Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Simon Eichelkatz; The Patriarch - Two Stories of Jewish Life
Author: Frank, Ulrich
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Simon Eichelkatz; The Patriarch - Two Stories of Jewish Life" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



produced from scanned images of public domain material
from the Internet Archive.)



SIMON EICHELKATZ

THE PATRIARCH

GLOSSARY



Simon Eichelkatz

The Patriarch

Two Stories of Jewish Life

By Ulrich Frank

Translated
From the German

[Illustration: colophon]

Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication
Society of America

1907



SIMON EICHELKATZ


      SEPTEMBER 9, 1900.

To-day I was called to attend an old man who lives at the Flour Market,
almost opposite the "New" Synagogue. The messenger told me I could not
possibly miss the house, because the steps leading up to the old man's
rooms were built on the outside; and this is in peculiar contrast to the
modern architecture prevailing in the city. In fact, I do not know
whether another house so curiously constructed is to be seen anywhere
else in the place. And so I found it without much questioning. At any
rate, I knew of the New Synagogue. I have never entered it, yet a soft,
secret wave of religious feeling creeps over me each time I pass it, and
that happens frequently. The synagogue lies on the road to the extensive
factory quarter built up by one of the large manufacturers for his
employees. My professional duties often take me there.

The synagogue!--I always look at the simple structure, devoid of
ornament, with mixed feelings of veneration and awe. I hold tradition in
high regard. After all it counts for something that a man is the
offspring of a pious race, which cherishes learning and _Yichus_. How
does the Hebrew word happen to come to me? The synagogue keeps its grip
on what belongs to it--and on me, too! Yet I should not be able to pray
within its walls--although it was in such a place as this synagogue that
my father taught the word of God.

In fact, is it possible for us moderns still to pray? And then those
remarkable Hebrew words, unintelligible to most of us now--_Ovinu
Malkenu!_ The Church has converted them into the Lord's Prayer, the most
fervent of its prayers. _Ovinu Malkenu!_ I see myself a little chap
standing next to my father. How surcharged these words with belief and
faith and hope when spoken by him: _Ovinu Malkenu chosvenu be-Sefer
Parnossoh ve-Chalkoloh_--"Give us this day our daily bread!"

Synagogue and church! Hebrew or German or Latin? The shrill call of the
Shofar, or the soft sense-enslaving tones of the organ? I believe modern
man can pray only in the dumb speech of the heart.

It seems to me, if I were all alone in a synagogue, a devout mood would
come over me; I would pray there. In Florence this happened to me once.
It was very early in the morning; I was alone in a small church on the
other side of the Arno, Santa Maria del Carmine, whose frescoes, painted
by Masaccio, declare the joy and jubilation of man over his beauty and
greatness. But, I remember, the words were Hebrew that sprang up in my
heart, even if they did not pass my lips. So the dumb language of the
soul has its familiar tones, its words endeared by association.

Truth compels me to admit that it was Simon Eichelkatz who prompted me
to put these thoughts of mine down in writing.

My patient at the Flour Market! When I climbed the steep stairway,
thoroughly scoured and strewn with white sand, I little suspected I
should soon stand in the presence of one of the most interesting persons
it had ever been my good fortune to meet. The stairway led directly into
the kitchen. A long, lank individual received me there, and on my asking
for Herr Eichelkatz, he answered testily: "I guess he's in the floored
room." At the moment I could not imagine what he meant. Then I noticed
that the flooring of the kitchen was only of cement, and I realized that
he meant to convey that the room in which the patient waited had a
wooden flooring.

"Will you lead me there?" I asked politely.

"Lead!" with a deprecating shrug of the shoulders. "Why should I lead?
It's right here. They must be led. These new-fashioned people must be
led. Can't they walk by themselves?" At these not very friendly words,
he pushed a door open and bawled in: "The doctor is here--the Herr
Kreisphysikus. I should lead him to you, Reb Shimme. By himself he would
never find you. Reb Shimme, should I drive him in with the white or the
black horse? It's too far for him, Reb Shimme, the new-fashioned people
want to be led; they want to be announced by a vally. Whether they come
to a king or to Reb Shimme Eichelkatz, it's all the same, they must be
announced."

All this was accompanied by scornful chuckles; and he looked at me
angrily, quite taken aback, when I pushed him aside with a sweep of my
arm just as he cried out again: "Herr Kenig, the doctor is here!"

I stood in the middle of the room, the "floored" room, and, verily, I
stood in the presence of a kingly man, I stood before Simon Eichelkatz.


      SEPTEMBER 16.

What is it that draws me to this old man? I am almost glad he needs my
care as a physician. Remarkable egotism this on my part; but fortunately
the sickness is not serious; a slight indisposition, such as often comes
in old age. My patient is well on in the seventies, and is really
wonderfully fresh and vigorous. A sudden spell of faintness induced his
servant to send for me--the wrathful, snarling servant who received me
with so little grace on my first visit. Now I am used to Feiwel
Silbermann's quirks and sallies. I know his intentions are not bad; and
then his great merit in my eyes is his rare fidelity to Simon
Eichelkatz. After I had finished examining the patient on my first
visit, Feiwel crept after me, caught hold of me as I stood on the lowest
step, and anxiously inquired:

"What is the matter with Reb Shimme? Is he, God forbid, really sick?
He's never been this way before. I've known him--may he long be
spared--these twenty years, but as he was to-day--"

Feiwel tried to take my hand. "I must scold, _nebbich_. That's what he's
used to. And if I were suddenly to come along with fine manners, he
might think, _Chas ve-Sholem_, it was all over with him. Now, I ask you,
Herr Kreisphysikusleben, if a man always scolds and means well, isn't
that as good as if a man speaks softly and is false? A treacherous dog
doesn't bark. Praised be God, Reb Shimme knows what he's got in me.
Twenty years I've been with him, since Madame Eichelkatz died. His only
son is professor at the University in Berlin. A _Meshummed_, Herr
Doktor. Baptized," he added, his voice growing hoarse. "Since the
gracious Madame Eichelkatz died, we live here, at the Flour Market. And
he never saw his son again, Herr Doktor. But now, if he should, God
forbid, get sick--he's an old man--I don't know what I should do."

Ah! So Simon Eichelkatz has a skeleton in his closet, not an every-day
skeleton, either. I should not have suspected it from what I saw of the
gentle, gay-spirited old man. As to Feiwel, I set his worries at rest. I
told him the illness was not serious, a mere weakness, not unusual in a
man of Simon Eichelkatz's age, and it would pass without serious
consequences. Feiwel gave me a look of such devout gratitude that I was
touched. "Of course," I said, "you must be watchful, and must take good
care of him, because at his age every symptom must be taken into
account."

"What, symtohn he has?" Feiwel asked, anxious again. "Can symtohn become
dangerous? Is it a very bad trouble? Symtohn!" He repeated the word
several times. "I've heard of people's getting heart disease, or kidney
trouble, may I be forgiven for my sins, or rheumatiz, but to get
symtohn!"

I explained the meaning of the word to him, and he breathed a sigh of
relief.

"Praised be God, if it's nothing more than that--I'll look out for the
symtohns, you can be sure of that, Herr Kreisphysikusleben."

"I'll come again to-morrow to find out how Herr Eichelkatz is doing," I
said, "and I hope it won't be necessary to let Herr Professor Eichelkatz
know--"

At that moment it occurred to me I had never heard of a university
professor of that name.

"He isn't called Eichelkatz at all," Feiwel whispered with spite in his
voice. "If a man can have himself baptized, he can throw his father's
name away, too. Why not? What should a man be named Eichelkatz for if
he's a professor? If he's a professor, it's better for him _evadde_ to
be named Eichner--such a name!"

Eichner! Professor Friedrich Eichner, the most powerful of modern
thinkers, the philosopher of world-wide renown, a son of Simon
Eichelkatz!


      SEPTEMBER 22.

I see the New Synagogue now every day. It was dedicated over forty years
ago, but it is still called "New." They had a rabbi come from Berlin to
dedicate it, and that after their own rabbi had worked for ten long
years to make the building possible, after he had gone to great pains to
scrape the money together, after his ardent appeals had succeeded in
warming his people up to the undertaking, after he had removed all the
difficulties presented by the authorities--after he had brought things
so far, his congregation found it in their hearts to humiliate him at
the crowning point of his achievement, they found it in their hearts to
set him aside at the dedication in favor of another.

Have honor and justice come back to you? Have the years left their
traces upon you, O ye, whom I love, my brethren in faith? Forty years!
New generations have blossomed since those days when pride and false
ambition brought sorrow to a noble spirit, and sought to deprive him of
the fruits of his labor, blessed and pleasing to the Lord. Another was
permitted to take his place and consecrate the work he had called into
being. On the day of his greatest glory they poured gall into his soul,
filled his heart with bitterness. But he forgave!

Gradually I am learning all sorts of stories about the congregation.
Simon Eichelkatz tells them to me when I visit him, and that happens
almost daily. It is now one of my favorite recreations to hunt up this
old man, this wise old man; for what he says in that easy, simple way of
his always awakens new thoughts in me. He little suspects the abundance,
the wealth of ideas that arise and take form in his mind. They all well
forth so unconsciously, the most profound and the most exalted. One day
a granite rock of Kantian philosophy towers up before me; the next day
the trumpet tones of a Nietzsche reveille sound in my ears. And this
feeble old man, who gives utterance to these deep thoughts, never read
any other book than the book of life, life in a small town remote from
the bustle of the world, life in a Jewish community, with its
intellectual backwardness and provincial peculiarities. The _Khille_, it
is true, with its concentric circles, its conservatism, its solidarity,
its self-sufficiency, was rich soil to foster individuality and develop
reserve strength. Nothing is wasted there, nothing consumed too quickly
in those communities thrown back upon themselves, leading, forced to
lead, a life apart from the rest of the world. How much that is of
import to the world has gone forth from such communities! When the seed
had grown strong and healthy in its native soil, and was then
transplanted to fresh soil, how it blossomed forth, fruit-bearing,
fructifying!

Now it seems to me as though Professor Friedrich Eichner could not
possibly have been of other parentage. The son, the heir of Simon
Eichelkatz! With amazement, with rapture we listened to his lectures, to
which students from all the other departments also crowded; and when the
world-philosophies he unfolded loomed before our eyes in gigantic
proportions, a feeling came over us of shuddering awe and admiration.
Who was this man? A radical, an iconoclast. And now, out of the mouth of
an old man, I hear ideas, conceptions, truths that might have laid the
foundations for the philosophy of the other, the younger, man. Not that
the relation between them was that of teacher and pupil; for Professor
Friedrich Eichner knew nothing of his father's wisdom, and the father
knew nothing of his son's philosophic systems. The father does not
mention his son--he probably is ignorant of his son's life, of his son's
importance to science. Only once he referred to him, recently, in
telling me about the "New" Synagogue. Sunk in thought he said:

"The first _Bar-Mitzvah_ that took place there was my son's. I still
remember the speech our _Rav_ delivered then--about the love of parents
and fidelity to those who lead us in our youth--Herr Kreisphysikus, our
Rav was a fine, sensible man, but he did not understand just what a
child should be. The child should grow away from us, above us, larger,
stronger, and higher--and we mustn't ask anything of him, and we mustn't
say to him, 'Come and stay here with me, where it is cramped and stuffy
for want of air--enough air for an old man, but too little for you. And
you shall not be my child, not a child, a filly, that neighs for the
stable where its father and mother roll on the straw like animals. You
must keep on growing--you must be a man, not a child.'"

Simon Eichelkatz--Friedrich Eichner!

My heart is tender, and I love my dear mother, whom a kindly fate has
preserved for me unto this day; and I bless and honor the memory of my
dead father. My opinion about filial and parental relations is entirely
different from Simon Eichelkatz's; but it seemed to me as though I were
listening to a chapter of Nietzsche's Zarathustra. Never did this name
sound in your ears, Simon Eichelkatz. You never left the Khille, and for
twenty years you have been living alone with your bodyguard, Feiwel
Silbermann. But your son has written great works concerning the
Zarathustra doctrine.


      SEPTEMBER 24.

The members of the Jewish community here are beginning to look upon me
as a queer sort of person. In a measure, it is the duty of a new
physician of the Jewish belief to associate with the "gentry" among his
co-religionists. That is what is expected of me; and certainly I ought
long ago to have left my card at the doors of the Jewish families that
are well-to-do, and, as they think, aristocratic and cultivated. On my
desk lies a long, imposing list of persons of consequence, and it is my
firm intention to pay them my respects; my predecessor urgently
recommended me to do so. "You will get into things most quickly," he
said, "if you make your way among the well-to-do Jewish families. The
community has a reputation from of old for setting great store by
culture and refinement; and what better for you in a small
out-of-the-way place than a stimulus now and then in the form of a visit
to some pleasant home? The evenings are long; you can't forever be
playing Skat." I certainly can't, because I know precious little about
the game--and so the cultivated Jewish families are my future here. For
the present I have found something else, which gives me more than I can
expect from the stimulus of would-be æsthetic Jewish wives and maidens.

I dearly love my fellow-Jews. But my love for them must not blind me to
their weaknesses, and among their weaknesses I count an assumption of
culture, a pseudo-refinement of the intellect, which has taken
increasing hold upon the daughters of our race. How often I was
disagreeably impressed by them in Berlin when they spoke about anything
and everything, with that half-culture which produces the feeling that
they are not concerned with knowledge, but with the effect to be created
by their apparent "information" upon all subjects. What don't they know!
What don't they want to know! How often I was tempted to say to one or
another of them: "The learning of many things does not cultivate the
mind; learn to believe and to think." And must I repeat the same
experience here? I am uneasy; my predecessor sentimentalized too much
about the "educated" Jewesses. Some of them, he unluckily told me, had
been "finished off" in prominent educational institutions in foreign
countries. I know all that, and I'm afraid of it, this finishing-off
process of the ladies' seminaries! But probably there will be nothing
else for me to do. If the winter evenings here are really so long and
dreary, I may not be able to resist the torment of hearing young lips,
soft and rosy for kissing, put the question to me: "What do you think of
Nietzsche's 'Beyond evil and good,'" or "Do you think the painters of
the Quatrocento and the Secessionists have anything in common?" How that
hurts! Almost a physical pain! At all events it has often spoilt my
taste for kissing soft, rosy lips.

If I would seek wisdom, if I would drink at the source of life, here, in
this place, I shall not go to youth, but to old age.

I spent some time again with Simon Eichelkatz this afternoon. Outside it
was raining and storming. A raw, grey day of autumn, the first this
year. Up to this time the weather has been good. Over the small, quiet
room a something brooded, something contemplative, genial, spiritual.
Half dream-like, half meditative. Like the dying away of a great
melody. I wondered if Simon Eichelkatz had ever heard of _Stimmungen_. I
longed to put the question to him. "Tell me, Reb Shimme" (that is how I
call him now), "when you are here all by yourself, in this great
silence, do you ever have a feeling as if--as if--how should I say?--as
if you were a part of your surroundings, as if everything that is about
you helped along to give form to certain ideas in your mind?"

I had to smile as I put the question. "Now say _milieu_," I scoffed at
myself; and yet I never before felt the significance of the word so
strongly as in that moment. The old man looked at me as though he wanted
to find the meaning of the incomprehensible question in my face. His
gaze, still clear and keen, rested on me thoughtfully, then passed
quickly through the room, as though this would bring him enlightenment
upon the relevancy of my question. Finally, he said slowly, as though
he were formulating his thoughts only with difficulty:

"I hear the silence about me--is that what you mean, Herr Doktor? I hear
the silence, and so I am not alone. My soul is not deaf, and everything
about me speaks to me. And the table has a language, and the chair on
which I sit, and my pipe, Herr Doktor, my long pipe, it talks a good
deal--and the _Kiddush_ cup here, and the spice-box--I wonder what they
have lived through and have to tell about--and when the sun shines
outside and peeps through the window, it's one thing, and when it rains
like to-day, it's another." He rested his head on his hand. "But the
silence is never dead--it lives as I live."

Friedrich Eichner's form rose before me, as it looked several years ago,
when I heard him in his lecture room speak on Zarathustra's "still
hour."

"That's just what is called _Stimmungen_, Reb Shimme," I said, as in a
confused dream. He nodded his head several times, but said nothing in
response.


      SEPTEMBER 25.

To-day Simon Eichelkatz told me about Rabbi Dr. Merzbach. This is his
favorite topic. He finds the most forceful expressions when he gets to
talking about him. "That was a man!" he exclaims over and over again,
"fine, clever, good--much too good for the _Parchonim_ in the Khille.
My, how it did look when he came here! I remember it as though it were
yesterday. The first _Shabbes_ in _Shul_--it was still the old
Shul--they little dreamed a time would come when there would be a 'New
Synagogue.' And _he_ built it. The old one was almost more below the
ground than above it. And that's the way the people here were, too.
Black! Black of heart, black of morals! And first he built a new
synagogue in the spirits of the people, and then he built a synagogue of
stone and wood, so that they could hold their services in a worthy
place. That's what he said, Herr Doktor, I can hear him preaching yet;
and I learned much from what he said, for I never missed a sermon, and,
besides, he was good and friendly toward me and spoke with me as often
as he saw me. A great scholar--a real Doktor, not just a _Talmid
Chochom_; he knew other things, too. On that first Shabbes, the old Shul
was so full that the people stood out on the street, and they were so
quiet, you could hear every word. And there he preached, like Mosheh
Rabbenu when he came down from Mount Sinai to the Children of Israel.
Not that they were bad, he told them, but that they must become better.
And that they must not let themselves be ruled by their instincts and
desires, but that each one must work away at himself to become nobler,
more intelligent, and that each one could do this, because it was his
Divine heritage, which was given to every man when God created him in
His image. And they should be proud to be men, and for that they should
acquire the dignity of man. It sounded glorious; and even if they didn't
understand him, they were so touched, they would cry, and say it was
rare good fortune for the congregation that such a man had become their
Rav. People came from all the places near here to listen to the sermons
of Doktor Salomon Merzbach; and in the wine-room of Heimann at the Ring
you heard about nothing else. Whoever was fine, or wanted to be
considered fine, stuck to him at first, but still more the plain people
and the poor and unfortunate, because to them he was like a messenger of
God."

The narrator paused a while, as though he were letting the past take
form again in his mind.

"He was gentle with the bad, and friendly and forbearing with the
hardened and the malicious, and he explained to them, that if it was
their will, they could be good, because the will was given to man to be
exerted and to be conquered. I was still young then, and I did not
understand him; but one thing I did understand, that a great and good
man had come to preach in our wilderness."

Whence had Simon Eichelkatz taken these metaphors, these conceptions,
these words? I stood before a great riddle.

"But later," he continued, "I understood what he meant. In ourselves
there is nothing good and nothing bad; it is only what we do, how we act
that determines the moral worth of things." I had to suppress an
exclamation. I jumped up and hastily said good-night. It was positively
uncanny to hear the new values, the basic principles of good and evil,
conveyed by one so absolutely unsuspecting of their import. The Jews,
without doubt, possess philosophic instincts.

When I stepped out into the open air, it was still raining. Impenetrable
clouds hung low in the heavens, as if the whole world would sink down
into the cold, trickling mass of fog. The steps leading down to the
Flour Market were smooth and slippery. I groped my way cautiously.

"Verily, I say unto you: Good and evil that perishes not--there is no
such thing. Out of itself it must always reconquer itself."

I said these words half aloud. I shivered, and worn and weary I crept
home.


      SEPTEMBER 26.

Now I know about how Dr. Salomon Merzbach looked. Simon Eichelkatz owns
an old daguerreotype of him, which he cherishes carefully and honors as
a holy relic. He showed it to me when I was there this morning. On the
shining, mirror-like surface, the features were almost obliterated; but
when I shaded it with my hand, they came out more distinctly. A fine,
noble face, a lovable expression, and endlessly good. In the eyes a
gleam as of hidden scorn, but benevolence, too, and good humor--perhaps
some sadness. He looks, not as one who scoffs at the weaknesses of his
fellow-men, but as one who pities them, sympathizes with them. The
supernal humor of the wise man plays about the strong mouth with its
somewhat sensuous lips. In studying the features, one feels the
greatness and goodness of a pure nature. A narrow line of beard frames
the face and rounds off under the strong chin, giving the countenance a
clerical expression, reminding one more of a pastor than of a rabbi.

It was as though Simon Eichelkatz had guessed the tenor of my thoughts;
for he suddenly said:

"What a fuss there was about the beard! The Orthodox raged, 'A Rav
should wear a smooth face!' 'He looks as though he were shaved!' they
screamed, although they knew perfectly well that a smooth skin can be
gotten without a knife, with _aurum_--excuse me, Herr Kreisphysikus,
aurum-stinkum is what we always called it when we were children. But
the Orthodox wouldn't let on they knew anything about--stinkum! And how
they did bother him on account of his beard and his tolerance! Right
after his first great speech--I told you of it--they got together in the
afternoon at _Sholosh Sudes_, at Reb Dovidel Kessler's, and began to
agitate against him. 'What nonsense,' they screamed, 'there is no good
and no evil! He's _meshugge!_ What sort of _Chochmes_ is that? And he
wears a new-fashioned beard, like a--priest, and a gown and a cap--and
the _Talles_ as narrow as a necktie--that wants to be a Rav.'"

That very day an opposition party was formed, which was against all the
changes and necessary reforms Dr. Merzbach introduced. They worked in
secret, like a mole underground, for no opposition dared show itself
openly, because the richer and more intelligent in the congregation
stuck to him. The young people especially were his faithful followers.
On the Saturdays when he preached, the synagogue was always filled to
overflowing. Besides, in the afternoon he got together in his house all
who wanted to be enlightened on religious and moral questions; and they
flocked to him like disciples to their master--to this man, who wanted
to throw light upon the darkness of their ideas and notions. A nickname
was soon coined for his opponents; they were called the "Saints." An
underhand, double-tongued, cringing, vile lot they were in their
libellous attacks upon Dr. Merzbach.

In telling me these things, even at this late day something like
righteous indignation came over Simon Eichelkatz, usually so tranquil
and unruffled.

"And all that the Khille owed him, too!" he exclaimed. "He improved our
speech; through the power and beauty of his sermons he awakened in us
the endeavor to cultivate a better, more refined language than the
jargon we then spoke. Even now, when we get excited over what we're
saying, it sometimes comes back to us. The younger generation had it
easy; it glided right into the newer, better times. It was harder for us
older men--we had little time for learning; but whoever wanted to
understand him, he could--he could.

"I was already a married man when he came here. I had my business, and
unfortunately I couldn't go to school any more; yet I did learn from
him--to speak, Herr Kreisphysikus, and perhaps to think--though that
came much later. Working and attending to business, you can't get to it.
But I saw and heard everything the new rabbi undertook, and I followed
it with interest, even though at that time I couldn't have a say in
congregational affairs. And do you know what he did then? He started a
school, a Jewish school, with nothing but trained teachers, the boys'
school separate from the girls'. And you learned everything there, just
as in the Christian schools. When he delivered the address at the
opening of the school, he said that we were enjoying the blessings of
the year 1848, which had brought us Jews the liberty, as citizens, to
make use of all the privileges of culture and progress. And around him
were the boys and girls dressed in their holiday clothes, and the
parents full of gratitude. But the 'Saints' turned against him in these
spiritual efforts, too, and the word 'progress' was like a red rag to a
bull with them."

Simon Eichelkatz had a specially good day to-day. He related everything
so vividly. It was as though the struggles of that time were still
stirring in him. Naturally, the young business man, already the head of
a household, placed himself entirely on the side of the liberals, who
adhered to the rabbi, while the "others" spoke of the "new-fashioned"
Rav with scorn and fanatical virulence, and made every attempt to
overturn the institutions he had introduced.

"The changes he made in the service, above all a choir led by a cantor
with musical training, also excited their anger. They came forward quite
openly and arranged their own service under the leadership of Dovidel
Kessler. But Rabbi Merzbach had consideration and pity for his enemies,
and paid no attention to the way they threw mud at him. He was nothing
less than a good, great man, and he would not let himself be hindered in
his work. And for ten years of wicked struggles and bitter ill-will, he
built his new synagogue in the hearts of his people, and at last the
ground was prepared for it. Things became better, and, besides, he gave
the people a common goal, the building of a new house of worship. Now
they had an outlet for their energy--but an outlet, too, for their
ambition and their vanity.

"That's the way it must be, Herr Kreisphysikus. The highest often comes
forth from the lowest. And finally the synagogue stood there finished.
What joy there was! And what a reward! But now I ask you, Herr Doktor,
can't life be without the riff-raff? Is dirt a constituent of
cleanliness?"

Again those remarkable observations!

"Are poisoned wells necessary, and evil-smelling fires, and foul dreams,
and maggots in the bread of life?"

Comparisons from Zarathustra are always forcing themselves into my mind.
Whence this wisdom, Simon Eichelkatz? And do you suspect there is an
answer to these questions?

"Verily, we have no abiding-places prepared for the unclean. Unto their
bodies our happiness would be an icy cave, and unto their spirits as
well. Like strong winds we would live above them, neighbors to the
eagles, neighbors to the snow, neighbors to the sun; thus do the strong
winds live."

My eye fell again on the daguerreotype--were you a strong wind, Rabbi
Dr. Merzbach? You blew away many a crumbling ruin of the past. Yet you
knew naught of the new values. You did not know that you must call to
your enemies, to them that spit at you: "Take heed that ye spit not in
the face of the wind." You lived in the times of the daguerreotype.

I asked Simon Eichelkatz for permission to make a number of copies of
the picture with my excellent photographic apparatus which I use for the
Röntgen rays.


      SEPTEMBER 28.

The _Rebbetzin_! The word brings a wealth of pictures before my mind. I
see my good mother living quietly, modestly, in the little town in which
my father of blessed memory was rabbi. When he died--it was just when I
was taking the state examination--I wanted to persuade her to move with
me to Berlin. She would not. "Here I am at home, here is the grave of
my husband of blessed memory, here are the graves of my dear parents and
of my brothers and sisters; here lie your two sisters, who died
young--here is my world. Everybody knows me, and I know everybody. What
should I do in Berlin among nothing but strangers? I would worry and
never feel at ease, and I would only hinder you in your profession.
Leave me where I am. Old trees should not be transplanted. And here I
can live decently on what I have. In the big city, where living is high,
it wouldn't hold out. If only you will write often to me, and visit me
every year, I shall have a happy, blessed old age."

This is the arrangement I have kept up, and hope to keep up many more
years. My dear little mother is well and robust; and in the modest
corner she has fitted up for herself, dwell genuine peace and true
humility. Humility! That is not exactly the characteristic mark of a
Rebbetzin. The real Rebbetzin, the one who is exactly what a Rebbetzin
should be, is proud and conscious of her dignity. The more modest and
simple the Rav, the haughtier and more exigent the Rebbetzin.

"And that's altogether natural," said Simon Eichelkatz to me to-day.
"The Jews like to lead the people they employ a dance, and they are
hard-hearted and domineering toward the weak and the dependent."

This is an unexplained trait in the soul of the Jewish race. Possibly,
it is due to the fact that they are often contentious and want the last
word in an argument. And then comes a man, fine, tranquil, peace-loving,
thoughtful, as were most of the rabbis, especially in those days, fifty
years ago, and immediately the spirit of contradiction stirs in the
people; and the more they love and respect their rabbi, the more they
worry and pester him. Everything in which they themselves are
lacking--Talmudic learning, knowledge and culture, goodness, modesty,
and self-effacement, the utmost piety and self-sacrifice--all this they
demand of him.

"In a way he was to take upon himself all the _Tzores_ and wickedness
and stupidity of the _Baale-Batim_," continued Simon Eichelkatz, "and
the more aggressions they allowed themselves, the more virtue they
expected of him. A wonder! _Nu_, Dr. Merzbach held up his end, and
really atoned for the sins of the 'black' Khille."

At that time conditions were probably similar to these in all places in
which rabbis of modern culture and academic training began to carry
light and truth to the minds of the Jews, who through the persecutions
and oppressions under which they had so long languished had become
distrustful, secretive, cowardly, and embittered. It was no slight task.
And many a rabbi, weak and faint-hearted, wrecked himself in the
attempt. In that case, it was a piece of good fortune if the Rebbetzin
saw to it that her husband did not suffer all that was put upon him, if
she stood shoulder to shoulder with him, protecting, guarding him,
warding off what foolishness, ill-nature, and tyrannical whims hatched
against him. Usually the relation was this: the Rav they loved but
vexed, the Rebbetzin they hated but feared. A certain equilibrium was
thus maintained.

"And our Rebbetzin, Frau Dr. Merzbach, _she_ was their match!" cried
Simon Eichelkatz. "She was proud, and she looked down on the members of
the congregation almost disdainfully. They couldn't hold a candle to her
so far as family and position went; for she was the daughter of one of
the best and most prominent families; and the piety and learning of her
father and grandfather were known in all Israel. How could anyone in the
Khille compare with her in breeding and birth?"

Simon Eichelkatz went on to tell me how these tradesmen and business men
seemed like vassals to her. That was how she had been used to see the
members of the congregation approach her father in his house; and she
knew that was how they had approached her grandfather, with the deepest
respect and devotion. And so the free way in which the people dared meet
her husband, this forwardness and familiarity, wounded her beyond
measure. And fearless and self-confident as she was, she made no secret
of her feelings. This gave rise to eternal jarring; and again and again
the Rav tried to reconcile her to the situation. But though she revered
her husband as a saint and loved him with the self-surrender and
faithfulness of a Jewish wife, she would not abandon her ground. Perhaps
just because she loved him. She unconsciously felt that one could not
get around the "rabble" merely with benevolence and mildness; firmness
and haughtiness were also necessary in dealing with them. It is not
unlikely that Dr. Merzbach could not have fought the fight to the finish
if it had not been for his courageous wife. Certain it is that she kept
many a slight from him, many an ill-natured offense. They all took care
to let her alone; and when Frau Dr. Merzbach walked along the Ring, many
a one slunk off around the corner, because his conscience pricked him on
account of some gossip, some intrigue, or some petty persecution--these
were the weapons with which the "Saints" agitated against the noble man.
With his beautiful nature, he was no match for them, but they trembled
before the Rebbetzin.

"And believe me, Herr Kreisphysikus," Simon Eichelkatz commented, "she
was right; nothing else was left for her to do. That was the only way to
get the better of that lying pack of hypocrites. If they hadn't been
afraid of her, they would have fought even harder against the man who
wanted to bring them the blessings of a regulated, proper life. They
prepared enough bitterness for him, and he would probably have gotten
tired and discouraged, gone to pieces sometimes, if his life in his own
home had not weighed in the balance against the lowness of the Khille.

"And that's where the Rebbetzin was remarkable. She was just as clever
as she was proud; and even her hottest opponents--and not all of them
were of the Orthodox; some of the 'gentry' were envious of her and
fought her--well, even her hottest opponents admitted that she was
intelligent, and knew how to tackle things, that she tried to acquire
modern culture, and that she gathered the better elements in the
congregation about her. And her house was gay and refined, people felt
at home there. Nowhere did one pass one's time so well as at Dr.
Merzbach's."

The rabbi's house on his Friday evenings became a centre for the
cultivated people, the people who held high places in the intellectual
world of the congregation and the city. Christians, too, entered the
circle.

"You can imagine, Herr Doktor, what bad blood that made. But the
Rebbetzin didn't concern herself about it, and nobody could get a hold
on her, because no fault could be found with her piety. Many said she
was more orthodox than the Rav. There was some truth in this. He, being
a great Talmudist, might find some freer interpretation of the laws, he
might open up new ways, while she stuck fast to what had been sacred to
her in her grandfather's and her father's home. I remember how he once
came to my office on a very hot day, and took his hat off, and wiped his
forehead, and then sat there without anything on his head, when suddenly
his wife appeared outside in the store. He snatched up his hat, smiling
in an embarrassed way, and said: 'God forbid my wife should see me
sitting here without my cap.'"

Such trivialities and externalities invested her with glamour. Besides,
there was her great philanthropy and her public work. Not a charitable
institution belonging to the city or the congregation but that she was
at the head of it. And outwardly cold and reserved, always carrying
herself with great dignity, she still would willingly sacrifice herself
in a good cause.

"During the cholera epidemic," continued Simon Eichelkatz, "I saw her at
sick-beds, and I know what a heart she had, for all her fine intellect.
But the others came no nearer to her, because they judged her according
to her understanding alone, and that often made her appear hard and
cold. But she didn't bother about things of that sort. She did not even
have the wish to come nearer to those people; they seemed rude and
uncultivated to her, and she was not in sympathy with them. Dr. Merzbach
sometimes tried to make her change her opinion, but that was the point
on which she would not yield, perhaps she couldn't. This was probably
the one dark cloud on their blessed union, and it was a union that
lasted through forty-three years of perfect agreement, of the purest
and highest joy, of the greatest contentment.

"The Rebbetzin felt at home only in her own house; to the Khille she
always remained a stranger. And do you know, Herr Kreisphysikus, when I
come to think about it, I believe the Rebbetzin is always a stranger in
the congregation? She can't fit herself in."

I had to smile. I thought of my mother, who was so different. But, to be
sure, times have changed, and manners with them. And then the narrow
little community in which my father worked, among friendly, kindly men
and women! The "Rebbetzin" is probably a phenomenon belonging to a past
epoch.


      _September 30._

Autumn is now completely upon us. Raw, gloomy, chilly, with everlasting
rains. The city is not beautiful in this garb, and I would certainly
succumb to my tendency to melancholy, if I did not have my profession
and--Simon Eichelkatz.

He speaks about every possible thing. Only when the talk takes a
personal turn, touching upon incidents in his life, he becomes
monosyllabic and reserved. Consequently, I really know very little about
him. With the exception of the hints once thrown out by Feiwel
Silbermann about his "baptized" son Friedrich Eichner, I have learned
nothing about him. It goes against me to question a servant, but I feel
sure something lurks behind the sharp, ironic manner in which Feiwel on
every occasion says "the gracious Madame Eichelkatz." Clearly, Madame
Eichelkatz did not suit his taste. And I learn nothing from the people,
either. I have not yet left my card with "the first Jewish families" of
the congregation, and so I have not yet established any connections. But
I really want to very soon. At present I feel more at home among the
dead members of this congregation, all of whom, I hope, Simon
Eichelkatz will by and by bring to life for me.

This world that has sunk into the past stirs my imagination, and I take
deep interest in the figures that glided through the narrow streets
fifty years ago. What constituted incidents in this world, what occupied
these men, how they lived, loved, and hated--all this has a certain
historic charm for me, heightened on account of my racial bias.

Yesterday Simon Eichelkatz promised to tell me all sorts of things
during the fall and winter. I wonder whether I shouldn't wait a little
while before I present my visiting cards. When once you begin, there are
invitations and social obligations from which you cannot withdraw--and
then there would be an end to the long talks with Simon. And I must
carefully consider whether I am likely to laugh so heartily in the
"æsthetic _salons_" of the fine Jewish houses as I did yesterday, when
Simon told me the story of Teacher Sandberg. Scarcely! The young ladies
would undoubtedly find the affair "shocking." But I want to record it
here, and I will call it "The Adventure of Teacher Sandberg."

It was on the hottest and longest of Jewish fast days, _Shivoh oser
be-Tamuz_. The sun glared down pitilessly. Not a breath of air to
freshen, to quicken the heavy atmosphere. The Khille began the "three
weeks" with a full fast day, on which the faithful partook neither of
meat nor drink. The male members of the congregation strictly observed
the customs, although to be pious was especially hard on this day in
midsummer, when daylight continues endlessly. The length of the fast has
become a byword, and a very tall man is said "to be as long as Shivoh
oser be-Tamuz." But neither heat nor length prevented the faithful from
keeping the fast recalling the destruction of the sanctuary on Zion. And
so the congregation made itself penitential; it fasted, prayed,
perspired, groaned, and denied itself every refreshment. The people
crawled into the shadow of the houses to escape the heat and the
tormenting thirst it caused. In vain! The awful sultriness penetrated
everywhere, and brooded over the streets and dwellings, over field and
meadow. The fasting men endured it with a certain apathy--after all,
they were used to it; it repeated itself every year, and no one could
remember that Shivoh oser be-Tamuz had ever fallen on a cool day. It
couldn't be otherwise--in midsummer, the season of ripening fruits, of
the harvest. You just had to accept the situation, and, in addition to
the tortures of hunger and thirst, suffer those of heat as well. But on
Shivoh oser be-Tamuz in 1853 a great fright came to swell the list of
agonies in the Khille at Reissnitz.

Toward noon the report spread that the teacher Sandberg was missing. He
had been seen in Shul at the morning service, and from there he had
gone home, but after that he could not be traced further. Two boys who
had been playing "cat" that morning in the street, declared they had
seen him in front of his house, and then had noticed him go around the
corner along the street leading to the so-called "Behnisch" meadows.
That was the last that could be found out about Teacher Sandberg.

According to Simon Eichelkatz's description, he was a most singular
individual. Extremely tall, and thin as a broom-stick, with a peculiar
gait, rather pushing and scraping himself along the ground than walking.
Summer and winter he wore a black silk cloth about his neck, above which
showed only a very narrow line of white. His head was usually inclined
to the left side in talking, and his whole face was cast into shadow by
his large, beaked nose, ugly beyond belief. This nose of his was the
butt of his pupils, the alphabet class of the congregational school.
Sometimes it was a cause of terror to them as well, especially to the
new pupils, who always needed some time to grow accustomed to it. But
that happened as soon as Teacher Sandberg looked at them with his
good-humored eyes, often gleaming with gayety, which allayed the fright
produced by the uglier organ. In fact, it was the eloquence of his eyes
that made the teacher a general favorite. Everyone liked the odd fellow;
and from many a shop and window, sympathetic glances followed his figure
as, with hands in his trouser pockets, he slouched along to school. One
can therefore imagine the amazement caused by the news of his
disappearance. Inquiry was made for him in the houses of neighboring
families, the synagogue yard was searched,--perhaps he had taken refuge
there from the heat,--every nook and cranny of his house, including the
shop and cellar, were carefully investigated, the absurdest surmises as
to his whereabouts were set afloat. Was he in some saloon? Impossible,
on this fast day! His wife cried and sobbed, his children bawled--her
husband, their father--where was he? Gone! As if swallowed by an
earthquake! Not a single clue as to where he had disappeared. Some of
the people, his weeping wife at their head, went to the "Behnisch"
meadows. But he was not there; nor had he been seen by the harvesters
taking their midday rest on the fresh stacks of hay. And why should he
be there, in the maddening heat of high noon, hungry and thirsty from
his fast? The mystery remained unsolved and began to assume a more and
more terrifying aspect. What had driven him from his room? Whither had
he wandered? Soon the word "accident" was anxiously whispered from mouth
to mouth. But what could the nature of the accident be? In awe-stricken
tones they hinted at murder! Suicide! God forbid that such suppositions
should reach the ears of the wife and children! Crowds gathered in the
White Suburb. They looked up and down the Gass, they glanced at the
windows of Teacher Sandberg's house; they questioned one another, they
propounded all sorts of theories, they debated and took counsel--Teacher
Sandberg remained in the land of the unknown.

All forgot hunger and thirst, no one remembered that he was mortifying
his flesh. What signifies so slight a sacrifice as compared with the
awful fate that had befallen Teacher Sandberg? Fear and pity crept over
the spirits of the people. What had happened? All the inhabitants of the
city joined in the hunt with the relatives and co-religionists of the
lost man. The whole little world was up and doing, excited, amazed,
searching--and still Teacher Sandberg remained in the land of the
unknown.

