'

'But I deny that there were two Isaiahs.'

'So you do; but it is better for our readers not to hear of such
impious theories. The space would be much better occupied in
explaining the Portion for the week. The next leaderette has a
flippant tone, which has excited unfavourable comment among some of
the most important members of the Dalston synagogue. They object to
humour in a religious paper. On page 4 you have deliberately missed an
opportunity of puffing the Kosher Co-operative Society. Indeed, there
is not a word throughout about our Society. But I like Mr. Henry
Goldsmith's letter on this page, though; he is a good orthodox man,
and he writes from a good address. It will show we are not only read
in the East End. Pity he's such a Man-of-the-Earth, though. Yes, and
that's good, the communication from the Rev. Joseph Strelitski. I
think he's a bit of an _Epikouros_; but it looks as if the whole of
the Kensington synagogue was with us. I understand he is a friend of
yours; it will be as well for you to continue friendly. Several of us
here knew him well in _Olov Hasholom_ times, but he is become so
grand, and rarely shows himself at the Holy Land League meetings. He
can help us a lot if he will.'

'Oh, I'm sure he will,' said Raphael.

'That's good,' said De Haan, caressing his white beard. Then, growing
gloomy again, he went on: 'On page 5 you have a little article by
Gabriel Hamburg, a well-known _Epikouros_.'

'Oh, but he is one of the greatest scholars in Europe!' broke in
Raphael. 'I thought you'd be extra pleased to have it. He sent it to
me from Stockholm as a special favour!' He did not mention he had
secretly paid for it. 'I know some of his views are heterodox, and I
don't agree with half he says, but this article is perfectly
harmless.'

'Well, let it pass: very few of our readers have ever heard of him.
But on the same page you have a Latin quotation. I don't say there's
anything wrong in that, but it smacks of Reform. Our readers don't
understand it, and it looks as if our Hebrew were poor. The Mishnah
contains texts suited for all purposes. We are in no need of Roman
writers. On page 6 you speak of the Reform Shool as if it were to be
reasoned with. Sir, if we mention these freethinkers at all, it must
be in the strongest language. By worshipping bareheaded, and by
seating the sexes together, they have defiled Judaism.'

'Stop a minute,' interrupted Raphael warmly. 'Who told you the
Reformers do this?'

'Who told me, indeed? Why, it's common knowledge. That's how they've
been going on for the last fifty years.'

'Everybody knows it,' said the committee in chorus.

'Has one of you ever been there?' said Raphael, rising in excitement.

'God forbid!' cried the chorus.

'Well, I have, and it's a lie,' said Raphael. His arm whirled round to
the discomfort of the committee.

'You ought not to have gone there,' said Schlesinger severely.
'Besides, will you deny they have the organ in their Sabbath
services?'

'No, I won't!'

'Well, then,' said De Haan triumphantly, 'if they are capable of that,
they are capable of any wickedness. Orthodox people can have nothing
to do with them.'

'But orthodox immigrants take their money,' said Raphael.

'Their money is _kosher_; they are _tripha_,' said De Haan
sententiously. 'Page 7--now we get to the most dreadful thing of all!'

A solemn silence fell on the room. Pinchas sniggered unobtrusively.

'You have a little article headed "Talmudic Tales." Why in Heaven's
name you couldn't have finished the column with bits of news I don't
know. Satan himself must have put the thought into your head. Just at
the end of the paper, too! For I can't reckon page 8, which is simply
our own advertisement.'

'I thought it would be amusing,' said Raphael.

'Amusing! If you had simply told the tales, it might have been. But
look how you introduce them! "These amusing tales occur in the fifth
chapter of Baba Bathra, and are related by Rabbi Bar Bar Channah. Our
readers will see that they are parables or allegories rather than
actual facts."'

'But do you mean to say you look upon them as facts?' cried Raphael,
sawing the air wildly, and pacing about on the toes of the committee.

'Surely!' said De Haan, while a low growl at his blasphemous doubts
ran along the lips of the committee.

'Was it treacherously to undermine Judaism that you so eagerly offered
to edit for nothing?' said the furniture-dealer who was always
failing.

'But listen here!' cried Raphael, exasperated.

'"Harmez, the son of Lilith, a demon, saddled two mules and made them
stand on opposite sides of the river Doneg. He then jumped from the
back of one to that of the other. He had, at the time, a cup of wine
in each hand, and as he jumped he threw the wine from each cup into
the other without spilling a drop, although a hurricane was blowing at
the time. When the king of demons heard that Harmez had been thus
showing off to mortals, he slew him." Do any of you believe that?'

'Vould our sages--their memories for a blessing!--put anything into
the Talmud that vasn't true?' queried Sugarman. 'Ve know there are
demons because it stands that Solomon knew their language.'

'But, then, what about this?' pursued Raphael. '"I saw a frog which
was as big as the district of Akra Hagronia. A sea-monster came and
swallowed the frog, and a raven came and ate the sea-monster. The
raven then went and perched on a tree. Consider how strong that tree
must have been. R. Papa Ben Samuel remarks: Had I not been present, I
should not have believed it." Doesn't this appendix about Ben Samuel
show that it was never meant to be taken seriously?'

'It has some high meaning we do not understand in these degenerate
times,' said Guedalyah the Greengrocer. 'It is not for our paper to
weaken faith in the Talmud.'

'Hear, hear!' said De Haan, while '_Epikouros!_' rumbled through the
air like distant thunder.

'Didn't I say an Englishman could never master the Talmud?' Sugarman
asked in triumph.

This reminder of Raphael's congenital incompetence softened their
minds towards him, so that when he straightway resigned his
editorship, their self-constituted spokesman besought him to remain.
Perhaps they remembered, too, that he was cheap.

'But we must all edit the paper,' said De Haan enthusiastically, when
peace was re-established. 'We must have meetings every day, and every
article must be read aloud before it is printed.'

Little Sampson winked cynically, passing his hand pensively through
his thick tangled locks, but Raphael saw no objection to the
arrangement. As before, he felt his own impracticability borne in
upon him, and he decided to sacrifice himself for the Cause as far as
conscience permitted. Excessive as was the zeal of these men, it was
after all in the true groove. His annoyance returned for a while,
however, when Sugarman the Shadchan seized the auspicious moment of
restored amity to inquire insinuatingly if his sister was engaged.
Pinchas and Little Sampson went down the stairs quivering with
noiseless laughter, which became boisterous when they reached the
street. Pinchas was in high feather.

'The fool-men!' he said, as he led the sub-editor into a public-house
and regaled him on stout and sandwiches.

'They believe any _Narrischkeit_. I and you are the only two sensible
Jews in England. You vill see that my poesie goes in next
veek--promise me that! To your life!' Here they touched glasses. 'Ah,
it is beautiful poesie. Such high tragic ideas! You vill kiss me when
you read them.' He laughed in childish light-heartedness. 'Perhaps I
write you a comic opera for your company--_hein?_ Already I love you
like a brother. Another glass stout? Bring us two more, thou Hebe of
the hops-nectar. You have seen my comedy, "The Hornet of Judah"? No?
Ah, she vas a great comedy, Sampson. All London talked of her. She has
been translated into every tongue. Perhaps I play in your company. I
am a great actor--_hein?_ You know not my forte is voman's parts--I
make myself so lovely complexion vith red paint, I fall in love vith
me.' He sniggered over his stout. 'The Rédacteur will not redact long,
_hein?_' he said presently. 'He is a fool-man. If he work for nothing
they think that is what he is worth. They are orthodox--he-he!'

'But he is orthodox too,' said Little Sampson.

'Yes,' replied Pinchas musingly. 'It is strange. It is vairy strange.
I cannot understand him. Never in all my experience have I met another
such man. There vas an Italian exile I talked vith once in the island
of Chios--his eyes were like Leon's, soft vith a shining splendour
like the stars vich are the eyes of the angels of love. Ah, he is a
good man, and he writes sharp--he has ideas, not like an English Jew
at all. I could throw my arms round him sometimes. I love him like a
brother.' His voice softened. 'Another glass stout--ve vill drink to
him.'

Raphael did not find the editing by committee feasible. The friction
was incessant, the waste of time monstrous. The second number cost him
even more headaches than the first, and this although the gallant
Gluck, abandoning his single-handed emprise, fortified himself with a
real live compositor and had arranged for the paper to be printed by
machinery. The position was intolerable. It put a touch of acid into
his dulciferous mildness. Just before going to press he was positively
rude to Pinchas. It would seem that Little Sampson, sheltering himself
behind his capitalists, had refused to give the poet a commission for
a comic opera, and Pinchas raved at Gideon, M.P., who he was sure was
Sampson's financial backer, and threatened to shoot him, and danced
maniacally about the office.

'I have written an attack on the Member for Vitechapel,' he said,
growing calmer, 'to hand him down to the execration of posterity, and
I have brought it to the _Flag_. It must go in this veek.'

'We have already your poem,' said Raphael.

'I know, but I do not grudge my work; I am not like your money-making
English Jews.'

'There is no room. The paper is full.'

'Leave out Ebenezer's tale--with the blue spectacles.'

'There is none. It was complete in one number.'

'Well, must you put in your leader?'

'Absolutely; please go away. I have this page to read.'

'But you can leave out some advertisements.'

'I must not. We have too few as it is.'

The poet put his finger alongside his nose, but Raphael was adamant.

'Do me this one favour,' he pleaded. 'I love you like a brother--just
this one little thing! I vill never ask another favour of you all my
life.'

'I would not put it in even if there was room. Go away,' said Raphael,
almost roughly.

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 formes 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
the paper!'

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
his face.

'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 office.'

'No, no,' said Goldsmith, pushing him down into his seat. 'It will
never do if people know I'm the proprietor.'

'Why not?'

'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 it.'

'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 utilised for
the good of Judaism. He was not quite easy about the little fiction
that would be 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 experiences.
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 us 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 ever you 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 speak?'

'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
Judaism!

The sub-editor made his first appearance that day, carolling joyously.

'Sampson,' said Raphael abruptly, 'your salary is raised by a guinea a
week.'

The joyous song died away on Little Sampson's lips; his eye-glass
dropped; he let himself fall backwards, impinging noiselessly upon a
heap of 'returns' of number one.



CHAPTER V

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 æsthetic 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 look 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
prie_.'

'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
voice.

'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 ideals, 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 illusion?'

'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 slyly.

'Pardon me,' he said. 'We don't insert any advertisement 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.'

'Who's that?'

'Melchitzedek 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 emphasise 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
of thing?'

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
contemplatively.

'Well?' she said after a pause. 'I thought you had an idea.'

'Yes, yes,' he said, rousing himself. 'The subject we were just
discussing--art.'

'But there is nothing Jewish about art.'

'All noble work has its religious aspects. Then there are Jewish
artists.'

'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
names.'

'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 pulverise 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
artists.'

'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 Sèvres teapot.

'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 write poetry.'

'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 you!'

'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
sermon good?'

'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
flatter them.'

'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
remain orthodox.'

'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 favour?'

'With pleasure,' he said, his face lighting up.

'Don't mention Mr. Armitage's book to me again. I am sick of hearing
about it.'

'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 that antidote?'

'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-bye, 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. 'Well, good-bye.'

'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 down.

'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
promise.'

'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
parting.

'Of course not. How could I be?'

'Couldn't your sister Adelaide do you a story?'

'Addie?' he repeated, laughing. 'Fancy Addie writing stories! Addie
has no literary ability.'

'That's always the way with brothers. Solomon says----'

She paused suddenly.

'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, please.'

'Certainly,' he said; then he exclaimed: 'Oh, what a blockhead 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 grey dulness of the
dripping street. 'When may I hope for the honour 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
criticism. _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 the 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 matchmaker--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 parties.

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.



CHAPTER VI

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
_début_ of a new Hamlet, with Addie. Addie had asked her to go,
mentioning 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 vigour. 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 temperament.

The Goldsmiths were just finishing dinner when the expected ring came.
To their surprise the ringer was Sidney. He was shown into the
dining-room.

'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 wire 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 Maccabæus.'

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 eyes sought Mr. Goldsmith's for refuge and
consolation.

'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-humour 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. Shakespeare 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
sunsets.'

'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 Shakespeare 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
Esther.

'And who was at once mad and sane,' laughed Sidney. 'The plain truth
is that Shakespeare 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 freewill.'

'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
the Bible.'

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
Addie gravely.

'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 out.'

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
flavour 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
her coffee.

'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 pantomimes.'

'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 honour him for discovering that the Sabbath was made for man, not
man for the Sabbath. Strange he should have stopped half-way to the
truth.'

'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 far.'

'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 vapours 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 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 you.'

She looked affectionately at the great glorious creature at her side,
tall and stately, with that winning gentleness of expression which
spiritualises 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 am 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 utilise 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 _blasé_ of the universe--the Wandering Jew
who has been everywhere, seen everything, done everything, led
everything, thought everything, and--suffered everything.'

'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, Rachel its supreme acting; and then think of the
stock Jew of the American comic papers! There lies the real comedy,
too deep for laughter.'

'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 for
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 æsthetic 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 _naïveté_. '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 sandalwood; 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 fertilising 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 counterblast
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 these poor people have to say,'
Addie observed. 'What is the 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 humour lighting up her beautiful
features.

'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
to-night.'

'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 à Kempis.'

'Oh, but he often reads that,' said Addie. 'When we wake him up and
tell him to go to bed, he says indignantly 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 the family.'

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 opportunity.

'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 sent the ball flying as if it
were a drawing-room ornament.'

'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
the box, he strolled out. 'Perhaps,' he said, 'I shall skip some
Shakespeare 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-es!' 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,
smiling facetiously.

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 which 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 and 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 round, 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 slyly.

'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 guv'nor 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 nowadays 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 _Mishnah_ 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 mother and father?'

'They are 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 favour,' 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 to-night.'

'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
subject.'

'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
chair unoccupied.'

'Do you expect that fellow Sidney Graham back?'

'Yes, sooner or later. But how do you know his name?' queried Esther
in surprise.

'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 Addie.

'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 him yourself.'

Esther gave an impatient gesture of denial. She resented Leonard's
rapid resumption of his old 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 Esther alone.

'If I were you, Miss Ansell, I wouldn't allow that cad to presume on
any acquaintance he may have----'

All the latent irritation in Esther's breast burst into a 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 colour 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 worst
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
later.'

'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
reflections on the black pavements, and clattering omnibuses full
inside. But the air was fresh.

'Don't go into the rain, Addie,' said Sidney, pressing forward
anxiously. 'You're doing all my work to-night. Hullo! where did _you_
spring from?'

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 apologise,' 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-humouredly.

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 wringing wet!'

'I didn't think of it,' said Raphael. 'Besides, I've only been here a
few minutes. The buses 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 hansom.'

'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 doted 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 Addie.'



CHAPTER VII

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 _Acadæum_. 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 it.'

'You seem very interested in it,' said Mrs. Goldsmith, with a little
surprise.

'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 lower
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 times.'

'May I ask him up here?' said Esther.

'Not 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 minutes to finish up the invitations and exchange 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 dreamt 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 with her.

'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 morning.'

'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 any
name.

'I think Mr. Graham brought it. Won't you sit down?' she said
indifferently.

'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
years.'

'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 recognised 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 realised it. There wasn't any one in the whole theatre who
looked the lady more--'pon honour! 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, colouring 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
struggles.'

'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 did.'

'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 earning something.'

'For a Jewish young man you are fearfully unpractical,' said Esther,
with a forced smile. 'Fancy proposing to a girl without even prospects
of 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, honour 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 always be 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 look 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 leapt 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 realised
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 realise 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 together.'

'I remember,' she said gently. 'But I do not want to marry anyone;
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 the question.'

'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-like
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, honour
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 are 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 said.

'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 pedlar, who went
about the country with brass jewellery 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 honour! 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 honour
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.'

His face changed. His frenzy gave way to a momentary shock of
consternation as he realised what he had done.

'No, no, Esther! I was mad; I didn't know what I was saying. I didn't
mean it. Forget it.'

'I cannot. It was quite true,' she said bitterly. 'I am only a
_Schnorrer's_ daughter. Well, are you going, or must I?'

He muttered something inarticulate, then seized his hat sulkily, and
went to the door without looking at her.

'You have forgotten something,' she said.

He turned; her forefinger pointed to the bouquet on the table. He had
a fresh access of rage at the sight of it, jerked it contemptuously to
the floor with a sweep of his hat, and stamped upon it. Then he rushed
from the room and an instant after she heard the hall-door slam.

She sank against the table, sobbing nervously. It was her first
proposal. A _Schnorrer_, and the daughter of a _Schnorrer_! Yes, that
was what she was. And she had even repaid her benefactors with
deception. What hopes could she yet cherish? In literature she was a
failure; the critics gave her few gleams of encouragement, while all
her acquaintances, from Raphael downwards, would turn and rend her,
should she dare declare herself. Nay, she was ashamed of herself for
the mischief she had wrought. No one in the world cared for her; she
was quite alone. The only man in whose breast she could excite love or
the semblance of it was a contemptible cad. And who was she that she
should venture to hope for love? She figured herself as an item in a
catalogue--'A little, ugly, low-spirited, absolutely penniless young
woman, subject to nervous headaches.' Her sobs were interrupted by a
ghastly burst of self-mockery. Yes, Levi was right! She ought to think
herself lucky to get him. Again, she asked herself, what had existence
to offer her? Gradually her sobs ceased; she remembered to-night would
be _Seder_ night, and her thoughts, so violently turned Ghetto-wards,
went back to that night, soon after poor Benjamin's death, when she
sat before the garret-fire striving to picture the larger life of the
Future.

Well, this was the Future!



CHAPTER VIII

THE ENDS OF A GENERATION


The same evening Leonard James sat in the stalls of the Colosseum
Music-Hall, sipping champagne and smoking a cheroot. He had not been
to his chambers (which were only round the corner) since the hapless
interview with Esther, wandering about in the streets and the clubs in
a spirit compounded of outraged dignity, remorse, and recklessness.
All men must dine; and dinner at the Flamingo Club soothed his wounded
soul and left only the recklessness, which is a sensation not lacking
in agreeableness. Through the rosy mists of the Burgundy there began
to surge up other faces than that cold pallid little face which had
hovered before him all the afternoon like a tantalising phantom; at
the Chartreuse stage he began to wonder what hallucination, what
aberration of sense, had overcome him that he should have been stirred
to his depths and distressed so hugely. Warmer faces were these that
swam before him, faces fuller of the joy of life. The devil take all
stuck-up little saints!