At two in the afternoon the rumor had spread from the White Suburb to
the Ring, and penetrated into the quiet study of the rabbi. He
immediately hurried to Teacher Sandberg's home, accompanied by the
president, Herr Manasse, and the chairman of the board, Herr
Karfunkelstein. He was also joined by all the other men in the
congregation, by many women and children; and all streamed to the place
excited and terrified, to get news of Teacher Sandberg's fate. The crowd
in front of the unfortunate man's house was now so great that even the
highly respected police also repaired thither; now all the citizens had
assembled, and they talked with bated breath of the "unheard-of case."
The rabbi and the president went inside the house to get the details
again from the wife. The crowd waited outside expectantly. The rays of
the midday sun beat down mercilessly. But no one thought of heat,
hunger, or thirst. Everyone was occupied with Teacher Sandberg alone.

"Sandberg had to choose exactly Shivoh oser be-Tamuz to get lost on,"
said little Freund, the dealer in smoked meats. "He himself is as long
as Shivoh oser be-Tamuz, and he had to have a misfortune just on the
fast day."

"Just as if you were to put a fur coat on in this heat," said another
man.

"No jokes," warned a third; "it's a sad business."

At that moment a man pushed his way through the crowd, breathless,
gasping, in the greatest excitement. He was carrying a bag in which
something swayed back and forth. The people looked at him with horror on
their faces, and made way for him, carefully avoiding contact with the
sack.

"Do you think it can be Sandberg's head that he's dragging in the bag?"
The little dealer in smoked meat put the question anxiously.

"You can't tell!" answered his neighbor.

The man with the sack stepped into the passage way of the house, and the
universal gaze was fastened with terrified curiosity upon the entrance.
Minutes of the greatest expectation! That shuddering sense of
oppression which precedes some dreadful occurrence had taken hold of
all present. Not a single remark was passed, no sound was heard; the
next moment was awaited in sheer breathless tension. A heavy weight
rested on their spirits, the atmosphere was leaden, as before a storm;
and yet the blue of the heavens was undimmed, not a single cloud flecked
the horizon, and the sun's rays flamed with the heat of midsummer. So it
was from a clear sky that a thunderbolt was to strike the expectant
throng, and now--the rabbi came out to the top of the steps leading from
the passage-way down to the street, on each side of him one of the
directors, and behind him, in the open doorway, the man with the bag,
now hanging over his shoulder empty. From within came sounds of
mourning, crying, and sobbing. Expectation had reached its height, and
the voice of Dr. Merzbach rang out through absolute quiet, as he said
with deep seriousness:

"Beloved congregation! It has pleased the Almighty Father to let a sad
and awful event occur in our midst on this fast day. Our highly
respected teacher, Sandberg, whom we all know and love, the guide and
instructor of our children, has met with a misfortune, a fact no longer
permitting of doubt, since this man, a miller's apprentice from the
Garetzki mill, found a pair of boots near the dam, and a red woolen
handkerchief, which Frau Sandberg recognizes as unmistakably belonging
to her husband. The miller met some hay-makers and learned from them
that search was being made in the city for a lost man, and he came here
immediately with the articles he had found. There can no longer be doubt
as to the terrible truth, and we must bear with resignation the severe
stroke the Lord has sent down upon the unfortunate family, so rudely
robbed of its support and protection, and upon the community at large.
On a day of atonement and repentance God has inflicted so hard a trial
upon us."

At these words the people began to lament and weep. "_Waigeschrieen!_
God cares nothing for our repentance!" some exclaimed, while others hit
their breasts and cried: "_Oshamnu, bogadnu_...."

With great difficulty the rabbi succeeded in allaying the excitement.
"Be sensible; keep quiet; we must see if it isn't possible still to help
the unfortunate man, or at least we must find his corpse."

The words had an uncanny ring. A dark shadow seemed to creep over the
bright day, the brilliant sunshine.

"It will be necessary for us to divide into bands to examine the banks
of the stream from the mill-dam as far as the large sluice gate at the
miner's dam. The water is shallow because of the drought of the past
days, so there is still hope that some trace of him may be discovered.
It would be well to take along a few persons who know how to swim, and
provide others with poles. Our president will also see to it that the
police help us in our search, and he will ask Garetzki, the proprietor
of the mill, to let the water at the dam run off."

These directions, thoughtfully and quietly given, did not fail of their
effect. Search parties were formed on the instant by Herr Moritz
Liepmann, and sent in various directions. As they went toward the river,
the wit of the Khille, Reb Shmul Eisner, even at that critical moment
could not repress the remark: "The idea of making _Tashlich_ on Shivoh
oser be-Tamuz."

Many Christians in the city joined the expedition, and the people
sallied forth in the parching heat to hunt for Teacher Sandberg. The
rabbi and the two trustees accompanied the crowd as far as the meadows
bordering on the stream, and here a small posse branched off to go along
the mill-race, to carry on the search along the tributary stream as
well. Then Dr. Merzbach and his companions went to the meeting-room of
the congregation in order to receive word there of the results of the
investigation. Up and down the river went the people looking for Teacher
Sandberg in the shallow spots. In vain! With the exception of a few
irregular foot-prints in the moist soil near the mill-dam, nothing of
note was discovered. Even the foot-prints were not of much significance,
since they disappeared a short distance beyond the slope. Teacher
Sandberg had completely disappeared. But one supposition was possible,
that he had met with an accident. Probably in the glowing heat he had
used the handkerchief to wipe away the perspiration, and had taken off
his boots to cool his feet in the water, and in doing so had stepped
into a deep spot, or overcome in the water by the heat, he had fainted,
and drowned. A hundred guesses were made. But what remained the least
explicable part of the mystery was why the teacher had gone out at all
in the heat of high noon. In the meantime the day wore on. Hour after
hour passed by. The searchers returned home dead-tired, hungry, and
thirsty. In their zeal they had forgotten they were fasting; but at last
the needs of the body asserted themselves. One by one they returned to
the city. Each brought back the report of their vain endeavors; and when
the last came back shortly before sunset, everybody was sure that
Teacher Sandberg was no longer among the living. The rabbi once more
went to Frau Sandberg to speak words of comfort to her and her children,
and then the fateful day neared its end. There was scarcely a _Minyan_
present at the evening services in the Shul. Pretty nearly every one
remained at home with his family, doubly alive to the blessing of life
in the face of this enigmatic death, and relishing the breaking of the
fast with heightened appetite. For not a soul had lived through a fast
day such as this before. When late in the evening the full moon hung
above the houses, casting its white light on the open square and the
streets, and the evening coolness had freshened the sultry air of the
day, the people's spirits were re-animated, and they came out of their
narrow dwellings into the open. All thronged to the Ring, the market
place.

They felt the need of talking over the day's event. Before their doors
sat the fathers of families, on green-painted benches, smoking their
pipes, and discussing all the circumstances of the case. The women
collected in groups, sympathizing with Frau Sandberg and breaking their
heads over the problem as to what she would do, nebbich, now she was
robbed of her supporter. The young people promenaded up and down,
chatted in an undertone, and tried to be serious, in accord with the
gravity of the situation, though they did not always succeed in
banishing their youthful spirits. On the corner of Tarnowitzer Street
stood Reb Shmul Eisner, the wit of the congregation. Half aloud he said
to his neighbor: "Everybody is certainly happy not to be so famous as
Teacher Sandberg is to-day."

The rabbi also came to the Ring, and with him the Rebbetzin. He wanted
to go once again to the wife of the unfortunate man, and the Rebbetzin
would not absent herself from a place where help and comfort were
needed. Near the great fountain, called the _Kashte_, next to the city
hall, the rabbi was detained by some members of his congregation.
Everyone was eager to hear something about the day's happenings directly
from his mouth. At the same time the mayor and two aldermen came down
the steps of the city hall. When they noticed Dr. Merzbach, they went up
to him to tell him that it had just been decided to let the water off at
the dam early the next morning, through the large sluice, in order, if
possible, to recover the corpse of Teacher Sandberg; for it was not
likely that with the water so shallow, the body had been carried down
stream; it had probably been caught somewhere in the canal. A shudder
ran through the crowd. Those standing near the mayor listened to what he
said with bated breath and passed on his words to their neighbors. Like
wildfire it spread through the crowd: "To-morrow they'll recover the
body of Teacher Sandberg." From the Kashte rose the primitive figure of
a Neptune, trident in hand; and the silver moonlight gleamed on the
large fountain and the listening throngs about it.

"To-morrow they'll recover the body of Teacher Sandberg."

All of a sudden a shrill cry rang out and was echoed by the mass of
human beings, stirred to the highest pitch of excitement. Horror-struck
they scattered in confusion and took to their heels, only now and then
looking back fearsomely at a gruesome vision which presented itself to
their sight. In one second the Ring was vacated, every one had hidden in
the houses. There--slowly and meditatively, like a ghost, Teacher
Sandberg stalked across the square, in the garb in which the good Lord
had created him. He was absolutely naked, not a shred of clothing upon
him; his hands at his legs, as though in his usual fashion he were
hiding them in trouser pockets, his feet scraping along the ground.

The Ring looked as though it had been swept. Only the rabbi, the two
trustees, the mayor, the aldermen, and the Rebbetzin remained at the
Kashte. The Rebbetzin, when the singular figure approached, faced about
in confusion and eagerly contemplated the Neptune, who, although a river
god, wore much more clothing than Teacher Sandberg. The moonlight
glistened on the trident and bathed the entire tragi-comic scene in its
pale light. The teacher shuffled close up to the gentlemen, who regarded
him with glances of astonishment mixed with disapproval. Was this object
Sandberg or his ghost? How could he be wandering about through the city
across the Ring past all these people in so scanty a costume? The thing
was unheard of; the like of it had never been seen. Presumably the man
was dead, and here he was strolling about--and in what a state!

Some of the bolder spirits crept out of their houses again, and here and
there a curious face bobbed up behind the window panes. The situation
was tense. The Rebbetzin still had her back turned to the group; and the
Neptune looked very shy, as if to say: "We barbarians are better people
after all; none of us would dare saunter about the Ring in bright
moonlight without a shred of clothing on."

Finally the rabbi recovered enough self-possession to address the man
standing before him in the garb in which the Lord had fashioned him.

"Is that you, Sandberg?" he asked in a tone of mingled severity and
mildness.

"Yes, Herr Rabbiner, it's I," came the plaintive reply.

"Your wife, your children, the congregation, the city, all are mourning
you as dead."

"God forbid!" the teacher exclaimed. "Why should I be dead? I am alive,
Herr Rabbiner, praised be God, even if something very disagreeable did
happen to me."

"He will catch cold, if he doesn't look out." Shmul Eisner, who had come
up in the meantime, tossed the joke to another bystander. But no one
thought of offering the naked man a bit of clothing. The amazement was
still too great. So the audience was continued, and Teacher Sandberg, in
the primitive garb in which he was, related his adventure before a
college of judges consisting of the rabbinate and the municipal
authorities.

In the morning he had gone to take a bath, and had undressed behind some
bushes at the edge of the stream near the Petershof dam, where not a
soul passes at that hour of the day. He dived into the refreshing
depths. The water was delicious. Forgotten the torturing heat, forgotten
the hunger and thirst of the fast day! He struck off down stream and let
himself be carried along by the soft waves, gently warmed and brightened
by the sun. After half an hour, possibly longer, he swam back to the
spot where he had undressed--but horror of horrors! his clothes had
disappeared. Not a thing had been left behind, not even a shirt to cover
his body. Utterly distraught, he ran up and down the bank, hunting for
his clothes, calling, crying out, imploring, beseeching help from
somewhere. Nothing stirred. Had someone played a trick on him? Had
tramps passed by and taken the clothes along as profitable booty? He was
absolutely ignorant of how the thing had happened. But one thing was
clear; he must hide himself until night, and then find some way of
creeping home. He reckoned on the probability that the people, tired
out by the fast, would go to bed earlier than usual. So, resigned and
thoroughly worn out by the excitement of the fearful adventure, he slid
into a field of corn in full ear, ripe for harvesting, and crawled way
into its depths to hide himself completely. He dropped down exhausted;
the corn-stalks waved high over his head, the crickets chirped, the
ragged robins and wild poppies nodded about him. He again began to
meditate upon his peculiar position. What happened after that he could
not remember. He must have fallen into a deep sleep, and so failed to
hear the call of the search parties. When he awoke, the moon was high in
the heavens. He did not know what time it was; but he supposed it must
be late at night, for he was chilled to the marrow, and dew lay upon the
field from which he emerged. Then he wended his way homeward, through
the meadows wrapt in solitude and nocturnal quiet. With beating heart he
slipped past the houses along the deserted streets. It was like a city
of the dead. He thought it must be long past midnight, that everybody
was buried in sleep. It could not occur to him that the people, because
of his disappearance, had congregated at the Ring. Emboldened by the
quiet, he stepped along at a livelier pace, and even calculated that by
crossing the Ring and going down Rybniker Street he could reach his home
sooner. He was not in the least afraid of meeting anyone at that time
except the nightwatch, to whom he could easily explain his plight. So he
came through a narrow side street, which ran from the Flour Market and
opened right on the Ring and landed--where his appearance was welcomed
as a ghost by the excited crowd. And now he was standing before the
gentlemen, and he could not have done otherwise, so help him God--Amen!

His savior in need was the Rebbetzin. With averted face she listened to
the half-comic, half-pitiful narrative, and suddenly she let her large
black mantilla fall to the ground behind her. Shmul Eisner, who noticed
the act, and immediately perceived its purpose, sprang forward, picked
up the shawl, and hung it about the teacher's trembling limbs. Then,
draped in the Rebbetzin's black mantilla, the teacher was led to the
shelter of his home, to wife and child.

"Won't Frau Teacher Sandberg be jealous, though," exclaimed Reb Shmul,
the joker, "when she sees him coming home with nothing on but the
mantilla of the Rebbetzin."

"The chief thing is, he is here," replied his companion. And that is
what the whole congregation thought, when it sought its well-deserved
rest.


      OCTOBER 6.

My position keeps me very busy. In a mining district accidents occur
almost daily. Besides, the whisky fiend has to be reckoned with,
leading, as it does, to all sorts of excesses, brawls, and murderous
assaults. Scarcely a day passes but that I have to make trips into the
country, which offers small cheer now in the grey autumn weather and in
this dispiriting region. My disposition, naturally inclined to be
sombre, becomes still more melancholy; and when I ride through the
rain-soaked country, past forges, furnaces, and culm heaps, covered with
a thick pall of smoke, with the immediate prospect of seeing dead or
injured victims, and having to set down a record of human misery and
woe, my mood becomes ever blacker and blacker. I never find time to
attend to patients among the upper classes. I believe I am given up as a
hopeless case--a Jewish Kreisphysikus, sans wife, who doesn't seek
introductions, must be either an abnormality or a capricious, stuck-up
fool, at any rate a person not to be reckoned with seriously. My
colleagues probably have the same opinion of me. After the inevitable
initial formalities, I did not come in contact with them; if chance
brings us together, we give each other a cool if courteous greeting.

This exclusiveness has its advantages. The time left free from my duties
belongs to me entirely, and I do not spend it thriftlessly in society to
which I am indifferent. It has not been my experience that intercourse
with many people is of any profit. One gets so little, and gives so
much, much too much of what is best and noblest in one's nature,
especially if one is a man of feeling, intellect, and ardent
temperament. The strongest chord is almost never touched. In the most
favorable circumstances, the exchange of courtesies is purely formal,
and the acts of friendship are entirely perfunctory. These merely
external amenities make men vulgar and untrue, I would not like to use
an even stronger expression and say dishonest. Heine's words occur to
me:

    Weisse, höfliche Manschetten,
    Ach wenn sie nur Herzen hätten,
    Herzen in der Brust und Liebe,--wahre Liebe in den Herzen,
    Denn mich tötet ihr Gesinge von erlogenen Liebesschmerzen.

Perhaps such principles produce loneliness; but they strengthen one; at
all events they do not embitter the mind and spirit, as some maintain. I
have never been sadder than in the midst of many people, among whom I
did not find--one human being! And nothing has a happier influence on me
than to find a human being where I least expect one--Simon Eichelkatz,
for example.

Yesterday, after an interval of several days, I went to see him late in
the evening. I was worn out and unnerved by my official visit to a
neighboring place, the centre of the Silesian coal-mining district. Two
workmen had gotten into a fight in a tavern, and the host, in trying to
separate them and smooth over their differences, himself became enraged
and threw out the more aggressive of the two. The reeling, sodden wretch
lost his balance, and, tumbling down the steps, knocked his head on a
stone. His skull was crushed, and he died in a few minutes from
contusion of the brain. When I reached the spot, a mob of wild, excited
forms had gathered about the scene of the drama. Policemen stood on
guard; and a cloth covered the corpse, which was not to be disturbed
until after an inspection by the officials of the locality. I could do
nothing more than affirm that the victim was dead, the examination
showed that death had occurred as a result of a fall caused by violent
mishandling. The author of the deed was a Jew. He was immediately
imprisoned, and with great difficulty was withdrawn from the summary
lynch-justice of the enraged crowd. Defrauded of the prisoner, they
turned against his family and his property. The windows of his house
were smashed in; the shop was utterly destroyed, and the whisky--that
ruinous, unholy "dispeller of cares "--flowed from the casks into the
street. His wife and children tried to save their goods and possessions
from the fury of the vandals, but received kicks and blows for their
efforts. It was a horrid scene. The policemen did not succeed in
restoring order and quiet for some time. Is it possible they had not
received sufficient power from the authorities? Was there some other
reason? At any rate I had to interpose and try to allay the turmoil. At
last the crowd dispersed; but ever and again the echo reached my ears of
assassin--murderer--Jew--assassin--dirty thief--cheat--Jew--Jew--liar.

All this had utterly depressed and unnerved me. I really wanted to stay
at home; but I reconsidered and decided it was better to substitute a
pure, peaceful picture for these torturing impressions, and I went to my
old friend. I found him gay and friendly as ever, despite the lateness
of the hour. But my mood did not escape his searching gaze; and on his
questioning me, I told him what had happened. As was his wont, he rubbed
his forehead with his forefinger and thumb, and looked thoughtfully into
space. Finally he said:

"That's the way it is to-day, and that's the way it's always been. If a
man of some other religion commits a wrong, it's a bad man that did it;
but if it happens among our people, then it's the 'Jew'! That's a bitter
pill we have to swallow, Herr Doktor, a very bitter pill. But it _is_
so, and it doesn't change, even though the world is said to be so
cultured and progressive, and humane--the Jew remains a Jew! In the eyes
of the _Goy_ he's something peculiar, something disgraceful! And for
that reason the Jews must stick to the Jew; because the others don't,
and never did, and never will. We have nothing to expect or hope from
them--and we needn't be afraid of them, neither, we Jews, if we stick
together. Then, if something should happen as to-day, Herr
Kreisphysikus, it's a misfortune, but not a calamity. Because the man
who did it, is a wicked brute who by accident is a Jew, and might just
as well have been a Goy. What has religion to do with these matters,
anyhow? Does a Goy do something bad because he's a Christian, or a Jew
because he's an Israelite? Religion teaches both of them to be good,
upright, and pious; and if they aren't, how can religion help it?
Religion is not to be blamed; only good can result from religion.
Whether Jew or Christian, it remains the same. Each can learn from his
own religion; for there is something moral in every religion; and for
that reason everybody should honor his own religion and stick to it. The
deeds of men must be judged according to the nature of each man, not
according to his religion. Because, if the Jew at Raudnitz chucked out
the _Shikker_ so roughly that he died, the Jew did it because he has an
angry, wild, ungovernable temper. Do you suppose he was thinking of his
religion? If he only had! The Shikker would be alive if he had. Because
the Jewish belief forbids the Jew to be sinful or violent, and to kill;
just as their belief forbids the Goyim. And the world won't be better
until all understand that a man must have respect for his neighbor,
because he is a man. When each and everyone feels that he is master of
his honor and his dignity, he will also find his rights--not as a Jew
and not as a Christian, but as a man!"

I stared at the old man fixedly. Whence these ideas on the rights and
dignity of man? Whence these opinions animated by the spirit of
humanitarianism? Here, in the Jewish community? If he had suddenly begun
to unriddle the problem of "the thing in itself," I should scarcely have
been astonished. Notions had arisen in the mind of this simple man, on
the philosophy of human rights and the philosophy of religion, worthy of
a great scholar, although he had never heard a word of the notable
thinkers who had constructed these ideas into an enduring cosmic
edifice.


      OCTOBER 11.

The affair in Raudnitz had a sad sequel, and gave me a great deal to do.
The prisoner hanged himself in jail. The coroner's inquest and the
attendant formalities occupied most of my time. I was compelled to drive
repeatedly to Raudnitz, and I became acquainted with the unfortunate
family of the accused who had taken justice into his own hands. The
wife, well-mannered, had a rather hard expression; the two daughters
were educated and well-bred; the aged mother of the man was pathetic in
her old Jewish humility and pious resignation. A fearful fate had
overtaken the unsuspecting folk who a few days before had been living
in quiet happiness. I asked the woman what could possibly have driven
her husband to his desperate deed. In the most unfavorable circumstances
he would have been punished for homicide through carelessness, and the
sentence would certainly have been light, since he could have proved
that the fatal fall of the victim was primarily due to his drunkenness.

"But the shame, Herr Doktor, the shame. For months he would have been in
jail undergoing examination and cross-questioning; then he'd surely have
remained in prison a couple of years--for they would never have
acquitted him entirely. He didn't want to live through all that--the
shame, Herr Kreisphysikus, shame before his children, and the sorrow for
his mother. It would have lasted years, long, long years; and so he
ended it at one stroke. He knew me, and he felt sure I wouldn't lose my
head, and would provide for the children. He was certain of it, and
knew he would be a greater burden to his family if he was buried alive
in prison than if lying dead beneath the earth. It is terribly painful,
but there is an end of it; the other would have been an eternal shame.
That is the way he reasoned; he killed himself for the sake of his
children."

I shuddered, when I heard the affair discussed so rationally and
cold-bloodedly. Was it heartlessness or keensightedness that made them
so hard and unloving? Hadn't the woman loved and respected her husband?
Yet did she not judge his deed as the outcome of reasoned consideration,
his voluntary death as a sacrifice to his family, as a martyr's death?

A question rose to my lips.

"But tell me, my dear Mrs. Schlochauer, your husband must surely have
thought that he would hurt you deeply, you with whom he lived happily
and whom he certainly loved and respected. And he must have felt that
he would give his old mother infinite pain."

An odd smile drew the corners of her mouth, and some moments passed
before she roused herself from a sort of trance, and said: "His mother
is very old, Herr Doktor, eighty-two years old; she hasn't much more to
expect from life, I am sure he thought of that. And as for his love for
me "--she hesitated--"he was always considerate of me, and respectful,
but love? In a decent Jewish family the love of man and wife is their
love for their children."

What had moved the soul of this woman to such conclusions on married
life?

Yesterday I learned by chance that she was the daughter of a teacher in
Beuthen, and had herself been trained as a teacher. The community had
granted her a scholarship, to complete her course for the teacher's
examinations at the Seminary in Breslau. There she became acquainted
with a young painter, a Christian, and a love affair, as pure as it was
ardent, developed between them. When her parents heard of the affair,
they made her come home immediately. Her studies were interrupted, and
she took up life again in her parents' house, the fountain of her
emotions sealed, the bitter sorrow of an unhappy love swelling her
heart. What was her inner development after this first, hard
disillusionment, this spiritual conflict? Who can tell?

When, some years later, the first flush of youth past, her father
expressed to her his wish that she marry Schlochauer in Raudnitz, the
well-to-do proprietor of a distillery, in order to lighten his own
troubles in bringing up his numerous offspring, she obeyed without a
murmur. Her husband respected her, and offered no objection to her
assisting her family and so enabling her brothers to study. He loved
her, too--for she presented him with four children. Two died young--and
as for the two remaining daughters, she would provide for them
carefully. Her husband would not be deceived in her; the sacrifice of
his life was not made in vain.

"When everything is settled, Herr Kreisphysikus, I am going to sell the
business and the house, and move to Berlin. We have some means, Herr
Doktor; my husband was a good manager. In Berlin we are not well known;
and grass grows over everything that happens. No matter if a person here
and there knows something about it; it is quickly forgotten. People have
no time there to gossip about private affairs. I have three brothers in
Berlin, all in respected positions. So, in the large city, I shall live
free from care with my daughters; they are still young and will get over
the pain and horror of the present."

"And you, Frau Schlochauer?" I hastily asked.

"I? I shall do my duty."

The words sounded so natural, yet it made a painful impression on me to
see how collected she was, how quietly and circumspectly she looked into
the future from out of the confusion and distress of the moment. Perhaps
she divined the course of my thoughts, for suddenly she continued:

"Don't wonder that I speak of this matter so calmly. You become
accustomed to such things if for twenty years you live with a business
man in this neighborhood, among such rude, rough folk. You learn to be
on the lookout, to be careful and practical. And you forget that once
you regarded the world with different eyes."

She uttered the last words softly, with downward glance. When I heard
the history of her youth yesterday, I saw her in my mind's eye again,
and a feeling of boundless pity for this woman swept over me--not for
what she was suffering now--now that she was steeled and
experienced--but for her youth, the youth she had lost because
practical considerations and hindrances determined the course of her
life.

But now I must tell about a remarkable acquaintance I made yesterday,
the man who told me what I know of Frau Schlochauer's history. He
introduces some humor into the affair.

"Herr Jonas Goldstücker."

The visiting card with this name printed in large Roman characters lies
before me and seems to throw a crafty and comical smile at me. In fact
my new acquaintance is very amusing. The card was brought in to me at
the end of my afternoon office hours. Herr Jonas Goldstücker! I thought
it was a patient, and had him admitted even though the time for
receiving patients was past. A few moments later an elderly man sat
before me, well-preserved and decently dressed. He was perfectly open in
letting his curious gaze rove through my room, and I felt that in a
minute period of time he had a thorough survey. His inventory took in
all the objects in the room, myself included. His sly eyes seemed ever
to be investigating and inspecting, and although he frequently pressed
them shut, or glanced into space over his nickel-plated _pince-nez_, one
felt correctly catalogued and pigeonholed. Herr Jonas Goldstücker began
to interest me. Without waiting for me to ask his business, he said:

"I knew, Herr Kreisphysikus, that you always stay at home a little while
after your office hours, and that's the reason I chose this time for
coming to you; I thought we would not be disturbed now."

So he was acquainted with my habits, with something about my private
life; he wanted to speak to me without outside interruption--did this
man know of some secret? Did a matter calling for discretion lead him to
me? But he gave me no time for surmise, and added:

"You certainly don't run after practice among well-to-do patients; no
one can reproach you with that--you live like a hermit; and outside of
Simon Eichelkatz no one has had the honor of seeing you at his home."

My face must have looked very stupid, or it must have expressed great
amazement at his intimate tone and his familiarity with my affairs;
because he laughed and said:

"Yes, Herr Kreisphysikus, in a little town you get to know people, and
all about them."

"But I don't know _you_," I interrupted, my patience at last exhausted.

"I am Jonas Goldstücker."

"So your card tells me. But I should like to permit myself the question,
to what I owe the honor of your visit."

"O, you'll soon find out, Herr Kreisphysikus. I am not sick, as you see.
Quite another reason brings me to you. But if I should need medical
advice, I shall not fail to come to you, although Sanitätsrat Ehrlich
has been treating me for six years--since the time his daughter Annie
married Herr Rechtsanwalt Bobrecker of Leobschütz. An excellent match.
Any day Bobrecker might have gotten sixty thousand marks, and Löwenberg,
the wool manufacturer in Oppeln, would have given him as much as
seventy-five thousand, but he wanted to marry a girl from an educated
family, and no other. Well, the daughter of Sanitätsrat Ehrlich is no
vain delusion."

My breath was completely taken away by this information regarding
private matters.

Next came the abrupt question:

"In general, Herr Kreisphysikus, are you in favor of wet or dry
treatment in rheumatism?"

A patient after all! I breathed more freely. Herr Jonas Goldstücker had
given me a creepy sensation.

"I don't understand what you mean by that."

"I mean, are you in favor of massage and electricity or in favor of
baths?"

The impudent assurance of the question utterly astounded me, and I
wanted to give him a brusque reply, when he continued:

"Sanitätsrat Ehrlich is an excellent physician; but he's a bit
antiquated already, Herr Kreisphysikus. The young doctors of to-day make
a much more lymphatic impression."

Doubtless, he meant "emphatic," because a few moments later another
pretentious word was incorrectly applied.

"But Sanitätsrat Ehrlich after all has the largest practice in the
congregation; and people would look on it as bigamy if anyone were to
say anything against him."

I was only slightly acquainted with my colleague, and I did not know
that doubt of his powers would be regarded as blasphemy--probably what
Jonas Goldstücker meant to say. The humor of the situation at last began
to dawn upon me, and I awaited the further utterances of my remarkable
guest in amused curiosity.

"And his house, Herr Kreisphysikus, his house! Really, very fine. The
Frau Sanitätsträtin knows how to do the honors and to keep her
distance."

What he meant by this was not exactly clear to me; but I learned that
the youngest daughter of my colleague Ehrlich was a ravishing maiden, as
Herr Jonas Goldstücker assured me.

"Very highly educated, speaks every language, plays the piano as well as
Leubuscher (I didn't know of the performer), and only Chopin,
Rubinstein, Offenbach, Brahm."

"Brahms, Herr Goldstücker, Brahms."

"Why, yes, I said Brahm, Herr Kreisphysikus. And what she doesn't know,
besides! And quite a housekeeper, too; she learned cooking. No, not a
soul can find a thing to say against Miss Edith--Edith, a pretty name,
Herr Kreisphysikus, Edith."

He was silent for a moment. I was on the point of telling him that all
this had very little interest for me, and that he should come to the
real object of his visit; but he continued to impress me as a man of the
better classes, with fairly decent manners, calling for a certain amount
of consideration. So I maintained my attitude of expectancy, and
listened to his digressions and discourses on this theme and that. In
the course of his remarks he exclaimed:

"It's really a shame that you don't visit at Sanitätsrat Ehrlich's,
though I can imagine you haven't very much time. And now you must be
having a good deal of annoyance with that affair in Raudnitz. A terrible
misfortune, terrible. That Herr Schlochauer must have had a fearful
temper; because it isn't so easy to throw a man out of your place and
kill him outright. It must be very trying to his wife; she is an
educated woman, daughter of the teacher Weiss, in Beuthen. She never
thought she would marry a thoroughly uneducated saloon-keeper. But he
got along very well, and you never heard any talk about her not living
happily with him. She always had what she needed, and much more. She
could help her own family and give her two daughters a good
education--very different from what would have happened if she'd gotten
her painter. What a sad picture they'd have made, she and her
picture-maker."

He laughed complacently at his pun, and I meditated over the ideal
Jewish marriage. Then I was made acquainted with the story of Frau
Rosalie Schlochauer's youthful love.

"But that he should have gone and taken his life! It's really awful to
bring about a misfortune so deliberately. However, a sister-in-law of
Frau Schlochauer, a cousin of my wife, married to the book-dealer
Grosser, told me that the widow is remarkably calm. Frau Grosser herself
is half dead from the excitement, and she can't possibly comprehend how
Frau Schlochauer can be so collected. The idea of hanging himself in
prison! Absurd! If he had waited, for all we know he might have been set
free. At any rate he would not have gotten more than three or four
years. In no circumstances would he have been put into the penitentiary.
Herr Rechtsanwalt Cassirer told me yesterday that the jury would
certainly have agreed on _dolus eventualiter_."

Of course, what Herr Jonas Goldstücker wanted to say was _dolus
eventualis_. But a little thing like that didn't matter to him, and I
continued to wonder how he came to know everybody and associate with the
best families. He was evidently on a most intimate footing with the
heads of the community.

"Frau Schlochauer," he said, after a while, "will doubtless move away
from Raudnitz. Life for her there in these circumstances is impossible.
And what should she do with two daughters, who are almost grown up and
will soon be marriageable? She will certainly go to Berlin. Her brothers
live there; one of them is a lawyer, another is a physician, and the
third owns a large shirtwaist factory. There she will have someone to
cling to."

I had a mental picture of Frau Schlochauer, quiet in her grief, earnest,
thoughtful, as she unfolded to me her plans for the future. And this man
knew it all. He had guessed it and now expressed his opinion on events
in the life of a stranger.

"In Berlin people don't bother about such stories. There Frau
Schlochauer is the sister of the lawyer Weiss and the doctor Weiss; she
is the rich Frau Schlochauer with two pretty, well-bred daughters.
That's enough. The girls will make very good matches. They say the
property amounts to a great deal, much more than you'd think by looking
at Herr Schlochauer. There he was working all day and thinking of
nothing but how to serve his customers. He left culture and education
to his wife--and now the money, in addition. The sale of the big house
and the distillery may bring in as much as four hundred thousand marks.
Yesterday Rothmann, the banker, told me Schlochauer had been well off,
almost rich. Some of his money he placed with Rothmann, the rest with
the Breslau Diskonto Bank; and Rothmann knows the amount of his
deposits. If Frau Schlochauer, when the time comes, will give each
daughter one hundred thousands marks--for the present she won't use more
than the interest on her money--she will be able to do very well with
them. Of course, she won't get the sort of person that looks out for a
so-called fine family. People like that ask after every possible thing,
and are sure to find out about the detention in prison and the suicide.
There are some who won't suffer the tiniest speck on the family
name--but there are enough young people, too, who haul in without
questioning and think, 'Let by-gones be by-gones.' Sometimes even
physicians and lawyers aren't so particular about 'antecedents.'"

I looked at my watch. The act should have been an indication to him that
I was getting impatient, and was displeased with the familiarity of his
talk; but he seemed not to comprehend the delicate hint. For he suddenly
broke out with:

"Herr Rabbiner Grünbaum in Loslau was a brother of your mother, wasn't
he, Herr Kreisphysikus? I knew him very well. I'm from Loslau, too. A
fine man, and very good and friendly. He was very much loved in the
Khille, and my blessed mother always used to say: 'Fine as silk, fine as
silk.' I knew your father, too, Herr Kreisphysikus; once when he was in
Loslau, at the funeral of your uncle, I saw him, and I heard the sermon
he delivered. Great, really great! So touching! The whole congregation
shed tears. Your father must have been a splendid pulpit orator. A pity
he was in such a small congregation. He belonged in Breslau or Berlin.
But, God bless me, good can be accomplished in the smallest of places;
and he certainly did do good. Herr Doktor Feilchenstein was in
Johannisbad with me this summer, and he couldn't get through telling me
about your parents, Herr Kreisphysikus, and what a pious, good old lady
your mother is. No wonder, either, if she's a sister of Herr Rabbiner
Grünbaum, of Loslau. And Doktor Feilchenstein told me of you, too. You
know, I mean your cousin from Frankfort-on-the-Oder. When he heard that
I was from Raudnitz, he asked after you, and sent his regards. He
refused to believe that I hadn't met you, when you'd been here since
April. But, dear me, in summer everybody, of course, is away, and it's
no time for visiting. But now, Herr Kreisphysikus, it's October already,
and you haven't made any visits yet."

What gave the man the right to remonstrate with me on this subject? To
be sure, he seemed well acquainted with my family affairs--my cousin
sent messages by him. I pondered a while; the name "Jonas Goldstücker"
was not on my visiting list. Curious! All I said was: "You must leave me
to judge of that."

"But I beg of you, Herr Kreisphysikus, you misunderstand me. I assure
you I did not mean to instruct you in matters of social form. How could
you think such a thing? All I meant was, how should families here get to
know and appreciate you, if you keep yourself at such a distance? And
your cousin, Doctor Feilchenstein, told me what an excellent person you
are, how earnest and thorough, and how you had opened up a career for
yourself when you were comparatively young. Not out of the thirties and
a Physikus already--and how much pleasure you are giving your old
mother."

Since I last saw my cousin he must have developed into a garrulous old
woman. What had possessed him to tell an utter stranger so much of my
life, to praise me, and speak of my relations with my quiet, reserved
little mother? I couldn't believe my ears, and I was about to give
expression to my amazement when he continued:

"And how happy your dear mother would be if you would soon present her
with a nice daughter-in-law! If the girl is fine and educated, your
mother might even live with you, and end her days under your roof. Many
young girls, to be sure, are not in favor of such an arrangement; but
that depends, and Edith Ehrlich is such a clever person...."

I jumped from my seat, and came near laughing out loud. At last the
mystery was solved. Herr Jonas Goldstücker, who honored me with so
curious and intimate a visit, was a _Shadchen_, the marriage broker of
the congregation!

It was highly entertaining. But apparently he did not care to notice
that I took the matter as a joke, for he remained quietly seated and
continued:

"And Herr Sanitätsrat prefers a physician, who might take up his
practice later...."

"Marry into the profession, so to speak," I interjected.

"Yes, Herr Kreisphysikus. But that's only by the way. In addition he
will give his daughter fifty thousand marks, just as much as
Rechtsanwalt Bobrecker got, and if you--you might pay a visit there
anyway--I am sure if you once get to know Miss Edith, you will see that
the description I gave of her is true from head to foot. She has a
beautiful head of chestnut brown hair...."

The association of ideas was delicious.

"She has a fine figure, medium size, and when I think how glad your old
mother would be...."

I do not know whether I politely showed Herr Jonas Goldstücker the door,
or whether he went voluntarily. At all events he was gone. But this
very day I mean to write a letter to my cousin, Doktor Feilchenstein,
and give him a piece of my mind.


      OCTOBER 10.

"Do you know what a _Roshekol_ is?" Simon Eichelkatz asked me with a
mischievous smile, when I visited him this afternoon.

"A Roshekol is the head of a congregation," I answered. He laughed a
gentle, chuckling laugh, which was the usual expression of good temper
with him, and said:

"A Roshekol is a disagreeable fellow."

"But not always, Herr Eichelkatz?"

"Almost always, at least if you get your idea of him from the rabbi and
the cantor, nebbich, or even from the Khille in general. He is generally
arrogant, disputatious, autocratic, and ambitious. As he hasn't anything
else to rule, he wants to rule the congregation at least, and he insists
the poor officials shall depend upon his good-will entirely. He suffers
no contradiction, and as for the opinion of another, it doesn't occur to
him that it is entitled to any respect. He commands and the others must
agree with him. For they are nearly all dependent upon him, and,
therefore, are either for or with him. On the one side is his
_Mishpocheh_, on the other, people who stand in business or personal
relations with him. If he happens to have a so-called academic
education, matters are still worse, because on the strength of it he and
the Khille as well put on an extra touch of pride. He has some standing
in the city, too, is on good terms with the Goyim, and is generally a
city alderman. This makes a tremendous impression on the Khille, and it
doesn't occur to the _Narronim_ that they themselves made him alderman.
They say with pride: 'Our Roshekol must be a very intelligent man; he's
an alderman also!' The Roshekol, it is true, usually is an intelligent
person; but he lacks character and genuine goodness and humanity. It's
all on the surface--fine phrases, long words, but within cold, hollow,
and calculating. All he thinks of is to show himself off in the best
light and hurt other people's feelings."

I shook my finger at Simon laughingly and said:

"Reb Shimme, I think you are looking at things through dark spectacles;
they can't be so bad as you paint them."

"Just live in a Khille fifty years, and you'll know whether or not I'm
exaggerating. If you'd have known the president of the congregation,
Krakauer, _Doktor_ Krakauer, saving your reverence, you'd have said at
least what I say, that a Roshekol is a disagreeable fellow. Perhaps
you'd have said even more. Lots of people in the Khille were vexed at
his treatment of the poor officials, nebbich, and made a fist at him
behind his back. But they were too weak to do anything. I, too, Herr
Kreisphysikus. What can a single person do? But when I think of it even
now, my gall rises."

"Now, now, my dear Reb Shimme, if you excite yourself, I won't allow you
to speak one word about it." I tried to soothe him.