About eleven o'clock, when the great ballet of 'Venetia' was over,
Leonard hurried round to the stage-door, saluted the doorkeeper with a
friendly smile and a sixpence, and sent in his card to Miss Gladys
Wynne, on the chance that she might have no supper engagement. Miss
Wynne was only a humble _coryphée_, but the admirers of her talent
were numerous, and Leonard counted himself fortunate in that she was
able to afford him the privilege of her society to-night. She came out
to him in a red fur-lined cloak, for the air was keen. She was a
majestic being, with a florid complexion not entirely artificial, big
blue eyes, and teeth of that whiteness which is the practical
equivalent of a sense of humour in evoking the possessor's smiles.
They drove to a restaurant a few hundred yards distant, for Miss
Wynne detested using her feet except to dance with. It was a
fashionable restaurant, where the prices obligingly rose after ten, to
accommodate the purses of the supper _clientèle_. Miss Wynne always
drank champagne, except when alone, and in politeness Leonard had to
imbibe more of this frothy compound. He knew he would have to pay for
the day's extravagance by a week of comparative abstemiousness, but
recklessness generally meant magnificence with him. They occupied a
cosy little corner behind a screen, and Miss Wynne bubbled over with
laughter like an animated champagne-bottle. One or two of his
acquaintances espied him and winked genially, and Leonard had the
satisfaction of feeling that he was not dissipating his money without
purchasing enhanced reputation. He had not felt in gayer spirits for
months than when, with Gladys Wynne on his arm and a cigarette in his
mouth, he sauntered out of the brilliantly-lit restaurant into
feverish dusk of the midnight street, shot with points of fire.

'Hansom, sir?'

'_Levi!_'

A great cry of anguish rent the air. Leonard's cheeks burnt.
Involuntarily he looked round. Then his heart stood still. There, a
few yards from him, rooted to the pavement, with stony, staring face,
was Reb Shemuel. The old man wore an unbrushed high hat and an
uncouth, unbuttoned overcoat. His hair and beard were quite white now,
and the strong countenance, lined with countless wrinkles, was
distorted with pain and astonishment. He looked a cross between an
ancient prophet and a shabby street-lunatic. The unprecedented absence
of the son from the _Seder_ ceremonial had filled the Reb's household
with the gravest alarm. Nothing short of death or mortal sickness
could be keeping the boy away. It was long before the Reb could bring
himself to commence the _Agadah_ without his son to ask the
time-honoured opening question, and when he did he paused every minute
to listen to footsteps or the voice of the wind without. The joyous
holiness of the Festival was troubled; a black cloud overshadowed the
shining table-cloth; at supper the food choked him. But _Seder_ was
over, and yet no sign of the missing guest, no word of explanation. In
poignant anxiety the old man walked the three miles that lay between
him and tidings of the beloved son. At his chambers he learnt that
their occupant had not been in all day. Another thing he learnt there,
too; for the _Mezuzah_ which he had fixed up on the door-post when his
boy moved in had been taken down, and it filled his mind with a dread
suspicion that Levi had not been eating at the kosher restaurant in
Hatton Garden, as he had faithfully vowed to do. But even this
terrible thought was swallowed up in the fear that some accident had
happened to him. He haunted the house for an hour, filling up the
intervals of fruitless inquiry with little random walks round the
neighbourhood, determined not to return home to his wife without news
of their child. The restless life of the great twinkling streets was
almost a novelty to him; it was rarely his perambulations in London
extended outside the Ghetto, and the radius of his life was
proportionately narrow, with the intensity that narrowness forces on a
big soul. The streets dazzled him; he looked blinkingly hither and
thither in the despairing hope of finding his boy. His lips moved in
silent prayer; he raised his eyes beseechingly to the cold glittering
heavens. Then all at once, as the clocks pointed to midnight, he found
him. Found him coming out of an unclean place, where he had violated
the Passover. Found him--fit climax of horror--with the 'strange
woman' of the _Proverbs_, for whom the faithful Jew has a hereditary
hatred.

His son--his, Reb Shemuel's! He, the servant of the Most High, the
teacher of the Faith to reverential thousands, had brought a son into
the world to profane the Name! Verily, his grey hairs would go down
with sorrow to a speedy grave! And the sin was half his own; he had
weakly abandoned his boy in the midst of a great city. For one awful
instant, that seemed an eternity, the old man and the young faced each
other across the chasm which divided their lives. To the son the shock
was scarcely less violent than to the father. The _Seder_, which the
day's unwonted excitement had clean swept out of his mind, recurred to
him in a flash, and by the light of it he understood the puzzle of his
father's appearance. The thought of explaining rushed up only to be
dismissed. The door of the restaurant had not yet ceased swinging
behind him; there was too much to explain. He felt that all was over
between him and his father. It was unpleasant, terrible even, for it
meant the annihilation of his resources. But though he still had an
almost physical fear of the old man, far more terrible even than the
presence of his father was the presence of Miss Gladys Wynne. To
explain, to brazen it out--either course was equally impossible. He
was not a brave man, but at that moment he felt death were preferable
to allowing her to be the witness of such a scene as must ensue. His
resolution was taken within a few brief seconds of the tragic
_rencontre_. With wonderful self-possession, he nodded to the cabman
who had put the question, and whose vehicle was drawn up opposite the
restaurant. Hastily he helped the unconscious Gladys into the hansom.
He was putting his foot on the step himself, when Reb Shemuel's
paralysis relaxed suddenly. Outraged by this final pollution of the
Festival, he ran forward and laid his hand on Levi's shoulder. His
face was ashen, his heart thumped painfully; the hand on Levi's cloak
shook as with palsy.

Levi winced; the old awe was upon him. Through a blinding whirl he saw
Gladys staring wonderingly at the queer-looking intruder. He gathered
all his mental strength together with a mighty effort, shook off the
great trembling hand, and leapt into the hansom.

'Drive on!' came in strange guttural tones from his parched throat.

The driver lashed the horse; a rough jostled the old man aside and
slammed the door to; Leonard mechanically threw him a coin; the hansom
glided away.

'Who was that, Leonard?' said Miss Wynne curiously.

'Nobody; only an old Jew who supplies me with cash.'

Gladys laughed merrily--a rippling, musical laugh. She knew the sort
of person.



CHAPTER IX

THE 'FLAG' FLUTTERS


The _Flag of Judah_, price one penny, largest circulation of any
Jewish organ, continued to flutter, defying the battle, the breeze,
and its communal contemporaries. At Passover there had been an
illusive augmentation of advertisements proclaiming the virtues of
unleavened everything. With the end of the Festival most of these fell
out, staying as short a time as the daffodils. Raphael was in despair
at the meagre attenuated appearance of the erst prosperous-looking
pages. The weekly loss on the paper weighed upon his conscience.

'We shall never succeed,' said the sub-editor, shaking his romantic
hair, 'till we run it for the Upper Ten. These ten people can make the
paper, just as they are now killing it by refusing their countenance.'

'But they must surely reckon with us sooner or later,' said Raphael.

'It will be a long reckoning, I fear; you take my advice, and put in
more butter. It'll be _kosher_ butter, coming from us.'

The little Bohemian laughed as heartily as his eyeglass permitted.

'No; we must stick to our guns. After all, we have had some very good
things lately. Those articles of Pinchas's are not bad, either.'

'They're so beastly egotistical. Still, his English is improving, and
his theories are ingenious, and far more interesting than those
terribly dull long letters of Goldsmith, which you will put in.'

Raphael flushed a little, and began to walk up and down the new and
superior sanctum with his ungainly strides, puffing furiously at his
pipe. The appearance of the room was less bare; the floor was carpeted
with old newspapers and scraps of letters. A huge picture of an
Atlantic liner, the gift of a steamship company, leaned cumbrously
against a wall.

'Still, all our literary excellences,' pursued Sampson, 'are
outweighed by our shortcomings in getting births, marriages, and
deaths. We are gravelled for lack of that sort of matter. What is the
use of your elaborate essay on the Septuagint, when the public is
dying to hear who's dead?'

'Yes, I am afraid it is so,' said Raphael, emitting a huge volume of
smoke.

'I'm sure it is so. If you would only give me a freer hand I feel sure
I could work up that column. We can, at least, make a better show. I
would avoid the danger of discovery by shifting the scene to foreign
parts. I could marry some people in Bombay, and kill some in Cape
Town, redressing the balance by bringing others into existence at
Cairo and Cincinnati. Our contemporaries would score off us in local
interest, but we should take the shine out of them in cosmopolitanism.'

'No, no; remember that _Meshumad_,' said Raphael, smiling.

'He was real; if you had allowed me to invent a corpse we should have
been saved that contretemps. We have one death this week, fortunately,
and I am sure to fish out another in the daily papers. But we haven't
had a birth for three weeks running; it's just ruining our reputation.
Everybody knows that the orthodox are a fertile lot, and it looks as
if we hadn't got the support even of our own party. Ta-ra-ra-ta! Now,
you must really let me have a birth. I give you my word nobody'll
suspect it isn't genuine. Come now! How's this?'

He scribbled on a piece of paper and handed it to Raphael, who read:

    'BIRTH.

    'On the 15th inst., at 17 East Stuart Lane, Kennington, the wife
    of Joseph Samuels of a son.'

'There!' said Sampson proudly. 'Who would believe the little beggar
had no existence? Nobody lives in Kennington, and that East Stuart
Lane is a master-stroke. You might suspect Stuart Lane, but nobody
would ever dream there's no such place as _East_ Stuart Lane. Don't
say the little chap must die; I begin to take quite a paternal
interest in him. May I announce him? Don't be too scrupulous. Who'll
be a penny the worse for it?'

He began to chirp, with bird-like trills of melody.

Raphael hesitated; his moral fibre had been weakened. It is impossible
to touch print and not be defiled.

Suddenly Sampson ceased to whistle, and smote his head with his chubby
fist.

'Ass that I am!' he exclaimed.

'What new reason have you discovered to think so?' said Raphael.

'Why, we dare not create boys. We shall be found out; boys must be
circumcised, and some of the periphrastically styled "Initiators into
the Abrahamic Covenant" may spot us. It was a girl that Mrs. Joseph
Samuels was guilty of.'

He amended the sex.

Raphael laughed heartily.

'Put it by--there's another day yet--we shall see.'

'Very well,' said Sampson resignedly. 'Perhaps by to-morrow we shall
be in luck, and able to sing "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son
is given." By the way, did you see the letter complaining of our using
that quotation on the ground it was from the New Testament?'

'Yes,' said Raphael, smiling. 'Of course the man doesn't know his Old
Testament, but I trace his misconception to his having heard Handel's
_Messiah_. I wonder he doesn't find fault with the Morning Service for
containing the Lord's prayer, or with Moses for saying, "Thou shalt
love thy neighbour as thyself."'

'Still, that's the sort of man newspapers have to cater for,' said the
sub-editor. 'And we don't. We have cut down our Provincial Notes to a
column. My idea would be to make two pages of them, not cutting out
any of the people's names and leaving in more of the adjectives.
Every man's name we mention means at least one copy sold. Why can't we
drag in a couple of thousand names every week?'

'That would make our circulation altogether nominal,' laughed Raphael,
not taking the suggestion seriously.

Little Sampson was not only the Mephistopheles of the office,
debauching his editor's guileless mind with all the wily ways of the
old journalistic hand; he was of real use in protecting Raphael
against the thousand and one pitfalls that make the editorial chair as
perilous to the occupant as Sweeney Todd's; against the people who
tried to get libels inserted as news or as advertisements, against the
self-puffers and the axe-grinders. He also taught Raphael how to
commence interesting correspondence and how to close awkward. The
_Flag_ played a part in many violent discussions. Little Sampson was
great in inventing communal crises, and in getting the public to
believe it was excited. He also won a great victory over the other
party every three weeks; Raphael did not wish to have so many of these
victories, but Little Sampson pointed out that if he did not have them
the rival newspaper would annex them. One of the earliest sensations
of the _Flag_ was a correspondence exposing the misdeeds of some
communal officials, but in the end the very persons who made the
allegations ate humble pie. Evidently official pressure had been
brought to bear, for red tape rampant might have been the heraldic
device of Jewish officialdom. In no department did Jews exhibit more
strikingly their marvellous powers of assimilation to their
neighbours.

Among the discussions which rent the body politic was the question of
building a huge synagogue for the poor. The _Flag_ said it would only
concentrate them, and its word prevailed. There were also the grave
questions of English and harmoniums in the synagogue, of the
confirmation of girls and their utilisation in the choir. The
Rabbinate, whose grave difficulties in reconciling all parties to its
rule were augmented by the existence of the _Flag_, pronounced it
heinous to introduce English excerpts into the liturgy; if, however,
they were not read from the central platform, they were legitimate;
harmoniums were permissible, but only during special services, and an
organisation of mixed voices was allowable, but not a mixed choir;
children might be confirmed, but the word 'confirmation' should be
avoided. Poor Rabbinate! The politics of the little community were
extremely complex. What with rabid zealots yearning for the piety of
the good old times, spiritually-minded ministers working with
uncomfortable earnestness for a larger Judaism, radicals dropping out,
moderates clamouring for quiet, and schismatics organising new and
tiresome movements, the Rabbinate could scarcely do aught else than
emit sonorous platitudes and remain in office.

And beneath all these surface ruffles was the steady silent drift of
the new generation away from the old landmarks. The synagogue did not
attract; it spoke Hebrew to those whose mother-tongue was English, its
appeal was made through channels which conveyed nothing to them, it
was out of touch with their real lives, its liturgy prayed for the
restoration of sacrifices which they did not want and for the welfare
of Babylonian colleges that had ceased to exist. The old generation
merely believed its beliefs; if the new as much as professed them, it
was only by virtue of the old home associations and the inertia of
indifference. Practically it was without religion. The Reform
Synagogue, though a centre of culture and prosperity, was cold, crude,
and devoid of magnetism. Half a century of stagnant reform and
restless dissolution had left orthodoxy still the established doxy.
For as orthodoxy evaporated in England, it was replaced by fresh
streams from Russia, to be evaporated and replaced in turn, England
acting as an automatic distillery. Thus the Rabbinate still reigned,
though it scarcely governed either the East End or the West. For the
East End formed a Federation of the smaller synagogues to oppose the
dominance of the United Synagogue, importing a minister of superior
orthodoxy from the Continent, and the _Flag_ had powerful leaders on
the great struggle between plutocracy and democracy, and the voice of
Mr. Henry Goldsmith was heard on behalf of Whitechapel. And the West,
in so far as it had spiritual aspirations, fed them on non-Jewish
literature and the higher thought of the age. The finer spirits,
indeed, were groping for a purpose and a destiny, doubtful even if the
racial isolation they perpetuated were not an anachronism. While the
community had been battling for civil and religious liberty, there had
been a unifying, almost spiritualising, influence in the sense of
common injustice, and the question _Cui bono_ had been postponed.
Drowning men do not ask if life is worth living. Later the Russian
persecutions came to interfere again with national introspection,
sending a powerful wave of racial sympathy round the earth. In England
a backwash of the wave left the Asmonean society, wherein, for the
first time in history, Jews gathered with nothing in common save
blood--artists, lawyers, writers, doctors--men who in pre-emancipation
times might have become Christians like Heine, but who now formed an
effective protest against the popular conceptions of the Jew, and a
valuable antidote to the disproportionate notoriety achieved by less
creditable types. At the Asmonean society, brilliant free-lances, each
thinking himself a solitary exception to a race of bigots, met one
another in mutual astonishment. Raphael alienated several readers by
uncompromising approval of this characteristically modern movement.
Another symptom of the new intensity of national brotherhood was the
attempt towards amalgamating the Spanish and German communities, but
brotherhood broke down under the disparity of revenue, the rich
Spanish sect displaying once again the exclusiveness which has marked
its history.

Amid these internal problems, the unspeakable immigrant was an added
thorn. Very often the victim of Continental persecution was assisted
on to America, but the idea that he was hurtful to native labour
rankled in the minds of Englishmen, and the Jewish leaders were
anxious to remove it, all but proving him a boon. In despair it was
sought to anglicise him by discourses in Yiddish. With the poor alien
question was connected the return to Palestine. The Holy Land League
still pinned its faith to Zion, and the _Flag_ was with it to the
extent of preferring the ancient fatherland, as the scene of
agricultural experiments, to the South American soils selected by
other schemes. It was generally felt that the redemption of Judaism
lay largely in a return to the land, after several centuries of less
primitive and more degrading occupations. When South America was
chosen, Strelitski was the first to counsel the League to co-operate
in the experiment, on the principle that half a loaf is better than no
bread. But for the orthodox the difficulties of regeneration by the
spade were enhanced by the Sabbatical Year Institute of the
Pentateuch, ordaining that land must lie fallow in the seventh year.
It happened that this septennial holiday was just going on, and the
faithful Palestine farmers were starving in voluntary martyrdom. The
_Flag_ raised a subscription for their benefit. Raphael wished to head
the list with twenty pounds, but on the advice of Little Sampson he
broke it up into a variety of small amounts spread over several weeks,
and attached to imaginary names and initials. Seeing so many other
readers contributing, few readers felt called upon to tax themselves.
The _Flag_ received the ornate thanks of a pleiad of Palestine Rabbis
for its contribution of twenty-five guineas, two of which were from
Mr. Henry Goldsmith. Gideon, the member for Whitechapel, remained
callous to the sufferings of his brethren in the Holy Land. In daily
contact with so many diverse interests Raphael's mind widened as
imperceptibly as the body grows. He learnt the manners of many men and
committees--admired the genuine goodness of some of the Jewish
philanthropists and the fluent oratory of all, even while he realised
the pettiness of their outlook and their reluctance to face facts.
They were timorous, with a dread of decisive action and definite
speech suggesting the deferential, deprecatory corporeal wrigglings of
the mediæval Jew. They seemed to keep strict ward over the technical
privileges of the different bodies they belonged to, and in their
capacity of members of the Fiddle-de-dee to quarrel with themselves as
members of the Fiddle-de-dum, and to pass votes of condolence or
congratulation twice over as members of both. But the more he saw of
his race the more he marvelled at the omnipresent ability, being
tempted at times to allow truth to the view that Judaism was a
successful sociological experiment, the moral and physical training of
a chosen race whose very dietary had been religiously regulated.

And even the revelations of the seamy side of human character, which
thrust themselves upon the most purblind of editors, were blessings in
disguise. The office of the _Flag_ was a forcing house for Raphael;
many latent thoughts developed into extraordinary maturity. A month of
the _Flag_ was equal to a year of experience in the outside world. And
not even Little Sampson himself was keener to appreciate the humours
of the office, when no principle was involved; though what made the
sub-editor roar with laughter often made the editor miserable for the
day. For compensation Raphael had felicities from which Little Sampson
was cut off; gladdened by revelations of earnestness and piety in
letters that were merely bad English to the sub-editor.

A thing that set them both laughing occurred on the top of their
conversation about the reader who objected to quotations from the Old
Testament. A package of four old _Flags_ arrived, accompanied by a
letter. This was the letter:

    'DEAR SIR,

    'Your man called upon me last night, asking for payment for four
    advertisements of my Passover groceries. But I have changed my
    mind about them and do not want them, and therefore beg to
    return the four numbers sent me. You will see I have not opened
    them or soiled them in any way, so please cancel the claim in
    your books.

                                               'Yours truly,
                                                'ISAAC WOLLBERG.'

'He evidently thinks the vouchers sent him _are_ the advertisements,'
screamed Little Sampson.

'But if he is as ignorant as all that, how could he have written the
letter?' asked Raphael.

'Oh, it was probably written for him for twopence by the Shalotten
Shammos, the begging-letter writer.'

'This is almost as funny as Karlkammer,' said Raphael.

Karlkammer had sent in a long essay on the 'Sabbatical Year Question,'
which Raphael had revised and published, with Karlkammer's title at
the head and Karlkammer's name at the foot. Yet, owing to the few
rearrangements and inversions of sentences, Karlkammer never
identified it as his own, and was perpetually calling to inquire when
his article would appear. He brought with him fresh manuscripts of the
article as originally written. He was not the only caller. Raphael was
much pestered by visitors on kindly counsel bent or stern exhortation.
The sternest were those who had never yet paid their subscriptions. De
Haan also kept up proprietorial rights of interference. In private
life Raphael suffered much from pillars of the Montagu Samuels type,
who accused him of flippancy, and no communal crisis invented by
Little Sampson ever equalled the pother and commotion that arose when
Raphael incautiously allowed him to burlesque the notorious _Mordecai
Josephs_ by comically exaggerating its exaggerations. The community
took it seriously as an attack upon the race. Mr. and Mrs. Henry
Goldsmith were scandalised, and Raphael had to shield Little Sampson
by accepting the whole responsibility for its appearance.

'Talking of Karlkammer's article, are you ever going to use up
Herman's scientific paper?' asked Little Sampson.

'I'm afraid so,' said Raphael, 'I don't know how we can get out of it.
But his eternal _kosher_ meat sticks in my throat. We are Jews for the
love of God, not to be saved from consumption bacilli. But I won't use
it to-morrow; we have Miss Cissy Levine's tale. It's not half bad.
What a pity she has the expenses of her books paid! If she had to
achieve publication by merit, her style might be less slipshod.'

'I wish some rich Jew would pay the expenses of my opera tour,' said
Little Sampson ruefully. 'My style of doing the thing would be
improved. The people who are backing me up are awfully stingy.
Actually buying up battered old helmets for my chorus of Amazons.'

Intermittently the question of the sub-editor's departure for the
provinces came up; it was only second in frequency to his
'victories.' About once a month the preparations for the tour were
complete, and he would go about in a heyday of jubilant vocalisation;
then his comic _prima donna_ would fall ill or elope, his conductor
would get drunk, his chorus would strike, and Little Sampson would
continue to sub-edit the _Flag of Judah_.

Pinchas unceremoniously turned the handle of the door and came in. The
sub-editor immediately hurried out to get a cup of tea. Pinchas had
fastened upon him the responsibility for the omission of an article
last week, and had come to believe that he was in league with rival
Continental scholars to keep Melchitzedek Pinchas's effusions out of
print, and so Little Sampson dared not face the angry savant. Raphael,
thus deserted, cowered in his chair. He did not fear death, but he
feared Pinchas, and had fallen into the cowardly habit of bribing him
lavishly not to fill the paper. Fortunately the poet was in high
feather.

'Don't forget the announcement that I lecture at the Club on Sunday.
You see, all the efforts of Reb Shemuel, of the Rev. Joseph
Strelitski, of the Chief Rabbi, of Ebenezer vid his blue spectacles,
of Sampson, of all the phalanx of English Men-of-the-Earth, they all
fail. Ah, I am a great man.'

'I won't forget,' said Raphael wearily. 'The announcement is already
in print.'

'Ah, I love you. You are the best man in the vorld. It is you who have
championed me against those who are thirsting for my blood. And now I
vill tell you joyful news. There is a maiden coming up to see you; she
is asking in the publisher's office. Oh, such a lovely maiden!'

Pinchas grinned all over his face, and was like to dig his editor in
the ribs.

'What maiden?'

'I do not know, but vai-r-r-y beaudiful. Aha, I vill go! Have you not
been good to _me_? But vy come not beaudiful maidens to _me_?'

'No, no, you needn't go,' said Raphael, getting red.

Pinchas grinned, as one who knew better, and struck a match to
rekindle a stump of cigar.

'No, no, I go write my lecture; oh, it vill be a great lecture. You
vill announce it in the paper? You vill not leave it out like Sampson
left out my article last week?'

He was at the door now, with his finger alongside his nose.

Raphael shook himself impatiently, and the poet threw the door wide
and disappeared.

For a full minute Raphael dared not look towards the door, for fear of
seeing the poet's cajoling head framed in the opening. When he did, he
was transfixed to see Esther Ansell's there, regarding him pensively.

His heart beat painfully at the shock; the room seemed flooded with
sunlight.

'May I come in?' she said, smiling.



CHAPTER X

ESTHER DEFIES THE UNIVERSE


Esther wore a neat black mantle, and looked taller and more womanly
than usual in a pretty bonnet and a spotted veil. There was a flush of
colour in her cheeks, her eyes sparkled. She had walked, in cold sunny
weather, from the British Museum (where she was still supposed to be),
and the wind had blown loose a little wisp of hair over the small
shell-like ear. In her left hand she held a roll of manuscript--it
contained her criticisms of the May Exhibitions. Whereby hung a tale.

In the dark days that followed the scene with Levi, Esther's
resolution had gradually formed. The position had become untenable.
She could no longer remain a _Schnorrer_, abusing the bounty of her
benefactors into the bargain. She must leave the Goldsmiths, and at
once. That was imperative; the second step could be thought over when
she had taken the first. And yet she postponed taking the first. Once
she drifted out of her present sphere, she could not answer for the
future; could not be certain, for instance, that she would be able to
redeem her promise to Raphael to sit in judgment upon the Academy and
other picture-galleries that bloomed in May. At any rate, once she had
severed connection with the Goldsmith circle she would not care to
renew it, even in the case of Raphael. No; it was best to get this
last duty off her shoulders, then to say farewell to him and all the
other human constituents of her brief period of partial sunshine.
Besides, the personal delivery of the precious manuscript would afford
her the opportunity of this farewell to him. With his social
remissness, it was unlikely he would call soon upon the Goldsmiths,
and she now restricted her friendship with Addie to receiving Addie's
visits, so as to prepare for its dissolution.

Addie amused her by reading extracts from Sidney's letters, for the
brilliant young artist had suddenly gone off to Norway the morning
after the _début_ of the new Hamlet. Esther felt that it might be as
well if she stayed on to see how the drama of these two lives
developed. These things she told herself in the reaction from the
first impulse of instant flight.

Raphael put down his pipe at the sight of her, and a frank smile of
welcome shone upon his flushed face.

'This is so kind of you!' he said. 'Who would have thought of seeing
you here? I am so glad. I hope you are well. You look better.' He was
wringing her little gloved hand violently as he spoke.

'I feel better, too, thank you. The air is so exhilarating. I'm glad
to see you're still in the land of the living. Addie has told me of
your debauches of work.'

'Addie is foolish. I never felt better. Come inside. Don't be afraid
of walking on the papers, they're all old.'

'I always heard literary people were untidy,' said Esther, smiling.
'_You_ must be a regular genius.'

'Well, you see, we don't have many ladies coming here,' said Raphael
deprecatingly, 'though we have plenty of old women.'

'It's evident you don't, else some of them would go down on their
hands and knees and never get up till this litter was tidied up a
bit.'

'Never mind that now, Miss Ansell. Sit down, won't you? You must be
tired. Take the editorial chair--allow me a minute.' He removed some
books from it.

'Is that the way you sit on the books sent in for review?' She sat
down. 'Dear me! it's quite comfortable. You men like comfort, even the
most self-sacrificing. But where is your fighting editor? It would be
awkward if an aggrieved reader came in and mistook me for the editor,
wouldn't it? It isn't safe for me to remain in this chair!'

'Oh yes, it is! We've tackled our aggrieved readers for to-day,' he
assured her.

She looked curiously round.

'Please pick up your pipe; it's going out. I don't mind smoke--indeed
I don't. Even if I did, I should be prepared to pay the penalty of
bearding an editor in his den.'

Raphael resumed his pipe gratefully.

'I wonder, though, you don't set the place on fire,' Esther rattled
on, 'with all this mass of inflammable matter about.'

'It is very dry, most of it,' he admitted, with a smile.

'Why don't you have a real fire? It must be quite cold sitting here
all day. What's that great ugly picture over there?'

'That steamer? It's an advertisement.'

'Heavens! what a decoration! I should like to have the criticism of
that picture. I've brought you those picture-galleries, you know:
that's what I've come for.'

'Thank you; that's very good of you! I'll send it to the printers at
once.'

He took the roll, and placed it in a pigeon-hole without taking his
eyes off her face.

'Why don't you throw that awful staring thing away?' she asked,
contemplating the steamer with a morbid fascination; 'and sweep away
the old papers, and have a few little water-colours hung up, and put a
vase of flowers on your desk. I wish I had the control of the office
for a week.'

'I wish you had,' he said gallantly. 'I can't find time to think of
those things. I am sure you are brightening it up already.'

The little blush on her cheek deepened. Compliment was unwonted with
him; and, indeed, he spoke as he felt. The sight of her seated so
strangely and unexpectedly in his own humdrum sanctum, the imaginary
picture of her beautifying it and evolving harmony out of the chaos
with artistic touches of her dainty hands, filled him with pleasant,
tender thoughts such as he had scarce known before. The commonplace
editorial chair seemed to have undergone consecration and poetic
transformation. Surely the sunshine that streamed through the dusty
window would for ever rest on it henceforwards. And yet the whole
thing appeared fantastic and unreal.

'I hope you are speaking the truth,' replied Esther, with a little
laugh. 'You need brightening, you old dry-as-dust philanthropist,
sitting poring over stupid manuscripts when you ought to be in the
country enjoying the sunshine.' She spoke in airy accents, with an
under-current of astonishment at her attack of high spirits on an
occasion she had designed to be harrowing.

'Why, I haven't _looked_ at your manuscript yet,' he retorted gaily,
but as he spoke there flashed upon him a delectable vision of blue sea
and waving pines with one fair wood-nymph flitting through the trees,
luring him on from this musty cell of never-ending work to unknown
ecstasies of youth and joyousness. The leafy avenues were bathed in
sacred sunlight, and a low magic music thrilled through the quiet air.
It was but the dream of a second--the dingy walls closed round him
again; the great ugly steamer, that never went anywhere, sailed on.
But the wood-nymph did not vanish; the sunbeam was still on the
editorial chair, lighting up the little face with a celestial halo.
And when she spoke again it was as if the music that thrilled the
visionary glades was a reality, too.

'It's all very well, your treating reproof as a jest,' she said more
gravely. 'Can't you see that it's false economy to risk a breakdown,
even if you use yourself purely for others? You're looking far from
well. You are over-taxing human strength. Come now, admit my sermon is
just. Remember, I speak not as a Pharisee, but as one who made the
mistake herself--a fellow-sinner.' She turned her dark eyes
reproachfully upon him.

'I--I--don't sleep very well,' he admitted, 'but otherwise I assure
you I feel all right.'

It was the second time she had manifested concern for his health. The
blood coursed deliciously in his veins; a thrill ran through his whole
form. The gentle, anxious face seemed to grow angelic. Could she
really care if his health gave way? Again he felt a rush of self-pity
that filled his eyes with tears. He was grateful to her for sharing
his sense of the empty cheerlessness of his existence. He wondered why
it had seemed so full and cheery just before.

'And you used to sleep so well,' said Esther slyly, remembering
Addie's domestic revelations. 'My stupid manuscript should come in
useful.'

'Oh, forgive my stupid joke!' he said remorsefully.

'Forgive mine!' she answered. 'Sleeplessness is too terrible to joke
about. Again I speak as one who knows.'

'Oh, I'm sorry to hear that!' he said, his egoistic tenderness
instantly transformed to compassionate solicitude.

'Never mind me--I am a woman and can take care of myself. Why don't
you go over to Norway and join Mr. Graham?'

'That's quite out of the question,' he said, puffing furiously at his
pipe. 'I can't leave the paper.'

'Oh, men always say that! Haven't you let your pipe out? I don't see
any smoke.'

He started and laughed. 'Yes, there's no more tobacco in it.' He laid
it down.

'No, I insist on your going on, or else I shall feel uncomfortable.
Where's your pouch?'

He felt all over his pockets. 'It must be on the table.'

She rummaged among the mass of papers. 'Ha! there are your scissors!'
she said scornfully, turning them up. She found the pouch in time and
handed it to him. 'I ought to have the management of this office for a
day,' she remarked again.

'Well, fill my pipe for me,' he said, with an audacious inspiration.
He felt an unreasoning impulse to touch her hand, to smooth her soft
cheek with his fingers, and press her eyelids down over her dancing
eyes. She filled the pipe, full measure and running over; he took it
by the stem, her warm gloved fingers grazing his chilly bare hand and
suffusing him with a delicious thrill.

'Now you must crown your work,' he said. 'The matches are somewhere
about.'

She hunted again, interpolating exclamations of reproof at the risk of
fire.

'They're safety matches, I think,' he said. They proved to be wax
vestas. She gave him a liquid glance of mute reproach that filled him
with bliss as overbrimmingly as his pipe had been filled with
bird's-eye; then she struck a match, protecting the flame
scientifically in the hollow of her little hand. Raphael had never
imagined a wax vesta could be struck so charmingly. She tip-toed to
reach the bowl in his mouth, but he bent his tall form and felt her
breath upon his face. The volumes of smoke curled up triumphantly, and
Esther's serious countenance relaxed in a smile of satisfaction. She
resumed the conversation where it had been broken off by the idyllic
interlude of the pipe.

'But if you can't leave London, there's plenty of recreation to be had
in town. I'll wager you haven't yet been to see _Hamlet_, in lieu of
the night you disappointed us.'

'Disappointed myself, you mean,' he said, with a retrospective
consciousness of folly. 'No, to tell the truth, I haven't been out at
all lately. Life is so short.'

'Then, why waste it?'

'Oh, come, I can't admit I waste it,' he said, with a gentle smile
that filled her with a penetrating emotion. 'You mustn't take such
material views of life.' Almost in a whisper he quoted, '"To him that
hath the kingdom of God all things shall be added"'; and went on,
'Socialism is, at least, as important as Shakespeare.'

'Socialism!' she repeated. 'Are you a Socialist, then?'

'Of a kind,' he answered. 'Haven't you detected the cloven hoof in my
leaders? I'm not violent, you know; don't be alarmed. But I have been
doing a little mild propagandism lately in the evenings--Land
Nationalisation and a few other things which would bring the world
more into harmony with the Law of Moses.'

'What! do you find Socialism, too, in orthodox Judaism?'

'It requires no seeking.'

'Well, you're almost as bad as my father, who found everything in the
Talmud. At this rate you will certainly convert me soon; or, at least,
I shall, like M. Jourdain, discover I've been orthodox all my life
without knowing it!'

'I hope so,' he said gravely. 'But have you Socialistic sympathies?'

She hesitated. As a girl she had felt the crude Socialism which is
the unreasoned instinct of ambitious poverty, the individual revolt
mistaking itself for hatred of the general injustice. When the higher
sphere has welcomed the Socialist, he sees he was but the exception to
a contented class. Esther had gone through the second phase, and was
in the throes of the third, to which only the few attain.

'I used to be a red-hot Socialist once!' she said. 'To-day I doubt
whether too much stress is not laid on material conditions. High
thinking is compatible with the plainest living. "The soul is its own
place, and can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven." Let the
people who wish to build themselves lordly treasure-houses do so, if
they can afford it; but let us not degrade our ideals by envying
them.'

The conversation had drifted into seriousness; Raphael's thoughts
reverted to their normal intellectual cast; but he still watched with
pleasure the play of her mobile features as she expounded her
opinions.

'Ah, yes, that is a nice abstract theory,' he said. 'But what if the
mechanism of competitive society works so that thousands don't get
even the plainest living? You should just see the sights I have seen,
then you would understand why for some time the improvement of the
material condition of the masses must be the great problem. Of course,
you won't suspect me of underrating the moral and religious
considerations?'

Esther smiled almost imperceptibly. The idea of Raphael, who could not
see two inches before his nose, telling _her_ to examine the spectacle
of human misery would have been distinctly amusing, even if her early
life had been passed amongst the same scenes as his. It seemed a part
of the irony of things and the paradox of fate that Raphael, who had
never known cold or hunger, should be so keenly sensitive to the
sufferings of others; while she, who had known both, had come to
regard them with philosophical tolerance. Perhaps she was destined ere
long to renew her acquaintance with them. Well, that would test her
theories, at any rate.

'Who is taking material views of life now?' she asked.

'It is by perfect obedience to the Mosaic Law that the kingdom of God
is to be brought about on earth,' he answered. 'And in spirit orthodox
Judaism is, undoubtedly, akin to Socialism.' His enthusiasm set him
pacing the room, as usual, his arms working like the sails of a
windmill.

Esther shook her head.

'Well, give me Shakespeare!' she said. 'I had rather see _Hamlet_ than
a world of perfect prigs!' She laughed at the oddity of her own
comparison, and added, still smiling, 'Once upon a time I used to
think Shakespeare a fraud. But that was merely because he was an
institution. It is a real treat to find one superstition that will
stand analysis!'

'Perhaps you will find the Bible turn out like that,' he said
hopefully.

'I _have_ found it. Within the last few months I have read it right
through again--Old and New. It is full of sublime truths, noble
apophthegms, endless touches of nature, and great poetry. Our tiny
race may well be proud of having given humanity its greatest, as well
as its most widely-circulated, books. Why can't Judaism take a natural
view of things and an honest pride in its genuine history, instead of
building its synagogues on shifting sand?'

'In Germany--later in America--the reconstruction of Judaism has been
attempted in every possible way; inspiration has been sought, not only
in literature, but in archæology, and even in anthropology; it is
these which have proved the shifting sand. You see, your scepticism is
not even original.' He smiled a little, serene in the largeness of his
faith. His complacency grated upon her. She jumped up.

'We always seem to get into religion, you and I,' she said. 'I wonder
why! It is certain we shall never agree. Mosaism is magnificent, no
doubt, but I cannot help feeling Mr. Graham is right when he points
out its limitations. Where would the art of the world be if the Second
Commandment had been obeyed? Is there any such thing as an absolute
system of morality? How is it the Chinese have got on all these years
without religion? Why should Jews claim the patent in those moral
ideas which you find just as well in all the great writers of
antiquity? Why----' She stopped suddenly, seeing his smile had
broadened.

'Which of all these objections am I to answer?' he asked merrily.
'Some I'm sure you don't mean.'

'I mean all those you can't answer. So please don't try. After all,
you're not a professional explainer of the universe that I should
heckle you thus.'

'Oh, but I set up to be,' he protested.

'No, you don't. You haven't called me a blasphemer once. I'd better go
before you become really professional. I shall be late for dinner.'

'What nonsense! It is only four o'clock,' he pleaded, consulting an
old-fashioned silver watch.

'As late as that!' said Esther in horrified tones. 'Good-bye. Take
care to go through my "copy" in case any heresies have filtered into
it.'

'Your "copy"? Did you give it me?' he inquired.

'Of course I did. You took it from me. Where did you put it? Oh, I
hope you haven't mixed it up with those papers. It'll be a terrible
task to find it!' cried Esther excitedly.

'I wonder if I could have put it in the pigeon-hole for copy,' he
said. 'Yes; what luck.'

Esther laughed heartily.

'You seem tremendously surprised to find anything in its right place.'

The moment of solemn parting had come, yet she found herself laughing
on. Perhaps she was glad to find the farewell easier than she had
foreseen. It had certainly been made easier by the theological passage
of arms, which brought out all her latent antagonism to the prejudiced
young pietist. Her hostility gave rather a scornful ring to the laugh,
which ended with a suspicion of hysteria.