"Why? If one speaks from the heart, it doesn't hurt. Just let me tell
you quietly about Herr Doktor Krakauer, saving your reverence. I won't
make it a reproach against him that he came of a thoroughly ordinary
family. There are many Jews of low extraction who work themselves up
into a fine, noble manhood. Besides, if we recall our common stock,
everyone is justified in regarding himself as a nobleman of the most
ancient lineage. But then one should act accordingly, which most of us
unfortunately fail to do. Herr Doktor Krakauer, saving your reverence,
certainly did not behave like a nobleman. His father was a dealer in
raw hides in Peiskretscham, an industrious, decent sort of a Jew, who
couldn't read or write. His mother was a simple woman, formerly the cook
at Herr Bernhard Markus's. They were not young when they married, and
when a son was born to them, they were overjoyed. They decided to make
something remarkable of the child. The parents now had only one aim, and
the boy, who was a studious pupil, made it possible for them to fulfil
their desire. He was to study, become an educated, learned gentleman, a
doctor. Whatever the dealer in raw hides and his wife lacked, was to
appear in the son, and more, too. And they lived to experience the joy
of seeing him ashamed of them. After he had taken up the profession of
physician, and had received positions of trust in the city and the
congregation, he was very careful to keep the dealer in raw hides and
the Jewish cook hidden away. He was their son on the quiet and in
secret. To be known as their son might have hurt him in the eyes of the
world, and reflect on his public position. So the two old people, who
had worked untiringly day and night to put their only child on a higher
level than themselves, could watch the results of their efforts only
from afar. For his greed, his energy, his cunning, and his disregard of
other people had actually advanced him to a dazzling height. He married
into a well-to-do family; but the girl was so shy and stupid that she
yielded to his autocratic will, in constant terror lest she displease
him.

"Now, then, Herr Kreisphysikus, imagine such a man a Roshekol for years.
He oppressed and injured the whole Khille; it didn't have the courage to
oppose him. Everyone trembled before him. The old janitor of the
synagogue, the Shabbes Goy Marek, who died last year, always used to
say: 'When Krakauer comes to Shul, holding his head so high you'd think
he was trying to bump against the _Mogen Dovid_, and expanding his chest
as if to beat for _Al Chet_ upon it, the whole Khille trembles, because
he's so swell and eats _Trefa_, and treats the people like cattle.'
Marek was right, he was a sensible man. And more than the members of the
Khille, nebbich, those who were dependent upon him trembled before him.
But two people did not tremble, Rabbi Doktor Merzbach, who was too
aristocratic by nature, and still less, the 'haughty Rebbetzin,' who
openly called Doktor Krakauer an upstart, and returned his greeting so
condescendingly that he always took the other side of the street when he
saw her coming. By way of return he never failed when the occasion
offered to do harm to the rabbi and wound his feelings.

"His desire for vengeance was incredible; and the more he tried to keep
it from showing in his outward manners, the more it fermented in his
coarse-grained heart; and wherever it was possible to injure Doktor
Merzbach, he did it. No one seeing the tall, heavily-built,
broad-shouldered man with his ingratiating smile, his assumption of
aristocracy, and his courtly manners, would have supposed his exterior
concealed so black a soul. Well, his day of reckoning came after all.
But in the meantime he continued to gain influence; and he also had an
excellent practice, which later, to be sure, was sliced away a bit by
Sanitätsrat Ehrlich. May no one suffer the fate they invoked on each
other--but before the world the best of friends. On one point they were
always agreed, to worry and annoy those who were under their control,
the officials of the congregation, nebbich! Herr Sanitätsrat Ehrlich was
also a trustee; and the two ruled in the congregation for more than
thirty years. The first ugly trick they played on Dr. Merzbach was at
the dedication of the New Synagogue. I think I've told you about it
already, Herr Kreisphysikus. The building of the New Synagogue was due
entirely to Dr. Merzbach's efforts. Who would have paid any attention to
Herr Dr. Krakauer, saving your reverence? Dr. Merzbach's name had a good
sound, and one is not a son-in-law of Reb Salme Friedländer of Posen for
nothing. That's exactly what Dr. Krakauer, saving your reverence, could
not forgive him, although he always performed his difficult duties
quietly and simply. The Rebbetzin, it is true, very clearly showed what
she thought of the son of Isaac Krakauer, dealer in raw hides, and Frau
Yetta, once cook at the house of Bernhard Markus. There's no denying it,
the Rebbetzin was proud. But in spite of that she was charitable and
noble, and all the poor people in the community loved her. She stood at
the beds of the sick and the dying. In the awful cholera time she
courageously went with her husband from place to place, showing no sign
of fear. She brought comfort to the sufferers, and took the helpless and
the orphaned under her wing. It was only to people like Krakauer that
she showed her scorn for upstarts, if, as she said, they did not also
elevate their minds and their morals. You can imagine, Herr
Kreisphysikus, that there were always 'decent' people in the Khille who
reported to the president every word the Rebbetzin said, only
exaggerated and adorned with extra flourishes. There were two
especially, fine men, Herr Meyer Nathanson and Herr Saul Feuerstein.
Nathanson was the _Shammes_ and treasurer of the Khille. He was called
the 'Caretaker of the Khille,' because he concerned himself about
everything, and was Dr. Krakauer's right-hand man. Feuerstein was a
well-known _Pleitegeher_, a professional bankrupt, and made a good
living from his profession. These two men acted as spies to ferret out
and report every word, every act of Frau Dr. Merzbach's. She didn't
concern herself about them; and sometimes she may have been glad that
the people learned what she thought of them. But there was always some
disturbance and annoyance; and finally the good Herr Rabbiner was the
one to suffer. I can scarcely get myself to speak to you about the way
Dr. Krakauer, saving your reverence, and his assistants imposed their
will on the meetings of the committee, and how, when the New Synagogue
stood there completed, all the difficulties overcome, they sent for a
rabbi from Berlin to hold the dedication speech. Did you ever hear of
such a thing? As though a rabbi were a prima donna! He comes and
preaches the dedication sermon and pushes aside our own rabbi! Dr.
Krakauer, and Meyer Nathanson, the caretaker of the Khille, and Saul
Feuerstein, the professional bankrupt, triumph; and with them the
'Saints,' whom the whole business of the New Synagogue doesn't suit
anyhow. I believe Dr. Merzbach suffered very much at the time; his
feelings must have been bitterly hurt; but he did not complain, and he
did not lose his joy in his work. When he stood in the pulpit on the
first Shabbes after the dedication, and thanked God for having permitted
the congregation to erect their new house of worship, and also thanked
the congregation for having made sacrifices and patiently awaited the
completion of the difficult work, which he recommended to their
protection, their fidelity, and their piety, as a place of upliftment,
of edification, comfort, and faith, the eyes of all were filled with
tears, and everyone felt that the real dedication sermon had not been
delivered until that Shabbes. Marek, the janitor of the synagogue and
Shabbes Goy, said that when the people came out of the synagogue, they
nodded significantly to one another: 'Even if the other man did come
from Berlin he's not a Dr. Merzbach.' But what they said in an
undertone, was publicly declared by the Rebbetzin when she left the
synagogue, proudly drawing up the black mantilla that had once been
draped about the shoulders of Teacher Sandberg:

"'The dedication of the New Synagogue did not take place until to-day,
praised be God, through the efforts of him who for ten years spent his
whole strength for the success of the work.'

"She said this as she stood on the top of the steps leading down from
the side portal to the street; and so loud that the 'caretaker of the
Khille,' who was standing near the steps, could hear the words, probably
was intended to hear them. By the afternoon he had already reported them
to the president, and the result was that the deputy to the convention
soon after held in Berlin was not the rabbi, but Herr Dr. Krakauer,
saving your reverence, and two other ignorant _Amrazim_."

"That's what you call punishment for the sake of discipline," I
interpolated laughingly.

"I don't know what you call it, but I know it's a shame that so large a
congregation as ours should not have been represented at the convention
by its rabbi, a fine Talmid Chochom, with a good name of the greatest
Yichus, but by an _Amhorez_ who did not know more of _Yiddishkeit_ than
a coarse dealer in hides and a Jewish cook could show him."

He came to a sudden stop.

"It sickens me and makes my gall rise to think of these things, Herr
Kreisphysikus. And I had to look on and let it all happen, because I was
weak and without influence. Nothing could be done."

A thoughtful, wearied look came into his eyes. I seized the moment to
take leave, because, in spite of my interest in his narratives, I did
not want him to exert himself any more for the present. Outside I
advised Feiwel Silbermann to see to it that his master go to bed as soon
as possible.


      OCTOBER 18.

At last I have learned something of Simon Eichelkatz's life history. As
if utterly forgetful of himself, he ransacked the store-house of his
brain for recollections of the past, but since his own life was closely
bound up with that of the congregation, he came to speak of himself
involuntarily. I admit, that without wishing to be indiscreet I brought
him to do it. For greatly as the figures and events he describes
interest me, yet they belong in the past and have an historical
significance. But this old man rises out of the past, as a passive
observer, it is true, more than an active doer. Yet, a portion of his
being flourishes and develops on the soil of science, in the most
modern, most progressive province of spiritual endeavor. What an
evolution from Simon Eichelkatz to Friedrich Eichner! I hope to become
acquainted with this life which leads from the narrow confines of a
Jewish community out into the broad world.

Yesterday my old friend was very talkative. I felt it pleased him to
glance back at his own life; and _he_ probably felt that it was not
vulgar curiosity but true sympathy that led me to him. When I began my
diary, I thought it would record the deeds and events of the day
happening here, the most recent news; it has turned out to be a book of
the recollections of an old man. It's better so. Daily life here is dull
and monotonous. The people, as far as I know, seem to be conventional.
Those typical characteristics which Simon Eichelkatz reveals to me are
lacking in the present generation. The more the Jews are acclimatized,
the more they lose of their individuality; and if this is not to be
deplored in general, yet it is at the expense of much originality, in
both a good and a bad sense. Whatever originality has been saved for
present times has taken the form of individualism, which plays a large
and significant rôle in modern life; and I believe that if strong
individualities are found among Jews, they are traceable to the time
when the community at large was concerned with the preservation of
individuality and race characteristics. Nowadays the Jews strive for
exactly the opposite ideal. But I want to put the past on record. Simon
Eichelkatz draws some remarkable though not always agreeable pictures.
Yet if viewed in the softening perspective of time and distance, they
evoke a feeling of reconciliation and mild tolerance.

Was not an impress laid on the Jews by the narrowness of their life, its
one-sided interests, the lack of a wide outlook, and the failure to take
a broad view of the world based on fixed ethical principles? Were the
large mass of them not rendered doubly small and inferior because the
great men among them were entirely too great? Was it not a necessary
consequence that crudities and deformities should grow out of these
contrasts, which were all the worse because they arose under oppression,
in malicious, underhand ways? When I think of it all in the right
light, my sympathy overcomes my repugnance for those who in the old
communities crucified and burned at the stake the men who furthered the
idea of reform in Judaism. Remarkable saints! Meyer Nathanson, the
caretaker of the Khille; Saul Feuerstein, the professional bankrupt, and
their savory crew, and alongside of them Dr. Krakauer, Dr. Ehrlich, and
their colleagues. Alas for the miserable Khilles! Yet I am moved by the
recollections of the scenes enacted in the past on this ground where
fortune has cast me. Instead of the land of sun, in which the famous
ancestor of my great-grandmother in Brody, Dr. Abarbanell, served his
Master, the black coals of upper Silesia and the winds of the Beskides;
instead of converse with scholars and artists, intercourse with the rude
folk here; instead of stimulating activity, dissections and grubbing
into the mental state of murderers, perjurers, etc.--such is my life
and work; yet I have something to give me inner satisfaction--Simon
Eichelkatz.

Yesterday, he said to me: "What the Herr Rabbiner did for the
congregation as a whole when he came to this 'black' Khille cannot
compare with what he gave to each person separately. He came here in
1849, soon after the great revolution. Shortly before, in the company of
a deputation from Posen--he had been rabbi in Unruhstadt--he had stood
before the king, in order to give expression to the 'most humble' thanks
of the Jews for the rights granted them. You can imagine, Herr
Kreisphysikus, how that impressed the people here--a Rav who had stood
before the King, a Rav who spoke High German and was a doctor. I tell
_you_ there was a to-do when they went to receive him and his Rebbetzin;
they rode as far as Kandrzin and met him there. Herr Dr. Krakauer,
saving your reverence, had then been president for two years, and, to
give the devil his due, it was Dr. Krakauer who brought a new Rav here
and insisted on his being a man with an academic education. But when he
saw that the Rav was independent, and wasn't willing to dance to the
tune of his fiddle, he became the Herr Rabbiner's worst enemy. But on
the rabbi's arrival Dr. Krakauer delivered the address of welcome in
Kandrzin, and rode here in the same carriage with the rabbi and the
Rebbetzin. The fourth person in the carriage was the goldsmith Manasse,
who was then vice-president, a decent sort of a man. That's the way they
entered town; the whole Khille had assembled before the rabbi's house,
in the old school building next to the _Mikveh_. Well, and then they
went up into his apartments, which had been entirely refurnished by
Joseph, the cabinet-maker, and Manasse attempted to deliver a speech
there. He was no orator, and embarrassment robbed him of his words. It
is reported he stammered so that he couldn't get past the first words,
and Dr. Merzbach said: 'Respected friends, I do not need words to be
convinced of your sentiment and your kindly feelings for me. I feel that
I belong to you, and I came gladly. I hope that in this congregation my
activity will find a large field, which perhaps has hitherto been lying
fallow, but on which the seeds of fine, noble thoughts, ethical
principles, and the idea of forming a worthy communal life, will sprout
and bear rich, glorious fruit. I know what you wanted to say to me,
respected Herr Vorsteher, even if the emotion of the occasion
overpowered you. Whoever looks into your true, good eyes feels that he
is facing a kindly man; and so we all have the desire to cling to one
another faithfully, and not in words but in deeds work for the weal of
this precious congregation.'

"Manasse repeated this speech to me a hundred times. When the reception
committee came down to the rest of the people at the end of half an
hour, Dr. Krakauer looked so exasperated that Marek, the Shabbes Goy,
immediately remarked: 'Something has gotten onto his nerves.' But Saul
Feuerstein, professional bankrupt, and later leader of the 'Saints,' did
not see why the formation of a 'worthy communal life' was necessary,
since they had been _davvening_ so long, and everything had been all
right. Did he think they had been waiting for him to shape communal
life? As for what he said about 'ethical principles,' you'd have to look
it up in an encyclopedia before you could understand it. Besides it was
a _Chutzpeh_ in him to speak of a fallow field. The Khille had managed
to exist without a sign of a Dr. Merzbach. Under such auspices the new
rabbi assumed office--among Amrazim and coarse fellows, all of them, the
well-educated Herr Dr. Krakauer, saving your reverence, and Dr. Ehrlich
with his fine ways on top. Only two men understood the rabbi better,
Karfunkelstein, the book-dealer, whose father had been rabbi, and
Schlesinger, the old iron monger. And then there was another who might
have if he had wanted to; a sensible, amiable, good, intelligent, and
witty man. He joked about the entire congregation and had a great deal
of influence, because they were afraid of his keen judgment. He was the
new _Chazen_, the cantor Elias, who had been appointed a short time
after the rabbi.

"Now, isn't it so, Herr Kreisphysikus, isn't it more of a misfortune
than a shame if one hasn't had the opportunity to learn? But it is a
shame if one hasn't respect for the knowledge of others, and if one
hurts the feelings of those to whom one should look up with respect.
Cantor Elias once said to Dr. Merzbach: 'If you want to remain friends
with the Parchonim here, my dear Herr Doktor, you must learn Klabberjas,
and Franzefuss, and Sixty-six. Here cards are more important than the
pages of the _Gemoreh_.'

"He was right, Herr Kreisphysikus, and the worse he thought and spoke of
the people, and the more disrespectfully he treated them, the better
they were to him. He could always carry his point. Every year an
increase in salary. And they let him do what he wanted. When he stood
before the _Omed_ on Shabbes and _Yontef_ and began to sing, they were
all in transports. He sang! Such a voice, such a way of singing! I don't
know if there is anything like it now. He touched people to the very
marrow of their bones. Perhaps sounds are more affecting than words.
What do you think, Herr Kreisphysikus? At any rate he had more influence
and power over the Khille than the rabbi. If the rabbi told them
something, they had to think about it first; but they only had to hear
what the cantor sang to them. Then, after Shul, he went with them to
drink a glass of wine at Heimann's, or lunch with them at Schäfer's. Reb
Shäfer would stand at the door and declare, when the Herr Kantor came,
his heart laughed in his body. When the cantor was present, there was
always fun and merriment. He was the most popular man. He would play a
little game with the people, he lunched with them, and did not despise
Heimann's Hungarian wine. He told the men rugged truths, and he teased
the women. No one suspected how genuinely he despised them all, how high
he was raised above them. In a few clever words he himself told what he
thought about everything.

"'Do you know what our Rav is?' Once when I was present he asked the
question of some Baale-Batim with whom he was playing Klabber. 'A pearl
cast before swine.'

"'And the Rebbetzin?' some one asked in the midst of their laughter.

"At this he suddenly became quite serious, and said: 'She is a pearl
picked from the coronet of a princely family. But you don't understand;
why should you? You know _Malkeh_ and _Melech_ only on cards.' Then he
threw down the ace and said: 'I'll take the king and queen with the
diamond; they're in better hands than with you.'

"Often he used to say to me: 'You're right, Eichelkatz, for sticking to
the rabbi. If anyone can help you, he's the man, for he knows, yes, he
knows what is going on in the souls of men--and--the Rebbetzin!'

"And I, I really did need someone who understood what was going on in my
soul. I myself hardly understood."

He paused and looked into space, engrossed in thought. I regarded him in
silence; then he began with a voice that sounded like an echo from a
great distance:

"Do you know what an unhappy marriage is, Herr Kreisphysikus? But how
should you? You're a bachelor. You've seen and heard of the thing, but
that's nothing. One must live through it oneself, one must experience it
in one's own person; then only can you realize that it's the saddest,
most fearful thing that can happen to a human being. Both parties are
to blame; it's always the fault of both. For neither has the courage to
admit the truth, to confess, We've made a mistake; we don't suit each
other. They drag through their entire lives in sorrow and deception; and
again and again the heart is bruised, and one's own life and the life of
others is embittered. And when you finally see into it all, it's too
late. When your understanding comes, you're too old. And then you think,
it doesn't pay to begin anew for the few years that are left. But the
few years are long. Each year has twelve months; each month, thirty
days, and some have even thirty-one; each day, twenty-four hours; each
hour, sixty minutes; each minute, sixty seconds; and in each second you
grieve and fret and live your whole trouble again."

His face took on a thoughtful expression.

"Do you know, Herr Kreisphysikus, they say man's life is short; and
what are seventy, or, at the extreme, eighty years in the infinity of
time? As a moment. But I tell you, every man who reaches his maturity
lives a thousand years, because an entire life is condensed in every
moment in which he has an experience. I don't know if you understand me,
Herr Doktor. I do not mean those experiences that make up our ordinary
life, our habits, and our needs. I mean the things our souls live
through. And every sensation of the soul is a whole world in itself, a
whole life; everything in us awakens at one blow, and leaps into life,
and experiences the entire thing with us. We feel it with all our parts.
And now imagine, Herr Kreisphysikus, how many moments each man lives
through, how many thousands of lives. This is the standard we should use
for measuring our age. And if a man reaches the end of the seventies,
like myself, Herr Doktor, and has gone through so many things, his life
has not been short, but a thousand years long and more."

Again I stood before the riddle: how did this plain old man arrive at
philosophic deductions covering every field of thought, and with
singular strength of reasoning lightly solve the most difficult
problems, unconsciously, led only by intuition, which clearly and firmly
guided him along a path where others groped for the way of truth? Did he
not instinctively arrive at the correct thing, when he measured the
extent of life by intensity, and not by number of years?

What _had_ Simon Eichelkatz lived through?

As though he read the question on my face he continued:

"And now see, Herr Doktor, do you know an unhappy marriage is an
eternity of heartache? And whoever has lived through one is so old--so
old--Methuselah is a mere boy compared with him. Nowadays you hear of
divorces. In my days they were considered a shame. A divorced woman was
regarded as something low, an outcast; and people didn't think very
highly either of a man who gave a _Get_. A divorce always had a
disgusting flavor. And here in the Khille, once you were mated, there
was no way out. Always dragging the yoke, always dragging it along! So
believe me God, I really don't want to say anything against Madame
Eichelkatz--I am sure she suffered as much from it as I did--but there
was no getting away from it, we just didn't suit each other. My simple
nature, my straightforwardness, and my lack of education were certainly
as obnoxious to her as her culture, her fine manners, and her
aristocratic desires were to me. She didn't like my having to stand
behind a counter, and I didn't like her speaking French with the Herr
Oberstleutnant Von Boddin. Now tell me, Herr Kreisphysikus, do you think
it is proper for a _bekovet_ Jewish woman to drop curtseys, to laugh
loud, and amuse herself with the officers in front of her husband's
store when they pass by toward evening? It was 'gnädige Frau' and
'Madame Eichelkatz' and a chattering and laughing and always that
'Madame Eichelkatz.' She refused to see that they were having fun at her
expense and made mock of the name Eichelkatz, my good, honest name, Herr
Kreisphysikus."

Poor Simon Eichelkatz! So jealousy was his life's woe.

As if endowed with clairvoyance and the ability to read my thoughts, he
looked at me sharply and said:

"You must not think that I was jealous, not what one understands by that
word. Upon my honor, I was not. When I married my wife, Friederike,
_née_ Böhm, there was no talk of love between us. We married as all
people married then. I had entered Joseph Böhm's business as clerk, and
later I married into it, because Böhm could not continue to carry it on
alone. He himself came to me and said: 'Simon, if you want to marry my
daughter Friederike, we needn't pay a Shadchen, you needn't and I
needn't. You know the business. It's gone backward within the last year;
but if you look after it, you will advance it again. You know it once
was a good business, and I can no longer keep up against the competition
of others; but you can.'

"It flattered my ambition that Herr Joseph Böhm, one of the chief
wholesale dealers in Silesia, should offer his daughter to me himself,
to me, who only three years before had entered his business as a poor,
unknown clerk. Simon Eichelkatz, who was Simon Eichelkatz? Born in
Tarnow, of poor, decent folk, I came to Reissnitz and made my fortune
there. Just think! The son-in-law of Joseph Böhm! Such a thing had never
been! But to become a son-in-law you must have a wife; and I took
Friederike Böhm, who was aristocratically brought up, and could speak
French."

To-day it particularly struck me what it was that so peculiarly
characterized his manner of narrating. As soon as he spoke about
personal matters or told stories of the Khille, he fell into the jargon
and the intonation of the Jews of former times.[*] But when he dealt
with generalities and gave expression to ideas and speculations, his
speech acquired a swing, his expressions became almost choice, and the
form scarcely ever detracted from the matter. He grew, as it were,
beyond his own bounds; and I thought I saw before me not a simple old
Jew, but a sage.

     [*] The translator has found it impossible to convey this subtle
     distinction in English. It shows itself in the German by slightly
     mispronouncing words, for instance, _Leit_ instead of _Leute_;
     using _ä_ instead of the article _ein_ (an), and very slightly
     changing the correct order of the words.

"What did they know at that time of such notions? They harnessed two
human beings together and said, Now see how you get along with each
other." A shadow flitted over his countenance, usually so mild.

"And yet," I interposed, "Jewish marriages as a whole were seldom
unfortunate."

"That was because husband and wife were confined to their own homes,
their children, and at most to their Mishpocheh. Nothing strange, from
the outside, came to disturb them. Life passed in the closest relation
of two human beings. Nowadays it's different. But if it happened to be
different in my time, it was a calamity--and it was a calamity that Frau
Friederike Eichelkatz, _née_ Böhm, had learned to speak French. During
the first year things went pretty well. To be sure, even then she spoke
scornfully of having married an uneducated man, who knew nothing but
whether cloths were bad or good, who could tell at the first glance
whether a piece of cloth came from Cottbus or from Brünn, whether it was
manufactured in Germany or in England, whether the woof was wool or
thread, and whether the wool was pure or mixed. All this was of value in
business, but not in marriage. Marriage requires other knowledge to
create happiness. And when my wife would ask me so mockingly: 'Do you
suppose anyone in Tarnow knows French?' I had enough for a whole week.

"But I always answered back; and that's what made the trouble. I didn't
have peace and quiet until I realized that it's best not to say a word,
not one word. By the time I found this out it was too late. I believe,
Herr Doktor, one always is too old by the time one learns sense. It
doesn't do yourself any good any more, and the young folk want to get
their own foolish experiences. And so it's really no use to get
sensible."

"How can you say anything like that, Herr Eichelkatz? Haven't I the
pleasure of listening to so many experiences of yours which interest me
and give me food for thought? Don't your stories of the congregation
give me a picture which is significant to everyone who loves his people,
loves them faithfully and with sorrow at the heart? Besides, wasn't it
through the events and incidents of your life that you arrived, whether
early or late, at that state of peace and calm which beautifies your old
age?"

He listened to me attentively, and a melancholy smile played about his
mouth.

"Peace and calm, Herr Kreisphysikus, are to be found only after pain has
been gotten rid of in life. But to get rid of pain you must _have_ it
first. I have had much pain, much pain, and great Tzores; and now when
sitting here so quietly, you know--believe me--Herr Kreisphysikus, you
by and by become accustomed to that other peace, without end, and you
think of it without dread or horror. Sometimes you even--well, we won't
speak of it, Herr Doktor. Praised be God for having bestowed such a long
life on me. My wife has been dead twenty years and--"

I waited in a state of tense expectation that he would say something
about his son; but he hesitated for only an instant and continued:

"We lived together thirty-three years. Do you know what that means, Herr
Kreisphysikus, if she looked down on and despised her husband in the
very first year of her marriage? Because he wasn't so fine as she,
merely an immigrant from Galicia? Because his Mishpocheh were poor
people, and his father wasn't a wholesale dealer, but merely a peddler,
and because he didn't know French? Even though I showed them later that
I knew something and was something, and even though all the others
appreciated me, in the eyes of Madame Eichelkatz I always remained a
creature of a lower order, an intruder, an upstart. And she never
forgave her father for having made me his son-in-law. The better I
succeeded in business, and the wealthier we grew, the prouder and more
arrogant she became. I was good enough to earn a living, and she had no
fault to find with my business career; but as to the trouble I took to
cultivate my mind, she paid no attention to that. For her I always
remained Simon Eichelkatz from Tarnow, an employee in her father's
business, a person with an absurd name and no manners, whom she had
married at her father's wish and command. 'How did you happen to marry
such a husband?' the Oberstleutnant Von Boddin once asked her, while
standing in front of the shop door. 'It's a genuine _mésalliance_.' I
was standing behind the counter, and I felt that what the Oberstleutnant
was saying was a great insult to me, even though I didn't know the
meaning of the word. But I couldn't go and knock him down. Now could I,
Herr Kreisphysikus? I, a Jew, and he an Oberstleutnant? But I made a
mental note of the word, and I kept repeating it to myself:
_mésalliance_, _mésalliance_. Then, the next Shabbes, after _Mairev_, I
went to the Herr Rabbiner and asked him what it meant. When he explained
it to me, I all of a sudden became real quiet and thought to myself, why
the Herr Oberstleutnant after all is perfectly right. It _was_ a
_mésalliance_. A failure of a marriage, I tell you, Herr Doktor, and it
didn't get any better through the birth of our son in the second year.
As long as her father, Joseph Böhm, was alive, she had a little
consideration; but after his death that stopped. She sought company of
her own. She associated with the Goyim, with the Frau Rechnungsrat and
the Frau Kanzleirat, and more such aristocratic _Shnorrers_, who
accepted many a little favor here and there from their well-to-do
friend. Then came the misfortune with the Oberstleutnant and the
officers, who had their sport with the handsome Jewess. She became more
and more conceited and foolish; she was ashamed of her husband; and one
day she had visiting cards engraved with 'Madame Eichelkatz, _née_
Böhm.' The name stuck to her in the Khille. They began to despise her
and to pity me."

It had gotten late. I had another professional visit to pay, and I took
leave of my old friend. I am looking forward eagerly to his future
revelations. As I crossed the Ring past the shops, I suddenly saw, in my
mind's eye, an industrious man, humbled by his lot, standing behind the
counter, and before the door a handsome woman. And I murmured to myself:
"Madame Eichelkatz, _née_ Böhm."


      OCTOBER 23.

Late this afternoon I hunted up my old friend in the expectation that he
would continue the story of his life. Mention had been made of his son,
though only _en passant_, and I cherished the secret hope that Simon
Eichelkatz would return to him now that he had once begun to pour out
his heart to me. But to-day he didn't say anything bearing on what had
gone before. When I entered, I found him in a gay mood; and before I
crossed the threshold he called out to me:

"It occurred to me to-day that I wanted some time or other to tell you a
_Maaseh_, which is half funny, half sad."

And he only recounted anecdotes. Not one word about the events in his
life--only the story of the great dearth and famine. Simon Eichelkatz
was right; it is a tragi-comic history.

"It was a year of famine after the war of '59; sickness everywhere; bad
harvests, bad business; the potatoes rotting in the ground on account of
heavy rains and floods. Herr Kreisphysikus, to understand the misery of
the people thoroughly, you must live through such a year here.

"All over the mining district typhus, for which the stupid workmen and
peasants thought there was only one remedy, the whisky flask. The women
and children died miserably on their foul, ill-smelling straw heaps, the
men in the ditches. Herr Kreisphysikus, happily it is different now;
conditions have improved, it cannot be denied, since forty years ago.
Any one might be satisfied to have the difference expressed in money
added to his fortune. On that account it's silly always to talk of the
good old times. The world's gotten much better, much better. That's what
this old man tells you. The winter was terrible that year. To be sure,
the typhus grew less severe when the cold set in; but the poor people
suffered from the cold instead. Every day you found bodies frozen to
death in the ditches by the roadside. Of course they were usually
drunkards; nevertheless they were human beings, and such occurrences
aroused horror among us. The members of families gathered closer
together, they doubly realized the comfort of a heated room and the
blessing of a well-ordered existence. Every sign of well-being was
regarded with heightened interest; and one day the greatest excitement
was caused by the appearance of a new winter coat on the back of the
wife of the vice-president. She wore it to Shul for the first time on
_Sukkoth_. Frau Wilhelm Weinberger was the wife of a well-to-do man who
had brought her the garment from the Leipsic Fair. I can see it now, as
though it were yesterday it happened. And you may be sure the other men
had it impressed on their memory, too; for you can imagine, Herr
Kreisphysikus, it aroused as much envy as excitement; and after Shul
most families were probably discussing the coat of Frau Wilhelm
Weinberger. It was dark blue, of the finest buckskin, lined with white
and light blue striped cloth, and bordered at the bottom with a band of
black lambskin. The collar and cuffs were also of lambskin. I tell
_you_, Herr Kreisphysikus, it was a marvel."

He chuckled as he always did when something tickled his sense of humor.
I did not know whether it was the winter coat of Frau Wilhelm Weinberger
which amused him so greatly after the lapse of forty years, or other
recollections suggested by it. He paused for a long while before
continuing his narrative.

"Besides Teacher Sandberg there were two other teachers in the
congregational school at that time, Teacher Deutsch and Teacher
Herrnstädt, and two assistants for the lowest classes. All were married
and blessed with children; unfortunately, they were not blessed with a
corresponding income. The Khille was not in a position to give them
sufficient salaries; as it was, its budget for the officers that
conducted the services was considerable. So the teachers were extremely
hard put to it to support their families in a bekovet way; and in bad
times, when it is particularly difficult to get extra jobs, like giving
private instruction, they had no smooth road to travel, nebbich.
Sandberg had it a little easier, because on his free afternoons he was
employed as secretary to the congregation and he kept the minutes of the
meetings. But Deutsch had a hard time of it. He had two daughters, and a
son who worked in a dry goods store in Breslau. His wife and daughters
were very industrious. They did embroidery for the shops, and tried in
every possible way to add to the small income of their father. The son
also contributed to the support of the family, so that to all outward
appearances they seemed to be more than the children of the other
teachers. Besides, they always associated with the wealthier families in
the congregation. But exactly this was their misfortune. People with
daughters were annoyed that the daughters of Teacher Deutsch were always
so well-dressed--not like children of a poor teacher, but like those of
rich Baale-Batim. The teachers in meeting had decided to ask for a raise
of their salaries because of the increased cost of living on account of
the famine. They couldn't go on in the old way. The price of bread,
potatoes, coffee, and sugar was exorbitant. As it was, they ate meat
only once a week, on Shabbes; and it was impossible to obtain the fuel
needed during that severe winter. In a very emphatic and touching
petition drawn up by Teacher Herrnstädt, the matter was brought to the
attention of the president and the board, who were requested to grant an
increase to the teachers for the coming year."

At this point Feiwel Silbermann entered with a large cup of coffee and a
freshly filled pipe. Simon sipped the hot drink with evident enjoyment,
puffed at his pipe several times, and said:

"Yes, at that time things didn't go very well with us, Herr
Kreisphysikus. Feiwel, do you still remember the year 1859?"

"Why shouldn't I remember it, Herr Eichelkatz? Am I going to forget how
we starved and froze? It wasn't anything, wasn't it? That was a year!
The snow lay for four weeks. You wouldn't think there could be such
cold, and Teacher Deutsch's daughters got new winter coats."

With this he shambled out of the room and Simon said:

"Yes, the cold was frightful. But in spite of it we were greatly
astonished to see Caroline and Lenchen Deutsch, the teacher's daughters,
cross the Ring on Christmas day in new winter coats. Of course, we ought
to have been glad that the girls had warm clothing in such freezing
weather. But human nature is not so indulgent, and the Khille rather
bore them a grudge. Everyone ran to the window to make sure of the
wonderful fact. 'Look at them,' they called to one another, 'Caroline
and Lenchen Deutsch have new coats on. In such bad times! Really, you
wouldn't believe it. Chutzpeh!' But the worst of it was that the coats
in cut and color, in goods and trimming, were exactly like Frau Wilhelm
Weinberger's--blue buckskin and black lambskin--the latest style. The
excitement caused by Frau Wilhelm Weinberger's garment wasn't a
circumstance to what Caroline and Lenchen Deutsch's called forth. And
the consequences, Herr Kreisphysikus, the consequences!" Again he
laughed softly. "I don't believe blue buckskin and black lambskin have
ever produced such consequences. On the day after Christmas there was a
meeting of the committee. The first matter for consideration was the
petition of the teachers for a raise in salary. The committee almost
unanimously agreed that there was reason in the request. It wasn't
fitting that men intrusted with the education of the young should suffer
want. In order to have a proper influence upon children teachers should
have a free mind and a light heart. Thus spoke Dr. Ehrlich, with great
eloquence; and he moved that the petitioners be granted a raise of
thirty dollars for the year of famine. Hereupon our honorable friend,
Herr Doktor Krakauer, saving your reverence, arose and said he had an
addition to make to the proposition: 'to exclude Teacher Deutsch from
the benefit of the raise, because for two days his daughters have been
flaunting about in winter coats of blue buckskin with black lambskin,
coats exactly like the one which Frau Wilhelm Weinberger wears. If
anyone can afford that, he needs no raise.'"

A dumbfounded expression probably came on my face, because Simon looked
at me, and with that furtive smile of his he said:

"Every word of what I tell you is true, Herr Kreisphysikus. Herr
Manasse, _Zichrono livrochoh_, tried to oppose him in vain. He assured
the committee that he himself had brought the cloaks with him from
Breslau, where the son of Teacher Deutsch, a clerk at Immerwahr's, had
given them to him, because he wanted to save the expense of expressing
them. They had been lying there ever since the beginning of November,
and Teacher Deutsch's son had bought them way below the regular
selling-price from a travelling salesman, who had brought them to
Breslau as samples months before; one of them in fact was quite damaged.
But all that didn't help matters any. Blue buckskin with lambskin
remained a crime. It was no use to urge that a good son and brother had
pinched himself to give his parents and sisters a pleasure, and that he
was able to do it only because the cloaks were cheap and underpriced.
Other objections made by two members beside Manasse were also refuted.
They say Manasse almost cried when, at the end, he called out: 'But for
heaven's sake, they can't eat blue buckskin and black lambskin to
satisfy their hunger!' Even that was of no use. Our amiable Dr.
Krakauer, saving your reverence, carried his motion, and Teacher
Deutsch's petition was refused."

Simon looked into space, then said: "Do you know the real meaning of the
word '_nebbich_' Herr Kreisphysikus?"

"Yes, I do, _nebbich_."


      OCTOBER 29.

Autumn this year is very disagreeable. It rains a great deal, and the
damp, foggy atmosphere has a bad effect on health, both in the city and
the country. I have had a great deal to do. Simon Eichelkatz was also
indisposed for several days. At his age every disturbance of the
physical state is serious. But Feiwel Silbermann is so touchingly
attentive that the care he bestows upon the old man quickly carries him
through his trouble. My medical instructions are obeyed by Feiwel so
punctually and accurately that I can be sure of their effect. We stuck
our patient into bed for a few days, but to-day he is sitting up, and
this afternoon I allowed him to smoke his pipe. That raised his spirits
immediately, and he became more talkative. A light veil of
sentimentality still lay on his soul, often the case with convalescents,
and he at last returned to the narrative of personal experiences. He
remembered a sickness he had had in 1867, late in the summer--a sort of
dysentery or _cholera nostras_, then epidemic. "The real illness lasted
only a few days, but afterwards," he said, "I was so weak, I couldn't
stir a finger. I remember it as though it happened to-day, how I sat
before the shop in the sun, to draw some warmth again into my bones.
They fairly rattled. I didn't have a Feiwel Silbermann to look after me
then."

"And your wife?" I asked.

"My wife wasn't at home. She was in Warmbrunn with our son, who was to
recuperate there. He had just passed his final examinations at the
Gymnasium. He passed them splendidly, Herr Kreisphysikus. They even
excused him from a part of his oral examinations. The whole city spoke
of it; and when Herr Professor Lebeck came in the afternoon to buy cloth
for a pair of trousers, he said to me: 'You may be proud of your son,
Herr Eichelkatz; he does credit to you and to our Gymnasium. It's been a
long time since we've had so gifted and industrious a pupil.' Lebeck's
red nose glistened as though he had come directly from Heimann to me. Of
course, I sold him the goods very cheap; and as he went out he repeated:
'Yes, your son, he'll be something extra some day.'"