'What a lot of stuff you've written,' he said. 'I shall never be able
to get this into one number.'

'I didn't intend you should. It's to be used in instalments, if it's
good enough. I did it all in advance, because I'm going away.'

'Going away!' he cried, arresting himself in the midst of an
inhalation of smoke. 'Where?'

'I don't know,' she said wearily.

He looked alarm and interrogation.

'I am going to leave the Goldsmiths,' she said. 'I haven't decided
exactly what to do next.'

'I hope you haven't quarrelled with them.'

'No, no; not at all. In fact, they don't even know I am going. I only
tell you in confidence. Please don't say anything to anybody.
Good-bye. I may not come across you again. So this may be a last
good-bye.'

She extended her hand; he took it mechanically.

'I have no right to pry into your confidence,' he said anxiously, 'but
you make me very uneasy.' He did not let go her hand; the warm touch
quickened his sympathy. He felt he could not part with her, and let
her drift into Heaven knew what. 'Won't you tell me your trouble?' he
went on. 'I am sure it is some trouble. Perhaps I can help you. I
should be so glad if you would give me the opportunity.'

The tears struggled to her eyes, but she did not speak. They stood in
silence, with their hands still clasped, feeling very near to each
other, and yet still so far apart.

'Cannot you trust me?' he asked. 'I know you are unhappy, but I had
hoped you had grown cheerfuller of late. You told me so much at our
first meeting, surely you might trust me yet a little farther.'

'I have told you enough,' she said at last. 'I cannot any longer eat
the bread of charity; I must go away and try to earn my own living.'

'But what will you do?'

'What do other girls do? Teaching, needlework, anything. Remember, I'm
an experienced teacher, and a graduate to boot.'

Her pathetic smile lit up the face with tremulous tenderness.

'But you will be quite alone in the world,' he said, solicitude
vibrating in every syllable.

'I am used to being quite alone in the world.'

The phrase threw a flash of light along the backward vista of her life
with the Goldsmiths, and filled his soul with pity and yearning.

'But suppose you fail?'

'If I fail----' she repeated, and rounded off the sentence with a
shrug.

It was the apathetic, indifferent shrug of Moses Ansell; only his was
the shrug of faith in Providence, hers of despair. It filled Raphael's
heart with deadly cold, and his soul with sinister forebodings. The
pathos of her position seemed to him intolerable.

'No, no, this must not be!' he cried, and his hand gripped hers
fiercely, as if he were afraid of her being dragged away by main
force.

He was terribly agitated; his whole being seemed to be undergoing
profound and novel emotions. Their eyes met; in one and the same
instant the knowledge broke upon her that she loved him, and that if
she chose to play the woman he was hers and life a Paradisian dream.
The sweetness of the thought intoxicated her, thrilled her veins with
fire. But the next instant she was chilled as by a grey cold fog. The
realities of things came back--a whirl of self-contemptuous thoughts
blent with a hopeless sense of the harshness of life. Who was she, to
aspire to such a match? Had her earlier day-dream left her no wiser
than that? The _Schnorrer's_ daughter setting her cap at the wealthy
Oxford man, forsooth! What would people say? And what would they say
if they knew how she had sought him out in his busy seclusion, to
pitch a tale of woe and move him by his tenderness of heart to a pity
he mistook momentarily for love? The image of Levi came back suddenly;
she quivered, reading herself through his eyes. And yet would not his
crude view be right--suppress the consciousness as she would in her
maiden breast--had she not been urged hither by an irresistible
impulse? Knowing what she felt now, she could not realise she had been
ignorant of it when she set out. She was a deceitful, scheming little
thing. Angry with herself, she averted her gaze from the eyes that
hungered for her, though they were yet unlit by self-consciousness;
she loosed her hand from his, and, as if the cessation of the contact
restored her self-respect, some of her anger passed unreasonably
towards him.

'What right have you to say it must not be?' she inquired haughtily.
'Do you think I can't take care of myself, that I need any one to
protect me or to help me?'

'No--I--I--only mean----' he stammered in infinite distress, feeling
himself somehow a blundering brute.

'Remember I am not like the girls you are used to meet. I have known
the worst that life can offer. I can stand alone--yes, and face the
whole world. Perhaps you don't know that I wrote _Mordecai Josephs_,
the book you burlesqued so mercilessly!'

'_You_ wrote it!'

'Yes, I. I am Edward Armitage. Did those initials never strike you? I
wrote it, and I glory in it. Though all Jewry cry out the picture is
false, I say it is true. So now you know the truth. Proclaim it to all
Hyde Park and Maida Vale, tell it to all your narrow-minded friends
and acquaintances, and let them turn and rend me. I can live without
them or their praise. Too long they have cramped my soul. Now at last
I am going to cut myself free--from them and from you and all your
petty prejudices and interests. Good-bye for ever!'

She went out abruptly, leaving the room dark and Raphael shaken and
dumfounded; she went down the stairs and into the keen bright air with
a fierce exultation at her heart, an intoxicating sense of freedom and
defiance. It was over. She had vindicated herself to herself and to
the imaginary critics. The last link that bound her to Jewry was
snapped; it was impossible it could ever be reforged. Raphael knew her
in her true colours at last. She seemed to herself a Spinoza the race
had cast out.

The editor of the _Flag of Judah_ stood for some minutes as if
petrified; then he turned suddenly to the litter on his table and
rummaged among it feverishly. At last, as with a happy recollection,
he opened a drawer. What he sought was there. He started reading
_Mordecai Josephs_, forgetting to close the drawer. Passage after
passage suffused his eyes with tears; a soft magic hovered about the
nervous sentences; he read her eager little soul in every line. Now he
understood. How blind he had been! How could he have missed seeing?
Esther stared at him from every page. She was the heroine of her own
book; yes, and the hero, too, for he was but another side of herself
translated into the masculine. The whole book was Esther, the whole
Esther and nothing but Esther, for even the satirical descriptions
were but the revolt of Esther's soul against mean and evil things. He
turned to the great love-scene of the book, and read on and on,
fascinated, without getting further than the chapter.



CHAPTER XI

GOING HOME


No need to delay longer; every need for instant flight. Esther had
found courage to confess her crime against the community to Raphael;
there was no seething of the blood to nerve her to face Mrs. Henry
Goldsmith. She retired to her own room soon after dinner on the plea
(which was not a pretext) of a headache. Then she wrote:

    'DEAR MRS. GOLDSMITH,

    'When you read this I shall have left your house, never to
    return. It would be idle to attempt to explain my reasons. I
    could not hope to make you see through my eyes. Suffice it to
    say that I cannot any longer endure a life of dependence, and
    that I feel I have abused your favours by writing that Jewish
    novel of which you disapprove so vehemently. I never intended to
    keep the secret from you after publication. I thought the book
    would succeed and you would be pleased; at the same time, I
    dimly felt that you might object to certain things and ask to
    have them altered, and I have always wanted to write my own
    ideas, and not other people's. With my temperament, I see now
    that it was a mistake to fetter myself by obligations to
    anybody; but the mistake was made in my girlhood, when I knew
    little of the world and perhaps less of myself. Nevertheless, I
    wish you to believe, dear Mrs. Goldsmith, that all the blame for
    the unhappy situation which has arisen I put upon my own
    shoulders, and that I have nothing for you but the greatest
    affection and gratitude for all the kindnesses I have received
    at your hands. I beg you not to think that I make the slightest
    reproach against you; on the contrary, I shall always henceforth
    reproach myself with the thought that I have made you so poor a
    return for your generosity and incessant thoughtfulness. But
    the sphere in which you move is too high for me; I cannot
    assimilate with it, and I return, not without gladness, to the
    humble sphere whence you took me. With kindest regards and best
    wishes,

                                                 'I am,
                                     'Yours ever gratefully,
                                            'ESTHER ANSELL.'

There were tears in Esther's eyes when she finished, and she was
penetrated with admiration of her own generosity in so freely
admitting Mrs. Goldsmith's and in allowing that her patron got nothing
out of the bargain. She was doubtful whether the sentence about the
high sphere was satirical or serious. People do not know what they
mean almost as often as they do not say it.

Esther put the letter into an envelope and placed it on the open
writing-desk she kept on her dressing-table. She then packed a few
toilette essentials in a little bag, together with some American
photographs of her brother and sisters in various stages of
adolescence. She was determined to go back empty-handed as she came,
and was reluctant to carry off the few sovereigns of pocket-money in
her purse, and hunted up a little gold locket she had received while
yet a teacher in celebration of the marriage of a communal magnate's
daughter. Thrown aside seven years ago, it now bade fair to be the
corner-stone of the temple; she had meditated pledging it and living
on the proceeds till she found work, but when she realised its puny
pretensions to cozen pawnbrokers, it flashed upon her that she could
always repay Mrs. Goldsmith the few pounds she was taking away. In a
drawer there was a heap of manuscript carefully locked away; she took
it and looked through it hurriedly, contemptuously. Some of it was
music, some poetry, the bulk prose. At last she threw it suddenly on
the bright fire which good Mary O'Reilly had providentially provided
in her room; then, as it flared up, stricken with remorse, she tried
to pluck the sheets from the flames; only by scorching her fingers and
raising blisters did she succeed, and then, with scornful
resignation, she instantly threw them back again, warming her feverish
hands merrily at the bonfire. Rapidly looking through all her drawers,
lest perchance in some stray manuscript she should leave her soul
naked behind her, she came upon a forgotten faded rose. The faint
fragrance was charged with strange memories of Sidney. The handsome
young artist had given it her in the earlier days of their
acquaintanceship. To Esther to-night it seemed to belong to a period
infinitely more remote than her childhood. When the shrivelled rose
had been further crumpled into a little ball and then picked to bits,
it only remained to inquire where to go; what to do she could settle
when there. She tried to collect her thoughts. Alas! it was not so
easy as collecting her luggage. For a long time she crouched on the
fender and looked into the fire, seeing in it only fragmentary
pictures of the last seven years--bits of scenery, great cathedral
interiors arousing mysterious yearnings, petty incidents of travel,
moments with Sidney, drawing-room episodes, strange passionate scenes
with herself as single performer, long silent watches of study and
aspiration--like the souls of the burnt manuscripts made visible. Even
that very afternoon's scene with Raphael was part of the 'old unhappy
far-off things' that could only live henceforwards in fantastic
arcades of glowing coal, out of all relation to future realities. Her
new-born love for Raphael appeared as ancient and as arid as the
girlish ambitions that had seemed on the point of blossoming when she
was transplanted from the Ghetto. That, too, was in the flames--and
should remain there.

At last she started up with a confused sense of wasted time, and began
to undress mechanically, trying to concentrate her thoughts the while
on the problem that faced her. But they wandered back to her first
night in the fine house--when a separate bedroom was a new experience
and she was afraid to sleep alone, though turned fifteen. But she was
more afraid of appearing a great baby, and so no one in the world
would ever know what the imaginative little creature had lived down.

In the middle of brushing her hair she ran to the door and locked it,
from a sudden dread that she might oversleep herself and some one
would come in and see the letter on the writing-desk. She had not
solved the problem even by the time she got into bed; the fire
opposite the foot was burning down, but there was a red glow
penetrating the dimness. She had forgotten to draw the blind, and she
saw the clear stars shining peacefully in the sky. She looked and
looked at them, and they led her thoughts away from the problem once
more. She seemed to be lying in Victoria Park, looking up with
innocent mystic rapture and restfulness at the brooding blue sky. The
blood-and-thunder boys' story she had borrowed from Solomon had fallen
from her hand and lay unheeded on the grass. Solomon was tossing a
ball to Rachel which he had acquired by a colossal accumulation of
buttons, and Isaac and Sarah were rolling and wrangling on the grass.
Oh, why had she deserted them? What were they doing now, without her
mother-care, out and away beyond the great seas? For weeks together
the thought of them had not once crossed her mind; to-night she
stretched her arms involuntarily towards her loved ones, not towards
the shadowy figures of reality--scarcely less phantasmal than the dead
Benjamin--but towards the childish figures of the past. What happy
times they had had together in the dear old garret!

In her strange half-waking hallucination, her outstretched arms were
clasped round little Sarah. She was putting her to bed, and the tiny
thing was repeating after her--in broken Hebrew--the children's night
prayer, 'Suffer me to lie down in peace, and let me rise up in peace.
Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one,' with its
unauthorised appendix in baby-English, 'Dod teep me and mate me a dood
dirl, orways.'

She woke to full consciousness with a start; her arms chilled, her
face wet. But the problem was solved.

She would go back to them--back to her true home, where loving faces
waited to welcome her, where hearts were open and life was simple and
the weary brain could find rest from the stress and struggle of
obstinate questionings of destiny. Life was so simple at bottom; it
was she that was so perversely complex. She would go back to her
father, whose naïve, devout face swam glorified upon a sea of tears;
yea, and back to her father's primitive faith like a tired lost child
that spies its home at last. The quaint, monotonous cadence of her
father's prayers rang pathetically in her ears, and a great light--the
light that Raphael had shown her--seemed to blend mystically with the
once meaningless sounds. Yea, all things were from Him who created
light and darkness, good and evil. She felt her cares falling from
her, her soul absorbing itself in the sense of a Divine love--awful,
profound, immeasurable--underlying and transcending all things,
incomprehensibly satisfying the soul and justifying and explaining the
universe. The infinite fret and fume of life seemed like the petulance
of an infant in the presence of this restful tenderness diffused
through the great spaces. How holy the stars seemed up there in the
quiet sky, like so many Sabbath lights shedding visible consecration
and blessing!

Yes, she would go back to her loved ones--back from this dainty room,
with its white laces and perfumed draperies, back if need be to a
Ghetto garret. And in the ecstasy of her abandonment of all worldly
things, a great peace fell upon her soul.

In the morning the nostalgia of the Ghetto was still upon her, blent
with a passion of martyrdom that made her yearn for a lower social
depth than was really necessary. But the more human aspects of the
situation were paramount in the grey chillness of a bleak May dawn.
Her resolution to cross the Atlantic forthwith seemed a little hasty,
and though she did not flinch from it, she was not sorry to remember
she had not money enough for the journey. She must perforce stay in
London till she had earned it; meantime she would go back to the
districts and the people she knew so well, and accustom herself again
to the old ways, the old simplicities of existence.

She dressed herself in her plainest apparel, though she could not help
her spring bonnet being pretty. She hesitated between a hat and a
bonnet, but decided that her solitary position demanded as womanly an
appearance as possible. Do what she would, she could not prevent
herself looking exquisitely refined, and the excitement of adventure
had lent that touch of colour to her face which made it fascinating.
About seven o'clock she left her room noiselessly and descended the
stairs cautiously, holding her little black bag in her hand.

'Och, be the holy mother, Miss Esther, phwat a turn ye gave me!' said
Mary O'Reilly, emerging unexpectedly from the dining-room and meeting
her at the foot of the stairs. 'Phwat's the matther?'

'I'm going out, Mary,' she said, her heart beating violently.

'Sure, an' it's rale purty ye look, Miss Esther; but it's divil a bit
the marnin' for a walk. It looks a raw kind of a day, as if the
weather was sorry for bein' so bright yisterday.'

'Oh, but I must go, Mary!'

'Ah, the saints bliss your kind heart!' said Mary, catching sight of
the bag. 'Sure, then, it's a charity irrand you're bent on. I mind me
how my blissed old masther, Mr. Goldsmith's father--_Olov
Hasholom_--who's gone to glory, used to walk to _Shool_ in all winds
and weathers: sometimes it was five o'clock of a winter's marnin', and
I used to git up and make him an iligant cup of coffee before he went
to _Selichoth_; he niver would take milk and sugar in it, becaz that
would be atin' belike, poor dear old ginthleman. Ah, the Holy Virgin
be kind to him!'

'And may she be kind to you, Mary!' said Esther. And she impulsively
pressed her lips to the old woman's seamed and wrinkled cheek, to the
astonishment of the guardian of Judaism. Virtue was its own reward;
for Esther profited by the moment of the loquacious creature's
breathlessness to escape. She opened the hall-door and passed into the
silent street, whose cold pavements seemed to reflect the bleak stony
tints of the sky.

For the first few minutes she walked hastily, almost at a run. Then
her pace slackened, she told herself there was no hurry, and she shook
her head when a cabman interrogated her. The omnibuses were not
running yet. When they commenced, she would take one to Whitechapel.
The sign of awakening labour stirred her with new emotions--the early
milkman with his cans, casual artisans with their tools, a grimy
sweep, a work-girl with a paper lunch package, an apprentice
whistling. Great sleeping houses lined her path like gorged monsters
drowsing voluptuously. The world she was leaving behind her grew alien
and repulsive, her heart went out to the patient world of toil. What
had she been doing all these years--amid her books and her music and
her rose-leaves--aloof from realities?

The first 'bus overtook her half-way, and bore her back to the Ghetto.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Ghetto was all astir, for it was half-past eight of a workaday
morning. But Esther had not walked a hundred yards before her breast
was heavy with inauspicious emotions. The well-known street she had
entered was strangely broadened. Instead of the dirty picturesque
houses rose an appalling series of artisans' dwellings, monotonous
brick barracks, whose dead, dull prose weighed upon the spirits. But,
as in revenge, other streets, unaltered, seemed incredibly narrow. Was
it possible it could have taken even her childish feet six strides to
cross them, as she plainly remembered? And they seemed so unspeakably
sordid and squalid. Could she ever really have walked them with light
heart, unconscious of the ugliness? Did the grey atmosphere that
overhung them ever lift, or was it their natural and appropriate
mantle? Surely the sun could never shine upon these slimy pavements,
kissing them to warmth and life.

Great magic shops where all things were to be had--peppermints and
cotton, china-faced dolls and lemons--had dwindled into the front
windows of tiny private dwelling-houses; the black-wigged crones, the
greasy, shambling men, were uglier and greasier than she had ever
conceived them. They seemed caricatures of humanity--scarecrows in
battered hats or draggled skirts. But gradually, as the scene grew
upon her, she perceived that, in spite of the 'model dwellings'
builder, it was essentially unchanged. No vestige of improvement had
come over Wentworth Street--the narrow noisy market street, where
serried barrows flanked the reeking roadway exactly as of old, and
where Esther trod on mud and refuse and babies. Babies! they were
everywhere; at the breasts of unwashed women, on the knees of
grandfathers smoking pipes; playing under the barrows, sprawling in
the gutters and the alleys. All the babies' faces were sickly and
dirty, with pathetic childish prettinesses asserting themselves
against the neglect and the sallowness. One female mite in a dingy
tattered frock sat in an orange box, surveying the bustling scene with
a preternaturally grave expression, and realising literally Esther's
early conception of the theatre.

There was a sense of blankness in the wanderer's heart, of
unfamiliarity in the midst of familiarity. What had she in common with
all this mean wretchedness, with this semi-barbarous breed of beings?
The more she looked, the more her heart sank. There was no flaunting
vice, no rowdiness, no drunkenness, only the squalor of an Oriental
city without its quaintness and colour. She studied the posters and
the shop-windows, and caught old snatches of gossip from the groups in
the butcher's shop. All seemed as of yore. And yet here and there the
hand of Time had traced new inscriptions. For Baruch Emanuel the hand
of Time had written a new placard. It was a mixture of German, bad
English and Cockneyese, phonetically spelt in Hebrew letters:

      'Mens Solens Und Eelen         2/6
       Lydies Deeto                  1/6
       Kindersche Deeto              1/6
       Hier wird gemacht
       Aller Hant Sleepers
           Fur Trebbelers
       Zu De Billigsten Preissen.'