Simon Eichelkatz looked down thoughtfully, then he blew a thick cloud of
tobacco smoke into the air and added:

"Fortunately, it passed quickly; only the after-part, until I got back
my full strength--but still it wasn't necessary to disturb my wife in
her holiday, and my son. At first Herr Doktor Merzbach wanted to write
to her; but when I explained to him why I didn't want him to, he gave
up the idea. Why? Herr Kreisphysikus! Madame Eichelkatz would probably
have come back, if news of my illness had been sent to her; but she
wouldn't have brought love into my house, and no good will, and no
devotion, just what a weak, sick man needs. On that account I preferred
not to have her here, but to let her amuse herself there with her
company. It had just then come into style to go away in the summer; and
this was the first time Madame Eichelkatz, _née_ Böhm, had followed the
fashion. And there she met her good friends. I told this to the Herr
Rabbiner, and he thought the matter over and asked: 'Can nothing be
done, Eichelkatz, to bring peace into your married life? Now that your
son is grown up and ready to go to the university?' I felt as though the
Herr Rabbiner were reproaching me. And then for the first and last time
I opened out my heart freely. Perhaps because I was so weak and alone. I
told him what vexations and humiliations I had endured for twenty
years. And always carrying the trouble in secret, so as not to give
offense and for the sake of the child. He was not to see how matters
stood with us, and besides he was greatly attached to her and loved her
tenderly, for she had taken him entirely to herself. I ask you who was
Simon Eichelkatz of Tarnow? At most a decent, industrious fellow, who,
however, didn't trust himself to say what he thought. It was the custom,
you know, in Jewish homes for the women to concern themselves with the
house and with the bringing up of the children, and for the men to earn
a living. But there was perfect understanding between husband and wife,
real harmony; and the mother taught the children that the father, who
looked out for them and worked for them, was the centre of the
household. This was utterly lacking with Madame and myself. I always
remained a stranger to both mother and child. She chose his companions
from among the Christians with whom she associated, and she estranged
him from Jewish ways exactly as she had estranged him from his father.
She kept up the necessary appearances before the outside world; but
within our home it looked very bad. The boy was not put on a sure, sound
basis for the future. I know it now, Herr Kreisphysikus. Earlier in life
I could not see things so clearly. But when Dr. Merzbach came to me that
time, I realized all; and I told him everything, even that it was too
late to change matters, since my son was almost nineteen years old and
would leave home. Dr. Merzbach recognized the truth of what I said,
because he didn't say anything in reply. Then I went on and said:
'Believe me, Herr Rabbiner, if two human beings are yoked together and
do not go in exactly the same way, hand in hand, but one pulls to the
left, the other to the right, they cannot reach a common goal. For that
matter they have no common goal.' The Herr Rabbiner shook his head and
asked: 'How about your son's future?'

"'Each of us will probably wish for a different future,' I answered. And
that's the way it was, Herr Kreisphysikus. What _she_ wished came to
pass. Her son became a very renowned man. She didn't live to see his
greatness, and I who did, I hadn't longed for it."

He paused, as though revolving his words in his mind and added:

"You mustn't misunderstand me, Herr Kreisphysikus. But what has our
personal happiness to do with external success? What can one ever
receive from others that does not exist in oneself? Hasn't every
happiness a different form? Hasn't every happiness a different name?
Honor is happiness to one man, wealth to another, beauty to a third,
fame to a fourth. Hasn't happiness a thousand names and forms? And have
you ever seen two beings who call the same thing happiness? There may
be a few things that are looked on as happiness--contentment, health,
fulfilment of duty, wealth--but, my dear Herr Kreisphysikus, that only
sounds nice--it may be a part, but it is not the whole. That which all
men wish to possess is not the happiness that each individual imagines
for himself; because it depends upon the nature of each individual; and
there are as many happinesses as there have been men since the creation
of the world. Or, if you wish it, Herr Kreisphysikus, there is no such
thing as happiness at all. Because, if you can't see a thing and say, it
is thus and so, does it exist? I can say, this is an apple, this is a
potato, this is my pipe; but I can't say, this is happiness. How does it
look? Round or long, wide or narrow? I must laugh when I think that
Madame Eichelkatz, _née_ Böhm, and Simon Eichelkatz should have said,
that is our happiness, that's the way it looks, that's the way it should
look."

He waved his hand.

"I know all; I know what you want to say, Herr Kreisphysikus, and what
Herr Dr. Merzbach also said that time. Our son! Do you know the sort of
picture Madame Eichelkatz drew for herself of her son? Great and
renowned in the large outside world, so renowned that Herr
Oberstleutnant Von Boddin and Frau Steuereinnehmer Antonie Metzner, her
bosom friend, would open their eyes in astonishment. That's the way
_her_ happiness would have looked. She was ambitious and proud and knew
French. And do you know how my son looked in my dreams? A good, fine
man, an honest Jew, who would conduct my business. I was simple and
industrious, and I knew all about cloth. So you may believe me, Herr
Kreisphysikus, a Madame who speaks French, and a Jew who can tell at a
glance without touching it whether a piece of cloth comes from Cottbus
or England, two people like that have very different ideas of
happiness!"

I followed his words with increasing astonishment. How do such ideas
regarding individuality and such clearly-defined notions of eudæmonism
arise in the brain of this old man living remote from the world? Whence
this wisdom? While these questions agitated my mind, he continued:

"On that afternoon when I sat in the sun in front of my shop, I began to
ponder about these things; and since then I have accustomed myself to
reflect about this and that by myself; because I hadn't a single friend
with whom I could talk myself out. But, do you know, Herr Doktor, I
think it is better to be alone if one wants to think. And Dr. Merzbach
passed by and saw me sitting there alone; and, while he was talking to
me, Rittmeister Von Blücher and Major Von Schmidt cut diagonally across
the Ring to come up to us. Both stepped up and greeted the rabbi, who
enjoyed great consideration among the Christians.

"'How do you do, Herr Doktor,' the Rittmeister called out and laughed:
'Do you know the news? To-morrow I shall have the Jew Haberstroh shot;
he was delivered up to us from Oswiecin as a spy. He's said to have
served in the Austrian army near Neuberun.'

"Dr. Merzbach answered quietly:

"'Since you laugh over it, I'm not worried, Herr Rittmeister. I
understand your joke. You would not laugh if a human life were actually
at stake. At all events, it's really a sad story that just this good,
decent old man should be falsely suspected and delivered up.'

"'Well, what shall we do with the fellow, Herr Doktor? According to
military law, he ought to have been dead long ago. Ask the major if I'm
not right.'

"'I don't doubt the truth of your words, Herr Rittmeister; but I also
know that both you gentlemen would not have a poor innocent man put to
death on an unproved accusation. I pledge myself for Haberstroh's
innocence.'

"'Tut, tut tut, Herr Doktor, will you be answerable for the
consequences?'

"With these words they left the rabbi, laughing, and Haberstroh was not
shot to death. After a few days it turned out that he had been arrested
on the spiteful charge of a business rival. Dr. Merzbach had gathered
the proofs and handed them over to the Rittmeister. He himself had gone
to Oswiecin for this purpose. That's the way he always threw himself
into affairs, and helped with all his energy."

I was just about to put a question to Simon Eichelkatz about the spy,
when he suddenly said:

"Do you believe, Herr Kreisphysikus, that to be good and noble and help
your fellow-beings is happiness?"

"Have you ever read anything by Goethe or heard of him?" I returned,
evading the question.

"No, Herr Doktor, I never read anything by him, but I've heard of him."

"Goethe says: 'Let man be noble, helpful, and good.' Do you suppose by
these words he wanted to show men the road to happiness, Herr
Eichelkatz?"

"Who can tell?"


      NOVEMBER 11.

A clear winter has at last come after the foggy days of autumn. It has
been snowing for several days, and in the morning Jack Frost draws
crystal flowers on the window panes.

This morning I received a remarkable epistle from my mother. Its tone is
very different from what I am accustomed to in her. As a rule she avoids
all interference with my private affairs; and now, all at once, she
writes, she doesn't think it proper that I cut myself off, as I do, from
all intercourse, and open up no relations whatsoever with the prominent
members of the community. She goes on to say that she has learned from
trustworthy sources that very fine and cultivated families live in
Reissnitz, who would esteem it a pleasure to see me in their homes, and
who are probably hurt even now that I do not introduce myself to them.
She remarks that I am not intimate even with my colleagues, who would be
justified in making a claim upon me. In the house of Sanitätsrat Ehrlich
I would surely find the stimulus and the diversion I undoubtedly need
after a severe day's work in the practice of my difficult profession. It
is always a dubious matter for a bachelor to isolate himself; he
develops peculiar ideas and habits, and acquires the manners of a social
hermit. Who, she'd like to know, is a certain Simon Eichelkatz, to whom
I devote all my spare time? Besides, it is necessary for a physician to
marry--in order to inspire confidence, for the sake of appearances. I
had hesitated too long; as Kreisphysikus I should have had a wife long
ago; why, the very fact of being Kreisphysikus presupposes an age not
exactly youthful.

I reflected a moment--she was right for three reasons. My thirty-eight
years actually do make me seem old to myself. In fact, I am old; and it
now occurs to me all of a sudden that I may have failed to make use of
the psychological moment to seek and find my affinity. And if I never
marry? Is marriage so unqualifiedly desirable? I thought of Simon
Eichelkatz. But how did my mother come to hear of him? I didn't recall
having mentioned him in my letters to her. As for the other points on
which she touched? Ah! A flash of inspiration! Herr Jonas Goldstücker!
There it stood black on white! A very reliable gentleman had approached
her in a matter referring to me, calling for discretion, etc., etc. Now,
the merits of Fräulein Edith Ehrlich were known in Rawitsch also. I had
to laugh; but I determined at all events to interrogate my old friend
about the persons in question.

I went to him in the evening. Though he sat near the stove, with a
blanket spread over his knees, he still seemed to suffer from the cold.
He also seemed tired and not so fresh as a few days before. He responded
to my questioning look with:

"It's cold, Herr Kreisphysikus; a bad time for old people. Inside
nothing to warm you; outside the cold! It chills you to the marrow!" He
rubbed his hands and drew the blanket up. Feiwel Silbermann had stepped
in, looked at him anxiously without his noticing it, and then put some
more coal in the stove.

"We keep up good fires here in Upper Silesia," said Simon, "but what's
the use when you begin to freeze inside?"

There was a touch of melancholy in his voice. I laughed and said:

"Feiwel will heat you inside, too."

Then I ordered hot tea and rum for him at once; and a glass of mulled
wine every morning during the cold weather.

I was well aware that this prescription would be of little avail; there
are no remedies to counteract such symptoms of old age. But he could be
given some relief; and after taking the warm drink he felt more
comfortable for the moment.

"It's a remarkable thing, Herr Doktor, that man grows into a block of
ice, when his time comes. He doesn't die, but he freezes. Just as
outside in nature everything stiffens with the frost when the time
comes; and all life dies, because the sun is gone, the great warmth.
What curdles in us, is the warm current of life, the blood. No herb
grows which can prevent it. Forgive me, Herr Kreisphysikus, for speaking
to you so openly. But at my age you don't make beans about things any
more, and you think all sorts of thoughts--about life and death. And
I've always found you a sensible man, to whom I can say anything at all;
and if I now say to you: when the long winter comes upon men, nothing
will help them, no doctor, no tea, and no mulled wine, you won't take
offense, will you?"

"But spring follows winter," I said more to quiet him than out of
conviction. He may have felt this, because he smiled mournfully, and his
faded features were suffused with a glorified light--the light that
fills us with the awe of the infinite when we stand in the presence of
the dead.

"What that spring is which follows the winter of our lives, no man
knows. I think it is an eternal winter; and if a new life does blossom
out of the grave, it is a fresh beginning, which grows from itself, and
does not join on to an end without an end." He gazed meditatively into
space. "My idea is," he continued, "that death is the only reality on
earth. Life is only a seeming. Life changes at every moment and passes,
death never changes and remains forever. Tell me, Herr Kreisphysikus,
if men grow old, they live seventy years or a little more, and don't
they stay dead a million years? Have you ever heard of anyone's living
twice, or being young twice?"

It is not the first time I am called upon to notice the profundity of
the old man's observations; but it never fails to surprise me.

"Have you never heard of the immortality of the soul, Herr Eichelkatz?"
I asked.

"Soul, Herr Doktor? What is soul? Where is it? In what is it? How does
it look? Does it fly out of the body when life is at an end? By the
window? By the chimney? Through the keyhole? Has anyone ever seen it?
Has someone ever felt it? Sometimes I read in the paper about spirits
with whom chosen mortals talk. Do you believe it, Herr Doktor? I don't.
Has such a thing ever been proved? They are meshugge or else cheats; it
always turns out that way."

I had to laugh at the curt way in which he disposed of spiritualism and
all its excrescences.

"Nevertheless, my dear friend," I answered, "there is probably a
spiritual after-life which manifests itself in our children and
grandchildren--a young spring time of life made fruitful by the impulses
of our souls."

He wrapped himself more tightly in his cover. A slight shiver went
through his body.

"Herr Kreisphysikus, and how about those who have no children, or those
whose children go away from them, or those who do not know their own
children?--through no fault of their own. Why should they be worse off
than the others? What have they done that they should be extinguished
forever, while the others live on forever? I don't believe it. For if I
did happen to see in the world a great deal about which I had to ask
myself why, still I didn't see anything that had no definite plan and
no compelling cause, the good and the bad. The thing might not have
pleased me, and it might have seemed bad or false, but it had a law
according to which it had to be carried out."

There he was dealing with Kantian abstractions again; the categorical
imperative came to him instinctively. I did not want to tire him with
thinking too much, and I said:

"By the way, Herr Eichelkatz, I wanted to ask you something that is of
personal interest to me. Who is Herr Jonas Goldstücker?"

He looked at me slyly.

"Are you trying to provide for a spiritual after-life, which will
manifest itself in your children and grandchildren?" He repeated my
words with a touch of irony in the intonation. "And Herr Jonas
Goldstücker is to help you on to immortality?"

"We haven't reached that point yet, Herr Eichelkatz," I answered
laughing, rejoiced that I had made him think of other things. Without
his noticing it, I turned the conversation upon my colleagues in the
place, especially Sanitätsrat Ehrlich.

"I don't know the people of to-day very well, Herr Kreisphysikus. Since
I gave up my business I haven't bothered myself much about them. The
present Sanitätsrat Ehrlich is the son of the Sanitätsrat Ehrlich who
was one of the trustees along with Dr. Krakauer. He studied at the same
time as my son. And when Ehrlich had finished his course, he established
himself here and took up his father's practice. He married and reached a
position of prominence and wealth in the same place as his father, who
has been dead ten years. If that's what you mean by after-life, Herr
Doktor, then the old Sanitätsrat Ehrlich actually does live on in his
son. They say the son uses the very same prescriptions as his father.
He's not a shining light; but he's a fine, respected man. I believe in
time he was made trustee, like his father; and he has children, sons and
daughters, who are a satisfaction to him. His oldest son is also
studying medicine, and will probably some time take up his father's
prescriptions and his practice. The old Sanitätsrat Ehrlich was no
shining light, and neither is his son, and I don't know the young one at
all--but, at any rate, their light burns a long time, like a _Yom
Kippur_ light, and in the Khille it may be said of this family: _Ehrlich
währt am längsten_."

He smiled, and was pleased at his own little joke, and I for my part was
glad to have left him in a better mood than I had found him.


      NOVEMBER 18.

My old friend grows perceptibly weaker. There are no symptoms of a
definite trouble but _senectus morbus ipsa_. The nasty cold penetrates
the chinks at door and window and settles in some corner of the room,
however carefully warmed and provided against weather. The very time of
year prepares mischief for an old, decaying body. If Simon were sitting
in some sunny spot, who knows if his seventy-eight years would be
oppressing him so? What remarkable old people I saw in the south,
especially in Rome. They bore their eighty or ninety years with proud
dignity and fine carriage. We of the north age much more rapidly;
perhaps we are not even born young. Especially we Jews! Conditions have
been bettered in the course of time, since our young people have been
allowed to benefit by the sanitary, hygienic, and æsthetic achievements
of modern life. They all devote themselves to sports, and the obligation
to serve in the army has forced them--and the need therefor is highly
significant--to practice gymnastic exercises to their advantage.
Nevertheless they have something old, thoughtful, worldly-wise in their
souls. It is the heritage of the many thousands of years of culture, the
culture which has won us renown and singled us out among the nations,
but has burdened us also and weighted us down with the over-thoughtfulness
born of limitless life-experience. _Naïveté_ and an easy mode of
existence we have lost through this heritage; and that it manifests
itself especially in spiritual matters is praiseworthy, though neither
gratifying nor exhilarating. How difficult we are! How dependent upon
tradition! What deep roots we have struck in the soil of the past! I
believe we drag the chains of our long history more painfully than those
put upon us by the other nations. And though these chains are wrought of
the gold of fidelity and linked with the pearls of wisdom, they weight
us down--they weight us down in a world where we are only
tolerated--strangers!

Simon Eichelkatz awakened these thoughts in me. Yesterday he told me a
great deal again. Remarkable! It is as though he felt the need to
unburden his soul of a few more matters before he sinks into the great,
eternal silence. But he doesn't suspect my anxiety in his behalf. He
chats on heedlessly into the twilight of the early winter evenings. The
twilight makes people communicative and confidential. It is the time of
intimate secrets. And at such a time Simon acquainted me with the most
solemn experience of his life.

"I do not know, Herr Kreisphysikus, how to tell you--when I found it
out, I felt a pain as though a piece of my body were being torn away. It
hurt! My, how it hurt! I cried aloud! I made a rent in my coat; I threw
myself on the ground, and I sat _Shiveh_. My son was dead, my only
child! Madame Eichelkatz said nothing. She remained immovable. Not a
sound passed her lips; and to this day I do not know what she thought or
felt when the news came that our only child had been--baptized! He had
had himself _baptized_, Herr Kreisphysikusleben. Converted! Stepped from
one religion into another as lightly as though stepping from the middle
of the street over the gutter onto the pavement! From the painful, dusty
road to the elegant, smoothly-paved street!

"'What have you to say to this?' I screamed at my wife. But she said
nothing. And she raised no objections when after the Shiveh I declared
my intention of giving up the business, because, not having a child any
more, I did not know for whom to work. She quietly let me do whatever I
decided on in my pain and anger. She seemed entirely broken. But no one
learned whether from surprise, grief, or repentance. She faded away, and
two years after the terrible event she died from no special sickness.
'As a punishment,' the people said, 'of a broken heart'--who knows what
goes on in the soul of such a woman!

"I did not know. And that's where I was wrong in the matter. I know it
now. And it's a pity, Herr Kreisphysikus, that you never know at the
right time. You are never clever, you never understand, you never do the
right thing at the right time. It always comes when it's too late."

He paused in his confidences, somewhat hastily uttered, and looked
gloomily into space. Then, as though he had suddenly gathered together
his inner forces, he added:

"And yet, when I think it over carefully, it's probably not such a pity.
It must be so and can't be different, because to err is human. And it's
only by way of error that you arrive at knowledge. In man error is life.
When he knows everything, more than he likes to know, then comes death."

Error is life, and knowledge is death! The soul of this old man
comprehends everything. Philosophers and poets--he never read a line of
their works, scarcely a name of theirs reaches his ear, and yet their
finest thoughts are crystallized in his observations. And again, for
after a little pause he said:

"Death, what is it, Herr Kreisphysikus? Something else that no one
knows, surely doesn't know--forgive me, Herr Kreisphysikus, you,
too--although you've studied about life and death--and you're a fine,
learned man, a serious, learned man--I know, I know. If anyone could
have learned about death you certainly would have--but can one learn the
eternal riddles of nature? Who knows her secrets? The greatest learning
can't penetrate to them. Do me a favor, Herr Kreisphysikus, if there
_is_ anyone who knows, tell me; I'd be happy to learn one more thing,
before I lay myself down and become a dead man, as now I am a live man."

A startling thought flashed through my mind; but before I could answer
him, he said, almost hastily:

"I knew it, Herr Kreisphysikus; you can't tell me. Why? Because there's
not a soul who could have discovered it--nobody knows what--we don't
know anything."

_Ignorabimus!_

Ay, there's the rub. The thought has given pause to many another besides
Simon Eichelkatz!

But now I was determined to give expression to the thought which a
moment before had flashed through my mind.

"That's not so easily disposed of as you think, Herr Eichelkatz. We know
as little as you say, and yet we know so much! When the inscrutable
fails to yield us anything positive, when the exact sciences can tell us
no more, then comes the work of hypothesis, of thought."

He looked at me with great, astonished eyes. A light of comprehension
spread over his face, although he softly said:

"That's too much for me, Herr Kreisphysikus, what you are saying--I mean
the way you say it--I think I can understand your meaning; and as for
the exact sciences, I can imagine what that means, I have heard the
words before. But the other word, poth--pothe--it can't come from
apothecary? What you mean is that when we don't know about something,
others come and try to explain it from what they have thought over the
matter for themselves."

"That is called philosophy," I said.

"I know the word," he murmured under his breath.

"And the greatest minds of all times have occupied themselves with it."

"And has anything ever come of it?" he said, an ironical smile flitting
about the corners of his sunken mouth.

"Why, yes! For if thinking, interpreting, and reasoning did not make the
things of this earth clear to us and throw a moral light upon them,
there would be only one course left to us; we should be driven to
desperation."

He was obviously trying to adjust the meaning of my words in his mind,
for it was after a few minutes' pause that he said:

"And you really believe, Herr Kreisphysikus, that it is of some use?
Well, I won't argue with you, because I don't understand--but that we
should accomplish anything for the general good through morality, I
mean, the same sort of morality for many or for all--that--that seems
unlikely to me. I've always found that each man has his own morality,
just as every Jew has his own _Shulchan Oruch_. And there is nothing too
bad or too wicked for one man to do to another but that he can excuse it
as being moral. I've experienced it, Herr Kreisphysikus--I"--he paused
an instant--"yes, and why shouldn't I tell you? At the time when my only
child forsook the faith of his fathers, he wrote me a letter, yes--and
he explained the necessity for his taking the step, and in the finest
words and thoughts told me how it is the highest morality to be true to
yourself--not to what has been handed down to you by others--and how
each must find in himself the moral laws of the world--and how each must
free himself in order to strive unhampered toward the light. No one
should abide by what others have offered him, for to take is--mercy! And
the strong man must not kill himself out of compassion and mercy. But my
son said of himself, he was strong, and for that reason, he said, he
must go his own way pitilessly, and I should forgive him the pain he
caused me--he was not one of those who quietly gives a little of himself
here and a little there, as is the custom in narrow circles; he was one
of the few--one of the magnificently wealthy--a great giver who gives
himself to mankind!"

His voice had risen as he conveyed the contents of the letter to me; but
then, as though tired out, he added:

"I know every word by heart. I read the letter a thousand times; and, do
you know, Herr Kreisphysikus, so that I'd be sure to understand it and
read it perfectly, he wrote it in Hebrew letters."

He drew the Bible that always lay on the table closer to himself, took
out a piece of paper showing signs of much handling, and gave it to me.
It was the letter.

The depths of my soul were stirred.

"What could I do, nebbich, Herr Kreisphysikus? This letter was the only
thing I'd ever read of philosophy. Then--yes, after getting it, I sat
Shiveh! Because I learned from the letter: 'Be true to yourself.' And I
was true to myself in being true to my religion. 'And each must find in
himself the moral laws of the world,'--and the moral law of my world is
to hold sacred what the God of Israel has commanded. But I hid my sorrow
in my soul, and I never again reproached Madame Eichelkatz with having
led him into error through her education. What could a frivolous Madame
Eichelkatz do, and how could she hinder a man who 'gives himself to
mankind,' nebbich?

"She never saw him again, nor did he stand at her grave; because I got
the rabbi to write to him he should not come. He answered with only two
lines."

Simon reached out again for the book, took a slip of paper out, set his
horn-rimmed spectacles on his nose, and read:

"'Weep not, my father! Is not all weeping a lament? And all lamenting an
accusation? Accuse not my mother in her grave--accuse not me. Your soul
will be healed; for yours is not a petty grief.'

"That was the last I heard from him. Not a tear was shed at Madame
Eichelkatz's grave. Then I settled down here with Feiwel Silbermann. I
had enough to live on, more than enough, and I began to ponder over
mankind and things in general. I've grown old, and I am a stranger to
people. Rabbi Dr. Merzbach has been dead a long time, and Cantor Elias,
and Meyer Nathanson the Shammes, and Saul Feuerstein, the professional
bankrupt, and Dr. Krakauer, saving your reverence, and all the others.
The new generation scarcely knows me."

The last words were uttered brokenly, his head sank softly forward. He
had dropped off to sleep from sheer exhaustion. After a few minutes he
came to himself, and Feiwel Silbermann carried him to bed while I stood
there. We administered some bouillon and Tokay wine; but he remained
apathetic, and only murmured, almost unintelligibly: "Yes--times
change--the Khille is no longer _fromm_." Then he fell asleep again.

I was greatly disturbed on leaving him, and returned the next morning at
the very earliest hour possible. He was asleep. Two days later he had
passed into the eternal sleep of death.


      NOVEMBER 23.

To-day we carried Simon Eichelkatz to his last resting-place. Only a few
people accompanied him. But at his grave stood a solitary man.

"Myself I sacrifice to my love, and my neighbor I sacrifice as myself,
thus runs the speech of all creators."

The Nietzsche phrase flitted through my mind, a phrase that I had heard
explained by the son, the heir of that unlearned, wise old man whom we
had just consigned to the earth. "But all creators are hard--thus spoke
Zarathustra."

And there--

In a soft though intelligible voice the solitary man repeated the Hebrew
words, as he shovelled the earth onto the coffin:

"Dust thou art, to dust returnest; but the spirit returns to God who
gave it."

Then he raised himself up, his eye fastened on the growing mound.

Friedrich Eichner!



THE PATRIARCH


Joshua Benas, Geheimrat, arose from his seat at his desk. His smug
countenance wore a smile of satisfaction, as he gazed thoughtfully into
vacancy, and stroked the close-trimmed beard, already touched with grey.

"Very good," he muttered, with a complacent smile, "first-rate. Elkish
has put the matter well. _A la bonheur!_ We will declare fourteen per
cent dividend; if we strain a point, perhaps fourteen and a half--and
enough for a surplus. Great! Splendid!... What a figure we shall cut! No
small affair! The gentlemen will be astonished. But after all that is
what they're used to; Joshua Benas doesn't fall short of what people
expect of him."

He pressed the electric button.

"Tell Mr. Elkish to come up when he leaves the office," he said to the
servant who had entered quietly; then he glanced at the clock standing
on his desk, a Mercury of light-colored Barbedienne bronze.

"Five o'clock already! Tell Elkish to be here by half-past five."

The servant bowed; as he was leaving the room, his master called after
him:

"Is my son at home?"

"No, Herr Geheimrat."

"And my daughter?"

"She and Mlle. Tallieu drove to Professor Jedlitzka's for her music
lesson."

"Hm! Very well! Be sure to give my message to Mr. Elkish, Francis."

At this moment an elderly lady of distinguished appearance entered the
room.

"Do I disturb you, Joe?"

He dismissed the servant with a nod.

"No, Fanny, if a half-hour will suffice; in half an hour I expect
Elkish. At half-past five, Francis."

The servant withdrew as quietly as he had entered, and husband and wife
were left alone.

With the eye of the careful housewife she glanced about the room. The
luxury of her surroundings had not diminished the traditional concern
for minute details of housekeeping. From her mother she had acquired her
loving devotion to the affairs of the house. She guarded its growing
prosperity, and with a keen eye, as well as a careful hand, she
treasured the beautiful and choice possessions with which a fondness for
collecting and a feeling for art had enriched her home. Her large corps
of servants was capable and well-trained; yet Mrs. Benas would delegate
to none the supervision of her household and the inspection of its
details.

Her appearance did not betray her habits. She was forty-nine years old;
her dark hair, with a touch of grey, was becomingly arranged over a
rather high forehead. Her generous mouth, showing well-preserved teeth,
and her full double chin gave her countenance a look of energy, softened
by the mild and intelligent expression of her eyes. The slight curve of
her nose was sufficient to impart to her countenance the unmistakable
stamp of her race. But it did not detract from the air of distinction
that characterized Frau Geheimrat Benas.

The rapid survey satisfied her that everything was in the best of order
in the luxuriously equipped workroom of her husband. Not a particle of
dust rested upon the costly bronzes, standing about on desk and mantel,
on tables and stands, with designed carelessness. Not too obtrusively,
and yet effectively, they revealed the Geheimrat as a patron of the
arts, able to surround himself with the choicest works of the most
distinguished artists.

Glorious old Flemish tapestries hung above the sofa, forming the
background for book-cases filled with the classics of all literatures,
and for various _objets d'art_, which a discerning taste had collected.
Mrs. Benas's glance rested with particular tenderness upon a few antique
pieces of silver, which seemed a curious anachronism in a room furnished
in its up-to-date style. They were heirlooms from her parents' home in
Rogasen, where her father, Samuel Friedheim--Reb Salme Friedheim as he
was called--had been held in high regard. There was the _Kiddush_ cup,
the _Besomim_ box, the _Menorah_, and the large silver _Seder_ platter,
used by her father; and there were the silver candelabra, the lights of
which her mother had "blessed". Her father had been a thrifty dealer in
wools, not too greatly blessed with worldly goods; a great Talmudic
scholar he had been, however, worthy to marry the great-granddaughter of
the celebrated Rabbi Akiba Friedländer, under whom he had studied.

Mrs. Benas's demeanor unconsciously reflected the dignity of such
ancestry. She took it as a matter of course that her lot in life should
have been cast in the high financial circles, the sphere which gives
importance and position to the modern Jew. The son-in-law of Reb Salme
Friedheim could not be other than a Geheimrat, unless, continuing the
traditions, he had been a student of the Talmud. But, after all,
nowadays a Geheimrat is to be preferred to a Jewish scholar or to a
modern rabbi; and with pride becoming to her and no offense to her
husband she gloried in the aristocracy of her family, without
overlooking the advantages her husband's wealth had brought.

The home of her husband had also been in the province of Posen; and it
was the respect in which her father had been held throughout the
province that had attracted his father, Isidor Benas of Lissa, to the
match. Although the dowry was smaller than Benas senior thought he was
entitled to demand for his son, the rank of her family weighed so
heavily in the balance that Joshua was allowed to court Fanny and win
her as his life companion.

His father died shortly after the marriage. Joshua moved the banking and
grain business, in which he had been a partner, to Berlin. Here the
business prospered to such an extent that the firm of Joshua Benas was
soon reckoned among the most influential of the rapidly developing
capital. Indeed, it headed all financial and industrial undertakings.
Joshua Benas, prominent in the establishment of a large bank, member of
the boards of the principal industrial corporations, was appointed
Kommerzienrat at the end of the "seventies", and a few years later, in
recognition of special services to the Government in the supply of arms,
he was made Geheimrat. At the time there were rumors of a high order,
which were never made true; and Mrs. Benas gave up the hope she had
probably cherished in secret, for the growth of anti-Semitism set a
short limit to the honors conferred on Jews, and rendered the dignity
of a Geheimer Kommerzienrat the highest to which they dared aspire.

"Credit to whom credit is due," a distinguished professor had
equivocally remarked in her drawing-room some years before, in reference
to the appointment of a banker distinguished for nothing but his wealth
as Geheimer Kommerzienrat. The words ever echoed in her ears. Since then
the lesson to remain modestly in the background and be content with the
achievements of better times had been well learned. In the meantime,
Benas's income had continued to increase; his home grew in splendor and
artistic attractiveness, and while his wife watched over the comfort of
her establishment and the carefully planned education of the children,
she kept pride of ancestry alive in the secret recesses of her soul. The
more she felt herself cut off from intercourse with those of her own
station in life--the social circle of the elect--the more she cherished
the consciousness of her noble descent. The feeling that had been sacred
merely as a tradition in the years of social advance, developed in the
present days of social isolation--half voluntary and half enforced--into
something more intimate and personal. She spoke but seldom of this; all
the deeper and keener was the hurt to her pride.

To-day, however, these questions had presented themselves with more
insistence than usually. She had received a letter that had led her to
seek her husband at this unwonted hour.

As she entered the room a nervous tension was apparent in her features,
and, turning to him hastily, after the servant left, she said: "I must
speak with you, Joshua, about a matter of great importance."

"Goodness! What's the matter, Fanny? At such an unusual time, and so
excited. I hope nothing has occurred. Is it a letter from your sister
or...."

During this rapid-fire interrogation she had approached the desk and
sunk into an arm-chair.

"Please, Benas, not so many questions at once. I came here to tell you
all about it, and I myself hardly know whether this letter is pleasant
or unpleasant. It's not from my sister, in fact, from somebody very
different."

"Well, from whom? You make me curious. How should I guess from whom?"

"I shall tell you immediately, but please sit down quietly next to me;
for we must decide upon the answer."

He glanced at the clock: "I ordered Elkish to come at half-past five."

"Elkish can wait."

"Indeed not! I must consult him about to-morrow's committee meeting of
the Magdeburg Machine Construction Company."

"Now, Benas," she interrupted, "there are weightier matters than the
Magdeburg Machine Construction...."

"You say that so lightly, Fanny.... I cannot understand how a woman as
clever as you are can say such things. The 'Magdeburgs' not important! a
small matter! When the balance-sheet is published to-morrow, and the
dividends declared, they will rise in value at least fifteen points; and
_that_, you say, is of no importance! I must still give my orders about
buying and selling; for at the close of the exchange, they will
naturally fall, but the day after, then--I tell you, Fanny, it will be a
big thing!"

"That's all very good and nice. Money, sadly enough, is the only power
we have nowadays; but sometimes other things affect the course of
events, as, for instance, this letter."

"Well, what of it? Elkish may come at any moment."

She opened the letter while he turned on the electric light of his
reading lamp, whose green silk shade spread a soft, subdued light over
the room.

"Regierungsrat Dr. Victor Weilen begs permission to pay his respects
this evening at nine o'clock. He apologizes for setting so late an hour,
but explains that his duties keep him occupied until late in the day;
and inasmuch as the matter which he wishes to discuss is a family
affair, he hopes we shall receive him."

"A family affair? He! What does he want of the family? and so
unexpectedly! That's really curious. A family affair!"

"He begs, as the time is so short, that an answer be sent to him by
telephone, to the Foreign Office, where he will wait until eight
o'clock."

"Gracious, how swell! The Foreign Office! And thus do we attain to the
honor of telephoning to the Foreign Office," he added satirically.

"What shall the answer be, Joshua? that we are at home?"

"Surely, if you wish to receive him. I cannot understand your
excitement, dearest. You have received a Regierungsrat in your
drawing-rooms before this, even an Oberregierungsrat. There was a time
when Mr. Breitbach found our Moët rather fair...."

"There _was_ a time, Benas!"

He frowned. "Well, that's something that cannot be altered, dear child."

At this moment his confidential clerk, Elkish, was announced.

"Even though the 'Magdeburgs' rise ever so high," she answered
ironically.

"But that need not hinder you from receiving the Regierungsrat. We're
still good for something, I suppose. What think you, Elkish?" he called
to him as he entered.

"I do not know to what you refer."

"Well, what else can I refer to but our balance-sheet?"

"As regards that, the firm of Joshua Benas has no need to hide its
head," the old clerk responded proudly.

"Well, do you see, dear child?" he said to his wife. "Do as you think
best, I rely upon your judgment. You always do the right thing."

She rose. "I will not interrupt you any longer."

"I should like to finish this matter before dinner. There is not much
time left."

"Then I shall have Francis telephone that we are at home, and we expect
him." She waited at the door.

"Yes, that's all right," he answered, already absorbed in the papers his
clerk had spread before him.

"Good-by, Benas! Good-by, Mr. Elkish."

"Good-by, my child," he called to her as she was leaving.

"This only awaits your signature, Mr. Benas. Here. A dividend of
fourteen per cent and a half."

"Really, Elkish? I'm delighted!"

"Yes, and here, 240,000 mark in the sinking fund, then 516,000 mark for
surplus."

"Excellent! Splendid!" He put on his eyeglasses and signed the various
papers placed before him.

"And who do you think will be elected to the board this year?"

"I thought Glücksmann and Ettinger."

"The time for the Breitbachs and Knesebecks is past.... Well, as far as
I am concerned, both of them may count upon my vote."

"Mr. Breitbach has not been here for an age," remarked Elkish with a
shrewd look.

"Well! To offset that, Herr Regierungsrat Dr. Weilen wishes to visit us
to-day--a cousin of my wife."

"He?" The eyes of the old clerk flamed suddenly with burning hatred. "He
is baptized, Herr Geheimrat. A grandson of Rabbi Eliezer,.... the first
in the family."

"That is not so certain," murmured the Kommerzienrat under his breath.

"And merely to further his prospects! A grandson of Rabbi Eliezer!"
Unbounded contempt was expressed by the tone of the faithful clerk, for
many years the confidant of his chief, whom he had accompanied from
their former home to Berlin.

"How does the cat get across the stream, Elkish? As a Jew he would have
had no future, even if he were a direct descendant of King David."

"And is a career everything?"

"One is ambitious, and one must--why not succeed?"

"How about the honorable Geheimrat himself? Haven't you succeeded? If
one is able to declare a dividend of fourteen and a half per cent, isn't
that success? And if one owns a villa in the Tiergartenstrasse, isn't
that what you call success? And if one's son serves with the Dragoons of
the Guard? And Miss Rita studies music with Jedlitzka, and literature
with Erich Schmidt? She told me so yesterday. Isn't all that success? I
tell you, Herr Kommerzienrat, that is success enough. Who buys pictures
of Menzel, and busts of Begas, who, indeed? Krupp and Joshua Benas of
Lissa. That's what _I_ call success." The longer he spoke, the more
intense his enthusiasm, and unconsciously he lapsed into the Jewish
intonation, which ordinarily did not characterize his speech.

"Not every one can get to be a Kommerzienrat, Elkish. Earning money is
unquestionably a very nice thing, but there are idealists who seek
advancement in other ways."

"Idealists! Fine idealists, who sell their religion as Dr. Weilen has
done. The whole Duchy of Posen was scandalized! A grandson of Rabbi
Eliezer! And what does he want of you? Mrs. Benas, I hope, will show him
what she thinks of the like of him. I'm certainly surprised that with
her views she should consent to receive him."

"He wishes to speak of family affairs."

"Family affairs?" sneered the old man. "Chutzpeh! Perhaps he wants to
borrow money of you. That's what usually makes such people remember
their family."

"Why, you're in a fine mood to-day, Elkish."

"My mood is always spoilt when I think of such matters, Mr. Benas. After
all it is really none of my business. If I had had the _Zechus_ to
belong to the family of Rabbi Akiba Friedländer, I should not have
allowed such a person to cross my threshold."

"Calm yourself, Elkish."

"Why should I calm myself? I am not at all excited. It does not concern
me. You must consider what you are doing; and the main thing after all
is that to-morrow we declare fourteen and a half per cent."

"Yes, Elkish, after all, that is the main thing."

       *       *       *       *       *

At precisely nine o'clock the servant brought in the card of
Regierungsrat Dr. Victor Weilen.

As was their custom in the evening when at home to a small circle, the
family was assembled in the little round sitting-room. The Geheimrat was
seated in an American rocking-chair, near a revolving book-case, in
which the evening papers were carefully arranged on their racks. He was
smoking a "Henry Clay," and was busily engaged in studying the stock
quotations in the "National".

The tea-table, at which Mrs. Benas sat, with its fine silver service,
its costly embroidered silk table cover, and with cakes and fruit
arranged in beautiful old Meissen bowls, made an attractive picture. An
atmosphere of comfort pervaded the room, which despite the luxuriousness
of its furnishings made a cozy impression. Artistic vases filled with
fresh flowers, fantastically arranged, added to the charm--orchids,
delicate and sensitive; chysanthemums of brilliant coloring; bright
Chinese lilies curiously shaped, and fire-red berries on thorny
branches. Interspersed among these exotic flowers were graceful violets,
lilies of the valley, roses, and lilacs, amid tall foliage plants. The
display of flowers drew one's attention away from the artistic objects
with which the room was filled, but not overburdened. A rich and refined
taste was shown in the whole arrangement. Dr. Weilen appreciated it the
instant he entered the room. Mr. Benas had advanced a few steps to greet
his guest, which he did formally, but cordially, and then presented his
wife and his daughter Rita. When the visitor entered, Rita put aside the
latest publication by Fontane which she had been reading.

His rapid glance recognized "Stechlin."

Immediately after the entrance of the guest, a young man stepped through
the half-open door of the adjoining billiard room.

"My son Hugo," the Geheimrat introduced him. "Referendar at the court
of appeals."

"I must again beg your pardon, Mrs. Benas, that I pay my respects to you
so late in the evening. But I have something very much at heart, and I
did not wish to lose several days only in order to come at a more
seasonable hour."

"Let me assure you, in our house the word family affair is a pass-word
that overrides conventions, however strictly enforced. In this regard we
have carried the traditions of our home into the larger world. The word
family always bears a special appeal to us."

He understood quite well that she wished to intimate her appreciation of
the obligations demanded by social considerations, which, however, the
special circumstances permitted her to waive. With a bow he seated
himself near the tea-table, at which the others resumed their places
also.

"I am indebted to you for your indulgence. My office hours come at the
customary visiting time; and it may have happened that I could not have
spoken to you undisturbed, so I took the liberty to claim this
privilege."

"Not at all."

In the meantime Rita had prepared the tea, and offered him a cup.

"Thank you."

"Do you prefer a cigar or a cigarette?"

"Is smoking permitted?" he asked of the ladies.

"During the tea hour my wife allows smoking."

"Then may I ask for a cigarette?"

"Hugo, there are the Russian----"

Hesitating, as if overcoming some inner aversion, the young man arose
and brought forward a small smoking table with boxes of cigars and
cigarettes and smoking appurtenances. Dr. Weilen, with the eye of a
connoisseur, noted the wonderful Oriental enamel work in the table. Hugo
offered him the cigarettes and a burning wax-taper.

"Thank you, Herr Kollege."

A deep pallor overspread Hugo's face as he bowed silently, while his
father said with a smile: "To such dignity we have not yet attained."

"Your son is a lawyer as I am," he graciously said. "I occupied the same
position as he does before I was made Regierungsrat. Such is the order
of advance. Every one must make a beginning; isn't that so, Herr
Kollege? In which department is your work now?"

"In the Exchequer. This is the last year of my preparatory service."

"He has obtained his doctorate, and has served his year with the
Dragoons of the Guard," explained his father.

"Then the greatest tasks are over. Would you not enjoy entering the
service of the Government?"

"No, sir," he answered in a firm voice. "As a Jew I should have no
chances there." The words conveyed an unmistakable insinuation. The
sullen fire in his eyes reminded the Kommerzienrat of the appearance of
his clerk when he had spoken to him of Dr. Weilen.

The latter appeared not to have heard Hugo's remark, and Mrs. Benas
turned to him with some polite phrase, while Rita asked him to allow her
to pare some fruit for him.

A harsh, ironic expression lay upon Hugo's face. The moment was ominous,
but Dr. Weilen rose to the occasion and said:

"May I tell you now what prompted me to ask for the pleasure of a visit
here?"

Mr. and Mrs. Benas looked at him expectantly, and Rita's eyes were
fastened upon him with evident interest, while Hugo stared into vacancy,
a sombre expression on his face.

"In a few months our uncle, Mr. Leopold Friedländer, will celebrate his
ninetieth birthday, on the day before Easter. A short while ago chance
threw a Jewish weekly into my hands, in which mention was made of the
unusual occasion, and of the significance of Leopold Friedländer's
career for Rawitsch. It was not news to me; for at my home mention was
often made of my mother's oldest brother, and as a boy I accompanied her
once on a visit to him, in order to become acquainted with him. It was
shortly after my confirmation,--I mean my--my Bar-Mitzvah. Such
childhood recollections remain with one. My mother wished me to recite
for him the chapter of the Torah to which I had been 'called up.' This I
did, and the impression the moment made must have been very deep, it has
remained with me through all the various experiences of my life."

"To be sure," Mrs. Benas felt bound to say, in order to hide the
embarrassment which had come upon them. "One never entirely loses the
recollections of one's childhood."

"Why should one? They do not represent our worst side. There are
occasions in life when they are forced into the background by weightier,
more insistent experiences, but they return most vividly in our maturer
years at such times when we search our consciences in a confessional
mood. When the restlessness of youth subsides, when the struggle for
existence is no longer strenuous, when the goal is attained, then it is
that the reminiscences of childhood reappear in full vigor. Such
reminiscences do not fade, nor become blurred with time."

Rita had regarded him throughout with fixed attention.

"It would be desirable for the shaping of one's career, if such
impressions were at all times kept vividly in mind," Hugo said
pointedly.

"That is not altogether true," he responded with a smile. "It would
interfere with one's development if such influences were ever present.
To live amply means to hold control over oneself, and one's personality
can be realized and enjoyed only when we have understood and tasted of
life in its fulness. Not alone from a one-sided, narrow standpoint, but
from the broadest point of view, from the general, the impersonal. Only
then can that which is most individual in us develop freely and reach
full consciousness."

He relit his cigarette which he had allowed to go out. "But we are
wandering off into philosophic byways," he said lightly. "Such is always
the case when youth offers us the wisdom of age. You will forgive me,
Herr Kollege. It is a challenge to prove one's life not devoid of
experiences."

Rita thought her brother had deserved this courteously delivered
reproof. What could he have been thinking of when he allowed his
unpleasant mood to get the better of him? And toward a guest!

"During these last few days I have begun to realize, with surprise and
yet with pleasure, how strongly my past took hold of me. I happen to
take up a periodical; my eyes chance to light upon a name, whose sound,
long forgotten, re-awakens old memories. In a flash, the old times live
within me again. I am deeply impressed--the sensation grows upon me ever
more vividly, and at last seeks expression. That brings me to you."

"But how did you happen to come upon this journal?" asked Mr. Benas,
merely for the sake of keeping up the conversation.

"At present my interests take me to the department of press and
publicity," he rejoined with a smile, "and one finds everything there.
That was the way I came upon the notice of the ninetieth birthday of
Leopold Friedländer--my--our uncle. The fine old man has attained the
age of a veritable patriarch."

"Yes, Uncle Leopold is well-advanced in years," Mrs. Benas added; "the
oldest of fourteen brothers and sisters, he is the only one living."

"Is he in good health, and how does he bear his advanced years? I take
it for granted you are in direct communication with him."

"Certainly, as head of the family he is highly honored by all of us. We
visit him almost every year, and my children, too, have received his
blessing. He is vigorous, mentally alert, and reads without spectacles,
so that his patriarchal age does not obtrude itself upon his visitors."

"Strangely enough, that is just as I had pictured him to myself. And
what of his direct descendants, his sons and daughters?"

"Both daughters are still living, but only one of his three sons."

"Where do they reside?"

"They all married and remained in Rawitsch. Jacob, who is almost
seventy years old, carried on his father's business, which is now in
the hands of one of his grandsons."

"So the firm is perpetuated from generation to generation. The grandson,
no doubt, has a family also?"

"Our cousin is still unmarried."

"And do all live together?"

"Uncle Leopold, since the death of his wife, about twenty years ago,
lives with his son."

"My visit to him took place five years before that, when he was still in
active business."

"When all the children were provided for, he followed the desire of his
heart, and devoted himself to the study of the Torah, a pursuit which,
as is natural in the oldest son of Rabbi Eliezer, he had always followed
with great devotion. Throughout the whole province, too, he is held in
esteem, as if he himself were a rabbi worthy to be the spiritual heir of
his famous father."

"These various stages of family life easily escape one moving in quite
different circles, but they interest me exceedingly; and I am most
grateful to you for this information. The family must have spread
greatly, to judge by the number of children our grandfather had; the
descendants must be very numerous. Did you know all the brothers and
sisters of your mother, Mrs. Benas?"

"I knew all of them, excepting an uncle who died in London, and your own
mother."

"She was the youngest of Rabbi Eliezer's children, and died quite young.
I, her only child, had not yet reached my fifteenth year. My father
married a second time, and consequently the ties of kinship were
somewhat loosened, and later, when we moved to South Germany, all
connections were broken off. From this time on, I heard almost nothing
about my mother's family, and when I left my father's house after my
final college examinations, to attend the University of Heidelberg, I
was outside the range of all family connections. Shortly after my father
died, and as his second marriage was without issue, I was left alone.
After the year of mourning, my stepmother went to live with her brother
in Milwaukee. She married a city alderman, Dr. Sulzberger, and lives
happily there. I give these details, assuming that it might be of some
interest to you to learn of the vicissitudes of a near relative, who has
come upon you so unexpectedly, even though he is but a branch cut off
from the parent stem by peculiar circumstances."

"It is very kind of you to tell us these things, Mr. Weilen. At home,
your mother, Aunt Goldine, was often spoken of. And I also heard mention
made of the exceptional talents of her son Victor, and of the fact that
your father never approached her family after her death."

"I do not know the reasons for this, I merely know the result--an entire
estrangement from her family, and that after my father's death I stood
quite alone."

"But you might have approached the family."

"Such a step is not natural for a young man who is independent
financially--which I was, having become my father's heir--and who
believes that he has found a new family in the circle of his
fellow-students. I belonged to the most prominent Corps, and became my
own master when I came of age. My boyhood, with its recollections of my
mother and her circle, seemed a lost world, from which no echo ever
reached me. I loved my mother dearly, but at that age it is not
considered good form to give in to sentiment; and it seemed to me more
manly to suppress my grief. In regard to her family, a certain obstinacy
and pride took possession of me. Through all that period there had been
no solicitude for me on their part. Why should I force myself upon them?
I thought that I had no need of them. Presumably our views of life were
wholly opposed. After the death of my mother, my life was spent in very
different circles. I confess that even in later years when I went to
Posen to visit the grave of my mother, I never thought of calling on the
family."

Mr. Weilen's little audience followed his words with mixed feelings. Mr.
Benas was eager as to what would be the outcome of his explanations; in
Mrs. Benas' family sentiment was awakened; Rita's flushed cheeks
testified to the excitement with which she had listened; while Hugo
looked sullenly and cynically at the dignified gentleman who spoke so
frankly and straightforwardly about himself and the circumstances of his
life.

Up to this time the conversation had been carried on chiefly by Mrs.
Benas and her cousin. The others listened in silence. But now Mr. Benas
interposed.

"Such things," he said, "frequently happen in large and scattered
families. It is almost impossible to follow the career of every member.
Only those keep in touch with one another whom the peculiar
circumstances and conditions of life throw together. My wife has
numerous cousins whose names we hardly know, and then, again, there are
others with whom we are in constant and close relations. The same is
true of my own side of the family. Whoever looks us up and shows a
desire to be friendly, is welcome."

"I thank you, Mr. Benas."

"Especially in this case," he continued. "But it is utterly impossible
to keep track of every one. Think of it, Dr. Weilen, the father of Rabbi
Eliezer, your grandfather and my wife's as well, that is, your
great-grandfather, Rabbi Akiba, was married three times, and had nine
children. These in turn married, and no doubt were richly blessed with
children, and so on, according to God's commandment: 'Ye shall be
numerous as the sands of the sea;' but to pick out all these grains of
sand, to observe them, and know them according to their kind, is
impossible."

"_I_ do not think so, father," said Hugo.

"You seem to be an enthusiastic member of your family."

"I am a Jew."

Dr. Weilen's glance rested with sympathy and interest on the young man.

"But that has nothing to do with our talk, Hugo," said his mother, eager
to confine the conversation within safe limits. "Your father merely
wished to illustrate how impossible it is to be in close personal
relation with all the members of a large, ramified family like ours."

"To which I desire to add the interesting fact," Mr. Benas smilingly
said, "that hardly a day passes without the appearance of some one or
other who claims to be related to us, either in some remote way through
Rabbi Eliezer, or through his father, Rabbi Akiba. Then I always come
to the conclusion anew that all Jews are related to one another."

"That they are, father, racially; and they have kept the race pure for
thousands of years, and have made it capable of resisting the dangers
threatening it from the outside, through fire and sword, and all
persecutions and attacks. Only disintegration from within would destroy
them--if they cannot put a check upon it--or will not."

"But, Hugo, why always generalize about matters that are of purely
personal concern to us? Joe," turning to her husband, "it will surely
interest Dr. Weilen, to see to what trouble you went to establish the
numerous branchings of our family tree. For our silver wedding, two
years ago, my husband had the genealogy of Rabbi Akiba Friedländer's
family traced."

"It was not a simple matter," said Mr. Benas, "and the artistic
execution hardly cost Professor Zeidler more trouble than the gathering
of the data. A young student, also from our home and distantly related,
worked almost two years at collecting and arranging the material."

"I should suppose so. And did he succeed in making it quite complete?"

"So far as I can judge, he did succeed. Do you care to see the drawing?"

"Very much."

Rita rose involuntarily.

"Will you show it to Dr. Weilen, my dear?"

"Certainly, mother."

Miss Rita conducted him to her mother's room through the large state
parlor, the walls of which, he noted in passing, were covered with
canvasses of distinguished artists. In her mother's room, over a small
Florentine inlaid table of the sixteenth century, hung the genealogical
chart. The room was marked by the same rich style as prevailed
elsewhere, but there was something more genial, more home-like in the
artistically furnished boudoir. Not a boudoir in the ordinary sense of
the word, but rather the apartment of a lady,--luxurious and subtly
feminine withal. A soft glow from an iridescent hanging lamp dimly
illuminated the room. Rita turned on the electric light inserted in the
bowl of an antique lamp, and a bright radiance fell on the large chart
occupying almost the entire wall space.

Both stood regarding it without speaking.

Dr. Weilen was lost in contemplation, then he adjusted his eyeglasses as
if to see better. "So that is the old pedigree! That's the way it looks!
So our tribe has grown and multiplied! How remarkable and interesting!"
He was lost in contemplation again, and drew nearer to the chart to
study it in detail. It seemed as if he had entirely forgotten Rita's
presence; and she remained perfectly quiet, so as not to disturb him.

"Curious," he said, half to himself, "who would have believed it? If I
hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I would not have realized the
persistent vigor in the old stock." He turned his attention to the
right-hand side of the chart, read a few names there, and then said to
Rita: "Excuse my abstraction, but it is quite surprising. Are you
interested in the history of the family?"

"Of course, I am used to it from childhood up, and my mother has always
told me all the peculiarities and incidents of the family."

"And you know your cousins personally?"

"Quite many."

"And what is their station in life?"

"Every possible station. Look at all these branchings and ramifications.
There is hardly an occupation that does not claim one or the other.
Lawyers, physicians, tutors, merchants,--some very well placed and
others less fortunate. One cousin is an African explorer, another has
joined a North Pole expedition; and by marriage the women of the family
have entered circles as various. Among the cousins by marriage there are
architects, professors, dentists, veterinary physicians, engineers, and
manufacturers. I think it would hardly be necessary to go outside of the
family to find one of every kind, with the exception...." Here she
suddenly paused in her vivacious explanations and stared at him with
embarrassment in her large eyes.

"Well, Miss Rita, what branch is lacking on the golden tree of life?"

A vivid blush suffused her face, which appeared all the prettier to him
in its embarrassed shyness.

"I will tell you. Do you see here to the right?" and he pointed out the
place with his finger. "Here is the name Goldine, the last of the
fourteen branches issuing from Rabbi Eliezer, joined to that of Herman
Weilen--my parents; and here the broken branch, quite symbolic, do you
see?--without a name,--that refers to me."

Anxious fear took possession of her.

"Oh, Herr Regierungsrat," she stammered.

"That's just it--Regierungsrat! I have been deprived of the cousinship
on this genealogical tree. A scion without a name, disinherited!"

There was more sorrow than bitterness in his voice, and this gave her
the courage to say: "It surely happened unintentionally. Nothing was
known of you in our family, and it was taken for granted that you had
broken off connection with it. We had only heard...." Suddenly she
hesitated.

"Your reasons are significant, Miss Rita, the broken-off branch dares
not call you cousin." A peculiar smile played about his lips. "But I
should like to finish the thought you would not express. You had only
heard that I had discarded the belief of my fathers, had changed my
religion, had entered the service of the Government, had made a career
for myself, and hoped to reach a still higher goal. That's it, is it
not? A broken-off branch, but not a withered one!"

She gazed at him with large, astonished eyes into which a dreamy
expression gradually crept.

"To be sure," he continued, "I have no right to complain."

"I never heard any one speak of you in that way," she declared, trying
to regain her self-possession. "In fact you were never spoken of;" then,
trying to improve the thoughtless expression, "at least not often. I
think you are wrong in your judgment, and also in regard to the family
tree. I am sure the omission is accidental."

"You are very kind, Miss Rita, you wish to console me. It doubtless
seems cruel to you that a man in the full vigor of life, with energy and
ambition to reach yet higher rungs on the ladder of success, should be
summarily hewn from the parent stem. If I were superstitious, I should
fear for my life, for my future. Fortunately I am not, or rather I may
be superstitious in believing that side by side with the ill omen there
is a good one, in the shape of a friendly young lady; and if she will
graciously accept me as a cousin, then the sinister mark on the pedigree
will be cancelled. You surely have not forgotten the stories of the bad
and the good fairies, because it cannot be so long ago since you were
devoted to them. You remember? In compensation for the evil charms of
the one, they gave the poor victim the blessings of the other for
protection. And I should like to regard you as my good fairy."

There was something very winning, very lovable in his manner and his
words, and she answered simply: "You will not need such protection, Dr.
Weilen."

"Please, say 'cousin.'"

There was a moment of hesitation, then she said: "You will not need
such protection, cousin."

"But I may surely count upon you, should I happen to need it?"

"You certainly may."

Then they returned to the tea-table, Rita somewhat embarrassed, he in
high, good humor. "The family tree is exceedingly interesting, Mr.
Benas," he said. "You will permit me, I hope, to study it in all its
details. Even a cursory glance impressed me tremendously. At the very
root, generations back, where there are names testifying to a strong and
hardy stock, is the father of Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Akiba, a luminary in
Talmudic lore, a great man even in those days. Then again, among his
children, one excelled in strong individuality and great knowledge,
Rabbi Eliezer, and from him and his descendants a numerous progeny,
among whom again Leopold Friedländer stands out conspicuous; and so the
family tree continues to spread its limbs, luxuriant in leaf and
blossom."

Rita hung on his words; she was nervous, fearing a reference to the
broken branch. But he said nothing, only fixed his glance on her
meaningly. She drew a long breath of relief.

"It was, indeed, a pleasure to me to see the work executed," Mr. Benas
remarked, "and my wife received it with great enthusiasm."

"I should suppose so."

They felt their guest was sincere in all he said, and yet they could not
rid themselves of a feeling of estrangement. He had introduced himself
to them in so peculiar a manner. This equivocal position of close
kinship and complete alienation produced a certain constraint, which
despite the polished ease and courtesy of the man of the world could not
be overcome. And all the time each one asked himself the true purpose of
his visit.

As if conscious of the unspoken question, he said: "As is natural when
members of the same family meet each other for the first time, we
quickly dropped into the discussion of common interests; and in passing
from one subject to another, I have not reached the point of telling you
what induced me to visit you."

He reflected a moment as if searching for the proper phrase.

"When I read the notice of the anniversary celebration of Leopold
Friedländer, I was suddenly overcome with the wish to take part in it.
The wish came like a secret longing for--for my home! My boyhood came
back to me. I saw my uncle before me as I had seen him then. The years
of estrangement disappeared from my mental vision; I heard his tender,
hesitating voice again, I felt his hand upon my head, extended in
blessing; and I became conscious of the words of the benediction spoken
in the language of the race. All that had happened between, I seemed to
have forgotten; and it took an appreciable time before I was recalled to
myself. But the wish once aroused in me was not to be eradicated, and,
ever since, my thoughts have dwelt upon the possibility of its
fulfilment."

A peculiar tensity of feeling came over the small circle. They followed
his words with growing astonishment; and neither he nor the others
thought of throwing off the mood his words had inspired.

"It was quite clear to me that without some preliminary ceremony I dare
not intrude upon the family group gathered about him on this anniversary
day. According to the traditions of our family, I had forfeited the
right; and yet I hoped I might find some appreciation of my position
among the younger generation and the intercession I need. I had often
heard of your family, Mr. Benas, and I saw your name at the head of the
lists of all charitable and public enterprises; and although I was
surprised never to meet you and your family on occasions at which
common interests might have thrown us together in certain social
circles, to which you really belong...."

"Of late years we have withdrawn from all intercourse, except with our
own family, and a few intimate friends," interrupted Mrs. Benas.

"But your position involves certain social obligations."

"Nowadays one hardly notices it, perhaps does not care to notice it, if
these obligations are not fulfilled," Mr. Benas rejoined with a slightly
ironical, slightly pained expression. "Formerly ours were the most
successful, the most elegant, and the most entertaining functions. My
wife had a gift for entertaining; and it was always a pleasure for us to
welcome happy, clever, representative, gay people. Now we confine
ourselves to a few formal and official dinners, made necessary by my
connection with the leading financial circles."

"We have become used to it, and do not miss anything," added Mrs. Benas.
"The spacious rooms which formerly resounded with merry society are now
quiet. But a more intimate, a more sincere life has taken its place.
Personally I should not feel the difference; but at times I am sorry
that our daughter is not able to enjoy the stimulus and the attractions
of such social gatherings. In the old days she had not yet made her
_début_."

"But, mother, I have often told you that I have no longings in that
direction. Your goodness to me enriches my life sufficiently. Whatever
is beautiful, great, important, I enjoy."

"But it was entirely different when the people who offered the great and
the beautiful things of which you speak came and went freely in our
house, in a certain sense belonged to us, were our guests. The foremost
artists and men of science used to come here."

"I think, father, it is much pleasanter to know the works than the
authors," Hugo interrupted brusquely. "Every one knows what such as they
seek in the homes of rich Jews; and when you pay for their services and
creations, and ask nothing of them socially, then you do them and
yourself the greatest favor."

"That has not always been the case, Hugo. Your views are too severe and
rigid."

"It has always been so; only perhaps there were times when it was not so
evident. What do we want with their well-meant intentions and
condescensions, their forbearances and tolerations, their humanitarian
impulses! At bottom it has always been the same. The Jew was always
burned!--in Sultan Saladin's time, as well as now. Only now we do not
complacently accept such treatment, wagging our tails in gratitude like
a dog."

A dull fire burned in his eyes. His face wore an expression of pride and
energy.

"I'm afraid, Hugo," his mother said, trying to calm him, "that our guest
has but little interest in your opinions. You know, too, that we do not
agree with you altogether."

"Forgive me, Dr. Weilen," he said, turning to their guest with the
conventional manner and incisiveness of a Prussian functionary and a
volunteer of the Guards. "I was carried away by the subject, and then I
thought that here at my father's table.... you see, we are not
accustomed, nowadays, to have any one with us who does not understand
our pain and indignation."

"Nor is that the case on this occasion--at least not since this evening,
not since this hour which I have been permitted to spend among you."

Hugo bowed in silence.

Dr. Weilen arose, saying:

"But I must not encroach upon your hospitality too long. You know now
what it is I wish. Do you believe a way can be found for me to be
present in Rawitsch at Uncle Leopold's birthday celebration? Will the
family receive me for that day? Will he himself be disposed to receive
me? I beg of you to help me realize this desire of mine. In affairs like
this, in which a sympathetic temperament is of more avail than cold
reason, a clever and noble woman is the best messenger; and women are
fine diplomats, too. May I count upon you, Mrs. Benas, honored cousin?"

"I will consider. But how? As regards the matter itself, I am entirely
on your side. But you understand that in a large family there are scores
of considerations and prejudices that must be taken into account."

"I understand that perfectly."

"But there is still plenty of time before the birthday celebration."

"Diplomatic undertakings must be arranged long in advance," he laughed.

"I will make use of your suggestion and start negotiations," she said,
cleverly responding to his pleasantry.

"And will you allow me to come again, to assure myself of the progress
of the negotiations, and to encourage them by my personal intervention?
I must tell you that I have felt very much at home with you, not at all
like a stranger."

"I thank you, Dr. Weilen," answered his host, politely; and his wife
added, "You will always find a welcome here." Thereupon he took his
leave, Hugo escorting him to the hall, where the servant helped him on
with his heavy fur coat.

       *       *       *       *       *

When Dr. Weilen stepped out into the street, gusts of wind blew the
snow-flakes whirling about merrily against his face. Tiny, pointed
snow-crystals caught in his beard and blinded his eyes. He pulled up
his fur collar more snugly, and hailed a passing cab.

He hesitated a moment before giving directions.

He was not in the mood to return at once to his own house; he drew out
his watch and saw by the light of the carriage lamp that it was nearly
eleven o'clock.

"How quickly the time passed," he mused. "I may still find some of my
friends at the 'Hermitage' or at the 'Kaiserhof.'" But as he was about
to enter the cab, he decided that he did not care for companionship, and
he concluded to go directly to his house, which was in the upper part of
Wilhelmsstrasse. On reaching his room, he lit the lamp on his desk,
intending to work a little while. But a moment later he tossed his pen
aside; he was too restless, and not in the proper mood. He paced up and
down the room to regain his composure.

"Remarkable! What refinement, dignity, and self-respect; and not a bit
purse-proud or arrogant," he said softly to himself. "The old man--well,
perhaps just a wee bit, but even he is very restrained; one can hardly
notice it. And his wife, my cousin, quite _comme il faut_,--so ladylike!
Why not? The Friedländers are of ancient aristocracy! The mother's blood
seethes in the son's veins! Poor fellow! What experiences and sufferings
a young Prussian law-student and volunteer of the Guards must have met
with to have become so curt and repelling. And this despite the princely
fortune which might have flung every door open to him, especially of
those houses which a man of his age most desires to enter. Instead of
that, half-martyr, half-hero, he fashions his own ideals. An interesting
fellow! Evidently talented and possessing the courage of his
convictions. How determined he was to vent his opinions, somewhat
aggressively, of course, to show me that I did not overawe him in the
least. A nice sort of chap! And then little Rita! How modest and quiet,
and clever withal, for you could see that she was interested in the
conversation, even when she was silent. Her eyes spoke, and so did her
mobile little face. And she takes all this wealth quite as a matter of
fact; she is to the manner born; she does not regard it as anything
extraordinary. Altogether charming!"

He had conquered his restlessness a little during these reflections; he
lit a cigar and went over to a table by the fire-place, heaped with
books, pamphlets, and journals. A low fire flickered on the hearth. He
fanned it to a bright flame, then moved the lamp from his desk to the
table and settled himself in an arm-chair.

"I wonder whether they _will_ restore me to their good graces! Not only
the Benases, but the others,--Uncle Leopold's family. If only for the
one day! How I hope they will! I'm actually homesick for--for the
Ghetto!"

He took up a book. "If they were to see you now, Victor, the gentlemen
of the Foreign Office! Yet a Ghetto it remains for all their liberty and
all their magnificence. Whether in the grand drawing-room of the
Tiergarten villa, or at Uncle Leopold's in Rawitsch.... That's exactly
what the young son recognizes in his vigor and in his consciousness of
injured pride. The older ones have become resigned to it."

       *       *       *       *       *

In the family of Geheimrat Benas the visit of Dr. Weilen had caused
dissension. The father wished to invite Dr. Weilen to dinner in the near
future. It seemed to him a matter of course that a guest who had
approached them so graciously and unconstrainedly should receive equal
courtesy at their hands. His wife was inclined to second him in this
view, but she was strongly influenced by Hugo, who decidedly opposed
fostering a connection which, experience taught them, might result in
nothing but mortification and neglect. At first Rita was a silent member
of these councils, but at length she said: "I cannot understand why you
talk yourself into such ideas, Hugo. We have no right to be discourteous
to a guest who has approached us so politely. Impoliteness is lack of
refinement in all circumstances. We do not interfere with your opinions,
and therefore you have no right to ask us to have none of our own. But
above all, you should not ask us to disregard all the social
consideration to which any visitor at our house is entitled."

"Yes, any one except Dr. Weilen."

"But why? You're indulging in pure caprice! Has he done anything or
neglected to do anything to cause such brusque treatment?"

Hugo frowned.

"Did he not please you, Hugo?" his mother asked, in a pacific tone.

"Please me? I don't think we have a right to be influenced by our
personal sympathies or antipathies. Dr. Weilen pleased me well enough,
but he is our enemy, just as every one else.... or rather more than any
one else! And therefore I find it unnecessary to give him encouragement.
I should not like him to think we are running after him, or feel honored
because he condescended...."

"Goodness gracious, Hugo, sometimes you are quite unbearable! If people
heard you, they would think you're Elkish. One can excuse such
prejudices in an old, uneducated man; but in a modern young fellow of
your education they are hardly to be condoned. We do not oppose your
ideas and your convictions, but you ought not to go so far as to impose
them upon the family! As a result of circumstances beyond our control we
find ourselves outsiders in society; yet we need not carry our
resentment to the extent of repulsing a gentleman who has been so
pleasant and respectful in his advances. And that only because he is a
man in an exalted position."

Mr. Benas spoke with irritation. He continued impatiently:

"Entirely of his own accord he told us how he had happened to become
estranged from his family; and no doubt he could explain his further
actions. But after all it is none of our business. The sincerity of his
manner, his personality attracted me. Of course, at moments we were
constrained and uncomfortable, but that was surely due to us, not to
him, and above all to your own brusqueness; and his manner of ignoring
that was more than amiable."

"We must thank him for this condescension most humbly."

"Hugo!" He met a look of warning and beseeching in his mother's eyes.

"Well, enough of this. We'll invite Dr. Weilen to dine with us next
Sunday. It is not to be a formal invitation. Fanny, you yourself write a
few lines, and don't invite many people. Ten or twelve will do. In the
small dining-room--a simple but elegant affair. However, you're well
posted in all those fine distinctions, my lady," he added playfully, to
temper the impression of his severity toward Hugo. "And see to it that
our young man acquires more normal ideas. I know you are confederates,
and secretly you harbor his views."

"Joshua!"

He laughed. "There, you see, I am right. Usually you call me Joe, but in
uncommonly solemn moments it is Joshua! Dr. Weilen made the advances, we
must invite him, unless we intend to insult him with a repulse, and as
we do not want to insult him, we must follow the conventions. I expect
you to take this as your rule of behavior toward the Regierungsrat,
Hugo. I have no fondness for ostentation or inconsiderateness. Our
opinions in order to be sincere and effective need not take the form of
aloofness and discourtesy. Remember that!"

The young man looked almost pained; but he did not respond. As he was a
Jewish young man, respect for paternal authority was deep-rooted in his
being. Moreover, his father was ordinarily so amiable, kind, and
considerate toward his children, that when once he was decided and firm,
there was no thought of opposing him.

Rita's eyes gleamed on her father. A genial, tacit understanding existed
between the two, which leagued them, as it were, against the mother and
Hugo. This pretty, good-natured party difference gave a peculiar charm
to the intimacy of their family life.

"It is lucky that Rita is my confederate," he laughingly said as he
arose, "else, by this time, the shield of David would be emblazoned over
the door, and no stranger would be allowed to cross the threshold. In
fact, Elkish advocated some such thing when we spoke of Dr. Weilen's
visit. Elkish and you on the same platform! For heaven's sake, children,
do not let us be ridiculous! I surely appreciate the old man; and during
the past days he has brilliantly demonstrated his value in the matter of
the 'Magdeburgs,' but everything must be kept within bounds. It is time
for me to go to my office now. Fanny, whom do you want to invite?"

"How would Professor Zeidler do--and Jedlitzka, and Hoffman, the
sculptor?"

"All right! But no; they have not been invited for some time; and they
mustn't think we waited until we could have a Regierungsrat to meet
them,--oh, no!"

A smile of triumph flitted about the corners of Hugo's mouth.

"Invite a few of our own family. Justizrat Friedheim, Robert
Freudenthal, the architect, and Amtsgerichtsrat Lesser, with their
wives. That makes six; we are four; with Dr. Weilen eleven. We need a
bachelor."

"Dr. Rosenfeld?"

He laughed. "Well, yes! So that you and Hugo may have support. But now I
must go. There's just time to catch Bamberger before the Exchange opens.
Good-by, children. Don't get up from the table--_Mahlzeit!_"

Unanimity of opinion did not prevail among the three he left at their
breakfast. Nevertheless, before the day was over, Dr. Weilen received an
invitation to dine with the Benases on the following Sunday.

On the whole, the dinner passed off very pleasantly. Dr. Weilen, with
the ease of the man of the world, made himself at home in the small
circle. It was not difficult for him to find points of contact with
these men holding a high position in society; and the women were so
well-mannered, cultured, and genial, that he quickly lost the feeling of
strangeness. Besides, his own being radiated an atmosphere of
cordiality, which smoothed over the awkwardness of a first meeting. The
greetings between him and his hosts might almost have been called
cordial, as between people conscious of spiritual kinship. The Geheimrat
was in an especially good humor; and Rita felt inclined to be all the
more friendly as she was very apprehensive of Hugo's conduct toward
their guest.

Her fears proved groundless. Hugo was too well-bred to act
discourteously toward his father's guest. His behavior, though reserved,
was faultlessly polite. The appearance of Dr. Weilen, the Regierungsrat,
in his home was a _fait accompli_, to be accepted; consequently Dr.
Weilen soon felt at his ease in this company. The family connection
between him and certain of the guests was not spoken of. No one
displayed any curiosity. They seemed to be united by a secret bond. In
the course of the dinner the feeling of good-will increased. Dr. Weilen
was charmed with the elegant mode of life, and was particularly pleased
to see that the forms of good society seemed to come natural to them.
Nothing betrayed that they had grown up in different circumstances, and
that their present luxury had not been inherited from generation to
generation, but had been acquired within measurable time. They had all
the manners and accessories of their station. The liveried servants, the
beautiful porcelain, the costly silver, the exquisite wines, and the
choice dishes were as much in place here as in the most aristocratic
circles that Dr. Weilen frequented. The splendor of the surroundings
pleased him, not for the sake of the wealth itself, but for the air with
which it was carried off. He felt himself attracted to them, he felt a
spiritual kinship.

He became especially interested in Justizrat Friedheim, a cousin of Mrs.
Benas's on her father's side. He was a man with a powerful,
distinguished head set upon a small, thick-set body. Well known in the
legal world through his commentary upon commercial law, he had taken a
prominent part in behalf of the national liberal party during a recent
session of the Reichstag. He had declined re-election on the ground of
poor health. However, anyone who looked at this vigorous man, still in
the prime of his manhood, would readily surmise that there were other,
deeper-lying reasons, not openly mentioned, that deprived the fatherland
of the services of this active and distinguished statesman. To his left
sat the hostess, whom Dr. Weilen had taken down to dinner, and upon his
other side sat Mrs. Lesser. She was a beautiful blonde, with fine teeth,
and animated countenance, and lively manners. She was complaining to her
neighbor that it had become an impossibility to get into the Reichstag,
since he was no longer a member.

"I'm not good for anything any more," he answered, "but all you need to
do is apply at the office."

"That's such a nuisance. Formerly it was so pleasant to sit in the
members' box, and listen to Bebel and Eugen Richter." With an
affectation of alarm she glanced at Dr. Weilen. "I beg your pardon, Herr
Regierungsrat."

"The Government is accustomed to evils," jestingly interposed Mr.
Friedheim.

She hesitated to reply only one instant; then quick-wittedly: "So we are
in the same boat as the Government!"

"We could wish for no pleasanter companions in our misery," Dr. Weilen
gallantly said, and raised his glass to touch hers.

It was inevitable that every now and then the conversation should take a
dangerous turn, no matter how careful they were to confine the talk to
literary and art topics, and avoid politics. But in a circle of
intellectual men this was difficult; and the women of this circle seemed
as conversant with the questions of the day as the men. However, with
perfect tact and good taste, they avoided whatever might have provoked
an argument; and though their opinions were expressed with wit and
understanding, nothing occurred to give offense. They left the table in
high spirits. The temperament of their race came out very distinctly, no
less in the case of the Regierungsrat than of the others.

Friedheim, Lesser, and Weilen were chatting together in the smoking-room
over their coffee; the host and Freudenthal, the architect, were looking
over the plans for a villa on the Wannsee, which had been offered to Mr.
Benas. The ladies and the two younger men had withdrawn to the
music-room; and presently the strains of Wagner's "Feuerzauber" were
heard, played with masterly skill.

"Who plays so wonderfully?" asked Dr. Weilen.

"Mrs. Freudenthal, a famous artist before my cousin married her.
Perhaps you heard of her under her stage name, Flora Bensheimer."

"O, of course, the great pianiste?" he asked with interest. "And is she
the wife of the architect? Has she given up her career?"

"She plays only for her immediate family. When our cousin married her
ten years ago, she continued to perform now and then in public for
charitable purposes; but for the last few years, she has given that up
as well."

"But that is a loss both to charity and to the public."

"Freudenthal doesn't let charity suffer on that account," answered Mr.
Friedheim. "He is very rich and gives generously on all sides; but he
holds that he has no further obligations to the public. The remarkable
talent of his wife he keeps from the world ever since it was subjected
to affront. He can dispense his money without attracting notice; but he
must conceal his wife's art so as not to attract undue notice."

"But that is egotistical."

"Perhaps. He is peculiar. The marriage is a childless one, and his wife
is everything to him, wife and child in one."

"And was it easy for her to decide to give up the fascinations of a
public career? She is known all over the world."

"Freudenthal has transplanted her to the best of all worlds, to the
shelter of a loving and devoted marriage. He idolizes her and casts
laurel wreaths and diamonds at her feet, such as have never been
showered upon any other artist--a whole grove of laurels around her
villa at Nice, and as for the diamonds--consult the ladies about them;
they know about such things."

Dr. Weilen was amused by Mr. Friedheim's sarcastic manner, and he
rejoined: "I should like to hear about them. At all events I shall look
up the ladies."

The closing chords of the "Feuerzauber" died away, as he arose quietly
and went to the adjoining room. He had observed Rita through the open
door.

She was listening to the music, lost in revery, and she started with
surprise, when she suddenly heard at her side: "Are you musical, too,
Miss Rita?"

"Yes, a little. In our family we all play. Music is so inspiring, and we
seem to have a talent for it. I do not mean Flora Freudenthal, who has
married into the family, but there is Mrs. Lesser, a cousin of my mother
and of Mr. Friedheim, herself a Friedheim, who has a superb voice. She
was trained under the most distinguished singing masters; and some of my
other cousins have a fine understanding of music, and devote much time
to it."

"I suspect it is a Friedheim gift; for I myself am not at all musical."

She reflected a moment before saying: "It seems so, Dr. Weilen, though I
never thought of it before. Those on the Friedländer side have other
talents."

He smiled. "You are very kind."

Slightly embarrassed, she answered: "That was not an empty compliment.
My mother's relatives on the maternal side have done much in scientific
ways. Professor Jacob Friedländer in Breslau, Professor Emil Friedländer
in Marburg, Professor Felix Friedländer of the Karlsruhe Polytechnic,
are all men of scientific note; as is also Professor Ernest Biedermann,
whose mother was a Friedländer, and who is a leader among modern German
painters."

All unconscious though she was of it, her words reflected pride and
joyous enthusiasm. A slight flush overspread her face; her animated
glance rested involuntarily upon the family pedigree that hung opposite
to them.

"You are well acquainted with the positions your relatives occupy. Do
you visit them?"

She was startled at his words as though she had discovered a false note
in them, irony and derision. But he looked at her so innocently and so
sympathetically that she was ashamed of her mistrust.

"Not at all. Occasionally we meet Professor Biedermann. As a rule his
calling takes him into quite different circles."

"And who are the people who would not be glad to have the _entrée_ in
such a home as your parents'?" he asked thoughtfully.

"My parents have not cared for a wide circle of acquaintances for years.
My father, whose eminently successful career and public services entitle
him to a certain amount of pride, scorns to be put in a position where
he is merely tolerated; and my mother's pride is no more able to bear
rebuffs." She paused in alarm at what she had said. Why had she allowed
herself to be so carried away? She had been overcome by the everlasting
woe and sorrow of her race, which arise anew in every generation; and
this in the presence of a stranger,--of this stranger.

She looked at him timidly, with a troubled expression.

"Why do you not continue, Miss Rita,--or may I call you cousin, as I did
before? You have no idea how much I am interested by what you say. I
have met Professor Biedermann, but I did not introduce myself as
cousin."

"Indeed!" she answered suddenly becoming quite cold.