Baruch Emanuel had prospered since the days when he wanted 'lasters
and riveters' without being able to afford them. He no longer
gratuitously advertised _Mordecai Schwartz_ in envious emulation, for
he had several establishments, and owned five two-story houses, and
was treasurer of his little synagogue, and spoke of Socialists as an
inferior variety of Atheists. Not that all this bourgeoning was to be
counted to leather, for Baruch had developed enterprises in all
directions, having all the versatility of Moses Ansell without his
catholic capacity for failure.

The hand of Time had also constructed a 'working-men's Métropole'
almost opposite Baruch Emanuel's shop, and papered its outside walls
with moral pictorial posters, headed 'Where have you been to, Thomas
Brown?' 'Mike and his moke,' and so on. Here single-bedded cabins could
be had as low as fourpence a night. From the journals in a
tobacconist's window Esther gathered that the reading public had
increased, for there were importations from New York, both in Jargon
and in pure Hebrew, and from a large poster in Yiddish and English,
announcing a public meeting, she learnt of the existence of an offshoot
of the Holy Land League--'The Flowers of Zion Society'--'established by
East End youths for the study of Hebrew and the propagation of the
Jewish National Idea.' Side by side with this, as if in ironic
illustration of the other side of the life of the Ghetto, was a
seemingly royal proclamation, headed 'V.R.,' informing the public that
by order of the Secretary of State for War a sale of wrought and cast
iron, zinc, canvas, tools, and leather, would take place at the Royal
Arsenal, Woolwich.

As she wandered on, the great school-bell began to ring; involuntarily
she quickened her step and joined the chattering children's
procession. She could have fancied the last ten years a dream. Were
they, indeed, other children, or were they not the same that jostled
her when she picked her way through this very slush in her clumsy
masculine boots? Surely those little girls in lilac print frocks were
her classmates! It was hard to realise that Time's wheel had been
whirling on, fashioning her to a woman; that, while she had been
living and learning, and seeing the manners of men and cities, the
Ghetto, unaffected by her experiences, had gone on in the same narrow
rut. A new generation of children had arisen to suffer and sport in
room of the old, and that was all. The thought overwhelmed her, gave
her a new and poignant sense of brute, blind forces; she seemed to
catch in this familiar scene of childhood the secret of the grey
atmosphere of her spirit. It was here she had, all insensibly,
absorbed those heavy vapours that formed the background of her being,
a permanent sombre canvas behind all the iridescent colours of joyous
emotion. _What_ had she in common with all this mean wretchedness?
Why, everything. This it was with which her soul had intangible
affinities, not the glory of sun and sea and forest, 'the palms and
temples of the South.'

The heavy vibrations of the bell ceased; the street cleared; Esther
turned back and walked instinctively homewards to Royal Street. Her
soul was full of the sense of the futility of life; yet the sight of
the great shabby house could still give her a chill. Outside the door
a wizened old woman, with a chronic sniff, had established a stall for
wizened old apples; but Esther passed her by heedless of her stare,
and ascended the two miry steps that led to the mud-carpeted passage.

The apple-woman took her for a philanthropist paying a surprise visit
to one of the families of the house, and resented her as a spy. She
was discussing the meanness of the thing with the pickled-herring
dealer next door, while Esther was mounting the dark stairs with the
confidence of old habit. She was making automatically for the garret,
like a somnambulist, with no definite object, morbidly drawn towards
the old home. The unchanging musty smells that clung to the staircase
flew to greet her nostrils, and at once a host of sleeping memories
started to life, besieging her and pressing upon her on every side.
After a tumultuous intolerable moment, a childish figure seemed to
break from the gloom ahead--the figure of a little girl, with a grave
face and candid eyes--a dutiful, obedient, shabby little girl so
anxious to please her schoolmistress, so full of craving to learn and
to be good and to be loved by God, so audaciously ambitious of
becoming a teacher, and so confident of being a good Jewess always.
Satchel in hand, the little girl sped up the stairs swiftly, despite
her cumbrous, slatternly boots; and Esther, holding her bag, followed
her more slowly, as if she feared to contaminate her by the touch of
one so weary-worldly-wise, so full of revolt and despair.

All at once Esther sidled timidly towards the balustrade with an
instinctive movement, holding her bag out protectingly. The figure
vanished, and Esther awoke to the knowledge that 'Bobby' was not at
his post. Then with a flash came the recollection of Bobby's
mistress--the pale, unfortunate young seamstress she had so
unconscionably neglected. She wondered if she were alive or dead. A
waft of sickly odours surged from below. Esther felt a deadly
faintness coming over her; she had walked far, and nothing had yet
passed her lips since yesterday's dinner, and at this moment, too, an
overwhelming terrifying feeling of loneliness pressed like an icy hand
upon her heart. She felt that in another instant she must swoon,
there, upon the foul landing. She sank against the door, beating
passionately at the panels. It was opened from within; she had just
strength enough to clutch the door-post so as not to fall. A thin,
careworn woman swam uncertainly before her eyes. Esther could not
recognise her, but the plain iron bed, almost corresponding in area
with that of the room, was as of old; and so was the little round
table, with a teapot and a cup and saucer, and half a loaf standing
out amid a litter of sewing, as if the owner had been interrupted in
the middle of breakfast. Stay! what was that journal resting against
the half-loaf as for perusal during the meal? Was it not the _London
Journal_? Again she looked, but with more confidence, at the woman's
face. A wave of curiosity, of astonishment at the stylishly dressed
visitor, passed over it, but in the curves of the mouth, in the
movement of the eyebrows, Esther renewed indescribably subtle
memories.

'Debby!' she cried hysterically. A great flood of joy swamped her
soul. She was not alone in the world, after all! Dutch Debby uttered a
little startled scream. 'I've come back, Debby, I've come back!' and
the next moment the brilliant girl-graduate fell fainting into the
seamstress's arms.



CHAPTER XII

A SHEAF OF SEQUELS


Within half an hour Esther was smiling pallidly, and drinking tea out
of Debby's own cup, to Debby's unlimited satisfaction. Debby had no
spare cup, but she had a spare chair without a back, and Esther was of
course seated on the other. Her bonnet and cloak were on the bed.

'And where is Bobby?' inquired the young lady visitor.

Debby's joyous face clouded.

'Bobby is dead,' she said softly; 'he died four years ago come next
_Shevuos_.'

'I'm so sorry,' said Esther, pausing in her tea-drinking with a pang
of genuine emotion. 'At first I was afraid of him, but that was before
I knew him.'

'There never beat a kinder heart on God's earth,' said Debby
emphatically; 'he wouldn't hurt a fly.'

Esther had often seen him snapping at flies, but she could not smile.

'I buried him secretly in the back-yard,' Debby confessed; 'see!
there, where the paving-stone is loose!'

Esther gratified her by looking through the little back window into
the sloppy enclosure where washing hung. She noticed a cat sauntering
quietly over the spot without any of the satisfaction it might have
felt had it known it was walking over the grave of a hereditary enemy.

'So I don't feel as if he was far away,' said Debby. 'I can always
look out and picture him squatting above the stone instead of beneath
it.'

'But didn't you get another?'

'Oh, how can you talk so heartlessly!'

'Forgive me, dear! of course you couldn't replace him. And haven't you
had any other friends?'

'Who would make friends with me, Miss Ansell?' Debby asked quietly.

'I shall "make out friends" with you, Debby, if you call me that,'
said Esther, half laughing, half crying. 'What was it we used to say
in school? I forget, but I know we used to wet our little fingers in
our mouths and jerk them abruptly towards the other party; that's what
I shall have to do with you.'

'Oh, well, Esther, don't be cross! But you do look such a real lady. I
always said you would grow up clever, didn't I, though?'

'You did, dear, you did. I can never forgive myself for not having
looked you up.'

'Oh, but you had so much to do, I have no doubt!' said Debby
magnanimously, though she was not a little curious to hear all
Esther's wonderful adventures, and to gather more about the reasons of
the girl's mysterious return than had yet been vouchsafed her. All she
had dared to ask was about the family in America.

'Still it was wrong of me,' said Esther, in a tone that brooked no
protest. 'Suppose you had been in want and I could have helped you?'

'Oh, but you know I never take any help!' said Debby stiffly.

'I didn't know that,' said Esther, touched. 'Have you never taken soup
at the kitchen?'

'I wouldn't dream of such a thing. Do you ever remember me going to
the Board of Guardians? I wouldn't go there to be bullied, not if I
were starving. It's only the cadgers who don't want it who get relief.
But, thank God, in the worst seasons I have always been able to earn a
crust and a cup of tea. You see, I am only a small family,' concluded
Debby, with a sad smile, 'and the less one has to do with other people
the better.'

Esther started slightly, feeling a strange new kinship with this
lonely soul.

'But surely you would have taken help of me?' she said.

Debby shook her head obstinately.

'Well, I'm not so proud,' said Esther, with a tremulous smile, 'for,
see, I have come to take help of you!'

Then the tears welled forth, and Debby with an impulsive movement
pressed the little sobbing form against her faded bodice, bristling
with pin-heads. Esther recovered herself in a moment and drank some
more tea.

'Are the same people living here?' she said.

'Not altogether. The Belcovitches have gone up in the world; they live
on the first floor now.'

'Not much of a rise that,' said Esther, smiling, for the Belcovitches
had always lived on the third floor.

'Oh, they could have gone to a better street altogether,' explained
Debby, 'only Mr. Belcovitch didn't like the expense of a van.'

'Then Sugarman the Shadchan must have moved too,' said Esther; 'he
used to have the first floor.'

'Yes; he's got the third now. You see, people get tired of living in
the same place. Then Ebenezer, who became very famous through writing
a book--so he told me--went to live by himself, so they didn't want to
be so grand. The back apartment at the top of the house you used to
inhabit,' Debby put it as delicately as she could, 'is vacant. The
last family had the brokers in.'

'Are the Belcovitches all well? I remember Fanny married and went to
Manchester before I left here.'

'Oh yes, they are all well!'

'What! even Mrs. Belcovitch?'

'She still takes medicine, but she seems just as strong as ever.'

'Becky married yet?'

'Oh no, but she has won two breach of promise cases.'

'She must be getting old.'

'She is a fine young woman, but the young men are afraid of her now.'

'Then they don't sit on the stairs in the morning any more?'

'No; young men seem so much less romantic nowadays,' said Debby,
sighing; 'besides, there is one flight less now, and half the stairs
face the street door. The next flight was so private----'

'I suppose I shall look in and see them all,' said Esther, smiling;
'but tell me, is Mrs. Simons living here still?'

'No.'

'Where, then? I should like to see her; she was so very kind to little
Sarah, you know. Nearly all our fried fish came from her.'

'She is dead; she died of cancer; she suffered a great deal.'

'Oh!' Esther put her cup down and sat back with face grown white. 'I
am afraid to ask about any one else,' she said at last. 'I suppose the
Sons of the Covenant are getting on all right; _they_ can't be
dead--at least, not all of them.'

'They have split up,' said Debby gravely, 'into two communities. Mr.
Belcovitch and the Shalotten Shammos quarrelled about the sale of
_Mitzvahs_ at the Rejoicing of the Law two years ago. As far as I
could gather, the carrying of the smallest scroll of the Law was
knocked down to the Shalotten Shammos for eighteenpence, but Mr.
Belcovitch, who had gone outside a moment, said he had bought up the
privilege in advance, to present to Daniel Hyams, who was a visitor,
and whose old father had just died in Jerusalem. There was nearly a
free fight in the _Shool_. So the Shalotten Shammos seceded with
nineteen followers and their wives and set up a rival _Chevrah_ round
the corner. The other twenty-five still come here. The deserters tried
to take Greenberg the Chazan with them, but Greenberg wanted a
stipulation that they wouldn't engage an extra Reader to do his work
during the High Festivals; he even offered to do it cheaper if they
would let him do all the work, but they wouldn't consent. As a
compromise, they proposed to replace him only on the Day of Atonement,
as his voice was not agreeable enough for that. But Greenberg was
obstinate. Now I believe there is a movement for the Sons of the
Covenant to connect their _Chevrah_ with the Federation of Minor
Synagogues, but Mr. Belcovitch says he won't join the Federation
unless the term "Minor" is omitted. He is a great politician now.'

'Ah! I dare say he reads the _Flag of Judah_,' said Esther, laughing,
though Debby recounted all this history quite seriously. 'Do you ever
see that paper?'

'I never heard of it before,' said Debby simply. 'Why should I waste
money on new papers when I can always forget the _London Journal_
sufficiently? Perhaps Mr. Belcovitch buys it; I have seen him with a
Yiddish paper. The "hands" say that instead of breaking off suddenly
in the middle of a speech, as of old, he sometimes stops pressing for
five minutes together to denounce Gideon, the member for Whitechapel,
and to say that Mr. Henry Goldsmith is the only possible saviour of
Judaism in the House of Commons.'

'Ah, then he does read the _Flag of Judah_! His English must have
improved.'

'I was glad to hear him say that,' added Debby, when she had finished
struggling with the fit of coughing brought on by too much monologue,
'because I thought it must be the husband of the lady who was so good
to you. I never forgot her name.'

Esther took up the _London Journal_ to hide her reddening cheeks.

'Oh, read some of it aloud,' cried Dutch Debby. 'It'll be like old
times.'

Esther hesitated, a little ashamed of such childish behaviour. But,
deciding to fall in for a moment with the poor woman's humour, and
glad to change the subject, she read:

'"Soft scents steeped the dainty conservatory in delicious drowsiness.
Reclining on a blue silk couch, her wonderful beauty rather revealed
than concealed by the soft, clinging drapery she wore, Rosaline smiled
bewitchingly at the poor young peer, who could not pluck up courage to
utter the words of flame that were scorching his lips. The moon
silvered the tropical palms, and from the brilliant ball-room were
wafted the sweet penetrating strains of the 'Blue Danube' waltz."'

Dutch Debby heaved a great sigh of rapture.

'And you have seen such sights?' she said in awed admiration.

'I have been in brilliant ball-rooms and moonlit conservatories,' said
Esther evasively. She did not care to rob Dutch Debby of her ideals by
explaining that high life was not all passion and palm-trees.

'I am so glad,' said Debby affectionately. 'I have often wished to
myself, only a make-believe wish, you know, not a real wish, if you
understand what I mean, for of course I know it's impossible. I
sometimes sit at that window before going to bed and look at the moon
as it silvers the swaying clothes-props, and I can easily imagine they
are great tropical palms, especially when an organ is playing round
the corner. Sometimes the moon shines straight down on Bobby's
tombstone, and then I am glad. Ah, now you're smiling! I know you
think me a crazy old thing.'

'Indeed, indeed, dear, I think you are the darlingest creature in the
world!' and Esther jumped up and kissed her to hide her emotion. 'But
I mustn't waste your time,' she said briskly; 'I know you have your
sewing to do. It's too long to tell you my story now; suffice it to
say, as the _London Journal_ says, that I am going to take a lodging
in the neighbourhood. Oh dear, don't make those great eyes! I want to
live in the East End.'

'You want to live here like a princess in disguise; I see.'

'No, you don't, you romantic old darling! I want to live here like
everybody else. I'm going to earn my own living.'

'Oh, but you never can live by yourself.'

'Why not? Now from romantic you become conventional. _You've_ lived by
yourself.'

'Oh, but I'm different!' said Debby, flushing.

'Nonsense, I'm just as good as you. But if you think it
improper'--here Esther had a sudden idea--'come and live with me.'

'What, be your chaperon?' cried Debby in responsive excitement; then
her voice dropped again. 'Oh no! how could I?'

'Yes, yes, you must,' said Esther eagerly.

Debby's obstinate shake of the head repelled the idea.

'I couldn't leave Bobby,' she said. After a pause she asked timidly,
'Why not stay here?'

'Don't be ridiculous,' Esther answered. Then she examined the bed.
'Two couldn't sleep here,' she said.

'Oh yes, they could,' said Debby thoughtfully bisecting the blanket
with her hand; 'and the bed's quite clean, or I wouldn't venture to
ask you. Maybe it's not so soft as you've been used to.'

Esther pondered; she was fatigued, and she had undergone too many
poignant emotions already to relish the hunt for a lodging. It was
really lucky this haven offered itself.

'I'll stay for to-night, anyhow,' she announced, while Debby's face
lit up as with a bonfire of joy. 'To-morrow we'll discuss matters
further; and now, dear, can I help you with your sewing?'

'No, Esther, thank you kindly. You see, there's only enough for one,'
said Debby apologetically; 'to-morrow there may be more. Besides, you
were never as clever with your needle as your pen. You always used to
lose marks for needlework, and don't you remember how you herring-boned
the tucks of those petticoats instead of feather-stitching them? Ha,
ha, ha! I have often laughed at the recollection.'

'Oh, that was only absence of mind!' said Esther, tossing her head in
affected indignation. 'If my work isn't good enough for you, I think
I'll go down and help Becky with her machine.'

She put on her bonnet, and not without curiosity descended a flight of
stairs and knocked at a door which, from the steady whirr going on
behind it, she judged to be that of the workroom.

'Art thou a man or a woman?' came in Yiddish the well-remembered tones
of the valetudinarian lady.

'A woman,' answered Esther in German.

She was glad she had learned German; it would be the best substitute
for Yiddish in her new old life.

'_Herein!_' said Mrs. Belcovitch with sentry-like brevity.

Esther turned the handle, and her surprise was not diminished when she
found herself, not in the workroom, but in the invalid's bedroom. She
almost stumbled over the pail of fresh water, the supply of which was
always kept there. A coarse, bouncing, full-figured young woman with
frizzly black hair paused with her foot on the treadle of her machine
to stare at the new-comer. Mrs. Belcovitch, attired in a skirt and
a nightcap, stopped aghast in the act of combing out her wig, which
hung over an edge of the back of a chair that served as a barber's
block. Like the apple-woman, she fancied the apparition a lady
philanthropist; and though she had long ceased to take charity, the
old instincts leapt out under the sudden shock.

'Becky, quick, rub my leg with liniment--the thick one,' she whispered
in Yiddish.

'It's only me--Esther Ansell!' cried the visitor.

'What! Esther!' cried Mrs. Belcovitch; 'Gott in Himmel!' and throwing
down the comb, she fell in excess of emotion upon Esther's neck. 'I
have so often wanted to see you,' cried the sickly-looking little
woman, who hadn't altered a wrinkle. 'Often have I said to my Becky,
"Where is little Esther? Gold one sees and silver one sees, but Esther
sees one not." Is it not so, Becky? Oh, how fine you look! Why, I
mistook you for a lady! You are married--not? Ah, well, you'll find
wooers as thick as the street-dogs! And how goes it with the father
and the family in America?'

'Excellently,' answered Esther. 'How are you, Becky?'

Becky murmured something, and the two young women shook hands. Esther
had an olden awe of Becky, and Becky was now a little impressed by
Esther.