"Do not misunderstand me. You see, all these cousins of whom you spoke
have very plainly given me to understand that they have renounced me;
for otherwise one or the other of them who moves in the same walks that
I do would some time have bethought himself of me."

"How could you expect that?" she said eagerly. "You are unjust. You were
the one to withdraw entirely from the connection, without possibility
of recall." Again she hesitated.

"Do you believe that unprejudiced men would lay that up against me?"

"I do not believe that exactly; but what cause would there be for them
to approach you? Those who have need of the family can always find a
place in it, and there are many such, alas, many, far more than those
who have attained a position in life. The family connection establishes
a common interest; and this keeps them in touch with one another
permanently. At family gatherings every now and then one hears of some
good fortune that has befallen one or the other, and this brings
pleasure to each member of the family. My mother especially is very well
informed, and is anxious to learn of anyone who has risen to importance
or honor. And now we speak of an event of that kind oftener than
formerly; we take it as a consolation, a comfort, that one of us has
attained to some position, even though it be only what was well
deserved, without...."

"Say it openly, without baptism."

A deep flush covered her face, and in her eyes there were restrained
tears.

To what had the conversation led her? To a point at which he could not
but be hurt. She looked at him helplessly, unable to utter a word. At
length she stammered, "O no, that--I--that was not intended--I...."

"Why should they not say it? In reality, it is not an easy matter for
those gentlemen to attain the positions that are their due; and
therefore their promotion is received with especial delight, not only by
the family, but by the congregation, by the whole race. And now at last
I hear the tale from a wholly fair and unprejudiced source."

She gazed at him with open doubt.

"Aren't you unprejudiced, Miss Rita?"

"Not any longer," she answered, with a sigh. At this moment her mother
entered.

"Rita, Betty is going to sing, won't you accompany her?"

She arose quickly, as though released from some dread oppression.

"Gladly, mother."

He looked at her with a quiet smile. She noticed it, and was again
overcome by her shyness. What must he think of her? Like a babbling,
foolish child, she had inconsiderately touched upon subjects bound to
lead to painful discussions,--topics that all had tactfully avoided, all
except herself, the last person to intend an insult. If Hugo had said
such a thing, how it would have irritated her, and in his case it might
have been excusable; but she--was it fate, a spell that forced her
thoughts in such directions? It seemed as though these questions cast a
shadow over her every thought and action. That an innocent conversation
should suddenly and involuntarily take a turn that gives an equivocal
meaning to everything said, should give her words unintended innuendo
and insinuations--nothing was farther from her thoughts; and yet the
thing had occurred. It was only the interruption of her mother that had
saved her from further indiscretions.

"Our cousin Betty, Mrs. Lesser, has a charming voice."

"So Miss Rita has just told me."

"So, Rita, you have been entertaining our guest with the recital of the
talents of our family?"

"She has done so, excellently; I have the liveliest interest in them,
and am truly grateful to your daughter."

He looked at Rita with a lingering glance. She returned it. Their eyes
met, and then she bowed silently and went into the music-room. Presently
Schubert's "Wanderer," was heard, beautifully rendered.

"And ever longing asketh where!" was the sad, melancholy refrain. "Ever
where!"

He shook his head as if to rid himself of a sad thought.

       *       *       *       *       *

Dr. Weilen took leave, promising to come soon again. Both Mr. and Mrs.
Benas had invited him to repeat his call. The other guests, who had
gathered in the drawing-room, remained to chat a little more and enjoy a
glass of Pilsener.

"You may say what you will, Benas, it is more congenial when we are by
ourselves," said Mr. Freudenthal.

"You are too exclusive, Isi," said Mrs. Benas. "Surely I am the last who
would plead for a mixed choir, since we have been plainly given to
understand that our voices do not please; but there is nothing about Dr.
Weilen that disturbs our company or seems strange. Even on the first
evening he came, he struck the right note, and he seemed one of us. He
really is at bottom. One cannot deny one's kin."

"But it took a long time for him to remember," Mr. Friedheim said
ironically.

"Only until an opportune moment arrived. How should he have known that
the names Lesser and Friedheim belonged to his family? He was still a
boy when connections were broken off with his mother's family, and he
has never had any occasion to resume the relation," added Mr. Benas.
"Friedheim, he knows you through your commentary; Lesser, you, through
your 'Order of Bankruptcy,' your names are well known to the lawyer; but
that is no reason for him to have supposed you to be his Mishpocheh. It
was very evident that he was pleased to discover the additional tie." He
laughed jovially. "That's human nature, but the feeling of satisfaction
when special honor comes to any member of the family, is particularly
developed among us. Even he does not deny this, and why? Estrangement
does not change one's inherited nature."

"But habit and education do. Whoever alienates himself and cuts himself
off, becomes an exile and a stranger," said Mr. Freudenthal.

"Dr. Weilen is not a case in point. The manner of his coming here is, in
fact, an argument against your thesis."

"A mere mood, father, a romantic whim," Hugo said scornfully.

"In such matters your opinion does not count, because your views blind
you and make a fanatic of you."

"After all, it is not a matter of great moment that he should have come
here," said the Justizrat.

"Years ago you might have said so, but not now. Whoever seeks us now and
acknowledges us, belongs to us."

"If you would only free yourself from the habit of considering whatever
is connected in the remotest degree with the Jewish question as
something of the greatest import. It's really a matter of absolute
indifference to me whether a given person comes or goes, how he comes
or goes, and what he thinks or does. It's merely a private matter, an
individual case."

"Every individual case is at the present time a matter of universal
concern," said Hugo, his eyes glowering.

"There we are, before we know it, at the same wearisome discussion.
Throw the cat as you will, it always lands on its feet," exclaimed Mr.
Benas, angrily.

"The question forces itself upon us, whether we wish it or not," said
Mr. Freudenthal, "the clearest proof that it exists; just as a painful
sickness reminds the suffering body of its existence. Of what use are
morphine injections? Merely a momentary deadening, but the evil is not
removed."

"But one gets tired of continually harping on the same old chord,"
Friedheim answered. "But in the world, by strangers, then in one's own
reflections, and finally in the talk of friends, acquaintances,
relations, in such social gatherings as this, at Skat, or
dinners--everywhere the same dish is served. Occasionally you really
long for an injection for the sake of peace."

"Yet there are few to whom the matter has been as vital as to you," said
Freudenthal.

"Just because of that. Do you think a wound is healed by constantly
tapping it? I use a morphine of my own, my own tried anæsthetic,--strenuous
work, untiring activity, and the development of my specialty. This for
the world; and for myself,--a quiet family life."

"That has not been your taste always," interrupted Lesser. "You, a
politician! A man made for public life! Concerned in every matter of
state and city government, always in the public eye."

Earlier in their careers the cousins had harbored slight jealousies in
matters of this kind.

"Now we have it again," cried Mr. Friedheim, angrily, rising, "now the
sequel will follow: And how did they reward you? Didn't they remind you
of the yellow badge your fathers wore? Didn't they wave it before you, a
token of past shame, and what is worse, of future shame? How did they
thank you for the gift you gave them in your legal work, in your
endeavors for the public weal, and so on _ad infinitum?_ I know this war
cry, and I am not in the mood to-day to hear it again."

Mr. Lesser and Mr. Freudenthal had also arisen.

"Whether you wish to hear it or not, that does not in the least change
matters," said Mr. Freudenthal. "And if you should stop up your ears
with cotton, you would only deafen yourself temporarily; the trumpet
call would sound all the louder."

"I'm entirely satisfied to hear no more of it for a time at least."

"Desire and convenience do not regulate such affairs," said Mr. Lesser,
ironically.

"Why not? What's to prevent our getting together comfortably without
these endless disputes and excited debates?"

"The fact that the stranger has been in our midst, and we are restless,
excited, nervous, like those who live in unrest, without a fixed
abiding-place."

All turned toward the speaker; both the women who had followed the
conversation in silence, after vain attempts to calm the disputants, and
the men, whose tempers were heated by the discussion.

The words seemed to echo from another world,--lamenting, exhorting,
warning.

It was Dr. Rosenfeld who had spoken them. The young man sat there
deathly pale, as though frightened by his uncalled-for interference in
the family quarrel. The whole evening and even during the last
conversation he and Hugo had remained quiet, although their faces
plainly expressed their interest.

"My dear Henry, you, too, carry matters too far," said Mr. Friedheim,
impatiently. "But as our humor is spoilt, and it is late, I think it is
best to break up. The fresh December air will cool us off, and we will
go home, only to begin over again, at the next opportunity."

"We expect you on Wednesday for Skat," said Mrs. Freudenthal.

"Aha, the session for the next discussion is arranged," Mr. Friedheim
laughed.

"Good-by, then, until Wednesday."

"Good-by."

       *       *       *       *       *

Hugo and Henry also took their leave to spend an hour at the Café Bauer,
where they were to meet several friends.

Mr. and Mrs. Benas and Rita, left alone, went to Mrs. Benas's boudoir.

"It is strange how easily we are carried away when we are among
ourselves. Friedheim and Lesser are always ready for a fight. The
slightest difference of opinion, and off they go," said Mrs. Benas.

"The curious thing is that at bottom their opinions are not so very
different, but argumentation is a racial trait. There's no doubt, we
have too much temperament." Mr. Benas smiled, lighting a cigar, and
leaning back comfortably in his arm-chair. "I'm curious to know whether
Dr. Weilen is such a wrangler as the rest of the Friedländers and the
Friedheims," he added, trying to tease his wife.

"I, Joshua? I know others who don't lack the same trait."

"But, Fanny dear, how can you compare us? Generations of practice in the
subtle dialectics of the Talmud--that tells. It is not by chance that
your family is famous in all intellectual pursuits, while the rest of
us, who bear on our escutcheon the rabbit skins and bags of wool carried
about by our ancestors, cannot get to be more than mere Geheimer
Kommerzienrat."

He liked to refer occasionally to his humble descent from simple
merchants; especially when he felt his superiority as a quiet,
self-contained man of the world, who could afford to laugh at the
irritability and sensitiveness of others. That always put him in a good
humor; and Mrs. Benas, well aware of this, fell in with his mood.

"Naturally, Joshua! Geheimer Kommerzienrat, that's nothing! You know you
don't believe that. I think we may well be satisfied with one another.
Friedländer, Friedheim, and Benas! That's an imposing triple alliance. I
think we may be well content."

"And with all that belong to it."

"Even though they quarrel the moment they come together, at the bottom
of their hearts they swear by one another and are proud of one another."

"Besides, a bit of argument is entertaining, and brings life into the
shindig."

His wife looked at him reproachfully.

"I beg your pardon! I withdraw 'shindig.'"

"Indeed, you ought to be careful, Joe. One's language is bound to
deteriorate when one indulges in such vulgar expressions."

"But they're so distinctive and expressive, almost as good as the Jewish
intonation."

"Leave them to others."

"Hold on, Fanny. Do you see how I have caught you? Who is exclusive? Who
are the others? Who are the others? Pity that Hugo is not here."

He was delighted and amused, and laughed at the embarrassment of his
wife. She quickly recovered herself, and answered:

"The others are the vulgar ones, the uncultured, the mob, with whom we
have nothing in common, and don't want to have anything in common."

"And the rest say the same of us. Let us have nothing to do with those
aliens, those interlopers, those parasites, that ferment, which
decomposes the healthy vigorous elements of the Aryan race. That's the
gracious, charitable refrain."

"Here we are again at the Jewish question," said Mrs. Benas, somewhat
displeased, "we three, here alone."

"Papa, mamma, and the baby," laughed Mr. Benas.

"It's really not funny, Joshua," said Mrs. Benas, earnestly and
thoughtfully. "It actually seems as if we could never get rid of it, as
if it followed us everywhere. Mr. Friedheim is right. It sits at our
table, it accompanies us to social gatherings, to the theatre, and to
concert halls; it stands next to us wherever we go in the world, meets
us on our travels, and forces itself into our dreams and our prayers."

"You exaggerate, Fannsherl. The imagination and the eloquence of the
Friedländers are awakening in you. We know how they think and speak,
always in superlatives," he teased good-humoredly, in order to calm her
excitement.

"But you see how it is yourself, Joshua. We get here together cozily, in
order to chat a bit, to rest ourselves after the strain of
entertaining, we have no sinister intentions, in fact, we are ready to
reproach our relatives with indiscretion, and before we know it, we are
in the thick of it."

"In the soup, _I_ should have said," he added, trying to give the talk a
jesting turn.

"Joshua, please, don't joke. I am in earnest. Isn't it very sad that all
our thoughts should be dominated by this one subject? That we can't free
ourselves from it any more? That we can't rise superior to it? That it
intimidates us, makes us anxious, petty, serious, and embittered?"

"Yes, dearest, since you ask me to be in earnest, I must agree, that
conditions are, indeed, very sad, even though great concessions are
still made, have to be made, to us merchants who are in the world of
commerce and finance. But for how long? Who knows? A festering wound
spreads, despite morphine injections, as Freudenthal says. He could tell
tales! One of the most talented of architects, full of spirit and
taste, with artistic skill and training seldom met with in his
profession, especially here in Berlin, and although he has been a royal
Government architect since the year '78, he has been so completely
pushed aside that he has been forced to put all his energies into land
and suburban speculations out there on the Kurfürstendamm, in the
Grunewald suburb, and in the elaborate business-houses on the
Leipzigerstrasse. Naturally this brings him a large income, and that is
one more reason why his work becomes a reproach."

Mrs. Benas sighed.

"And Friedheim? His capabilities, his thoroughness, and his valuable
achievements entitle him to a place in the ministry. Instead of that he
has actually reached the exalted point of being Justizrat, a title of
seniority like Sanitätsrat among physicians. What difference does it
make that as an attorney he has a practice worth one hundred thousand
marks? He is ambitious, has aspirations, like all prominent
professional men, and finds himself set aside in the prime of his
powers. Lesser, too, told me recently that he is going to resign. He has
exhausted the last possibility in his career, he cannot hope for further
advancement, so he is going to give up official life, devote himself to
his scientific researches, and indulge in travel. As soon as Hedwig is
married, he and Betty can get away easily. They can leave the boys
behind, they have enough money for that."

"That is and will always remain the only thing that gives us
independence, and dignity, too," she said bitterly. "We have the
money--and then the world is surprised that we strive so persistently to
obtain it, hold on to it with such tenacity, and enlarge our fortunes
once we have them."

"Nobody wonders at that nowadays. Only the envious and spiteful who have
no money themselves. But we may as well admit it; what is true of our
own small circle is true everywhere. Well-deserving persons are
trammelled in their activities. So far and no farther! Wherever we look,
we see them chained to the lowest stages. 'Not beyond the boundary we
have mapped out for you,' says the Government. 'You want to climb, you
are equipped to be brave mountaineers, you lack nothing you need to
reach the summit, neither courage, nor endurance, nor strength. Yet
remain below, remain below!' The foot-hills reached at the first spurt,
mere child's play for their abilities, are the only heights they are
allowed to scale. The way is barred, the natural course of their
energies repressed. It is frightful that restrictions other than
considerations of capacity should hold back the aspirants; that
ostracism should be decreed because of a mere chance adherence to a
certain faith."

"Then Hugo and his friends are not so greatly in the wrong as you
sometimes declare?" she asked with tense expectancy in her voice.

"No, not in principle, but in their aims. Those are phantoms, fantasies!
A dream which foolish boys dream,--and clever women."

Rita had followed her parents' conversation, partly in absent revery,
partly with alert interest. "No, you can't get rid of it," she said in a
soft, reflective voice. "I myself experienced it this evening, when I
was speaking with Dr. Weilen. Suddenly we, too, had arrived at the
fateful subject."

"Well, that settles it. You, too--and he!"

Her father kissed her tenderly on her forehead, and added jestingly,
"Pray, don't tell Hugo or Henry of this. Good-night, Rita."

"Good-night, papa. Good-night, mamma." She respectfully kissed her
parents' hands.

"Sleep well, dear child," her mother said, also kissing her upon her
forehead.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the twenty-third of December a company of young men gathered at the
house of Hugo Benas, in his roomy, comfortable study on the second
floor. They were in the midst of an exciting debate, when Dr. Henry
Rosenfeld entered.

"Why so late, Henry?" one of the young men called to him.

He glanced around at the bright, clear-cut faces. Two decidedly showed
the racial type, but in the others the keenest eye could not detect even
a slight indication of their origin; they were blonde and blue-eyed, and
crowned broad-shouldered figures. Dr. Rosenfeld himself answered this
description, and no one would have suspected him to be a Jew.

"We have been expecting you this last half-hour. Magnus told us that you
would be here at eight o'clock," said Hugo as he drew out his watch. "It
is half-past eight now."

"I was detained by Professor Lisotakis, in the Oriental Seminar." He
placed his note-books and volumes on the table and accepted the ready
courtesy of one of his companions, who helped him to remove his
overcoat.

"Have you been working until now?" Tender solicitude was expressed in
Hugo's voice. "Come, sit here," he pointed to a comfortable arm-chair,
near the fire-place. "It is very cold this evening, and I am sure you
are half-frozen without having noticed it."

They all laughed, but the smile that played about Rosenfeld's lips was a
bit forced.

"Perhaps you are right, Hugo. I have been walking fast, lost in thought;
and when you think hard, you forget the weather."

"I wager Henry was wandering under cedars and palms on his way here,
when in reality he was passing under snow-laden trees along the Linden,
through the Tiergarten," laughingly cried out a young man of dark
complexion, as he twisted his black moustache, and pushed his
gold-rimmed eyeglasses closer to his near-sighted eyes.

He caught a curious glance from Rosenfeld; his deep blue eyes, fixed
upon an imaginary point in the far distance, seemed to carry the
suggestion of energy and fanaticism.

"That's possible, Sternberg," he answered, "why not?"

"I cannot understand, Sternberg, how you can profane and make a joke of
a matter that is sacred to us, the memory of the history of our race,"
said Hugo.

"Never mind, Hugo, why shouldn't dreams become realities?" said
Rosenfeld, with sadness and longing in his voice.

"Not in wanton jests, however."

"A fellow might be allowed a joke now and then," muttered the culprit.

"Hardly! Everything that belongs to our past is too beautiful; and now
that it is a departed glory, a lost sanctuary, it is too sad to make
mock of. I find it quite out of place to assuage the irritating wounds
of the soul with scorn. It is a sign of degeneracy in us to banter and
to scoff, and cynically to vulgarize the ridicule and the contempt
heaped upon us by others. It is undignified, and makes for
disintegration. That's the reason I object to the type of drama in which
Jewish manners and peculiarities of the most degenerate and pitiable of
our race are exposed on the pillory. They are considered as typical, and
people say: 'Look you, such they are!' If I had the authority, I should
prohibit them. And then, too, I hate those wretched money jokes, those
translations of words from the noble language of our race, which give
them a distorted, ambiguous meaning. We are not raised so high out of
the mire as to allow ourselves such privileges. We are in the midst of
it, in the midst of sorrow and enmity, struggle and defense, and we are
far from victory, and we alone are at fault. This lukewarmness, this
indifference, this hushing-up, this self-ridicule, they are our
misfortune. The tactics of an ostrich! Keep your eyes tight shut! Don't
peep! Imagine others are blind! But they are only too well aware of our
helplessness, our weakness, our cowardice, our lack of courage. Where
could they find a more suitable object on which to let out their bad
humor? I tell you, I would do the same thing. He who grovels on the
ground, must expect to be spat upon, and he mustn't complain."

His words poured forth in a torrent. He breathed hard, and his face
turned ghastly white. Deep silence followed his speech. Sternberg,
embarrassed, fingered a book lying before him. His eyeglasses slipped
down on his nose, and his near-sighted eyes roved with searching glances
from one to the other of the company. At last a young man spoke:

"There's a good deal of truth in what Benas says. We dare not deceive
ourselves; indeed, we are the very last to do it, even if one of us
does occasionally make a poor joke about it. Every one of us feels the
same passionate pain in his soul as Hugo does, and every one is
possessed by the same pride and the same enthusiastic desire for a
different order of things."

These soothing words made a good impression. Dr. Eric Magnus, a young
physician, the scion of a very prominent and wealthy family, always
found favor as a peacemaker when differences arose among his comrades.
It was he who always did the reconciling, and eased the jars inevitable
among young men of such various dispositions. They called him the "Olive
Branch," and he was proud of the nickname. "Little Olive Branch is right
as usual," said Hugo, and extended his hand to Sternberg across the
table.

"I meant no harm, Siegfried; and besides it was quite impersonal, you
know that. The subject made me forget myself."

Sternberg was ready to give in; he clasped Hugo's hand heartily. The
"Olive Branch" raised his glass, and turning to the two disputants and
then to the others, drank to their health:

"_Prosit._"

"_Prosit_," they cried as they all touched glasses. And the little
unpleasantness that had seemed imminent was averted.

Thereupon Dr. Rosenfeld took a letter from his portfolio, and said: "I
have brought a most curious note that I received to-day from Francis
Rakenius of Frankfort-on-the-Main. He is visiting his relatives there
for a few days, before starting for East Africa. You know that he is a
faithful Protestant, the son of a pastor, and belongs to a very pious
family. His grandfather was school superintendent, his uncle was the
celebrated professor of canonical law at Halle, and the opinion of such
a family concerning our status seems to me of some value."

He had spoken in a low voice while unfolding the letter. Then he looked
at the assembled company. Interest and expectancy were depicted on the
faces of all. They knew that years ago, during the first semesters of
their college life, an intimacy had existed between Rosenfeld and
Rakenius. They had attended the same lectures, prepared for the same
examinations, and received their degree of doctor of philosophy on the
same day. Rakenius then went to Halle to continue his special study of
theology, and Rosenfeld remained in Berlin. Even as a student Rosenfeld
had been much interested in the various schemes to improve the shameful
conditions which a continually increasing anti-Semitism had brought
about. He attended meetings, joined various societies, at one time was a
Zionist, and finally accepted with enthusiasm the idea of providing
places of refuge for the persecuted Jews by the foundation of
agricultural colonies in Palestine. No one knew whether he harbored
greater ideas; but at all events, he changed his views and he gathered
about him a considerable following, not only from among the poor,
downtrodden sons of the Orient, who, while studying in Berlin, suffered
hunger and torment and the scorn and contempt of their Aryan
fellow-students, but also from among the young men of the most
prominent, wealthy, and respectable families.

There was something winning in Rosenfeld's nature. Everyone who came in
contact with him was devoted to him. His very appearance, which
suggested endless sweetness despite the strength of his physique, won
him immediate sympathy. And his appearance did not belie his
disposition,--honest, simple, and modest. But one felt that his amiable
manners concealed the energy and the fearlessness of a true demagogue,
and, if need be, he would give clear, vigorous, and absolutely truthful
expression to his convictions. Of late he had become entirely occupied
with questions concerning the Jews. All political and social events he
interpreted only in their bearing upon what was dearest to his heart. In
this way he had obtained a strong influence over his companions, and he
became their leader. Hugo Benas, Eric Magnus, and Siegfried Sternberg
were devotedly attached to him; and they formed a circle within their
circle, which zealously served the general interest. At meetings they
were the spokesmen, peculiarly fitted by education and circumstances,
for each one of them, by birth, wealth, and station, could have laid
claim to and achieved a good social position, such as is ordinarily open
to young physicians, lawyers, and scholars. Yet they had but one
aim,--to devote themselves to the cause of their unfortunate, persecuted
race. And they spoke of nothing else whenever, as on the present
occasion, they met for confidential, friendly intercourse. With some
impatience, therefore, they awaited Rosenfeld's communication.

"Let us hear what Rakenius writes," demanded Sternberg. Henry read aloud
to them:

"I can perfectly understand your sense of uneasiness, and I sympathize
with you. It requires a degree of self-renunciation that cannot be
expected, and in my view should never be demanded, of men with proud
natures, men of intellect and spirit, men of marked individuality, to
suffer what is put upon the Jews. Yet such is the situation, and whether
it is justified or not, is a point upon which at this time I do not care
to express an opinion. You know how truly devoted I always have been and
still am to you. I have never had a better friend, a dearer companion
than you. Our friendship was secured by our agreement on the philosophic
questions that used to occupy us, by the similarity of our views in
regard to things in general, and by our wholly concordant attitude
toward the various problems of social life. I need give you no further
assurances in regard to that; and whether I separate the personal from
the more general view, I am unable to say.

"Ever since you wrote that the Jewish question occupies you to the
exclusion of all else, I have been concerning myself with it. In fact it
is an insistent issue. It forces itself upon me in my profession, in the
world in which I live. You know that I am devoted, body and soul, to my
priestly calling, and my attachment grows stronger the more I steep
myself in the spirit of the Protestant doctrine. How it is to be
deplored that the best among you cannot partake of its blessings; for
whoever has had the fortune to call you friend, knows how to value you;
and I am just enough to recognize that there must be many other Jews
like yourself. But whether it is that you cannot, or that we do not wish
it, the result remains the same; and this result cannot be gainsaid. A
few days ago, I came across an expression of Feuerbach's, which perhaps
gives an explanation of the reproach, often brought against the Jew, of
pushing aggressiveness. 'To do away with the meaninglessness of our
individual existence,' he says, 'is the purpose of our lives, the motive
of our enterprises, the source of our virtues as of our faults and
shortcomings. Man has and should have the desire to be individual. He
properly desires to attain significance, to achieve a qualitative value.
As a mere individual, he is lost like a single drop of water,
indistinguishable in the wearisome stream of a meaningless aggregate. If
a person loses the interests that express his individuality, if he
becomes conscious of the insignificance of his bare personality, he
loses the distinction between existence and non-existence, life becomes
loathsome, and he ends it in suicide; that is, he annihilates his
non-entity. It is natural that this striving for individual distinction
comes out most clearly in a class of society socially subordinated, as a
foreign race or a religious sect, subject to the persecution of the
majority. Everybody wishes to stand for something; and to this end
grasps at the best means to secure position or distinction in the domain
of science. It is on this account that the Jews form so large a
contingent to the student class, and they do not shrink from mediocrity,
the consequence of a lack of talent.'

"Ah, my dear Rosenfeld, if each of you could only carry Feuerbach's
analysis with you and let it plead for you on your way through life! But
even then the world would cry out with Conrad Bolz: 'It is an excuse,
but not a good one;' and above all, we do not wish to accept it. For it
interferes with us, it restricts us. We do not wish to grant so large a
field to others for the development of their individuality, we need the
room ourselves. The result would be that the aliens would have to
renounce the development of their individuality, their striving for the
distinctiveness that raises them above the level of general mediocrity.
To this you would not submit; why should you? There is so much talent,
so much spirit, so much vigor among your co-religionists. It would be
suicide committed by individuals of your race, if they passively
submitted to absorption by the mass, instead of saving themselves for
the welfare of their own people.

"Whether this end can be attained, I cannot judge. It may be difficult!
Exceedingly difficult! But at one time there was One among you who
accomplished the most difficult of all things--the salvation of the
world.

"If this scheme should prove impracticable, then I can see only one
solution: Acknowledge yourselves as disciples of Him who went forth from
your midst. Your best, your greatest, your most distinguished men would
have to take the lead. Generations may pass before the traces are wiped
out, before the recruits are recognized as veterans; but time will
bring maturity. If ever you should think otherwise than you do now, then
come to me...."

"That is pure proselytizing," Sternberg burst forth.

"You do not know Rakenius," answered Rosenfeld, sadly. "It merely shows
how the very best, the most unprejudiced, and the clearest minds among
them think."

"And I cannot say that I find the letter remarkably unprejudiced," said
Hugo, impatiently.

"But that's the way they think and feel. It crops out even in those that
are anxious to understand our peculiarities. Rakenius never gave me the
least occasion to mistrust him. He was the one who made the approaches
in our friendship, because, as is natural, we are always the ones to
hold back for fear of being misunderstood, of being considered
aggressive. What he writes is his honest conviction. They know no other
solution for our difficulty. But his letter has shown me anew that at
least he tries to understand the other man."

"It is always the same story; even our defenders are our accusers," said
Magnus, sadly.

"While on the one hand Feuerbach shows our course to be justifiable, he
on the other hand admits our inferiority, our mediocrity."

"Among the masses."

"But the masses among the others do not study at all, and so we come
back to the same point. Despite mediocrity and weakness we push forward;
and that is just what as aliens is not our right."

After further discussion of the topic, Magnus and Sternberg left. Henry
and Hugo were alone. Occupied, each with his own thoughts, they remained
in silence for some moments. Then Hugo asked his friend with concern in
his voice: "Are you tired?"

"O no, just a bit unstrung."

"May I speak to you of another matter this evening?"

"Certainly."

"I am uneasy about Dr. Weilen's intrusion in our family circle. What
does he want? What does his interest mean, his familiarity? He comes
often, as if he belonged here, like a cousin,--and they like him. All of
them--except myself. And I'm afraid--afraid for Rita!"

Henry turned white, he bit his lips, rested his head on his hand, and
did not answer.

"What do you think, Henry? You know my sister well. During the lessons
in philosophy that you give her, you surely have an opportunity to probe
the girl's soul. What do you think?"

"Who dares say he knows another's soul,--especially that of such a
sensitive nature as Rita?" he responded hesitatingly. "But do you know,
Hugo, I am more tired than I thought I was; I think I'd better go."

"Shall I go with you?"

"No, I thank you. It is late, and there is no reason for your going out
into the cold."

"Well, then, until to-morrow."

"Good-night, Hugo."

He went slowly down the stairs. The corridors were still brilliantly
lighted. As he reached the hall of the main floor, a servant was holding
the door open for Dr. Weilen.

"O, good evening, Dr. Rosenfeld," he greeted him good-humoredly.

"Good evening, Dr. Weilen."

"Hospitality seems to be exercised on all the floors of this house. You
have just been with Hugo?"

He nodded in answer, and the two men left the house together.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was about eleven o'clock when Dr. Rosenfeld left his friend, and Hugo
was surprised when scarcely a quarter of an hour later, some one rapped
at his door. Elkish, the old clerk of the firm of Joshua Benas, stepped
in. His bachelor dwelling was in a wing of the house. Here his unmarried
sister kept house for him according to the strictest Jewish observances.
Certain privileges were extended to him as the confidant of the family.
The assured devotion of the whimsical old man was the excuse for
allowing him to do as he wished. In business he was all
conscientiousness, faithfulness, and capability. The younger clerks knew
that their weal or their woe lay in his hands, for the Geheimrat took no
step in business matters without Elkish's advice. He therefore imagined
he had a right to concern himself about family matters as well, and he
was good-naturedly allowed his way. The Benases were confident that he
held the welfare of their house dearer than his own, and though it was
not always possible to yield to his peculiar wishes, his interference
was tolerated without great opposition. Jewish homes often harbor such
characters, to whom loyalty gives privileges justified by long service,
though their manners are not in harmony with the present order of
things. Even in the old days in Lissa, Elkish had been a confidant of
Benas senior; and this had endeared him to the son, and later to the
children of the third generation. To Rita and Hugo he used the language
of the most familiar intercourse, and both of them felt a peculiar
attachment to him. As children they had spent many an hour daily in his
rooms. He and his sister were most ingenious in preparing surprises and
pleasures for them, and it was there that they had learnt to know the
charm of the old Jewish life. The services of the coming in and the
going out of the Sabbath, of the Seder evenings, and of the high
festivals, were strictly observed. A lost world was thus brought back to
the bright and eager children. In their parents' home the old life was
shown sacred respect, but without adherence to ceremonies. In Rita the
ceremonies appealed to the imagination, in Hugo to the intellect. To the
girl the peculiar customs had been sources of pleasure, but to Hugo of
earnest reflection. Rita had frolicked and laughed when Uncle Elkish on
such occasions went through the consecrated forms with solemnity and
dignity; Hugo, even as a boy, had experienced a feeling of awe for the
noble past from which these customs came. So the children had lived in
two worlds. Their parents' household was entirely "modern." While Rita
and Hugo were quite young children they had discarded--as many others of
the Jewish faith had done at the same time--the observances that
differentiated them from those of other faiths. When, however, the time
came which forced them back upon their own resources, the son and
daughter, now grown up, did not find the changed circumstances as
strange as they would have, had they not come under Elkish's influence.
They appreciated why sacrifices were demanded, and why they should not
desert from the ranks of a religion whose principles, founded in a
glorious past, formed the bond that held the race together though
scattered through all countries. Elkish's importance thus increased in
their eyes. Hadn't he been right in holding aloof from the stranger? As
a result, he did not feel the repulses under which they suffered so
intensely. Hugo was particularly affected, because as a student,
soldier, and lawyer, he was brought in constant contact with a
Jew-hating world, and exposed to continual mortifications and secret and
open attacks. All this embittered him; and he drew closer than ever to
the old man, who was inspired alike with great hate for the oppressor
and with zeal for the faith. And so Hugo greeted his visitor with
sincere pleasure.

"Why so late, Elkish?" he called to him cheerily. "What brings you here?
Pity you did not come sooner. You should have heard Dr. Rosenfeld this
evening; it would have warmed the cockles of your heart."

"My heart in this old body cries and laments. Hugo, what will it all
come to? I'll never laugh again, Hugo, never. With Tzores I shall go to
the grave."

"What are you talking about, Elkish? Before that happens, you still have
a lot to do; and you really would have been pleased to see our friends
here this evening--Dr. Rosenfeld, Dr. Magnus, and Sternberg."

"What do I care about doctors and lawyers when, God forbid, danger
threatens us?"

"What danger?"

"Are you blind, Hugoleben, and deaf? Don't you want to see and hear, or
don't you really see and hear? On this floor, you form Jewish societies,
you and your friends. Rosenfeld talks, and Sternberg scolds, and the
'Olive Branch' hopes, and you think,--but you don't think of what's
nearest to you, of what is going on below. Day after day that _Posheh
Yisroel_, the aristocratic Herr Regierungsrat, comes and makes himself
agreeable, and poses as being one of the Mishpocheh and _Chavrusseh_,
and Rita is there, my Ritaleben, and listens to the Chochmes and the
brilliant conversation, and gazes at the handsome, noble gentleman ....
and .... and...."

"But, Elkish, don't get excited. What's gotten into your head? Papa and
mamma are there, and I, too, and very often the other relatives."

"Just because of that! I am not afraid that he will seduce her the way a
_Baal-Milchomoh_ seduces a _Shicksel_. Such a thing, thank God, does not
happen with us Jews. But he will lead her astray with his fine thoughts
and noble manners, and his great position, and heaven knows what else,
and he will make her forsake her religion, become an apostate as he
himself is."

Hugo, himself suspicious of the friendly intercourse growing up between
Dr. Weilen and his own family, was alarmed at the old man's outburst.

"You see things too sombrely, Elkish. There have always been people of
high position, even Christians, that have visited us."

"Those were original Goyim, dyed in the wool, not such as he, and not
related, God forgive me that I must admit it. And when they came, it was
for the good dinners, and the fine champagne direct from France. I ought
to know, for I paid the bills. Those real Cognacs, and the cigars with
fancy bands! A small matter! Herr Geheimrat can well afford it. Why
object? We merely shrug our shoulders--and despise them. When they came
and made genuflexions, and were never too tired to find us, then they
wanted money--much money--for charity, and for monuments, and for
foundations, and for all sorts of things--even for churches. Why not?
The Jew has always been good enough for that. I never dissuaded your
father from such gifts. He still takes my advice occasionally; and when
he says, 'I am well advised, Elkish,' then he merely means, 'What is
your opinion of the matter, Elkish?' And I have always thought, there is
no harm in giving, and surely not in taking. And when those other
fellows, the artists, came and told your mother of their paintings and
their busts, and invited her to their studios; and made music to the
tune of one thousand marks an evening, and some concert tickets besides,
I never protested, but I did some thinking, and I wondered what Mr.
Mendel Benas of Lissa would have said, had he seen where our good money
goes to. But we've grown so great, why should we not give? The time came
when they paid us back more than we need. That's all right. Perhaps not
for the individual, for he grieved, like your father or like Friedheim
or Freudenthal, or all the great folk among the Jews; but it was good
for the rest. The Christians began to think that they have a right to be
considered, and _we_ began to feel we were what we are--Jews."

When Elkish flew into a passion, it was not so easy to calm him. Hugo
therefore did not interrupt his harangue, a mixture of indignation,
scorn, and disappointment. With most of it he himself agreed, and even
though he viewed events from a more modern standpoint, yet at bottom he
held the same opinions as the embittered old man. It did not seem
strange to Hugo that Elkish had dropped into his native jargon, for the
sake of emphasis. He always did so when excited.

"And therefore I always said," he continued, after a short pause, "'Mr.
Benas,' I said, 'as you like.' But now I do not say 'as you like.' For
this fellow wants not only our money, but our child, too,--our darling
Rita."

His voice turned hoarse, and the last words sounded like a plaint.

"Elkish!"

"Yes, yes, Hugo, that's what it is! Why did he never come before? He has
been in Berlin a long time, and he's always known who Joshua Benas was,
and in what relation he stood to him."

"But a special occasion brought him to us, Uncle Leopold's birthday--"

"Nonsense! That is a pretext! He had to say something. He had it all
planned. _He_ wishes to celebrate Reb Löbl's birthday! _Oser!_ not a
word of truth."

"There was no necessity for an excuse to visit us; he knew quite well
that my parents would have received him, even if he had only said that
he wished to become acquainted with his mother's relatives."

"But the other story sounds better, more romantic. That attracts a young
girl like Rita. You may believe me, Hugo. I know her. She has not said
a word about him, and she goes about as if in a dream. She used to tell
Rosalie and me about everything, about Jedlitzka, with whom she plays,
about Skarbina, with whom she paints, about the theatre and the
concerts, and the lessons in philosophy with Rosenfeld, and whether
'Olive Branch' dances better than Cohnheim of Bellevue Street. My sister
and myself got all our entertainment through her, on Shabbes afternoons,
when she came to us, just as when she was a little girl. But she's never
spoken a word about him, not a syllable; as if he did not exist. And yet
he comes every afternoon to tea, and evenings, and noon; and they meet
at the Opera House, by chance, of course, and by chance, too, in the
skating rink, on the Rousseau Island. Mlle. Tallieu is always present,
and she told my nephew Redlich, who studies French with her. She even
told it to him in French."

Hugo listened thoughtfully.

"But, my dear Elkish, there is nothing to be done about it. Papa and
mamma have begged me expressly to treat him with the utmost courtesy,
even though I found it hard from the very beginning. So I withdraw as
far as possible when he comes; because it goes without saying that a man
of his station must be met with consideration. There really is something
very simple and engaging about him."

"There you have it, there you have it!" wailed Elkish. "It would be much
better if you did not withdraw, but remained, and took care that she did
not fall in love."

"It wouldn't do any good."

"Why not?"

"Do you believe, Elkish, that a girl like Rita becomes enamored of
externals? Because some one pays her compliments, or casts languishing
looks at her, which the presence of a third person might hinder?"

"Well, then, with what do girls fall in love?"

"They fall in love with the personality of a man; with his spiritual
nature and his appearance, when the two are united in a congenial
individuality--in a man who appeals to or supplements their own
character, or charms them."

"I do not understand such stuff, Hugo. Thank God, I am not meshugge. But
it is enough to make you crazy to think that a good Jewish girl cannot
be kept from falling in love with a Posheh Yisroel. I always advised
your father to arrange the match with Reinbach of Mannheim. If he had
followed my advice, she would have been married long ago; and I am
curious, very curious, to know whether in such circumstances it would
have occurred to the Regierungsrat to wish to celebrate the birthday of
Reb Löb Friedländer."

"But Rita did not care for young Reinbach; and I am sure no one can
blame her. Such an arrogant upstart, without any ideals."

"There are some with ideals and some without. Reinbach is so rich that I
cannot see why he needs ideals."

"Well, to be sure, Elkish, he cannot buy them. But we need not complain
of our financial position, either, and yet we are moved by ideals in our
demands and hopes. Or look at Magnus. His father is a millionaire, and
yet he thinks of nothing but the fulfilment of our plans. And look at
Sternberg, and Rosenfeld, and myself, and others who might pass their
lives seeking pleasures of all kinds, instead of worrying over the
sorrows of our nation. And here comes a South German dandy, a man about
town _à la mode de Paris_, a Jew, the type that is now being persecuted
and maligned as never before, and whenever we come to the subject that
absorbs us all so much, he curtly remarks, 'Judaism is a misfortune.'"

"That is a phrase, nothing more."

"It seems to me this is not the time for empty phrases," he answered
gloomily. "The man that uses them, and uses them with such an air of
superiority, is a fool. And that Rita should not accept such a fellow,
you should find quite proper."

"I prefer a Jewish fool to a baptized philosopher."

"There are also Jewish philosophers." Henry's fine, pale face suddenly
came to his mind. He arose and paced up and down the room lost in
thought. Then he said:

"It is very late, Elkish."

"A Jewish philosopher, however, is no good match," he persevered.

"Rita must decide that, not we. So let us go to bed now."

"But, Hugo, you must promise me one thing. Be on your guard,--be on your
guard."

He shook the old clerk's hand: "Rest easy, Elkish. I share your fears,
and also your dislikes."

"I knew it. That's why I came to you. Good night, Hugo, with God's help
all will come out right."

"Let us hope so."

When the door had closed upon the old man, Hugo fetched a deep sigh. It
occurred to him how suddenly and apparently for no reason Rosenfeld had
left, when the conversation had turned upon Dr. Weilen's intercourse
with his family.

"Is it possible that he, too...." He stared fixedly into the burning
embers for some time before he put out his lamp, and went to sleep.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was the first of January. Rita sat reading in the small, cozy
drawing-room. A bright wood fire crackled upon the hearth, lit for cheer
only; for the house was well heated otherwise. Rita could not bear a
cold and desolate fire-place, especially on a day like this, when the
cold out of doors was severe. On such days only a flood of light and
warmth could bring comfort indoors. It was hardly four o'clock, but the
lamps were lit, and the electric light, shaded by bright bell-shaped
glass globes, produced a pleasant effect.

Through the windows draped with costly lace curtains the waning daylight
peeped and the flurries of large snow-flakes. Rita put her book aside,
and gazed thoughtfully at the falling snow. How beautiful the flakes
were!--the white floating crystals, that played at tag, and chased each
other, and then fell so silently and so calmly. The snug comfort of a
warm room was peculiarly attractive in contrast to the scene outside.
Suddenly she thought of those who might be out in the cold. She glanced
at the clock; it was almost four o'clock. "Mother must be just arriving
now," she said to herself.

"I hope the snowdrifts will not cause delays." She looked worried and
arose to go to the window.

At this moment a rap came at the door, and the servant handed her a
card, and announced Dr. Weilen.

"Ask him in."

And then he stood before her, and grasped her hand, and pressed it to
his lips.

"May I personally repeat the good wishes I sent in writing this
morning?"

Early in the day he had sent beautiful flowers with the compliments of
the season.

"That is very kind of you," she answered, trying to overcome a slight
embarrassment. "I am glad to have the opportunity to return your kind
wishes and to thank you. But you must be satisfied with my company
to-day. Yesterday my mother decided to take a short journey on which she
started this morning, and my father and my brother are not likely to
return until dinner time, at six o'clock."

He gazed at her without speaking, and the delicate blush that suffused
her face assured him that his unspoken answer was understood.

She knew that he longed to be alone with her, and she also knew that it
was for her sake that he came as often as the conventions of polite
society allowed. Since he had first appeared among them, several weeks
ago, he had called repeatedly, and it was obvious that he felt at home
with them. Mr. and Mrs. Benas enjoyed his company. With the ease of the
man of the world, and with his confiding manner he had readily made a
place for himself. Without overstepping the barriers that his long
estrangement from his family had unconsciously raised, he was able to
assume a happy mean between the position of a guest and that of a
relative. Rita, too, he had been able to win over to his side. She liked
to see him, such as he was, partly as one of them, and partly as the
formal guest. He had overcome her shyness to such an extent that she
accepted him, now as a cousin and again as a visitor. It lent an
especial charm to their intercourse, this mingling of intimacy and
formality. It attracted him, and even more captivated her. On his
arrival it was always the Government official whom she greeted; but when
she became interested in the conversation, following his lead, she
called him cousin. It was a source of unending delight to him, when,
carried away by the excitement of the conversation, she, of her own
accord, called him cousin.

"To what happy circumstances do I owe the pleasure of finding you alone
on this New Year's Day, so that I may express to you my sincere,
heartfelt wishes for your happiness, my dear, dear Rita?"

She sat down at the hearth again, and he placed himself opposite. He
looked at her face which, brightened by the reflections from the
hearth-fire, and illuminated by her inner excitement, seemed
particularly charming.

"Mamma left this morning for Rawitsch, to visit Uncle Leopold; and papa
and Hugo are visiting Uncle Friedheim who has been unwell for several
days."

He looked at her in astonishment, then he smiled knowingly. "Your mother
has gone to Rawitsch, to Uncle Leopold? So unexpectedly? She mentioned
nothing of her intention on the day before Christmas, when I was here,
although we spoke even more than usual about Uncle Leopold and his
birthday."

"Mother decided only yesterday,--there were several things she wished
to.... She believed...." She tried in vain to conceal her hesitation.

"In this cold and stormy weather? It must have been quite an important
matter."

"O, not at all, Dr. Weilen." Her embarrassment grew. "Mamma has had the
intention of going for some time, and the snow came only after her
departure. Papa and myself accompanied her to the station, and I am
sure that nowadays one travels comfortably and agreeably. The coupé was
well-heated, and mamma and her maid had it all to themselves. So few
people travel on the holidays. I should have loved to go with her, and
by this time she is already at her destination. The train arrives there
at 3.28."

At first she spoke with uncertainty, as if searching for an unequivocal
purpose for this trip; then her utterance became faster and faster; at
the last words she looked at the clock on the mantel. A shepherd and
shepherdess of old Dresden china, looking at each other tenderly, held
the dial between them.

"Yes, at 3.28," she repeated.

"Rita!" he caught her hand and held it firmly. "Your mother has taken
this trip in order to plead for me. She has granted my wish! Quite as a
diplomatic ambassador! She wished to intercede for me personally, to be
my spokesman, to brush aside scruples and prejudices; to place the
strange and unexpected in a proper light; to express her conviction that
this desire of mine is not a whim, but a pious longing that has lain
dormant in a secret corner of my heart. All this she is going to put
forward in my behalf. The confidence that all have in her she will use
in my favor. She is going to say to them: 'From frequent intercourse
with Victor Weilen, the son of our aunt Goldine, who died at an early
age, your youngest sister, Uncle Leopold, the sister of my mother,--from
frequent intercourse with him we have the impression that honest feeling
leads him to us; that the secret voice of blood-relationship called him,
when he discovered that one of the family, the one whose quiet piety,
whose honest belief make him appear doubly worthy of honor to those whom
life has driven away from their native soil, had attained his ninetieth
birthday, and like a patriarch was going to gather his own about him.
And on this occasion Victor Weilen, too, wishes to be present.'"

She looked at him in timid bewilderment. She had slowly disengaged her
hand from his.

"O yes! But mamma also found it necessary to supervise the arrangements
for the celebration personally. There will be so many people to come to
the small town. Our relatives there are, of course, helpless; they are
not used to such matters. Arrangements will have to be made in advance
for the housing and entertainment of the guests.... You see, it is a
special festival that is to be celebrated."

"Do you wish to rob me of the delight of my interpretation, Miss Rita?"
There was a pained expression in his voice. "All that might have been
done by correspondence, but your kind mother in person had to justify
and advocate the wish of a stranger to be one of the guests, a stranger,
yet one of their own blood. For this the winter's journey, to-day, on
New Year's Day, which people like to celebrate together at home. Am I
right, Rita?"

"Yes," she answered simply.

It seemed impossible to her to plead further excuses after he had
discovered the honest truth.

Neither spoke for some time. He gazed at her bowed head. The silence was
eloquent of inner sympathy between them. The intense quiet of the room
was disturbed only by the crackling of the wood fire. It cast red,
quivering reflections across the light carpet covering the floor, and
glanced brightly adown the girl's dress.

After a few moments during which they were sunk in thought, he said: "I
know your mother will succeed in realizing my wish. She is a good
spokesman. And I will be near you on that day, Rita--near you!"

And as though unable any longer to control his tumultuous feelings he
jumped up, took her in his arms, and whispered softly in her ears, "My
Rita!"

She rested upon his bosom, as if stunned, quivering with blissful joy.
The uncertainty and misgiving that had troubled her heart throughout
these many weeks was now converted into a happy reality. He loved her!
He! He raised her bowed head and read the confession of her love in the
eyes that looked at him in pure radiance. Deep emotion took possession
of him. She loved him with the love that springs up in the sweet, secret
longings, in the pure maidenly fervor, in the rare, modest timidity of
the daughters of that people from which he had at one time turned away.

As if his thoughts had been transferred to her, she slowly disengaged
herself from his arms, hid her face in her hands, and relieved the
oppression of her soul in tears. He led her back to the place from which
he had so impetuously drawn her, seated her, then kneeled before her,
and embraced her softly, tenderly. "Rita, dear sweet Rita, my precious
child. Why do you cry? What makes you sad? What frightens you?"

"Happiness."

He drew her to him again passionately, and said: "You shall learn to
know this happiness in all its joy. It will exalt you, not sadden you."

"You forget what separates us," she stammered, suddenly alarmed, and
tried to free herself from his arms.

He started violently. Then he threw his head back with a proud,
victorious gesture, and, caressing her, he said in a firm voice: "That
which separated us, draws us together, my love, my sweet love!" She
clung to his neck, and without resistance she gave herself up to his
kisses.

       *       *       *       *       *

At dinner, Rita, to conceal from her father and Hugo the cause of her
quiet and reserve, pleaded a headache. She merely mentioned the visit
of Dr. Weilen; he had come to pay his New Year's call. Hugo looked at
her so searchingly that she blushed, and turned away from his gaze.

"Did you explain to him that we no longer keep open house, since we have
plainly been given to understand that we, citizens of a lower estate,
have no right to and no part in the holidays of the others?" Deep
resentment lay in his words.

She looked at him as though her thoughts were of another world, while
her father said in irritation: "Can't you grant us a moment's respite
from your indignation and your scorn? You display your malice at every
opportunity. It is really ridiculous for you to ask Rita whether she met
the politeness of a visitor with such an unpleasant reception."

Rita cast a grateful glance at her father; her eyes shone with the
brightness of suppressed tears.

"It is enough that we conduct ourselves as our injured pride demands,
but always to throw it up to others is improper and stupid. I tell you
those were pleasanter and happier times when we used to celebrate the
New Year's eve with a ball, and then the next morning received
congratulations, and in the evening, instead of sitting sadly alone as
we three are, there was a gathering of gay friends for a dinner."

"They may have been gayer times," said Hugo, nettled, "more amusing,
too, and more comfortable, but they were only transient. They were in a
condescending mood, and because of an amiable caprice on their part we
were allowed to celebrate their feast days with them, and to take part,
humbly, in certain civic and public holidays. But religion, despite all,
raised an impassable wall between us and them. We were allowed to enjoy
pageants, illuminations, parades, patriotic celebrations of all kinds,
and then Christmas and New Year, when you're called upon to give in
charity. How tolerant! O, how liberal! O, how I hate that word.
Sufferance I call it. Sufferance! To be tolerated! You're kindly
tolerated, partly as a participant, partly as an observer. And you're
perfectly aware that you may be pushed aside at any moment when found
_de trop_ or too forward. It surely is a thousand times better to be as
we are now; without the loud gayety of people to whom at bottom we are
strange, and must always remain so. I remember, during my upper class
days, the last formal New Year's dinner at this house, how Herr von
Knesebeck proposed a toast to the Emperor coupled with the toast for the
New Year. And how jovially and with what amiable condescension the
attorney-general, Herr von Uckermarck, proposed a toast to mother. What
an honor! And the way in which you welcomed the guests, the honored
friends of the house--strangers then, to-day, and forever! What led them
to us was not our company, but the choice pleasures and the agreeable
times our money afforded. And to-day they dispense with all that. It
would be impossible to get the best of them to come to us now; but the
best of us are those who gratefully reject the honor."

His father was visibly annoyed, and Rita looked anxiously at her
brother, who seemed particularly harsh and relentless. If he suspected!
A dread possessed her, and pallor overspread her face. The dinner passed
off in no very pleasant mood. The three missed the conciliating
gentleness of the mother, who shared the son's views without his rancor,
and who had opened her husband's eyes to the altered social conditions,
while yet appreciating and sympathizing with his regret over the sad
changes.

Everyone was glad to have the meal over. Rita excused herself at once.
Hugo and his father could find no congenial topic for conversation; and
so the first day of the new year drew to an unhappy end.

       *       *       *       *       *

The next morning Rita received a letter. She was at breakfast with Mlle.
Tallieu and could with difficulty conceal the excitement into which the
reception of the letter had thrown her. Fortunately her companion was
absorbed in the "Figaro," and paid no attention to Rita, who was thus
able to hide the letter in her pocket without its being noticed.

"_De maman?_" she asked, without looking up from her journal.

"_Ceça!_" Rita answered in a low voice.

"_Oh! ce pauvre Henry .... pauvre! Il est mort .... mon dieu! Quel malheur
pour ma grande patrie .... cette canaille de D .... C'est vraiment ...
cette blamage irréparable._"

Rita arose. She was accustomed to hear Mlle. Tallieu grow enthusiastic,
one day over Zola's "_J'accuse_," and the next day equally so for
_l'armée_. One of the uncultured or rather half-cultured, she was swayed
by the force of pathos, and was ever of the opinion of others, if they
were forcibly expressed.

At all events Mademoiselle was at this moment fully occupied and well
provided. There was an abundance of sliced meat on the table, plenty of
marmalade, and other good things; the tea-pot was bubbling; and Rita
could hope to remain undisturbed for a long time. She stepped into her
mother's room, and, with a timid glance at the "family tree," she sat
down to read her letter. Her heart was beating violently, and the sheets
rustled in her trembling hands. Several minutes passed before she could
gain sufficient self-possession to look at the writing. The words swam
before her sight:

"My dear, precious girl, my Rita, my bride! This word fills me with
delight, and I know it awakens an echo in your heart; you say it softly
to yourself, and you are filled with bride-like thoughts, thoughts that
belong to me. Whatever might interfere with the union of our hearts from
without, within us reigns love, joy, hope. I know I want to win and
possess you, and I know you are willing to belong to me.

"Need I beg your pardon for giving in to the impulsive joy of my heart,
to the violent longing of my soul, for not waiting to sue for you
soberly and sensibly, as is proper for a man so much older than you are,
but stormed you with a youth's love of conquest, throwing prudence to
the winds, and scorning careful consideration? I was young again when I
saw you before me yesterday in the sweet loveliness of your youth, and I
shall be young so long as your love remains the fountain of youth in my
soul.

"Do you want to know how it came about? I might answer you, 'Do not ask,
be sensible only of the strong, exulting love that arose within us as a
marvellous, convincing, dominant fact, as a law of nature.' But I see
your earnest, wise eyes, which in the past weeks have rested searchingly
upon me so often,--I see them before me in all their sincerity, their
sweetness, their purity; and it seems to me that I must explain to the
little interrogator all about myself and how it happened.

"You know, my love, how I was left alone in the world at an early age.
Without father or mother, having no connections or relatives--quite
orphaned; but healthy, full of vigor, happy and independent in every
way. And all at an age in which one is in need of love, in need of wise
guidance, of intimate intercourse with congenial spirits and the home
feeling of a large family, the feeling inborn in the sons and daughters
of our race, because it is their only home. But I was quite homeless!
With the fearless courage of youth I decided to found a home for myself.
It was not difficult for me; my independence, my large income, and
perhaps, too, my personal abilities, admitted me to the best society. At
the University, among my fellow-students, in the homes of my teachers, I
was considered, and I felt myself to be as one of them. Nothing stood
between us, nothing tangible, nothing out-spoken. Neither my external
appearance, nor my interests distinguished me from them,--so entirely
had I become a part of their world. There never came a word from the
other world within to recall me to my true self. I knew nothing of my
former life; no recollection flitted through my mind, because nothing
happened to awaken me; and the soft voices that may have made themselves
heard occasionally in the early years, were entirely quieted as the new
life attracted me and seemed to wipe out the past. I had entirely
forgotten at that time to what faith I belonged, and my friends surely
never thought of it. One of them especially attracted me. He was two
years older than myself--a talented and refined man. Like myself he was
alone in the world and independent. That was the circumstance that led
us to a sincere friendship. He was a devout Catholic, and after my
examinations we journeyed together to Rome. There, under the
overpowering impressions of his art-inspiring belief, we were drawn
still closer together. Finally the wish was born in me to share with him
the faith that was the basis of his inner life, and which he, I know not
whether consciously or unconsciously, had nurtured in me, and had
brought to fruitage.

"Think of it, my wise, good girl, how young I was then, how
enthusiastic, how entirely I had dedicated myself to friendship, and how
easy it was for me to succumb to the magic and mystery of a cult whose
splendors and associations, there in Rome itself, possessed us heart and
soul. Think of it and you will understand me. The reasons that brought
me to the momentous decision were not of a practical kind. I took the
step in a state of ecstatic excitement and romantic enthusiasm. I had
nothing to forsake, for I possessed nothing that had to be sacrificed
for the new faith--neither father, nor mother, nor family,--nothing
except my own self, and that belonged to the forces that were then
mightiest in me: friendship and imagination. The recollection of an
incident of those days comes to me with such remarkable clearness that I
will tell you of it. It was the only thing that reminded me of my youth,
passed under such wholly unlike circumstances. A few days after the
fateful step we were in the galleries of the Vatican. I had again become
entranced by the glories of Raphael. Suddenly my eye was caught by a
portrait in an adjoining corridor. It was the tall, lean figure of a man
who was resting his head in his hand, and looked up thoughtfully from an
open book lying before him. In the deeply furrowed countenance a
meditative, mild seriousness. Eyes expressing endless goodness. A
questioning look in them, questioning about the thousand riddles of the
universe. The hand resting upon the book was especially remarkable. It
spoke a language of its own. Its lines and shape expressed tenderness,
gentleness, kindness, as if it could dispense only blessings.

"I was spell-bound, and could not tear myself away from the picture.
There was something familiar in it, as if it were a greeting, a reminder
from my youth. Suddenly the thing was clear to me. This man, whose
characteristic features unmistakably showed him to be an old Jew looking
up from his Talmud, and pondering its enigmatic wisdom, reminded me of
my uncle Leopold Friedländer. In a flash the whole scene came before me:
how he pored over his Talmud when, led by my mother, I came before him
with childlike awe; and how he looked up from his volume and regarded me
so kindly, so meditatively, exactly like the man before me in the
picture. And while I reeled off what I knew of Hebrew lore, he leaned
his head upon his left hand, and his right was placed on his book; then
he raised his hand and laid it in blessing upon my head, and the tender
lips spoke the Hebrew words of the benediction. It seemed to me as if I
heard again the soft, insistent voice; and as if the high-vaulted
corridors of the Vatican were transformed into the low, simple room of
the Jew's house at Rawitsch. I was as one in a dream. It made a strong
impression upon me. Like one possessed I gazed at the picture, and I
believe my lips mumbled half-aloud '_Yevorechecho Adonay
ve-yishmerecho_.' Never since that day have the words left my memory.
They remain like a faint echo in my soul. Suddenly I felt a hand upon my
shoulder. 'A fine picture, is it not,' said Francis to me, 'this Hebrew
of the sixteenth century? I believe he was a Portuguese Jew, who was
exiled to some Italian Ghetto, to Trastevere or the Ghetto Vecchio of
Venice. Somewhere or other the artist came upon this fine,
characteristic head, whose portrait places him amongst the immortals,
although his very name is uncertain. He belongs to the Florentine
school, possibly a pupil of Del Sarto. The realistic expression of the
hand suggests Master Andrea himself; or it may have been Pontormo, or
Puligo; at all events, a masterly painter.' While my friend gave these
explanations, I had time to recover myself, but it was with difficulty
that I threw off the spell of my imagination. So it was a Portuguese
Rabbi of the sixteenth century, not my uncle Leopold! And yet he.... I
knew it positively. Perhaps there was a talisman bequeathed from one to
the other that made these Talmudic scholars of all times so much alike;
or was it the Law, to which they devoted themselves with like zeal? Or
the similarity of their attitude toward life? Or the tradition that
remained unaltered through the centuries? When we left the Vatican soon
after I could not dismiss the thought that my uncle Leopold Friedländer
had a place among the portraits of the Vatican Gallery.

"Years passed. The incidents of those days had long been forgotten. I
was drawn into the great and mighty currents of life. I enjoyed it to
the full. After the completion of my examinations for the assessorship,
my friends at Bonn advised me to enter the service of the Government.
There was nothing to prevent me, and the position offered me was quite
to my liking, and satisfied the ambitions then mastering me. With the
death of Francis Siebert a great void had come into my life; he had died
of typhoid fever on a journey of investigation. In the stormy come and
go of life, in the restless haste of existence, such things happen
daily; and although painfully shocked by his death, I continued my way.
It came at a time in my life when I was battling with a great inner
struggle that made me wholly self-centered. I prefer not to speak of
this to you, at least not to-day. But one thing I may tell you, the
experience did not make me unworthy of you. Conflict and suffering do
not degrade a man, and whatever fails to overcome us, makes us all the
stronger. But I became more and more lonely, and I fell into the habit
of thinking that it was my lot in life to be lonely. I tried to be
content alone. It seemed the easier for me since my career was a happy
one and gave me contentment; and so did the kind of life it brought with
it. I resigned myself to remaining a bachelor. So much of the married
life of my friends as had come under my observation did not make me
regret that I had renounced it. My calling, my books, my journeys, gave
me sufficient satisfaction. I avoided social gatherings as far as my
position allowed me to. In this way, time passed in work and recreation,
and the even tenor of my days brought me comfort and satisfaction. There
were many hours in which this exclusiveness seemed very pleasant to me;
and the longing for intimate fellowship with others grew ever weaker.

"Then, a few weeks ago, I happened upon the notice of Rabbi
Friedländer's ninetieth birthday. The rest you know. What you do not
know, is that on my desk, where I had found the journal containing the
notice, I seemed suddenly to see the portrait of the Vatican before me;
and an unaccountable association of ideas made me see myself standing
before it, not as I was in Rome, but as a small boy before the old man,
whom I thought I had found anew in the portrait--in the presence of the
devout, kindly man, as he sat poring over his book in his humble room.
And then I heard the words of the blessing again--I felt them in my
heart, the heart of an experienced, mature man,--and all in the language
of my childhood, the language of the childhood of my race. And suddenly
the world vanished from before me, the modern world that claimed me, and
the old arose in the clear light of holy recollections. Father, mother,
the whole family came back to life within me! Then I sought your
family, sought you! And how I found all of you--how I found you--

"The subtle charm of true family happiness, the aristocratic security of
a settled life, entranced me, mingled though they were with secret
anguish over the unjust, the foolish prejudices under which the Jewish
community suffers. Such depth of feeling underlies the splendor of your
life. There is something so cheerful, so intimate among you. On the very
first evening I felt at home with you. Your wise, able father, your
noble, sensitive mother, your brother with his splendid vindictiveness,
and his proud ideals, all interested me as something new, strange, and
yet familiar.

"I had never known a Jewish home of refinement and respectability; I did
not realize how such home-life had developed in spite of the
unfriendliness and the slights that beset it, and in the midst of
hostility that seeks its very destruction. Your friends are of the same
admirable type. The men serious, capable, intellectually distinguished,
and prominent in their various callings; the women bright, artistically
gifted, beautiful; the young people ambitious, well-educated,
impressionable, enthusiastic. So I learned to know you and your kin,--my
kin. May many be like you, I say to myself. Among the Jews are all too
many who under oppression and necessity cannot develop. But how could it
be otherwise? By the side of the few, one always finds the masses; by
the side of the elect, the average.

"And now you, my girl, my precious Rita, you have seen how your sweet
disposition has influenced me, how it awakened within me new and happy
feelings, how my very soul goes out in longing to you. I have regained
my youth, and it calls to me exultantly: 'Return to your own!'

"These are my confessions. It does me a world of good to be allowed to
speak to you in this way; and now you will comprehend why it was that I
could not restrain myself, but had to take you in my arms, in the happy
assurance that you were willing to be mine.

"Have courage! I will never give you up, and we shall surmount all the
difficulties they may put in our way. I shall see you again when your
mother returns, and I may be allowed to come. Have faith in me!

      Victor."

       *       *       *       *       *

Tears streamed down Rita's face. He had laid bare his soul to her. She
remained for a long time lost in thought, considering what had best be
done. She did not conceal from herself that her marriage with Dr. Weilen
would encounter strong opposition; that disquiet, excitement, and
heartache would enter into her peaceful home when the relation between
her and Victor was known. Her father's opposition would be the easiest
to overcome, but her mother's? And Hugo's? And Elkish's? And the rest of
the relatives? And herself? Was there no inward protest against what
she was about to do? Now in these saddest of times, to tear herself away
from those who suffered and struggled?

An inexpressible fear possessed her. If only her mother were back at
home! Disquieting thoughts again besieged her. How happy she might have
been, to love a man like Dr. Weilen, to be loved by him! And now alarm
in her hopes, doubt in her wishes. She arose slowly and went to her
room, and locked the letter in her desk.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the fourth of January Mrs. Benas returned. She was in good spirits,
and she had found her uncle hale and hearty. Her relatives in the little
town were already excited over the coming event, and busy planning and
preparing for it. This year _Pesach_ came early. The birthday, according
to Jewish reckoning, was on the twenty-sixth day of March, the first day
of the festival. She told them that in Rawitsch all arrangements had
been made for a celebration on a grand scale. Whatever could not be
obtained at Rawitsch was to be ordered from Berlin. Arrangements were
all the more complicated because of the Passover observances; but not
one of the peculiar customs was to be slighted; everything was to go on
as usual on this holiday. The great number of the family who would be
present necessitated especial provision for the Seder evening
celebration and the days succeeding. It was a mere question of expense,
and that need not be considered. On the contrary, it was a pleasant
feature, that the unusual event would take place amid unusual
circumstances, and instead of bread and cake and the every-day dishes,
unleavened bread would be eaten. The distinctive festival, as it has
survived in unchanged form, but added glamour to the ninetieth birthday
celebration of Uncle Leopold.

The family were gathered at their evening meal when Mrs. Benas reported
on her trip. With happy eagerness she told of her visit, how she found
everyone, and what were their plans.

"But, Fanny, dearest," teased her husband, "do you realize that you are
to feed sixty people on _Matzoth_, and for two entire days! Because, you
know, no one may leave before the evening of the second day of the
holiday."

"Everything has been taken into consideration," she answered
good-humoredly. "Do not worry, Joshua, you won't go hungry, and neither
will the others. All kinds of nice things, even the finest pastry can be
made out of Matzoth and Matzoth meal--cakes and tarts, and dipped
Matzoth and _Chrimsel_, the specialties of the season, and the rest of
the delicacies. You're no scorner of the good things of life, and you
will enjoy eating these dishes again."

"I'll enjoy the indigestion, too, I warrant. But you're right, dearest,
those fine dishes are as unforgettable as they are indigestible, and I
am quite ready to risk a Karlsbad Kur in May, in order to eat properly
in March."

"It will not be so bad as all that. We shall be careful to combine the
prescribed with the palatable. And oh! children, it will be beautiful; I
am happy about it now. It will be an occasion on which I shall gladly
show what and who we are--we Friedländers."

"Now, don't forget the rest of us," her husband bantered.

"The rest of you belong to us, too," she answered with emphasis. "That's
just what constitutes the greatness and the strength of the Jewish
family--that it grasps so firmly whatever is attached to it. You cannot
imagine who all are coming to this celebration in Rawitsch. Some
relatives have announced their coming whose names you hardly know, in
addition to those in direct descent from Rabbi Akiba. They are
descendants of the brothers and sisters of Rabbi Akiba. Then there will
be the relations, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the sisters
and brothers of our grandfather. From the letters received in Rawitsch
they would not have been able to trace these relationships, if Uncle
Leopold's wonderful memory had not helped to place them. It would have
been best if we had had our 'family tree' there as a help in recalling
them."

Her husband was much amused at Mrs. Benas's pride and zeal. He had not
seen her in so happy a frame of mind since a long time. When she was
telling of her trip, he felt himself transplanted back to his youth. He
saw before his mind's eye the Seder in the house of his own parents,
with the consecration and devout importance at that time attached to the
various customs. And a deep emotion stirred this man, usually so cool
and skeptical.

"But, tell me, I should really like to know how they will manage. It is
no small matter; for instance, at the Seder, how many do you expect?"

"Well, pay attention, Joe, and you children, too," she turned to Rita
and Hugo, who had followed her report with interest. "I'll tell you the
whole programme. We expect from fifty to sixty persons. Of these the ten
or fifteen who are extremely orthodox will lodge with the relatives of
Uncle Leopold's wife. They are the sons and a daughter of his deceased
nephew. These three families are wealthy and keep a strictly orthodox
household, as do most in the town. So the pious ones can be comfortably
housed there, and need have no fears on the score of religious
observances. The rest will be lodged in the comfortable inn on the
market place. I looked at the rooms there, and they are quite possible,
allowing for the sort of place Rawitsch is."

"Well, no one will expect to be provided with the accommodations of the
'Kaiserhof' or the 'Palace Hotel.'"

"Certainly not," she laughed, "but there will be compensations. And now,
don't interrupt again, Joshua, else I will lose--"

"The thread of the strategical plans for the invasion of Rawitsch!"

"Joshua!" She assumed an injured air.

"But, my dear girl, don't you see how delighted I myself am with all
this? The most serious things can stand a bit of joking; but now I'll be
real quiet, as well-behaved as Hugo and Rita, and all good children when
they are having things explained to them. Well, _avanti_."

She hesitated an imperceptible moment, and then continued: "Some of the
most prominent families, among others the president of the congregation,
offered to entertain some of the guests. In an unusual case like this we
may avail ourselves of such invitations. They are the friends and
acquaintances of the Friedländer family; and besides the whole
congregation considers--"

"_Khille_ is the proper term in this case," he laughingly suggested.

"Well, then, the whole Khille, yes, the whole town, considers this day
of honor to Uncle Leopold as its own."

She knew that much depth of feeling lay hidden in her husband's jests.

"These outsiders, too, are planning to confer especial honors upon him.
At all events, the freedom of the city will be extended to him, for his
philanthropy embraces all without distinction of religious belief."

"Then perhaps it might be appropriate for us to found 'The Leopold
Friedländer Home for Widows and Orphans' on that day, too?"

She looked at him gratefully, and reached her hand across the table to
him. He had not spoken to her of this plan. Obeying a generous impulse
suggested by her words, he proposed it as something self-evident.

"With a capital of about one hundred thousand marks?"

"Joshua!" her voice trembled with deep excitement. Hugo and Rita
regarded their father in astonishment.

"O papa," the girl said softly in gratitude; while Hugo showed the pride
he felt in his father, who had decided upon the large sum without
hesitation, and then, as if it were a mere aside, Mr. Benas continued:
"The main thing is to assemble as large a number as possible in
Rawitsch, and to be sure that in respect to lodging everything is well
arranged. Now will follow the report of the commissariat: Mrs. Benas has
the floor."

His good humor infected his wife.

"Well, in regard to food. I shall send a capable Jewish cook, who knows
all about keeping _kosher_. There will be people to help her in
Rawitsch. A new table service will have to be bought,--that I attend
to, here, and also whatever is necessary to complete the silver
service."

"You will provide, then, as I judge, a complete Passover service for
sixty persons. And what is to become of all of it afterwards?"

"I have not thought of that yet. But it will not be wasted."

"Suppose each one were to receive his own service to take home as a
souvenir?"

She and the children laughed gayly.

"That would not be so bad."

"And for us quite worth the while, we should return with four new sets
of table service."

With an expression of content, he glanced at the costly silver service
on the tea-table at which they were seated.

"That's what I have been wishing for a long time; and if we are
fortunate, we may receive a soup tureen with it."

"You're a tease, Joshua. Why should there not be souvenirs of the day?"

"But not exactly silver forks and knives. It might lead to sad
complications." Then as if an idea had suddenly occurred to him, he
continued, "Do you know, Fanny, leave it all to me. What would you think
if I bought so beautiful and valuable a silver service that it might be
used after the festival for Rita's future household? It would be fine to
own silver dedicated on such an occasion. What do you think of it,
Rita?"

At her father's words Rita turned pale. "O papa!" she stammered. She
felt Hugo's eyes staring at her, and the blood rushed back to her
cheeks.

"You need not get white and red at the idea. The silver service might
suggest a groom, but no one forces you to accept him." He was amused at
his daughter's confusion. "At all events, you are of an age to justify
such thoughts. However, I am quite ready to save this silver treasure
for you in my safe just as long as you want.

"Joe, if you don't stop joking, we shall never finish. First I am the
butt, then Rita. But Rita," she turned to her, "you know your father,
and know he is never happier than when he's teasing us. You need not
feel embarrassed by what he says. But you really do look as if you had
never heard of a young girl of twenty marrying." While her mother was
talking, Rita tried to regain her self-possession.

"Mamma, it was only so curious,--the ideas that papa has--this silver."

"Five dozen; everything necessary for sixty persons. Quite complete.
Renaissance, rococo, or Empire ... perhaps the English style pleases you
better?" he asked in fun.

"Please, Joshua, do let the poor child alone. I should really like to
consider the matter seriously."

"Well, then, to be quite serious; the question of the arrangements for
the table is settled, and with that everything, I believe. You attend to
the dishes; they need not exactly be Limoges or old Vienna. The silver
I shall see about, with an idea to future use. I have no doubt, good
things will go into the dishes, and enough, too. At such family
festivals there is always enough and to spare. The fish and fowl of the
region are famous, and other things, too. The Matzoth will be baked
especially for us, and Gregorovius, of Unter den Linden, shall provide
the apples for the _Charoseth_. Everything will be excellently arranged,
I mean it seriously. And I am looking forward to the festival with much
pleasure. Whatever is intrusted to Fanny Benas, _née_ Friedheim, of the
family of Akiba Friedländer, can only be good and blessed."

The last words were spoken gravely, with deep feeling. He arose, took
his wife's hand and kissed it.

"But you have not told us about one thing--about the chief reason for
your going. What do the relatives think of Dr. Weilen's wish?"

The children awaited their mother's answer in breathless expectation.
Hugo's eyes were fastened with sullen looks on his mother's lips; Rita
looked shy and anxious. It seemed to her as though her heart had stopped
beating, and a choking sensation caught her at the throat.

"I am decidedly curious to know what was your success."

"He may come!"

The face and attitude of the Geheimrat showed decided interest.

"Really? How interesting! I was very doubtful of the issue."

But Hugo clenched his fist, and said vehemently: "Impossible! How could
they consent? He will spoil the holiness of the days. What does he want
there? What does he wish of us? A stranger!"

Rita started at her brother's words. His harsh, unfriendly attitude hurt
her; but she maintained her self-possession through the very resentment
they aroused; she suppressed the sigh that betokened her inner
struggle, and catching her breath, she said: "He is no stranger!"

"That seems to have been the opinion of the rest of the family," Mr.
Benas said to his son, "and it is really time, Hugo, that you put an end
to your childish and uncalled-for prejudice against Dr. Weilen. His
personality certainly gives no occasion for such feeling, and he does
not encroach upon your wishes and theories. He seems to me the last man
to stand in your way."

Rita gave her father a look of gratitude.

"He has no right to, and never shall have," Hugo answered angrily.

"You spoil everything with your intolerance. And now enough. I'd much
rather hear what the pious old man thinks in his mild wisdom than listen
to the opinions of a hard, callow youth in his folly."

Hugo ground his teeth, and refrained from answering.

"Well, Fanny, how did it go?"

"At first it seemed very strange to the various members of the family.
The oldest son of Uncle Leopold, with whom he is living, Cousin Isidor,
and his wife Hannah, could not at first comprehend what the question was
about. Cousin Isidor is already past seventy, and the horizon of his
wife does not extend beyond the line connecting her room and the
synagogue."

Involuntarily she glanced at Hugo before she continued: "Considering the
narrow existence they lead, it is not to be wondered at. The daughters
of Uncle Leopold, Friederike and Rebecca, and their husbands were also
not a little astonished. I found their children, a few of whom have
remained at home, equally unsympathetic; but all of them yielded without
objection to the authority of Uncle Leopold, who lives among them like a
patriarch. He said: 'If Fanny Benas, the daughter of my brother-in-law
Friedheim of Rogasen, and of my sister Henrietta, pleads for him, then
he is surely a good man. And my sister Goldine, his mother, was the
darling of my mother and my father, Zichrono livrochoh. She was named
after her grandmother, Golde Freidchen, the wife of our grandfather, the
Gaon Rabbi Akiba, _Zecher Zaddik livrochoh_. Goldine was the youngest of
us fourteen children, and the first to die; and if her son wishes to
come to me, the oldest and only one, who, _boruch ha-Shem_, is still
here, and if I have the fortune to survive until the day of the
celebration, then he shall come. He shall come with the rest of you, and
he shall rejoice with you. And I shall see the only child of my beloved
sister Goldine.' Aunt Riekel softly interrupted: 'But he is baptized!'
An indescribable look of pain moved his withered old face; but it lasted
only for a few moments, and then he answered in a mild voice: 'If he
wishes to come, he shall come. Perhaps Golde Freidchen has interceded
for her great-grandchild that he should find his way back to the fold.
For if a Jew is baptized, and he calls out in his hour of death, _Shema
Yisroel_, he shall be accounted a Jew! Shall I be more severe than _Shem
Yisborach_?' Profound humility and goodness were expressed in his words;
and no one contradicted him."

Mrs. Benas's recital was received in silence. She continued: "The person
expected is evidently not the Regierungsrat Dr. Weilen, but the son of
Aunt Goldine, the youngest sister of Uncle Leopold Friedländer."

"And as such he'll come to them," said Rita, dreamily. She had listened
to her mother's tale as to a revelation. It seemed to her thirsting soul
like a miracle from far distant times, and the words forced themselves
to her lips involuntarily.

"Do you believe that, also?" asked Mr. Benas of his wife.

"I am convinced a man such as he is will strike the right note."

"So that is settled, too; and we may look forward to the celebration
without concern. You must let Dr. Weilen know the result of your
intercession."

"I shall write to him to-morrow."