'I suppose Mr. Weingott is getting a good living now in Manchester?'
Esther remarked cheerfully to Mrs. Belcovitch.

'No, he has a hard struggle,' answered his mother-in-law; 'but I have
seven grandchildren, God be thanked! and I expect an eighth. If my poor
lambkin had been alive now she would have been a great-grandmother. My
eldest grandchild, Hertzel, has a talent for the fiddle. A gentleman is
paying for his lessons, God be thanked! I suppose you have heard I won
four pounds on the lotter_ee_. You see, I have not tried thirty years
for nothing. If I only had my health, I should have little to grumble
at. Yes, four pounds; and what think you I have bought with it? You
shall see it inside. A cupboard with glass doors, such as we left
behind in Poland, and we have hung the shelves with pink paper and made
loops for silver forks to rest in; it makes me feel as if I had just
cut off my tresses. But then I look on my Becky, and I remember
that--go thou inside, Becky, my life! Thou makest it too hard for him.
Give him a word while I speak with Esther.'

Becky made a grimace and shrugged her shoulders, but disappeared
through the door that led to the real workshop.

'A fine maid,' said the mother, her eyes following the girl with
pride. 'No wonder she is so hard to please! She vexes him so that he
eats out his heart. He comes every morning with a bag of cakes or an
orange or a fat Dutch herring, and now she has moved her machine to my
bedroom, where he can't follow her, the unhappy youth!'

'Who is it now?' inquired Esther in amusement.

'Shosshi Shmendrik.'

'Shosshi Shmendrik! Wasn't that the young man who married the Widow
Finkelstein?'

'Yes, a very honourable and seemly youth; but she preferred her first
husband,' said Mrs. Belcovitch, laughing, 'and followed him only four
years after Shosshi's marriage. Shosshi has now all her money--a very
seemly and honourable youth.'

'But will it come to anything?'

'It is already settled; Becky gave in two days ago. After all, she
will not always be young. The _Tanaim_ will be held next Sunday.
Perhaps you would like to come to see the betrothal contract signed.
The Kovna Maggid will be here, and there will be rum and cakes to the
heart's desire. Becky has Shosshi in great affection--they are just
suited; only she likes to tease, poor little thing! And then she is so
shy. Go in and see them, and the cupboard with glass doors.'

Esther pushed open the door, and Mrs. Belcovitch resumed her loving
manipulation of the wig.

The Belcovitch workshop was another of the landmarks of the past that
had undergone no change, despite the cupboard with the glass doors and
the slight difference in the shape of the room. The paper roses still
bloomed in the corners of the mirror; the cotton-labels still adorned
the wall around it; the master's new umbrella still stood unopened in
a corner. The 'hands' were other--but, then, Mr. Belcovitch's hands
were always changing. He never employed 'union men,' and his hirelings
never stayed with him longer than they could help. One of the present
batch, a bent, middle-aged man with a deeply-lined face, was Simon
Wolf, long since thrown over by the Labour party he had created, and
fallen lower and lower till he returned to the Belcovitch workshop
whence he sprang. Wolf, who had a wife and six children, was grateful
to Mr. Belcovitch in a dumb, sullen way, remembering how that
capitalist had figured in his red rhetoric, though it was an extra
pang of martyrdom to have to listen deferentially to Belcovitch's
numerous political and economical fallacies. He would have preferred
the curter dogmatism of earlier days. Shosshi Shmendrik was chatting
quite gaily with Becky, and held her finger-tips cavalierly in his
coarse fist without obvious objection on her part. His face was still
pimply, but it had lost its painful shyness and its readiness to blush
without provocation. His bearing, too, was less clumsy and uncouth.
Evidently to love the Widow Finkelstein had been a liberal education
to him. Becky had broken the news of Esther's arrival to her father,
as was evident from the odour of turpentine emanating from the opened
bottle of rum on the central table. Mr. Belcovitch, whose hair was
grey now, but who seemed to have as much stamina as ever, held out his
left hand--the right was wielding the pressing-iron--without moving
another muscle.

'_Nu_, it gladdens me to see you are better off than of old,' he said
gravely in Yiddish.

'Thank you. I am glad to see you looking so fresh and healthy,'
replied Esther in German.

'You were taken away to be educated, was it not?'

'Yes.'

'And how many tongues do you know?'

'Four or five,' said Esther, smiling.

'Four or five!' repeated Mr. Belcovitch, so impressed that he stopped
pressing. 'Then you can aspire to be a clerk! I know several firms
where they have young women now.'

'Don't be ridiculous, father!' interposed Becky. 'Clerks aren't so
grand nowadays as they used to be. Very likely she would turn up her
nose at a clerkship.'

'I'm sure I wouldn't,' said Esther.

'There, thou hearest!' said Mr. Belcovitch, with angry satisfaction.
'It is thou who hast too many flies in thy nostrils. Thou wouldst
throw over Shosshi if thou hadst thine own way. Thou art the only
person in the world who listens not to me. Abroad my word decides
great matters. Three times has my name been printed in the _Flag of
Judah_. Little Esther had not such a father as thou, but never did she
make mock of him.'

'Of course, everybody's better than me,' said Becky petulantly, as she
snatched her fingers away from Shosshi.

'No; thou art better than the whole world,' protested Shosshi
Shmendrik, feeling for the fingers.

'Who spoke to thee?' demanded Belcovitch, incensed.

'Who spoke to thee?' echoed Becky.

And when Shosshi, with empurpled pimples, cowered before both, father
and daughter felt allies again, and peace was re-established at
Shosshi's expense. But Esther's curiosity was satisfied. She seemed to
see the whole future of this domestic group; Belcovitch accumulating
gold-pieces, and Mrs. Belcovitch medicine-bottles, till they died, and
the lucky but hen-pecked Shosshi gathered up half the treasure on
behalf of the buxom Becky. Refusing the glass of rum, she escaped.

The dinner, which Debby (under protest) did not pay for, consisted of
viands from the beloved old cookshop, the potatoes and rice of
childhood being supplemented by a square piece of baked meat, likewise
knives and forks. Esther was anxious to experience again the magic
taste and savour of the once-coveted delicacies. Alas! the preliminary
sniff failed to make her mouth water; the first bite betrayed the
inferiority of the potatoes used. Even so the unattainable tart of
infancy mocks the moneyed but dyspeptic adult. But she concealed her
disillusionment bravely.

'Do you know,' said Debby, pausing in her voluptuous scouring of the
gravy-lined plate with a bit of bread, 'I can hardly believe my eyes.
It seems a dream, that you are sitting at dinner with me. Pinch me,
will you?'

'You have been pinched enough,' said Esther sadly. Which shows that
one can pun with a heavy heart. This is one of the things Shakespeare
knew and Dr. Johnson didn't.

In the afternoon Esther went round to Zachariah Square. She did not
meet any of the old faces as she walked through the Ghetto, though a
little crowd that blocked her way at one point turned out to be merely
spectators of an epileptic performance by Meckish. Esther turned away
in amused disgust. She wondered whether Mrs. Meckish still flaunted it
in satins and heavy necklaces, or whether Meckish had divorced her, or
survived her, or something equally inconsiderate. Hard by the old
Ruins (which she found 'ruined' by a railway) Esther was almost run
over by an iron hoop driven by a boy with a long swarthy face that
irresistibly recalled Malka's.

'Is your grandmother in town?' she said at a venture.

'Y-e-s,' said the driver wonderingly. 'She is over in her own house.'

Esther did not hasten towards it.

'Your name's Ezekiel, isn't it?'

'Yes,' replied the boy; and then Esther was sure it was the redeemed
son of whom her father had told her.

'Are your mother and father well?'

'Father's away travelling.' Ezekiel's tone was a little impatient; his
feet shuffled uneasily, itching to chase the flying hoop.

'How's your aunt--your aunt--I forget her name.'

'Aunt Leah? She's gone to Liverpool.'

'What for?'

'She lives there; she has opened a branch store of granma's business.
Who are you?' concluded Ezekiel candidly.

'You won't remember me,' said Esther. 'Tell me--your aunt is called
Mrs. Levine, isn't she?'

'Oh yes! but,' with a shade of contempt, 'she hasn't got any
children.'

'How many brothers and sisters have _you_ got?' said Esther, with a
little laugh.

'Heaps. Oh, but you won't see them if you go in; they're in school,
most of 'em.'

'And why aren't you at school?'

The redeemed son became scarlet.

'I've got a bad leg,' ran mechanically off his tongue. Then,
administering a savage thwack to his hoop, he set out in pursuit of
it. 'It's no good calling on mother!' he yelled back, turning his head
unexpectedly. 'She ain't in.'

Esther walked into the Square, where the same big-headed babies were
still rocking in swings suspended from the lintels, and where the same
ruddy-faced septuagenarians sat smoking short pipes and playing nap on
trays in the sun. From several doorways came the reek of fish-frying.
The houses looked ineffably petty and shabby. Esther wondered how she
could ever have conceived this a region of opulence, still more how
she could ever have located Malka and her family on the very outskirt
of the semi-divine classes. But the semi-divine persons themselves had
long since shrunk and dwindled.

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-coloured equine face, but his
influence had been only skin-deep. Everybody grows old; few people
grow. Malka was of the majority.

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 bedclothes, 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 ringworm, and my five fingers shall leave a mark on
her face worse than any of Gabriel's ringworms. 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
pigheaded 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 _Bar-mitzvah_ in a few years;
then you shall see what I will do for that _Shool_. You shall see what
an example of _Yiddishkeit_ 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 Hasholom_ 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, _imbeschreer_--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 stepped
in. 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.

'Then it'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. "Méshe," 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 do.'

'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 recognising 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 formulæ. 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
Esther.

'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 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
recognised 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
Hannah.

'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 unworthy.

'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 Moshé's little girl.'

Esther tacitly assented.

'I heard of all of you recently,' she said, when they had hurried on a
little farther. 'I met your brother at the theatre.'

Hannah's face lit up.

'How long was that ago?' she inquired anxiously.

'I remember exactly. It was the night before the first _Seder_ night.'

'Was he well?'

'Perfectly.'

'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 till 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 committing.'

'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
_froom_.'

'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 life.'

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 you 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, any way. 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
nowadays 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,
Esther?'

'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 angelic tenderness.

It was a frouzy, 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 naïvely 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 leapt 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,
alloyed 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 humour 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 galloped with Shosshi
Shmendrik, disregarding the terrible eyes of the bride to be; when
Hannah, wearing an aureole like a bridal veil, paired off with
Meckish, 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
patronisingly.

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.



CHAPTER XIII

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 discoloured
wall-paper 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
me.'

'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 own 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 address.'

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 office, 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 her heartily.

'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 been 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 five hundred 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 whole world.

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
address.'

Esther did not know whether to laugh or to 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 learnt 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 learnt 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 typewriter 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 clinch 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-eye. On the other hand, there was more resourcefulness, more
pride of independence. Her knowledge of Moses Ansell had misled her
into too sweeping a generalisation. And she was surprised to realise
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 'pauperise 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 the 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 jewellery at cash prices. She not only gave alms to the poor,
but made them givers, organising 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 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 favourite 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 nutshell' 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 had 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.'



CHAPTER XIV

SIDNEY SETTLES DOWN


Mrs. Henry Goldsmith's newest seaside resort had the artistic charm
which characterised 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 colours of this divine
picture--the sea was sapphire, the sky amethyst. There were dark red
houses nestling amid foliage, and green-haired monsters of grey 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 neighbouring 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, _viâ_ 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
burnt 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,
after all?'

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 clamant 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
naïvely 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
fond admiration.

'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
suppose.'

'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, eulogised 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 odour 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'm 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 colour
harmonies were deepening into a more sober magnificence.

'I'll tell you what I will do. I'll 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 comes of wild opinions.'

'Addie! Addie!' said Sidney reproachfully, 'how _can_ you be so
conventional?'

'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 us all.'

'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
polygamy.'

Addie got up with an indignant jerk. 'You think I'm a child to be
played with!'

She turned her back upon him. His face changed instantly; he stood
still a moment, admiring the magnificent pose. Then he recaptured her
reluctant hand.

'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 deliciously happy. She seemed to be
lapped in a great drowsy ecstasy of bliss.

The sunset was fading into sombre greys 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
is it?'

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?'

'Answer me.'

'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 odour 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 grey.

So Addie never knew.



CHAPTER XV

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
deficiences of the _Flag of Judah_ in the matter of news, his
organisation 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 opposition paper.

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 sadness.

'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
his tone.

'Why?'

'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
know?'

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 grey 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
hotly.

'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 realisation of the labour of Sisyphus--had
carried him round and 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
labouring with emotion that checked his speech, but after a moment
utterance came to him--a strange choked utterance, almost blasphemous
from those clerical lips.

'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 his soul.

'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
disguised none.'

'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 it.'

'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 realise what sort of a position you are asking
me to keep? Do you realise how it makes me the fief of a Rabbinate,
that is an anachronism, the bondman of outworn forms, the slave of the
_Shulchan 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 recognise, and it is, unfortunately, as
conservative as zeal. Indifference and hypocrisy between them keep
orthodoxy alive--while they kill Judaism.'

'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 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 dryly. '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 by it.'

'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 labours 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 minutiæ 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 blackberries.'

'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
reprovingly.

'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 fibre.'

'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 civilised world any better? Think of the dishonesty of
business, the self-seeking of public life, the infamies and
hypocrisies of society, the prostitution 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 specialised 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
Raphael.

'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 clergyman 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 honour. 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 _régime_ 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 physical 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
favour of Peace? Could we not be the centres of new sociologic
movements in each country, as a few American Jews have been the centre
of the Ethical Culture movement?'

'You forget,' said Raphael, 'that, wherever the old Judaism has not
been overlaid by the veneer of Philistine civilisation, 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 movement. 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 fertilise 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
gipsies 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 realised, 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-humouredly, '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
Judea 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
promise.'

He held out his hand. He had grown quite calm, now his decision was
taken.

'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 longer.'

'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 reawakening.

'Surely you can write to her publishers?'

And the door closed upon the Russian dreamer, leaving the practical
Englishman dumfounded 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
unhappy.'

'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
world. _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 realised
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
    emphasise 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.

                                           'Yours sincerely,
                                           'HENRY GOLDSMITH.

    '_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
benefactor!'

'No, no,' said Raphael, disengaging himself. 'I have nothing to do
with it.'

'But de paper--she is yours!' said the poet, forgetting his English in
his excitement.

'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 accept.'

'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.



CHAPTER XVI

LOVE'S TEMPTATIONS


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 only 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 unworthy.

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.'

'What news?'

'Gideon the member for Whitechapel's dead. Died suddenly, early this
morning.'

'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
wire 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 pars 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 beaudiful! Listen to the first sentence.
"The Angel of Death has passed again over Judea; he has flown off with
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 _Metatoron's Flames_."'

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 on.'

'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 Sampson sharply.

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
back out?'

'No.'

'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 wire. 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
had done.

'Yes, and in the middle of writing I look up and see the maiden--oh,
vairy beaudiful! 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
coming painfully.

'Your maiden,' said Pinchas, surveying him with affectionate
roguishness. 'The maiden that came to see you here. She vas reading; I
valk 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 _littérateur_?

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 lips quivering.

'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 exclaimed reproachfully, feeling his heart grow chill.
'Surely we were friends?'

She did not answer.

'I wanted to write and tell you how much,' he began desperately, then
stammered, and ended--'how much I like _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 privately to me wouldn't do me any good in any case.'

He felt miserable; from the crude standpoint of facts there was no
answer to give. He gave none.

'I suppose it is all about now?' she went on, seeing him silent.

'Pretty well,' he answered, understanding the question. Then, with an
indignant accent, he said, 'Mrs. Goldsmith tells everybody she found
it out, and sent you away.'

'I am glad she says that,' she remarked enigmatically. 'And,
naturally, everybody detests me?'

'Not everybody,' he began threateningly.

'Don't let us stand on the steps,' she interrupted. 'People will be
looking at us.' They moved slowly downwards, and into the hot,
bustling streets. 'Why are you not at the _Flag_? I thought this was
your busy day.' She did not add, 'And so I ventured to the Museum,
knowing there was no chance of your turning up'; but such was the
fact.

'I am not the editor any longer,' he replied.

'Not?' She almost came to a stop. 'So much for my critical faculty; I
could have sworn to your hand in every number.'

'Your critical faculty equals your creative,' he began.

'Journalism has taught you sarcasm.'

'No, no! please do not be so unkind. I spoke in earnestness. I have
only just been dismissed.'

'Dismissed!' she echoed incredulously. 'I thought the _Flag_ was your
own?'

He grew troubled. 'I bought it--but for another. We--he--has dispensed
with my services.'

'Oh, how shameful!'

The latent sympathy of her indignation cheered him again.

'I am not sorry,' he said. 'I'm afraid I really was outgrowing its
original platform.'

'What?' she asked, with a note of mockery in her voice. 'You have left
off being orthodox?'

'I don't say that. It seems to me, rather, that I have come to
understand I never was orthodox in the sense that the orthodox
understand the word. I had never come into contact with them before. I
never realised how unfair orthodox writers are to Judaism. But I do
not abate one word of what I have ever said or written, except, of
course, on questions of scholarship, which are always open to
revision.'

'But what is to become of me--of my conversion?' she said, with mock
piteousness.

'You need no conversion!' he answered passionately, abandoning without
a twinge all those criteria of Judaism for which he had fought with
Strelitski. 'You are a Jewess not only in blood, but in spirit. Deny
it as you may, you have all the Jewish ideals--they are implied in
your attack on our society.'

She shook her head obstinately.

'You read all that into me, as you read your modern thought into the
old naïve books.'

'I read what is in you. Your soul is in the right, whatever your brain
says.' He went on, almost to echo Strelitski's words, 'Selfishness is
the only real atheism; aspiration, unselfishness, the only real
religion. In the language of our Hillel, this is the text of the Law;
the rest is commentary. You and I are at one in believing that,
despite all and after all, the world turns on righteousness, on
justice'--his voice became a whisper--'on love.'

The old thrill went through her, as when first they met. Once again
the universe seemed bathed in holy joy. But she shook off the spell
almost angrily. Her face was definitely set towards the life of the
New World. Why should he disturb her anew?

'Ah, well, I'm glad you allow me a little goodness,' she said
sarcastically. 'It is quite evident how you have drifted from
orthodoxy. Strange result of the _Flag of Judah_! Started to convert
me, it has ended by alienating you--its editor--from the true faith.
Oh, the irony of circumstances! But don't look so glum. It has
fulfilled its mission all the same: it _has_ converted me--I will
confess it to you.' Her face grew grave, her tones earnest. 'So I
haven't an atom of sympathy with your broader attitude. I am full of
longing for the old impossible Judaism.'

His face took on a look of anxious solicitude. He was uncertain
whether she spoke ironically or seriously. Only one thing was
certain--that she was slipping from him again. She seemed so complex,
paradoxical, elusive--and yet growing every moment more dear and
desirable.

'Where are you living?' he asked abruptly.

'It doesn't matter where,' she answered. 'I sail for America in three
weeks.'