       *       *       *       *       *

On the following afternoon Mrs. Benas was sitting in her room, looking
meditatively before her, an expression of melancholy in her sweet,
refined face. Rita had just left her. Mother and daughter had
experienced an hour of profound agitation; Rita had sought her in order
to confess her love for Victor. Trembling and hesitating, she confided
in her mother as in a friend; how the feeling had been awakened on the
very first evening, when he referred to his loneliness, and how it had
gradually grown, the more she saw of him. His amiable, open-hearted
disposition had appealed to her; but above all his confiding intimacy
which had found so little encouragement. Hugo, in fact, had often
spurned him rudely. It had always pained her to see a man, by nature so
proud and gentlemanly, accept these rebuffs with patience and
forbearance. Once, when she tried to excuse Hugo, he had said: "I
understand his grief and indignation, and so I can forgive him. He must
have suffered much before he arrived at a state of such intense
resentment as to make him see an enemy in everyone with different
opinions from his own. But some day we may find a point of contact; and
until then his young anger shall not drive me away from the home of your
parents, a home that has grown dear to me,--and from you, Rita." Since
that time a secret understanding had existed between them. They had said
nothing to each other; but she knew that he grew dearer to her from day
to day. She was happy when he came, and missed him when he stayed away.
She knew that he loved her; she knew it through the delicate and subtle
sensitiveness that exalts the soul of a young girl in this phase of her
life, endows her with intuitions, and makes each slightest impulse rich
with meaning. Then came that sacred hour of the New Year's Day,--and his
letter. She confessed all to her mother, gradually overcoming the
timidity and fear with which she had begun her recital, until her
confession grew into a veritable pæan of love. Her mother was deeply
moved. At the moment she had no thought of the obstacles in the way of
such a connection; she thought only of the happiness of her child. Then
she read Dr. Weilen's letter. Rita's eyes rested on her mother's face to
note the effect of his confessions. Mrs. Benas was profoundly touched.
At first it merely interested her greatly, then it stirred her emotions.
When she finished tears stood in her eyes. Rita, sobbing in mingled joy
and sorrow, sought refuge in her mother's arms.

What would be the outcome of it all? For the present Mrs. Benas could
give no answer. But she quieted her, lovingly caressed the cheeks wet
with streaming tears, and urged her to be calm. Nothing must be done
precipitately, particularly because of the coming celebration. Such
consideration was due to the old sage to whom this day was to be
dedicated. Whatsoever might disturb the harmony, or cause bad humor or
disquietude must be avoided. Surely she was not asking too much in
expressing the wish that until after the celebration no decision should
be reached. In the meantime, things must remain as they were; and she
was convinced, a man like Dr. Weilen, wise and prudent, would acquiesce.

"But he may visit us?" Rita anxiously questioned.

"Certainly; he may come as before."

"And shall I say nothing to him, mamma? Not speak to him of his letter?
Not of all I think and feel?"

"I can't prescribe as to that, dear child. But I trust your tact. The
private understanding that has existed between you two until now, I do
not want to disturb, and I cannot. But what I can ask of you is that you
give me time to consider, and that you in turn accept patiently the
terms demanded by circumstances. Do you promise me that, Rita?"

"Yes, mamma; but Dr. Weilen?"

"He will agree to whatever you want; and this evening you yourself shall
tell him. I expect him to dinner, and I asked him to come a little
earlier so as to have the chance to speak to him about the birthday
celebration. I shall let you report to him that he will be a welcome
guest there. And then you can tell him whatever your heart dictates; but
your heart must not forget that with us Jews feeling of the individual
for himself must give way to feeling for something else--for the family;
and that such considerations at times require personal sacrifices. These
sacrifices have made us great and strong, and have aroused in us the
capacity for self-surrender and self-sacrificing love. They are founded
upon the noble sentiments of piety and duty. The man who loves you will
understand; because very likely he unconsciously loves in you these
ethical principles under which you have grown up, and which have laid
their impress upon your personality, your culture, and your appearance."

Tenderly and proudly she looked at her daughter, in whom grace and
modesty, dignity and humility, were charmingly blended, whose longing
and love had not crowded out the feeling of obedience and compliance.

Rita kissed her mother's hand in respect and gratitude.

"And shall I not tell him that I have made you my confidante?"

"I leave that to you; only I should not like to be forced into an
understanding with him now. Leave everything as it was. You were content
then, and you will lose nothing by the arrangement now."

Rita withdrew. Mrs. Benas was left to her own thoughts, not free from
anxiety, yet full of hope for the happiness of her daughter.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Benases and their guests, Dr. Weilen and Dr. Rosenfeld, were
spending the evening together most agreeably. The dinner had passed off
pleasantly. Mr. Benas was in a happy frame of mind, and his good spirits
dispelled the reserve and formality that at first prevailed. Dr. Weilen,
with his usual tact and good nature, promptly fell in with and abetted
the high spirits of his host. Mrs. Benas, too, after momentary
embarrassment, contributed in her refined and clever manner and with her
considerate hospitality, to the pleasure of the small circle. Hugo was
not so brusque as usual, owing to the benignant influence of his friend
Henry. Rita seemed transformed by her secret happiness. Modest and
reserved as she always was, her silence was not noticed. At times she
glanced at Victor's face; and when their eyes happened to meet in love
and perfect understanding, the blood rose precipitately to her cheeks.
They had had a talk before dinner was served, and Rita had given him the
news that he was to be welcomed at Uncle Leopold's celebration. He had
gathered her in his arms, and pressed a kiss upon her forehead. "My
wife, my dear wife," he said with emotion. She drew closer to him, but
made no answer. Such was their betrothal--not the passionate, stormy
love with which he had courted her on New Year's Day, but as though
devoutly consecrating her. And she was happy.

Then she told him of her conversation with her mother, and spoke of his
letter, which had given her a deep insight into his life, and had
brought consolation to her as well as to her mother, especially upon one
point. She hesitated as she said this, and he sealed her lips with a
kiss: "No, truly, I am no apostate! and my love and faith toward you
will last forever, no matter what may come. And you, Rita?"

"Nothing shall separate me from you," she answered simply but
resolutely, as if registering a vow.

Then they talked of her mother's request, and he readily consented to
respect it. "If I am certain of your love, then I can reconcile myself
to keeping this happiness to myself, until I can joyously proclaim it to
the whole world. I must consent to the conditions your mother imposes,
however trying they may be. At all events I shall see you; and we share
a secret that makes us happy, and brings us yet closer together, if
possible. When I look at you, my eyes will tell you that I love you, and
I shall know that you are mine. And our eyes will meet in kisses, and
every pressure of the hand will tell you of my hopes and longings. And
this secret language which only we two understand will be more eloquent
than spoken words."

Tears stood in her eyes. When he saw her before him, in her sweet purity
and virgin modesty, it seemed impossible to him to carry out his
self-denying resolutions. He drew her to him again, and said excitedly:
"And must I do without you, be with you and not enfold you, not kiss
you? Impossible! How long must it be?"

Then he became calm again. "Well, then, it must be."

When later on, Mrs. Benas entered, he kissed her hand. Not a word was
said; yet they knew that each understood the other and that they were in
accord. When the rest of the company joined them, nothing betrayed their
secret conference. After dinner they gathered in the small drawing-room.
Dr. Weilen's tactfulness made it easy to guide the conversation into
general channels. He told of the successes of Germany's colonial policy,
and what far-reaching significance it possessed.

"I do not quite understand why this policy is so obstinately opposed
here," said Mr. Benas.

"It is because the masses are short-sighted, and appreciate nothing that
cannot be realized in the near future. Their hand-to-mouth mode of
living is the standard by which they measure everything. Why spend money
upon ventures that will profit only future generations? Decidedly not.
What nonsense! Here are the pennies, here is the bread for their own
stomachs. What business of ours is it, if the coming generation eats
cake instead of hard, dry bread? To-day's policy knows no to-morrow.
Such is the logic of the narrow-minded and the illiberal, the philosophy
of an insect with one day to live. It is obvious why the people espouse
the policy, but it will not do to have it become the dominant policy. It
has always been necessary to force upon the masses what was for their
own good. Reformers and tyrants have had to apply the same formulæ. They
have always had to be firm, resolute, not easily discouraged. They had
to rule! Whatever they regarded as right, had to be carried through at
every cost. World-power cannot be attained under a narrow local policy."

"Do you set great store by our colonial policy?"

"Decidedly so. For a long time I worked in the colonial department, and
even now I take pleasure in following up our colonial affairs. The more
I look into the matter, the more I am convinced that a world-power can
be properly developed only upon a colonial basis."

"The Palestinian agricultural colonies for the Eastern Jews are also a
part of the colonial policy," Hugo said; and addressing himself directly
to Dr. Weilen, he added: "I don't know whether this has ever occupied
your attention."

"Surely it has; how can you doubt it? How could anyone who is chiefly
occupied with such affairs pass it by unheeding? Was it likely that I
would be the exception? On the whole it is a matter that attracts more
attention than is generally supposed, even in well-informed circles. The
efforts now being made are well known. They are taken note of, even
though not with approval. Projects for the formation of an independent
government would certainly not be favored. People might smile pityingly
or contemptuously at them, perhaps oppose them as hostile to the
constituted authorities. But the formula of reformers and tyrants
applies to the Jews as well: let them be strong of will, indomitable,
not easily discouraged, and persistent."

"Dr. Weilen!" The exclamation rang with doubt and hope. Hugo stared with
burning eyes, in an attempt to read Victor's meaning. Was he trifling,
or was he serious? Henry likewise looked at the speaker with surprise;
his eyes seemed to plead: "Do not make mock of what is sacred to us."
Then a menacing expression lit up his beautiful, noble face, as he
said: "The leaders of this cause are aware of the importance of their
undertakings, and they surely do not lack courage to carry them
through."

"Are you amongst the leaders?"

"Not yet, but I hope to be; at any rate my life is entirely dedicated to
the cause."

He glanced involuntarily from Dr. Weilen to Rita, and a pained smile
flitted across his lips.

Dr. Weilen caught the glance, and noticed that Rita's pale face had
flushed. In a flash, he recognized the tragedy of his young life; this
enthusiast loved her. But devotion to his ideals, to his unhappy race,
was the stronger motive, and like a hero, he bade adieu to all desires
and hopes, strangled them before they could command him. Rita must have
had some suspicion of his feelings, else why had she blushed? He looked
at her, but her eyes revealed only the most complete surrender to
himself. Deep sympathy for Henry possessed him. A bond united them.
Henry had looked on the lovely flower, had watched in silence the
glorious unfolding of its petals. As a friend of her brother, her
friend, too, and a favorite of the family, he might have won her. But
voluntarily he renounced her, and chose to tread the thorny path, at
whose distant, far distant end beckoned the fulfilment of his ideals.
How could he resign her? He studied the young man. How could he give her
up,--Rita? His eyes sought Rita. On her countenance lay the reflection
of happy pride and inner contentment. It had made her ineffably happy to
hear him speak as he did of the question that engaged her sympathies,
chiefly because it formed the supreme interest of the brother to whom
she was attached so intimately and lovingly. Mrs. Benas likewise showed
her satisfaction with Dr. Weilen's attitude, and she looked triumphantly
first at her son and then at her husband.

A slight, somewhat skeptical smile played about Mr. Benas's lips, while
Hugo, not able wholly to control his excitement, exclaimed:

"And you yourself, Dr. Weilen, what is your opinion of the movement?"

"From a purely theoretical point of view, as I said, I am throughout in
favor of a colonial policy. I consider the expansion and the extension
of our possessions an absolute necessity in order to meet the increased
needs of the nation. I admire the keen foresight of the Emperor, who has
recognized this, and has made it his chief aim to fill the arteries of
the kingdom with fresh, strong blood. The advantages of the undertaking
will become apparent only to future generations, and it will then be
difficult to understand the opposition of those who objected to his
plans; and that for small considerations, because money considerations
are always petty, unless they further great ends. To save at the wrong
time and at the wrong place is always a poor policy; and to try to set
aside important matters with trifling jests is simply stupid. You can't
help despising your opponents, when you know positively that they don't
understand what they oppose. In the minds of those who are thoroughly
interested in the subject, there is no doubt that the coming century
will be largely occupied with the development of colonial affairs, and
that such measures will decidedly affect social conditions. Mistakes
will be made. There will be disappointments, but every pioneer
enterprise must contend with that. The method of the reformer and the
tyrant will have to be enforced, as has so often been done in the
history of mankind. There is a power that stands behind justice, which
obstinacy converts into injustice."

Here he paused and considered. His explanations had been listened to
with the greatest interest. No objection was interposed, and so he
continued: "Now in regard to the colonial plans of the Jews: no
objection will be made by those who have accepted the colonial policy as
their programme, and who expect in the near future to see a practical
fulfilment of their carefully evolved plans. Why should not the most
beneficial results come from such colonization? Civilization will in its
movement return from West to East, where it began. Why should not the
descendants of those who carried it from its source to all quarters of
the earth be the ones to bring it back? But I must not conceal from you
that this is merely my personal view of the matter. Recently, when I
became absorbed in the question, because I had acquired an especial
interest in it,"--he said this with unmistakable pointedness--"I found
that I did not look at it from a merely objective and logical point of
view, but that my sentiments were involved. At crucial moments you
remember that you are the great-grandson of Rabbi Akiba Friedländer.
With pride I recall that our great-grandfather, Rabbi Eliezer, with one
of his sons-in-law,--I think it was your father, Mrs. Benas,--was given
an audience by Frederick William III in order to discuss the
colonization of the Jews in Palestine, and to beg his protection. So
long ago as that, and he an old Rabbi from the province of Posen! What
crops out in me as a practical interest in colonial schemes, and what
makes you, my friend, so deeply devoted to the cause, may be the legacy
of our ancestry. Possibly this prevents us from judging these matters
quite fairly; but, then, our family, in whom this idea has been kept
alive for generations, may fitly uphold it without incurring the charge
of being dreamers or political schemers."

He noticed how Rita's face was transfigured while he spoke. He saw that
his host was pleased, and that Mrs. Benas was beaming with calm content,
and showed her pleasure and pride, that a descendant of Rabbi Akiba
Friedländer should hold these views. He felt Henry's inspired gaze rest
upon him in questioning surprise, and in Hugo's face he read the same
sentiments that filled his own soul at the time.

"If only we could shout to the entire race," the boy exclaimed, overcome
with emotion, "'Don't forget your glorious past, be proud of your
mission among the peoples of the earth, endure sorrow in hope of the day
when you will enjoy an endless period of honor and self-confidence.'"

Rita rose involuntarily, and stood next to her brother. Henry had also
drawn near to his friend; and the three young people formed an
impressive group--Hugo in the proud posture of a conqueror, Henry with
the devoted expression of apostolic enthusiasm, and Rita in pure
happiness, the embodiment of youth and beauty awaiting victory. Dr.
Weilen, regarding the trio pensively, went on to say:

"Young Israel may not be deprived of its ideals; those ideals are too
worthy, too potent, to be lost; their peculiarity should be cherished,
not destroyed." He looked feelingly at Rita, and she seemed to accept
the glance as a promise. Mrs. Benas also read the message and a faint
smile of content passed over her lips.

The conversation then assumed a more general character, although they
came back several times to the subject that had given Dr. Weilen
occasion to present his views. Dr. Rosenfeld found an opportunity to
express his opinions of the present position of the Jews. He spoke in
his melancholy, but sympathetic manner:

"It is quite inexplicable that the Jew so often lacks courage to
acknowledge to himself exactly what he is. The adherents of other faiths
think they must protect themselves against Jewish influence, and they
fear a loss of their national peculiarities. Astounding that this
instinct of self-preservation is lacking in the Jew! That he is not
proud and haughty enough to defend his characteristics and to uphold
them, just as the other races do, especially since his inheritance
includes such worthy and brilliant qualities. Until recent times there
was a bond that united the Jews, it is true, not in free, courageous
self-consciousness, but in humility and subjection. The bond was their
faith. But to-day, when this faith is shaken,--for as soon as the
revered old forms and customs are changed, it becomes insecure,--to-day
when among many Jews this faith is undermined by destructive criticism,
by the onslaught of rationalism, something else must take its place, and
that something is historical consciousness. Everywhere except among the
Jews the feeling of nationality has reached a higher expression than
ever. Yet the consciousness of their great past and of their mighty
cultural development would justify their taking such a position. It is
urged that the religious, conservative Israelite will continue to exist
despite the modern Jew; but one thing is forgotten, that every new
generation is the modern generation; the old die off to make room for
the younger. But where among the new, the newer, and the newest, in
generation after generation, do you find those who maintain their
traditions unaltered? Let us not deceive ourselves. Where is the Jewish
home to-day like the home of yesterday? The spirit of the new age has
brought about a change even in families maintaining the old traditions
with reverence and pride. At best, in some quiet, retired corner they
build a temple in memory of the past, possibly only when an aged,
venerable member of the family guards the sanctuary like a priest and
patriarch."

"Rosenfeld," teased Mr. Benas, "your allusions are plainly personal."

"Forgive me, Mr. Benas," he answered, his pale face flushing, "it was no
hidden allusion, but a plain reference to the example of your family,
all the members of which, though living a modern life, and having
discarded religious tradition, yet are preparing to celebrate a festival
according to the old Jewish custom. What is bringing them together,
however, is not their faith, not their customs, but one of their number,
who has attained the age of a patriarch,--an old man whom they wish to
honor, whom they regard with devotion and affection. This old sage will
be ninety years old, and these sentiments of the occasion are purely
personal, concerning a single individual. It is not faith, only filial
reverence. How long will Israel continue to have patriarchs? How long
will honor be brought to them? And if this bond is broken, and the
historical sentiment does not grow strong in Israel to take its place,
what then? There are many who say, Our mission fulfilled, we dare not
complain, if we, the small minority, dissolve as an independent
influence. One cannot oppose such a view; there is much to justify it,
and it contains much truth. But it is a sad truth, and I should not
like it to be my conviction; for I would not have my race to disappear.
It is worthy to survive. It has great and glorious possibilities. Under
the sunshine of a free development these will blossom forth and bear
fine fruit and make Israel great among the nations."

His speech was apparently dispassionate, and his arguments were set
forth clearly and objectively. But his voice vibrated, as with
suppressed grief, a bitter appeal, and inner distress. His noble, quiet
countenance seemed to convey a silent plaint, but the speech of his eyes
was eloquent. They expressed entreaty, enthusiasm, and hope.

Mr. Benas was lost in thought, while Hugo impulsively clasped his
friend's hand.

The suspense and excitement that had taken hold of all was broken only
when Mrs. Benas asked them to think of more material matters, and
invited them to take a glass of beer or wine and a sandwich. The clever
woman had waited for the right moment. They chatted yet a while of
indifferent matters. Somewhat later, when Dr. Weilen found himself alone
with Rita, he asked: "Who is this Dr. Rosenfeld?"

"A student friend of Hugo's. Hugo brought him here, and he has become a
favorite of all of us."

"Of you, too, Rita?"

"Yes," she said simply.

Her candor pleased him. "Have you been with him much?"

"He became my friend, especially during the last few months, when he
gave me lessons in philosophy, and introduced me to the ideas of the
great thinkers."

"He loves you, Rita?"

She looked at him with moist eyes, and said in a low voice: "He has
never told me so."

"Who could live near you and not love you? But he is carved out of the
stuff of which martyrs are made."

Involuntarily they both looked at Henry who was approaching with Hugo.

       *       *       *       *       *

A few days before the Passover festival the excitement and bustle apt to
precede great events took possession of the little town of Rawitsch. The
preparations for the celebration of the ninetieth birthday of Leopold
Friedländer were in full swing. Mrs. Benas and her daughter Rita had
been upon the scene of action for three days. They had personally
directed the preparations, and assisted their relatives. Mrs. Benas was
staying with her cousin Rebecca Strelitz, the oldest daughter of Uncle
Leopold. On the day after her arrival, she astonished all Rawitsch by
appearing at the market with Rebecca and Friederike, the second
daughter, who had married Meyer Pinkus, a city alderman. They were
accompanied by the cook, whom she had sent from Berlin a week before.
"The Frau Geheimrätin deigned to superintend, in her own person, the
buying of turkeys and ducks and geese," the poulterer had reported at
the _Minchah_ service. What could not be had in the little village had
been ordered from Berlin; and under the direction of Uncle Leopold's
daughter-in-law Hannah, at whose house the celebration was to take
place, baking and preserving and the preparing of all sorts of
delicacies had been busily going on for several days, in a kitchen
especially fitted out for the occasion. To Rita and to two young girls
from Breslau and Mannheim,--who had also come with their mothers, the
granddaughters of Uncle Leopold,--the life in the little village seemed
extraordinary. The great-niece as well as the great-grandchildren had
been raised under entirely different circumstances, and all the
ceremonial customs observed in preparation for the week of the Passover
by the entire community, but especially in the homes of their relatives,
were new and strange to them. On the last evening before the beginning
of the Passover they had been present at the _Chometz batteln_. The
venerable old man took the lead, carrying a taper, some quills, and a
large cooking spoon. He was followed by his seventy-year-old son Isidor
and his wife. Thus they all went through the entire house in order to
remove the last vestiges of leaven. Rita was especially impressed with
the seriousness with which this was undertaken, and with the extreme
significance attached to these customs. The participants clearly laid
greater store by the Passover than by the anniversary celebration. The
religious observance took precedence of the personal. During the day
many more of the relatives arrived, among them several members of the
family from the Russian city of Pinsk. They were adherents of the old
Orthodoxy, with even a strong leaning in some of them toward Chassidism.
They had accepted the hospitality of a distant relative who was
especially pious. At the inn, "The Golden Swan," the guests from Munich
and Vienna were lodged; and on the afternoon of the next day, all the
rest were expected, among them Mr. Benas, Hugo, and Dr. Weilen. The tall
poulterer, so-called because of his vocation of judging live poultry,
was the chronicler of the village, and Shmul Weissbacher, who was called
"Rebbe on the contrary," because he always took opposite sides from the
person who spoke to him, ran from house to house spreading the latest
news; the former circulating a rumor, the latter denying the report. The
excitement in the community grew from hour to hour.

In order to make sufficient room for the table, two large chambers had
been thrown into one by the removal of the partition.

The poulterer reported that they were taking out the walls of the house,
while "Rebbe on the contrary" declared they weren't tearing down the
walls at all, merely a bit of boarding between the rooms.

At all events Mrs. Benas's scheme furnished an appropriate apartment.
The big room looked decidedly inviting, with its decorations of white
bunting and green pine boughs. Adjoining was the spacious "best room" of
the house; here the large doors dividing the rooms had been removed, and
the tables so disposed as to form one large banquet board. The general
effect was fine.

At twilight the guests assembled for the Seder. The Geheimrat, who
arrived somewhat early to consult with his wife, still occupied with her
arrangements, was most agreeably surprised.

"You have managed splendidly," he said, gallantly kissing his wife's
hand. "Truly, wonderfully!"

Everybody agreed with him, when, after greeting the head of the family,
they sat down to the table. It was covered with fine white damask, and
literally glistened with silver and glass. The wine sparkled in
magnificently cut caraffes. It had come with the pale oranges from the
colonies of the Holy Land. Everything was arranged most effectively. The
Geheimrat had kept his word, and had sent such costly, handsome silver
that it might have served for the table of a prince. And like a prince
Leopold Friedländer sat among his own. To-day the modest, honest,
unassuming man was a king; not only the king of the family celebration,
but the king of a religious festival.

In a robe of white, once his wedding costume, and later to be used as
his shroud, a white cap bound with a wide silver band resting on his
snow-white hair, he sat supported by soft pillows, covered with white
embroidery. At his side sat his daughter-in-law, Hannah, in a grey
brocade dress, with a heavy golden chain about her neck, and a cap of
ivory-white lace bedecked with lilac ribbons pressed low on her
forehead, the traditional head-dress of strictly orthodox Jewesses.
Friederike and Rebecca, her two oldest daughters, likewise wore caps,
of more modern fashion however. The relatives from Pinsk still clung to
the old fashion of the silk _Sheitel_, with which a married Jewess
entirely conceals her hair, replacing her natural adornment by costly
jewels. Strands of pearls were wound about their heads. In fact all the
Russian members of the family displayed such a wealth of diamonds and
jewels that Mr. Benas could hardly suppress a smile of amusement.

The husbands of the two ladies from Pinsk were attired in long silk
caftans, and side-curls escaped on each cheek from beneath their caps.
In contrast to these were the elegant modern gowns worn by the rest of
the family. The young women were arrayed in light airy dresses, and
their coiffures--brown or blonde or reddish or deep black,--suggested
Botticelli pictures. The men were in full dress.

And the company was no less diverse in its composition than in the
appearance of its members. Along with the representatives of the old
Judaism, which had maintained itself unchanged for centuries, all shades
and grades of belief were represented. There were the orthodox, the
pious, the conservative, the liberal, the reformed,--and an apostate!
Similarly, all social stations were represented: high officials, an
Oberverwaltungsrat, and an attorney-general from Munich--descended from
the South German branch of the Friedländers--professors, physicians,
lawyers, engineers, manufacturers, and merchants. There was lacking only
a representative of the rabbis. There were several in the family; but
they had been prevented from coming because of the necessity of
officiating during the holidays. Among the younger generation there were
gifted youths of studious habits, two Bavarian officers and an Austrian
officer in uniform; barristers, assessors, engineers, tradesmen, and
even those who had learnt a craft, and yet there was harmony in this
composite picture,--a harmony created by the common sentiment
possessing all in this hour.

Leopold Friedländer drew the large silver Seder platter towards him. It
was decorated with the symbolic dishes of the service. The golden shells
at the four corners contained the Charoseth, the bitter herbs, the egg
roasted in ashes, and the salt water. In the middle were the Matzoth
covered with a white silk cloth, on which were embroidered, in gold,
lions supporting the shield of David worked in silver and jewels. Under
this stood the blessings in Hebrew letters. A granddaughter had executed
this beautiful bit of needlework. And now the treble voice of a
five-year-old boy, the son of a great-great-grandchild of the patriarch,
was heard saying the first words of the Haggadah: "_Mah nishtaneh
ha-Layloh hazeh?_" This little boy, sitting at the table of his
ancestors, was the representative of the fifth living generation. He
traced his ancestry directly back to the Rabbis Eliezer and Akiba
Friedländer, known as learned and high-minded men, whose virtues and
piety, attainments and generosity, had brought honors to them, not only
from the Jews, but also from those of other faiths. When little Jacob,
in childlike tones, but clearly and distinctly asked the prescribed
question, was Leopold Friedländer thinking of his father and
grandfather? For he bent over his Haggadah, and tears flowed from his
weary old eyes.

Deep emotion took hold of the company. They all looked from the old man
to the child,--who was staring about him with wide-open eyes and with
unsuspecting curiosity,--and then again from the child to the old man.
All sorts of questions and ideas crowded into the minds of the guests.
The old Judaism and the new,--how would they exist together? Peacefully
and quietly as in this hour? And would youth listen devoutly when age
taught the lessons from the history of the race? Would the young people
of the future gather about the patriarchs? Would they leave the busy
life, the gay bustle of existence, its struggles, and its duties in
search of consecration and peace? Such a miracle was happening in this
simple Jewish home. In a spirit of reverence they followed the recital
of the Haggadah, as the patriarch intoned in a feeble but impressive
voice, the queer, outlandish, Talmudic, and casuistic interpretations of
the festival. And when, with trembling hands, he filled the tall silver
beaker with the wine destined for the prophet Elijah, he rose in his
chair, and with the expression of religious faith imprinted upon his
aged features, exclaimed, _Leshonoh habooh bi-Yerusholoyim_, a spirit of
awe descended upon the company. No one seemed able for the moment to
throw off the inspiring impression, not even those who failed to share
the hopes expressed in the prayer.

Hugo Benas was most deeply affected. "So it must be," he whispered to
his mother, who sat next to him. "Though worlds apart in their views,
in standards of life, in position, in culture, they are united by ties
of race. And wherever Jews live in this way, a spiritual Zion will
arise, as here, in this humble abode."

       *       *       *       *       *

The assembled relatives had drawn close together during these holidays.
Points of contact had appeared, the old bonds had been renewed, new ones
had been formed; and with complacency they told one another of the many
members of the family who had attained high positions in civil life.
Honor was paid to those who had kept the religious traditions
uncontaminated. Undisturbed harmony reigned, and not even Victor Weilen
formed a discordant element. Curiously enough, one of the Pinsker kin,
who knew nothing of Victor's apostasy (for the subject had not been
referred to), was most attracted to him; and Victor questioned the
pious and intelligent man about the condition of the Jews in Russia. It
was of interest to him to hear how the old orthodoxy had been preserved
there, and had become a factor in politics, in which, despite their
religious segregation, the Jews were necessarily involved. Mr. Benas,
however, could not resist a good-humored yet slightly satirical remark,
when he repeatedly saw these two men together. "Under the shelter of the
Patriarch, the orthodox and the apostate come together," he said to
Hugo, who responded: "That is Zion."

With these impressions fresh in mind, the Benases returned home; and as
a result of their influence the union of Weilen with Rita was not
opposed, not even by Hugo. Since the evening on which Dr. Weilen had so
freely stated his views concerning colonization, Hugo had been less
distant toward him, and in the course of time the relation between them
grew in cordiality. They had discussed the Jewish question repeatedly,
and Hugo was always agreeably impressed by the man's calm, his lack of
prejudice, and his sincerity. Such qualities counted doubly in his case.
They had also touched upon his change of belief, and Dr. Weilen had said
in regard to it: "The new belief that I adopted could give me nothing,
just as the loss of the other had taken nothing from me, because I was
not devout in this sense; and that liberated me, and it keeps me free
even to-day, as a mature man, to acknowledge and associate myself with
those to whom I am attached by a bond which has a deeper hold than this
or that rite or ceremony can possibly have."

And when Hugo saw him so full of tact, taking a cordial interest in all
who flocked about the patriarch, on the spot that since then he called
"Zion," he had taken him into his young heart, readily fired with
enthusiasm. He understood his sister's love for this man, and he no
longer resisted the inevitable outcome: that she should become his wife
according to the laws of the land in which they lived. But then ...
then!

The engagement was celebrated privately. On the evening of its
announcement, when the family was gathered together, the Geheimrat, who
had feared Hugo's impetuous disposition, and who now saw him consent so
joyously, gave him a great surprise, too. This day on which his daughter
was to be made so happy, should also be of special significance to his
son. He announced to Hugo that he was ready to interest himself in the
colonies in Palestine, and to help them financially. With overflowing
gratefulness Hugo flung his arms about his father, and kissed and
fondled his mother. Rita and Victor declared that they regarded this
decision as their finest betrothal gift.

Hugo was happy. "Then I may dedicate myself entirely to these aims? When
I have passed my final examinations?" he said, half in question and half
in decision.

Mr. Benas frowned slightly: "That means I must give not only my
millions but also my son to the cause?" The words sounded good-humored,
yet as though he were making fun of himself. "That is building Utopia at
heavy expense to me."

"Zion, father, Zion, wherever it may be."

"_Noblesse oblige_," Mrs. Benas interrupted. "That was the lesson of our
visit to Uncle Leopold's, those memorable days under the shelter of the
Patriarch."

"Mamma is right," said Victor. "And if all Jews thought and acted as you
have done, dear father, then happiness and hope would find lodging even
among the unfortunate members of our persecuted race, and blessings
would spring up. Where? Well, the world is so big and so great....
Civilization is so eager to conquer, and Israel so persistent and
enduring."

His tone was cordial, convincing, and soothing.

Involuntarily Rita stepped to his side, and he drew her gently to him.

"And he who speaks thus, father, is--"

"He is the _fiancé_ of our daughter, of your sister, Hugo," Mr. Benas
quickly interrupted.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was spring time. In beauty and splendor the spring had taken
possession of the earth! In youth, joy, and glory everything seemed
changed, and awakened to new life by the sweet kisses of the sun. Lovers
are peculiarly sensitive to such joy. Entranced, Rita and Victor were
looking out from the terrace of the house upon the park, which, in its
green attire, lay before them in Easter splendor. Victor had taken
Rita's hand, and held it in silent happiness.

Hugo approached them with two open letters in his hand.

"Mother said I should find you here."

"Is it not beautiful here, Hugo?" asked his sister. "At this time of the
year Berlin always seems wonderful to me, especially out here. How
glorious it is!"

He paid no attention to her remarks and said: "I looked for you to show
you these letters, one from Henry, and the other...." He looked at one
of the letters. "Elkish informs me that he has decided to retire."

Her expression became sad: "We might have foreseen that," she said in a
low voice.

"He wishes to return with his sister to his home in Lissa."

"What does father say?"

"He feels he must accept the resignation, and will, of course, allow him
a proper pension."

Victor had listened in silence to the conversation between sister and
brother.

"Is he an old retainer of your house?"

Rita nodded assent.

"Is he going because I have come? Does his fanaticism drive him away?"

"Perhaps, but may be he is worn out."

It was apparent from the tone of her voice that she herself had no faith
in her reassuring words.

"O no," said Hugo, "he goes because he can no longer comprehend us, so
he writes, and he does not wish to make the leave-taking hard,
therefore...."

"He does not wish to see me again?" Rita cried out in pain.

Superiority was sharply expressed in his countenance, strong
self-consciousness, untempered by sympathy. Rita looked at Weilen as
though to beg his pardon, while Hugo's serious eyes gazed into vacancy.
For several minutes there was silence, then Dr. Weilen asked: "And what
does your friend Rosenfeld write?"

Hugo breathed freely, as if a burden had been lifted from off his soul.
"He! He wishes you joy from the bottom of his heart. He is delighted to
hear that Rita is happy." Then he looked over the letter as if searching
for a particular passage. "Here: 'I thank you for the news of your
sister's engagement. Such a girl's choice can only bring happiness, and
make her happy; for truth and purity are united in her, and such
natures as hers are sure to find what is right. What little I know of
Dr. Weilen warrants this assurance. Dr. Weilen seems to me a man of deep
insight and fine feeling, in whom strength and tenderness go
together--qualities desirable in the husband of a highly intellectual
woman like Rita. Devout in her tender soul and tolerant in her clear
head, that is her personality. Her mission is to minister to the
happiness of one individual. But as for us, we must think of the common
weal, and to it we will dedicate our strength and our blood. And now let
us set forth on the road, even though it be wearisome. Let us be up and
doing.... Let us labor in behalf of our co-religionists." He folded the
letter. "Yes, that shall be our mission."

Mr. and Mrs. Benas had stepped into the door and stood looking at their
children. They had overheard Hugo's last words, and they appreciated the
solemnity of the moment. And the consummation of their hopes was
glorified by the soft, golden radiance of the spring.



GLOSSARY

(_All words given below, unless otherwise specified, are Hebrew. The
transliteration aims to reproduce the colloquial pronunciation of Hebrew
words by German Jews._)


AL CHET. "For the sin," beginning of a confession of sins.

AMHOREZ. Ignoramus.

AMRAZIM. Plural of the previous word. Ignoramuses.

BAAL-MILCHOMOH. Soldier.

BAALE-BATIM. Householders. Substantial and respectable members of the
community, who contribute to its support.

BAR-MITZVAH. Religious majority, at the age of thirteen, when a Jewish
lad is expected to take all religious duties upon himself.

BEKOVET. Honorable; dignified.

BESOMIM. Spices, used at the ceremony of _Habdalah_, marking the end of
the Sabbath.

BORUCH HA-SHEM. "Blessed be the Name" (of God).

CHAROSETH. A mixture of apples, raisins, wine, cinnamon, etc., used at
the _Seder_, symbolic of the mortar which the Israelites prepared in
Egypt.

CHAS VE-SHOLEM. "Mercy and peace." Heaven forbid!

CHAVRUSSEH. Society; company.

CHAZEN. Cantor; precentor.

CHOCHMES. Wise ideas; oversubtle notions.

CHOMETZ BATTELN. To do away with all leaven (before Passover).

CHUTZPEH. Arrogance; audacity; impudence.

DAVVENING (?). Reciting the prayers of the liturgy.

EVADDE. Assuredly; certainly.

FROMM (Ger.). Pious; observant (of religions and ritual ceremonies).

GEMOREH. The Talmud.

GET. A bill of divorce.

GOY. A non-Jew.

KHILLE. Jewish congregation; Jewish community.

KIDDUSH. Sanctification; the ceremony ushering in the Sabbath or a
holiday.

KOSHER. Ritually permitted.

MAASEH. A story; an anecdote.

MAH NISHTANEH HA-LAYLOH HAZEH. "What distinguishes this night" (from all
other nights); the question introducing the narrative of the Exodus from
Egypt in the Seder service of the Passover nights.

MAIREV. Evening service.

MALKEH. Queen.

MATZOTH. Cakes of unleavened bread.

MELECH. King.

MENORAH. Candlestick used on _Chanukkah_ or Sabbath.

MESHUGGE. Crazy.

MESHUMMED. Apostate.

MIKVEH. Ritual bath.

MINCHAH. Afternoon service.

MINYAN. A company of ten men, the minimum for a public service.

MISHPOCHEH. Family in the wider sense; collateral branches as well as
direct descendants; kin.

MOGEN DOVID. "The Shield of David." A Jewish emblem.

NARRONIM. (Ger. with Heb. ending). Fools.

NEBBICH. (Slavic). An expression of pity. Poor thing! Too bad!

OMED. Reading desk of the cantor in the synagogue.

OSER. "Forbidden." Expression of defiance: You bet I won't; I'd like to
catch myself, etc.

OSHAMNU BOGADNU. "We have trespassed, we have dealt deceitfully." First
two words in the alphabetic confession of sins.

OVINU MALKENU. "Our Father, our King." Beginning of the lines of a
well-known prayer. _See next word._

OVINU MALKENU CHOSVENU BE-SEFER PARNOSSOH VE-CHALKOLOH. "Our Father, our
King, inscribe us in the book of sustenance and maintenance." One line
of a well-known prayer.

PARCHONIM. Riff-raff; small fry; vermin.

PESACH. Feast of Unleavened Bread; Passover.

PLEITEGEHER. (Heb. and Ger.). An habitual bankrupt.

POSHEH YISROEL. "A sinner in Israel"; one who disregards the ceremonial
law of Judaism.

RAV. Officiating rabbi.

REBBETZIN. (Heb. with Ger. suffix). Wife of the officiating rabbi.

ROSHEKOL. Head of the Jewish community.

SEDER. Home service on the first two nights of the Passover.

SHABBES. Sabbath.

SHABBES GOY. A non-Jew engaged, often by all the families in a Jewish
congregation, to do work forbidden the Jew on the Sabbath, such as
kindling a fire, etc.

SHADCHEN. Marriage broker.

SHAMMES. Verger; beadle; sexton.

SHEITEL (Ger.). A covering for the head, to hide the hair of a married
Jewess.

SHEM YISBORACH. "The Name (of God) be blessed."

SHEMA YISROEL. "Hear, O Israel"; beginning of the Jewish confession of
faith.

SHICKSEL. (Heb. with Ger. suffix). Drastic expression for a non-Jewish
girl.

SHIKKER. Habitual drunkard.

SHIVEH. "Seven" days of mourning, immediately after a death occurs in a
family.

SHIVOH OSER BE-TAMUZ. "Seventeenth Day of Tamuz"; a fast day
commemorating the first breach in the walls of Jerusalem by
Nebuchadnezzar, who took the Temple itself three weeks later.

SHNORRERS (Ger.). Beggars.

SHOLOSH SUDES. The third meal on the Sabbath.

SHUL (Ger.). Synagogue.

SHULCHAN ORUCH. The Jewish code of ritual laws, etc.

SUKKOTH. Feast of Tabernacles.

TALLES. Prayer-scarf.

TALMID CHOCHOM. A Jewish scholar, learned specifically in Jewish lore.

TASHLICH. "Thou wilt cast"; ceremony connected with the afternoon of the
first day of New Year, and observed at a running stream or at the
seashore.

TREFA. Ritually unfit for food.

TZORES. Trials; tribulations.

WAIGESCHRIEEN (Ger.). Woe is me.

YEVORECHECHO ADONAY VE-YISHMERECHO. "May the Lord bless thee and keep
thee."

YICHUS. Aristocracy; good family connections.

YIDDISHKEIT (Ger.). Jewishness.

YOM KIPPUR. Day of Atonement.

YONTEF. Holiday; festival.

ZECHER ZADDIK LIVROCHOH. "The remembrance of the righteous is for a
blessing."

ZECHUS. Merit; privilege.

ZICHRONO LIVROCHOH. "His memory is for a blessing."

The Lord Baltimore Press

BALTIMORE, MD., U. S. A.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Simon Eichelkatz; The Patriarch - Two Stories of Jewish Life" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home