The world seemed suddenly empty. It was hopeless, then--she was almost
in his grasp, yet he could not hold her. Some greater force was
sweeping her into strange alien solitudes. A storm of protest raged in
his heart--all he had meant to say to her rose to his lips, but he
only said, 'Must you go?'

'I must. My little sister marries. I have timed my visit so as to
arrive just for the wedding--like a fairy godmother.' She smiled
wistfully.

'Then you will live with your people, I suppose?'

'I suppose so. I dare say I shall become quite good again. Ah, your
new Judaisms will never appeal like the old, with all its
imperfections. They will never keep the race together through shine
and shade as that did. They do but stave off the inevitable
dissolution. It is beautiful--that old childlike faith in the pillar
of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, that patient waiting
through the centuries for the Messiah who even to you, I dare say, is
a mere symbol.' Again the wistful look lit up her eyes. 'That's what
you rich people will never understand--it doesn't seem to go with
dinner in seven courses, somehow.'

'Oh, but I do understand,' he protested. 'It's what I told Strelitski,
who is all for intellect in religion. He is going to America, too,' he
said, with a sudden pang of jealous apprehension.

'On a holiday?'

'No; he is going to resign his ministry here.'

'What! Has he got a better offer from America?'

'Still so cruel to him,' he said reprovingly. 'He is resigning for
conscience' sake.'

'After all these years?' she queried sarcastically.

'Miss Ansell, you wrong him! He was not happy in his position. You
were right so far. But he cannot endure his shackles any longer. And
it is you who have inspired him to break them.'

'I?' she exclaimed, startled.

'Yes, I told him why you had left Mrs. Henry Goldsmith's--it seemed to
act like an electrical stimulus. Then and there he made me write a
paragraph announcing his resignation. It will appear to-morrow.'

Esther's eyes filled with soft light. She walked on in silence; then,
noticing she had automatically walked too much in the direction of her
place of concealment, she came to an abrupt stop.

'We must part here,' she said. 'If I ever come across my old shepherd
in America, I will be nicer to him. It is really quite heroic of
him--you must have exaggerated my own petty sacrifice alarmingly if it
really supplied him with inspiration. What is he going to do in
America?'

'To preach a universal Judaism. He is a born idealist; his ideas have
always such a magnificent sweep. Years ago he wanted all the Jews to
return to Palestine.'

Esther smiled faintly, not at Strelitski, but at Raphael's calling
another man an idealist. She had never yet done justice to the strain
of common-sense that saved him from being a great man; he and the new
Strelitski were of one breed to her.

'He will make Jews no happier, and Christians no wiser,' she said
sceptically. 'The great populations will sweep on, as affected by the
Jews as this crowd by you and me. The world will not go back on
itself--rather will Christianity transform itself and take the credit.
We are such a handful of outsiders. Judaism--old or new--is a forlorn
hope.'

'The forlorn hope will yet save the world,' he answered quietly, 'but
it has first to be saved to the world.'

'Be happy in your hope,' she said gently. 'Good-bye.' She held out her
little hand. He had no option but to take it.

'But we are not going to part like this,' he said desperately. 'I
shall see you again before you go to America?'

'No, why should you?'

'Because I love you,' rose to his lips. But the avowal seemed too
plump. He prevaricated by retorting, 'Why should I not?'

'Because I fear you,' was in her heart, but nothing rose to her lips.
He looked into her eyes to read an answer there, but she dropped them.
He saw his opportunity.

'Why should I not?' he repeated.

'Your time is valuable,' she said faintly.

'I could not spend it better than with you,' he answered boldly.

'Please don't insist,' she said in distress.

'But I shall; I am your friend. So far as I know, you are lonely. If
you are bent upon going away, why deny me the pleasure of the society
I am about to lose for ever?'

'Oh, how can you call it a pleasure--such poor melancholy company as I
am!'

'Such poor melancholy company that I came expressly to seek it, for
some one told me you were at the Museum. Such poor melancholy company
that if I am robbed of it life will be a blank.'

He had not let go her hand; his tones were low and passionate; the
heedless traffic of the sultry London street was all about them.

Esther trembled from head to foot; she could not look at him. There
was no mistaking his meaning now; her breast was a whirl of delicious
pain. But in proportion as the happiness at her beck and call dazzled
her, so she recoiled from it. Bent on self-effacement, attuned to the
peace of despair, she almost resented the solicitation to be happy;
she had suffered so much that she had grown to think suffering her
natural element, out of which she could not breathe; she was almost in
love with misery. And in so sad a world was there not something
ignoble about happiness, a selfish aloofness from the life of
humanity? And, illogically blent with this questioning, and
strengthening her recoil, was an obstinate conviction that there could
never be happiness for her, a being of ignominious birth, without
roots in life, futile, shadowy, out of relation to the tangible
solitudes of ordinary existence. To offer her a warm fireside seemed
to be to tempt her to be false to something--she knew not what.
Perhaps it was because the warm fireside was in the circle she had
quitted, and her heart was yet bitter against it, finding no
palliative even in the thought of a triumphant return. She did not
belong to it; she was not of Raphael's world. But she felt grateful to
the point of tears for his incomprehensible love for a plain,
penniless, low-born girl. Surely it was only his chivalry. Other men
had not found her attractive. Sidney had not; Levi only fancied
himself in love. And yet beneath all her humility was a sense of being
loved for the best in her, for the hidden qualities Raphael alone had
the insight to divine. She could never think so meanly of herself or
of humanity again. He had helped and strengthened her for her lonely
future; the remembrance of him would always be an inspiration, and a
reminder of the noble side of human nature.

All this contradictory medley of thought and feeling occupied but a
few seconds of consciousness. She answered him without any perceptible
pause, lightly enough.

'Really, Mr. Leon, I don't expect _you_ to say such things. Why should
we be so conventional, you and I? How can your life be a blank, with
Judaism yet to be saved?'

'Who am I to save Judaism? I want to save you,' he said passionately.

'What a descent! For Heaven's sake stick to your earlier ambition!'

'No, the two are one to me. Somehow you seem to stand for Judaism,
too. I cannot disentwine my hopes; I have come to conceive your life
as an allegory of Judaism, the offspring of a great and tragic past
with the germs of a rich blossoming, yet wasting with an inward
canker. I have grown to think of its future as somehow bound up with
yours. I want to see your eyes laughing, the shadows lifted from your
brow; I want to see you face life courageously, not in passionate
revolt nor in passionless despair, but in faith and hope and the joy
that springs from them. I want you to seek peace, not in a despairing
surrender of the intellect to the faith of childhood, but in that
faith intellectually justified. And while I want to help you, and to
fill your life with the sunshine it needs, I want you to help me, to
inspire me when I falter, to complete my life, to make me happier than
I had ever dreamed. Be my wife, Esther. Let me save you from
yourself.'

'Let me save you from yourself, Raphael. Is it wise to wed with the
grey spirit of the Ghetto that doubts itself?'

And like a spirit she glided from his grasp and disappeared in the
crowd.



CHAPTER XVII

THE PRODIGAL SON


The New Year dawned upon the Ghetto, heralded by a month of special
matins and the long-sustained note of the ram's horn. It was in the
midst of the Ten Days of Repentance which find their awful climax in
the Day of Atonement that a strange letter for Hannah came to startle
the breakfast-table at Reb Shemuel's. Hannah read it with growing
pallor and perturbation.

'What is the matter, my dear?' asked the Reb anxiously.

'Oh, father,' she cried, 'read this! Bad news of Levi.'

A spasm of pain contorted the old man's furrowed countenance.

'Mention not his name!' he said harshly. 'He is dead.'

'He may be by now!' Hannah exclaimed agitatedly. 'You were right,
Esther. He did join a strolling company, and now he is laid up with
typhoid in the hospital in Stockbridge. One of his friends writes to
tell us. He must have caught it in one of those insanitary
dressing-rooms we were reading about.'

Esther trembled all over. The scene in the garret when the fatal
telegram came announcing Benjamin's illness had never faded from her
mind. She had an instant conviction that it was all over with poor
Levi.

'My poor lamb!' cried the Rebbitzin, the coffee cup dropping from her
nerveless hand.

'Simcha,' said Reb Shemuel sternly, 'calm thyself; we have no son to
lose. The Holy One--blessed be He!--hath taken him from us. The Lord
giveth, and the Lord taketh. Blessed be the name of the Lord.'

Hannah rose. Her face was white and resolute. She moved towards the
door.

'Whither goest thou?' inquired her father in German.

'I am going to my room, to put on my hat and jacket,' replied Hannah
quietly.

'Whither goest thou?' repeated Reb Shemuel.

'To Stockbridge. Mother, you and I must go at once.'

The Reb sprang to his feet. His brow was dark; his eyes gleamed with
anger and pain.

'Sit down and finish thy breakfast,' he said.

'How can I eat? Levi is dying,' said Hannah in low firm tones. 'Will
you come, mother, or must I go alone?'

The Rebbitzin began to wring her hands and weep. Esther stole gently
to Hannah's side and pressed the poor girl's hand. 'You and I will
go,' her clasp said.

'Hannah!' said Reb Shemuel. 'What madness is this? Dost thou think thy
mother will obey thee rather than her husband?'

'Levi is dying. It is our duty to go to him.' Hannah's gentle face was
rigid. But there was exaltation rather than defiance in the eyes.

'It is not the duty of women,' said Reb Shemuel harshly. 'I will go to
Stockbridge. If he dies (God have mercy upon his soul!), I will see
that he is buried among his own people. Thou knowest women go not to
funerals.' He reseated himself at the table, pushing aside his
scarcely touched meal, and began saying the grace. Dominated by his
will and by old habit, the three trembling women remained in
reverential silence.

'The Lord will give strength to His people; the Lord will bless His
people with peace,' concluded the old man in unfaltering accents. He
rose from the table and strode to the door, stern and erect. 'Thou
wilt remain here, Hannah, and thou, Simcha,' he said. In the passage
his shoulders relaxed their stiffness, so that the long snow-white
beard drooped upon his breast. The three women looked at one another.

'Mother,' said Hannah, passionately breaking the silence, 'are you
going to stay here while Levi is dying in a strange town?'

'My husband wills it,' said the Rebbitzin, sobbing. 'Levi is a sinner
in Israel. Thy father will not see him; he will not go to him till he
is dead.'

'Oh yes, surely he will,' said Esther. 'But be comforted. Levi is
young and strong. Let us hope he will pull through.'

'No, no,' moaned the Rebbitzin. 'He will die, and my husband will but
read the psalms at his death-bed. He will not forgive him; he will not
speak to him of his mother and sister.'

'Let _me_ go. I will give him your messages,' said Esther.

'No, no,' interrupted Hannah. 'What are you to him? Why should you
risk infection for our sakes?'

'Go, Hannah, but secretly,' said the Rebbitzin in a wailing whisper.
'Let not thy father see thee till thou arrive; then he will not send
thee back. Tell Levi that I--oh, my poor child, my poor lamb!' Sobs
overpowered her speech.

'No, mother,' said Hannah quietly, 'thou and I shall go. I will tell
father we are accompanying him.'

She left the room, while the Rebbitzin fell weeping and terrified into
a chair, and Esther vainly endeavoured to soothe her. The Reb was
changing his coat when Hannah knocked at the door, and called
'Father.'

'Speak not to me, Hannah,' answered the Reb roughly. 'It is useless.'
Then, as if repentant of his tone, he threw open the door, and passed
his great trembling hand lovingly over her hair. 'Thou art a good
daughter,' he said tenderly. 'Forget that thou hast had a brother.'

'But how can I forget?' she answered him in his own idiom. 'Why should
I forget? What hath he done?'

He ceased to smooth her hair--his voice grew sad and stern.

'He hath profaned the Name. He hath lived like a heathen; he dieth
like a heathen now. His blasphemy was a byword in the congregation. I
alone knew it not till last Passover. He hath brought down my grey
hairs in sorrow to the grave.'

'Yes, father, I know,' said Hannah, more gently. 'But he is not all to
blame!'

'Thou meanest that I am not guiltless; that I should have kept him at
my side?' said the Reb, his voice faltering a little.

'No, father, not that! Levi could not always be a baby. He had to walk
alone some day.'

'Yes, and did I not teach him to walk alone?' asked the Reb eagerly.
'My God, Thou canst not say I did not teach him Thy Law day and
night.' He uplifted his eyes in anguished appeal.

'Yes, but he is not all to blame,' she repeated. 'Thy teaching did not
reach his soul; he is of another generation, the air is different, his
life was cast amid conditions for which the Law doth not allow.'

'Hannah!' Reb Shemuel's accents became harsh and chiding again. 'What
sayest thou? The Law of Moses is eternal; it will never be changed.
Levi knew God's commandments, but he followed the desire of his own
heart and his own eyes. If God's Word were obeyed, he should have been
stoned with stones. But Heaven itself hath punished him; he will die,
for it is ordained that whosoever is stubborn and disobedient that
soul shall surely be cut off from among his people. "Keep My
commandments, that thy days may be long in the land," God Himself hath
said it. Is it not written: "Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and
let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the
ways of thine heart and in the sight of thine eyes; but know thou that
for all these things the Lord will bring thee into judgment"? But
thou, my Hannah,' he started caressing her hair again, 'art a good
Jewish maiden. Between Levi and thee there is naught in common. His
touch would profane thee. Sadden not thy innocent eyes with the sight
of his end. Think of him as one who died in boyhood. My God! why didst
Thou not take him then?' He turned away, stifling a sob.

'Father,' she put her hand on his shoulder, 'we will go with thee to
Stockbridge--I and the mother.'

He faced her again, stern and rigid.

'Cease thy entreaties. I will go alone.'

'No, we will all go.'

'Hannah,' he said, his voice tremulous with pain and astonishment,
'dost thou, too, set light by thy father?'

'Yes,' she cried, and there was no answering tremor in her voice. 'Now
thou knowest! I am not a good Jewish maiden. Levi and I are brother
and sister. His touch profane me, forsooth!' She laughed bitterly.

'Thou wilt take this journey though I forbid thee?' he cried in acrid
accents, still mingled with surprise.

'Yes; would I had taken the journey thou wouldst have forbidden ten
years ago!'

'What journey? thou talkest madness.'

'I talk truth. Thou hast forgotten David Brandon; I have not. Ten
years last Passover I arranged to fly with him, to marry him, in
defiance of the Law and thee.'

A new pallor overspread the Reb's countenance, already ashen. He
trembled and almost fell backwards.

'But thou didst not?' he whispered hoarsely.

'I did not, I know not why,' she said sullenly; 'else thou wouldst
never have seen me again. It may be I respected thy religion, although
thou didst not dream what was in my mind. But thy religion shall not
keep me from this journey.'

The Reb had hidden his face in his hands. His lips were moving: was it
in grateful prayer, in self-reproach, or merely in nervous trembling?
Hannah never knew. Presently the Reb's arms dropped, great tears
rolled down towards the white beard. When he spoke, his tones were
hushed as with awe.

'This man--tell me, my daughter, thou lovest him still?'

She shrugged her shoulders with a gesture of reckless despair.

'What does it matter? My life is but a shadow.'

The Reb took her to his breast, though she remained stony to his
touch, and laid his wet face against her burning cheeks.

'My child, my poor Hannah! I thought God had sent thee peace ten years
ago, that He had rewarded thee for thy obedience to His Law.'

She drew her face away from his.

'It was not His Law; it was a miserable juggling with texts. Thou
alone interpretedst God's Law thus. No one knew of the matter.'

He could not argue; the breast against which he held her was shaken by
a tempest of grief, which swept away all save human remorse, human
love.

'My daughter,' he sobbed, 'I have ruined thy life!' After an agonised
pause he said: 'Tell me, Hannah, is there nothing I can do to make
atonement to thee?'

'Only one thing, father,' she articulated chokingly; 'forgive Levi.'

There was a moment of solemn silence. Then the Reb spake.

'Tell thy mother to put on her things and take what she needs for the
journey. Perchance we may be away for days.'

They mingled their tears in sweet reconciliation. Presently the Reb
said:

'Go now to thy mother, and see also that the boy's room be made ready
as of old. Perchance God will hear my prayer, and he will yet be
restored to us.'

A new peace fell upon Hannah's soul. 'My sacrifice was not in vain
after all,' she thought, with a throb of happiness that was almost
exultation.

But Levi never came back. The news of his death arrived on the eve of
_Yom Kippur_, the Day of Atonement, in a letter to Esther, who had
been left in charge of the house.

'He died quietly at the end,' Hannah wrote, 'happy in the
consciousness of father's forgiveness, and leaning trustfully upon his
interposition with Heaven; but he had delirious moments, during which
he raved painfully. The poor boy was in great fear of death, moaning
prayers that he might be spared till after _Yom Kippur_, when he would
be cleansed of sin, and babbling about serpents that would twine
themselves round his arm and brow, like the phylacteries he had not
worn. He made father repeat his "Verse" to him over and over again, so
that he might remember his name when the angel of the grave asked it;
and borrowed father's phylacteries, the headpiece of which was much
too large for him with his shaven crown. When he had them on, and the
_Talith_ round him, he grew easier, and began murmuring the death-bed
prayers with father. One of them runs: "O may my death be an atonement
for all the sins, iniquities and transgressions of which I have been
guilty against Thee!" I trust it may be so indeed. It seems so hard
for a young man full of life and high spirits to be cut down, while
the wretched are left alive. Your name was often on his lips. I was
glad to learn he thought so much of you. "Be sure to give Esther my
love," he said almost with his last breath, "and ask her to forgive
me." I know not if you have anything to forgive, or whether this was
delirium. He looks quite calm now--but oh! so worn. They have closed
the eyes. The beard he shocked father so by shaving off has sprouted
scrubbily during his illness. On the dead face it seems a mockery,
like the _Talith_ and phylacteries that have not been removed.'

A phrase of Leonard James vibrated in Esther's ears: 'If the chappies
could see me!'



CHAPTER XVIII

HOPES AND DREAMS


The morning of the Great White Fast broke bleak and grey. Esther,
alone in the house save for the servant, wandered from room to room in
dull misery. The day before had been almost a feast-day in the
Ghetto--everybody providing for the morrow. Esther had scarcely eaten
anything. Nevertheless she was fasting, and would fast for over
twenty-four hours, till the night fell. She knew not why. Her record
was unbroken, and instinct resented a breach now. She had always
fasted--even the Henry Goldsmiths fasted, and greater than the Henry
Goldsmiths! Q.C.'s fasted, and peers, and prize-fighters, and actors.
And yet Esther, like many far more pious persons, did not think of her
sins for a moment. She thought of everything but them--of the bereaved
family in that strange provincial town; of her own family in that
strange distant land. Well, she would soon be with them now. Her
passage was booked--a steerage passage it was, not because she could
not afford cabin fare, but from her morbid impulse to identify herself
with poverty. The same impulse led her to choose a vessel in which a
party of Jewish pauper immigrants was being shipped farther West. She
thought also of Dutch Debby, with whom she had spent the previous
evening; and of Raphael Leon, who had sent her, _viâ_ the publishers,
a letter which she could not trust herself to answer cruelly, and
which she deemed it most prudent to leave unanswered. Uncertain of her
powers of resistance, she scarcely ventured outside the house for fear
of his stumbling across her. Happily every day diminished the chances
of her whereabouts leaking out through some unsuspected channel.

About noon her restlessness carried her into the streets. There was a
festal solemnity about the air. Women and children, not at synagogue,
showed themselves at the doors, pranked in their best. Indifferently
pious young men sought relief from the ennui of the day-long service
in lounging about for a breath of fresh air; some even strolled
towards the Strand, and turned into the National Gallery, satisfied to
reappear for the twilight service. On all sides came the fervent roar
of prayer which indicated a synagogue or a _Chevrah_, the number of
places of worship having been indefinitely increased to accommodate
those who made their appearance for this occasion only.

Everywhere friends and neighbours were asking one another how they
were bearing the fast, exhibiting their white tongues and generally
comparing symptoms, the physical aspects of the Day of Atonement more
or less completely diverting attention from the spiritual.
Smelling-salts passed from hand to hand, and men explained to one
another that, but for the deprivation of their cigars, they could
endure _Yom Kippur_ with complacency.

Esther passed the Ghetto school, within which free services were going
on even in the playground, poor Russians and Poles, fanatically
observant, foregathering with lax fishmongers and welshers; and
without which hulking young men hovered uneasily, feeling too out of
tune with religion to go in, too conscious of the terrors of the day
to stay entirely away. From the interior came from sunrise to
nightfall a throbbing thunder of supplication, now pealing in
passionate outcry, now subsiding to a low rumble. The sounds of prayer
that pervaded the Ghetto, and burst upon her at every turn, wrought
upon Esther strangely; all her soul went out in sympathy with these
yearning outbursts; she stopped every now and then to listen, as in
those far-off days when the Sons of the Covenant drew her with their
melancholy cadences.

At last, moved by an irresistible instinct, she crossed the threshold
of a large _Chevrah_ she had known in her girlhood, mounted the stairs
and entered the female compartment without hostile challenge. The reek
of many breaths and candles nearly drove her back, but she pressed
forwards towards a remembered window, through a crowd of bewigged
women, shaking their bodies fervently to and fro.

This room had no connection with the men's; it was simply the room
above part of theirs, and the declamation of the unseen cantor came
but faintly through the flooring, though the glamour of the general
masculine chorus kept the pious _au courant_ with their husbands. When
weather or the whims of the more important ladies permitted, the
window at the end was opened; it gave upon a little balcony, below
which the men's chamber projected considerably, having been built out
into the back-yard. When this window was opened simultaneously with
the skylight in the men's synagogue, the fervid roulades of the cantor
were as audible to the women as to their masters.

Esther had always affected the balcony; there the air was
comparatively fresh, and on fine days there was a glimpse of blue sky,
and a perspective of sunny red tiles, where brown birds fluttered and
cats lounged and little episodes arose to temper the tedium of endless
invocation; and farther off there was a back view of a nunnery, with
visions of placid black-hooded faces at windows; and from the distance
came a pleasant drone of monosyllabic spelling from fresh young voices
to relieve the ear from the monotony of long stretches of meaningless
mumbling.

Here, lost in a sweet melancholy, Esther dreamed away the long grey
day, only vaguely conscious of the stages of the service--morning
dovetailing into afternoon service, and afternoon into evening; of the
heavy-jowled woman behind her reciting a Jargon-version of the
Atonement liturgy to a devout coterie; of the prostrations full-length
on the floor, and the series of impassioned sermons; of the
interminably rhyming poems, and the acrostics with their recurring
burdens shouted in devotional frenzy, voice rising above voice as in
emulation, with special staccato phrases flung heavenwards; of the
wailing confessions of communal sin, with their accompaniment of sobs
and tears and howls and grimaces and clenching of palms and beatings
of the breast. She was lapped in a great ocean of sound that broke
upon her consciousness like the waves upon a beach, now with a cooing
murmur, now with a majestic crash, followed by a long receding moan.
She lost herself in the roar, in its barren sensuousness, while the
leaden sky grew duskier and the twilight crept on, and the awful hour
drew nigh when God would seal what He had written, and the annual
scrolls of destiny would be closed, immutable. She saw them looming
mystically through the skylight, the swaying forms below, in their
white grave-clothes, oscillating weirdly backwards and forwards, bowed
as by a mighty wind.

Suddenly there fell a vast silence; even from without no sound came to
break the awful stillness. It was as if all creation paused to hear a
pregnant word.

'"Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One!"' sang the cantor
frenziedly.

And all the ghostly congregation answered with a great cry, closing
their eyes and rocking frantically to and fro:

'"Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One!"'

They seemed like a great army of the sheeted dead risen to testify to
the Unity. The magnetic tremor that ran through the synagogue thrilled
the lonely girl to the core; once again her dead self woke, her dead
ancestors that would not be shaken off lived and moved in her. She was
sucked up into the great wave of passionate faith, and from her lips
came in rapturous surrender to an over-mastering impulse the
half-hysterical protestation:

'"Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One!"'

And then in the brief instant while the congregation, with
ever-ascending rhapsody, blessed God till the climax came with the
sevenfold declaration, 'The Lord, He is God,' the whole history of her
strange, unhappy race flashed through her mind in a whirl of
resistless emotion. She was overwhelmed by the thought of its sons in
every corner of the earth proclaiming to the sombre twilight sky the
belief for which its generations had lived and died--the Jews of
Russia sobbing it forth in their pale of enclosure, the Jews of
Morocco in their _mellah_, and of South Africa in their tents by the
diamond mines; the Jews of the New World in great free cities, in
Canadian backwoods, in South American savannahs; the Australian Jews
on the sheep-farms and the gold-fields and in the mushroom cities; the
Jews of Asia in their reeking quarters begirt by barbarian
populations. The shadow of a large mysterious destiny seemed to hang
over these poor superstitious zealots, whose lives she knew so well in
all their everyday prose, and to invest the unconscious shuffling sons
of the Ghetto with something of tragic grandeur. The grey dusk
palpitated with floating shapes of prophets and martyrs, scholars and
sages and poets, full of a yearning love and pity, lifting hands of
benediction. By what great highroads and queer byways of history had
they travelled hither, these wandering Jews, 'sated with contempt,'
these shrewd eager fanatics, these sensual ascetics, these human
paradoxes, adaptive to every environment, energising in every field of
activity, omnipresent like some great natural force, indestructible
and almost inconvertible, surviving--with the incurable optimism that
overlay all their poetic sadness--Babylon and Carthage, Greece and
Rome; involuntarily financing the Crusades, outliving the Inquisition,
illusive of all baits, unshaken by all persecutions--at once the
greatest and meanest of races? Had the Jew come so far only to break
down at last, sinking in morasses of modern doubt, and irresistibly
dragging down with him the Christian and the Moslem; or was he yet
fated to outlast them both, in continuous testimony to a hand moulding
incomprehensibly the life of humanity? Would Israel develop into the
sacred phalanx, the nobler brotherhood that Raphael Leon had dreamed
of, or would the race that had first proclaimed--through Moses for the
ancient world, through Spinoza for the modern--

    'One God, one Law, one Element,'

become, in the larger, wilder dream of the Russian idealist, the main
factor in

            'One far-off divine event
    To which the whole Creation moves'?

The roar dwindled to a solemn silence, as though in answer to her
questionings. Then the ram's horn shrilled--a stern long-drawn-out
note, that rose at last into a mighty peal of sacred jubilation. The
Atonement was complete.

The crowd bore Esther downstairs and into the blank indifferent
street. But the long exhausting fast, the fetid atmosphere, the strain
upon her emotions, had overtaxed her beyond endurance. Up to now the
frenzy of the service had sustained her, but as she stepped across the
threshold on to the pavement she staggered and fell. One of the men
pouring out from the lower synagogue caught her in his arms. It was
Strelitski.

       *       *       *       *       *

A group of three stood on the saloon deck of an outward-bound steamer.
Raphael Leon was bidding farewell to the man he reverenced without
discipleship, and the woman he loved without blindness.

'Look!' he said, pointing compassionately to the wretched throng of
Jewish emigrants huddled on the lower deck and scattered about the
gangway amid jostling sailors and stevedores and bales and coils of
rope; the men in peaked or fur caps, the women with shawls and babies,
some gazing upwards with lacklustre eyes, the majority brooding,
despondent, apathetic. 'How could either of you have borne the sights
and smells of the steerage? You are a pair of visionaries. You could
not have breathed a day in that society. Look!'

Strelitski looked at Esther instead; perhaps he was thinking he could
have breathed anywhere in her society--nay, breathed even more freely
in the steerage than in the cabin if he had sailed away without
telling Raphael that he had found her.

'You forget a common impulse took us into such society on the Day of
Atonement,' he answered after a moment. 'You forget we are both
Children of the Ghetto.'

'I can never forget that,' said Raphael fervently, 'else Esther would
at this moment be lost amid the human flotsam and jetsam below,
sailing away without you to protect her, without me to look forward to
her return, without Addie's bouquet to assure her of a sister's love.'

He took Esther's little hand once more. It lingered confidingly in his
own. There was no ring of betrothal upon it, nor would be, till
Rachel Ansell in America, and Addie Leon in England, should have
passed under the wedding canopy, and Raphael, whose breast-pocket was
bulging with a new meerschaum too sacred to smoke, should startle the
West End with his eccentric choice, and confirm its impression of his
insanity. The trio had said and resaid all they had to tell one
another, all the reminders and the recommendations. They stood without
speaking now, wrapt in that loving silence which is sweeter than
speech.

The sun, which had been shining intermittently, flooded the serried
shipping with a burst of golden light, that coaxed the turbid waves to
brightness, and cheered the wan emigrants, and made little children
leap joyously in their mother's arms. The knell of parting sounded
insistent.

'Your allegory seems turning in your favour, Raphael,' said Esther,
with a sudden memory.

The pensive smile that made her face beautiful lit up the dark eyes.

'What allegory is that of Raphael's?' said Strelitski, reflecting her
smile on his graver visage. 'The long one in his prize poem?'

'No,' said Raphael, catching the contagious smile. 'It is our little
secret.'

Strelitski turned suddenly to look at the emigrants. The smile faded
from his quivering mouth.

The last moment had come. Raphael stooped down towards the gentle
softly-flashing face, which was raised unhesitatingly to meet his, and
their lips met in a first kiss, diviner than it is given most mortals
to know--a kiss, sad and sweet, troth and parting in one: _Ave et
vale_--'hail and farewell.'

'Good-bye, Strelitski,' said Raphael huskily. 'Success to your
dreams.'

The idealist turned round with a start. His face was bright and
resolute; the black curl streamed buoyantly on the breeze.

'Good-bye,' he responded, with a giant's grip of the hand. 'Success to
your hopes.'

Raphael darted away with his long stride. The sun was still bright,
but for a moment everything seemed chill and dim to Esther Ansell's
vision. With a sudden fit of nervous foreboding she stretched out her
arms towards the vanishing figure of her lover. But she saw him once
again in the tender, waving his handkerchief towards the throbbing
vessel that glided with its freight of hopes and dreams across the
great waters towards the New World.



GLOSSARY



GLOSSARY

  _H._ = Hebrew. _G._ = German. _Gk._ = Greek. _R._ = Russian.
  _S._ = Spanish. _c._ = corrupt.

    Achi-Nebbich (_Etymology obscure_), Alas, poor thing (s.).

    Afikoman (_Hebraicised Gk._), portion of a Passover cake taken
      at the end of Seder-meal (_q.v._).

    Amidah (_H._), series of Benedictions said standing.

    Arbah Kanfus (_H._), lit. four corners; a garment consisting
      of two shoulder-straps supporting a front and back piece
      with fringes at each corner (Num. xv. 37-41).

    Avirah (_H._), Sin.

    Ashkenazim (_H._), German, hence also Russian and Polish Jews.

    Badchan (_H._), professional jester.

    Bensh (?), say grace.

    Beth Din (_H._), Court of Judgment.

    Beth Medrash (_H._), College.

    Bube (_G._), grandmother.

    Cabbalah (_H._), Cabbulah (_c._), lit. tradition; mystic lore.

    Calloh (_H._), bride, _fiancée_.

    Chazan (_H._), cantor.

    Chevrah (_H._), small congregation; a society.

    Chine (_H._), playful humour; humorous anecdote.

    Chocham (_H._), wise man.

    Chomutz (_H._), leaven.

    Chosan (_H._), bridegroom, _fiancé_.

    Chuppah (_H._), wedding canopy.

    Cohen (_H._), priest.

    Dayan (_H._), Rabbi who renders decisions.

    Din (_H._), law, decision.

    Droshes (_H._), sermons.

    Epikouros (_H. from Gk._), heretic, scoffer; Epicurean.

    Froom (_c. G._), pious.

    Gelt (_c. G._), money.

    Gematriyah (_Hebraicised Gk._), mystic, numerical
      interpretation of Scripture.

    Gemorah (_H._), part of the Talmud.

    Gonof (_H._), thief.

    Goyah (_H._), non-Jewess.

    Hagadah (_H._), narrative portion of the Talmud; Passover-eve
      ritual.

    Halachah (_H._), legal portion of the Talmud.

    Havdalah (_H._), ceremony separating conclusion of Sabbath or
      Festival from the subsequent days of toil.

    Imbeshreer (_c. G. ohne beschreien_), without bewitching;
      unbeshrewn.

    Kaddish (_H._), prayer in praise of God; specially recited by
      male mourners.

    Kehillah (_H._), congregation.

    Kind, Kinder (_G._), child, children.

    Kosher (_H._), ritually clean.

    Kotzon (_H._), rich man.

    Link (_G._), lit. left, _i.e._, not right; hence lax, not
      pious.

    Longe Verachum (_G._ and _c. H._), lit. The long 'and He being
      merciful.' A long extra prayer, said on Mondays and
      Thursdays.

    Lulov (_H._), palm-branch dressed with myrtle and willow, and
      used at the Feast of Tabernacles.

    Maaseh (_H._), story, tale.

    Machzor (_H._), Festival Prayer-Book.

    Maggid (_H._), preacher.

    Mazzoltov (_H._), Good luck, congratulations.

    Megillah (_H._), lit. scroll. The Book of Esther.

    Meshuggah, Meshuggene (H.), mad.

    Meshumad (_H._), apostate.

    Metsiah (_H._), lit. finding, cp. Fr. _trouvaille_; bargain.

    Mezuzah (_H._), case containing a scroll, with Heb. verses
      (Deut. vi. 4-9, 13-21), affixed to every door-post.

    Midrash (_H._), Biblical exposition.

    Minchah (_H._), afternoon prayer.

    Minyan (_H._), quorum of ten males over thirteen necessary for
      public worship.

    Mishpochah (_H._), family.

    Mishnah, Mishnayis (_H._), collection of the Oral Law.

    Missheberach (_H._), synagogal benediction.

    Mitzvah (_H._), a commandment, _i.e._, a good deed.

    Mizrach (_H._), East; a sacred picture hung on the east wall
      in the direction of Jerusalem, to which the face is turned
      in praying.

    Narrischkeit (_c. G._), foolishness.

    Nash (_c. G._), pilfer (dainties).

    Niddah (_H._), Talmudical tractate on the purification of
      women.

    Nu (_R._), Well?

    Olov Hasholom (_H._), Peace be upon him! (loosely applied to
      deceased females also).

    Omer (_H._), the seven weeks between Passover and Pentecost.

    Parnass (_H._), President of the Congregation.

    Pesachdik (_H._), proper for Passover.

    Pidyun Haben (_H._), redemption of the first-born son.

    Piyut (_Hebraicised Gk._), liturgical poem.

    Potch (_c. G._), slap.

    Pullack (_c. G._), Polish Jew.

    Rashi (_H._), Rabbi Solomon ben Isaac, whose Commentary is
      often printed under the Hebrew text of the Bible.

    Schlemihl (_H._), unlucky, awkward person.

    Schmuck (_c. G._), lubberly person.

    Schmull (_c. G. schmollen_), pout, sulk.

    Schnecks (? _c. Schnake_, gay nonsense), affectations.

    Schnorrer (_c. G._), beggar.

    Seder (_H._), Passover-eve ceremony.

    Selaim (_H._), old Jewish coins.

    Sephardim (_H._), Spanish and Portuguese Jews.

    Shaaloth u-Teshuvoth (_H._), questions and answers;
      casuistical treatise.

    Shabbas (_H._), Sabbath.

    Shadchan (_H._), professional match-maker.

    Shaitel (_c. G._), wig worn by married women.

    Shammos (_c. H._), beadle.

    Shass (_H. abbreviation_), the six sections of the Talmud.

    Shechitah (_H._), slaughter.

    Shemah beni (_H._), Hear, my son! = Dear me.

    Shemang (_H._), Confession of the Unity of God.

    Shidduch (_H._), match.

    Shiksah (_H._), non-Jewish girl.

    Shnodar (_H._), offer money to the synagogue. (An
      extraordinary instance of Jewish jargon--a compound Hebrew
      word meaning 'who vows'--being turned into an English verb
      and conjugated accordingly in _-ed_ and _-ing_).

    Shochet (_H._), official slaughterer.

    Shofar (_H._), trumpet of ram's horn, blown during the
      Penitential season.

    Shool (_c. G._), synagogue.

    Shulchan Aruch (_H._), a sixteenth-century compilation,
      codifying Jewish law.

    Simchath Torah (_H._), festival of the rejoicing of the Law.

    Snoga (_Sp._), Sephardic synagogue.

    Spiel (_G._), play.

    Takif (_H._), rich man; swell.

    Talith (_H._), a shawl with fringes, worn by men during
      prayer.

    Tanaim (_H._), betrothal contract or ceremony.

    Térah, Torah (_H._), Law of Moses.

    Tephillin (_H._), phylacteries.

    Tripha (_H._), ritually unclean.

    Wurst (_G._), sausage.

    Yiddish, Yiddishkeit (_c. G._), Jewish Judaism.

    Yigdal (_H._), hymn summarising the thirteen creeds drawn up
      by Maimonides.

    Yom Kippur (_H._), Day of Atonement.

    Yom Tov (_H._), lit. good day; Festival.

    Yontovdik (_hybrid H._), pertaining to the Festival.

    Yosher-Kowach (_c. H._), May your strength increase! = Thank
      you; a formula to express gratitude--especially at the end
      of a reading.


    [Illustration: H·C·]

    THE TEMPLE PRESS, PRINTERS, LETCHWORTH



       *       *       *       *       *



    +------------------------------------------------------------+
    | Typographical errors corrected in text:                    |
    |                                                            |
    | Page 125: Shemuels' replaced with Shemuel's                |
    | Page 126: Pinchass' replaced with Pinchas's                |
    | Page 127: "its just ruining our reputation" replaced with  |
    |           "it's just ruining our reputation"               |
    | Page 135: "little Sampson" replaced with "Little Sampson"  |
    | Page 175: "He won't listen to reason at al" replaced with  |
    |           "He won't listen to reason at all"               |
    | Page 207: "mora consciousness" replaced with               |
                "moral consciousness"                            |
    | Page 212: Jusaism replaced with Judaism                    |
    |                                                            |
    | The definition of Mosaism: n. Attachment to the system or  |
    | doctrines of Moses; that which is peculiar to the Mosaic   |
    | system or doctrines.                                       |
    |                                                            |
    +------------------------------------------------------------+





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