Children of the Ghetto
Part 8 out of 12
"But we don't protest."
"Our mere existence since the Dispersion is a protest," urged Raphael.
"When the stress of persecution lightens, we may protest more
consciously. We cannot have been preserved in vain through so many
centuries of horrors, through the invasions of the Goths and Huns,
through the Crusades, through the Holy Roman Empire, through the times
of Torquemada. It is not for nothing that a handful of Jews loom so
large in the history of the world that their past is bound up with every
noble human effort, every high ideal, every development of science,
literature and art. The ancient faith that has united us so long must
not be lost just as it is on the very eve of surviving the faiths that
sprang from it, even as it has survived Egypt, Assyria, Rome, Greece
and the Moors. If any of us fancy we have lost it, let us keep together
still. Who knows but that it will be born again in us if we are only
patient? Race affinity is a potent force; why be in a hurry to dissipate
it? The Marannos you speak of were but maimed heroes, yet one day the
olden flame burst through the layers of three generations of Christian
profession and inter-marriage, and a brilliant company of illustrious
Spaniards threw up their positions and sailed away in voluntary exile to
serve the God of Israel. We shall yet see a spiritual revival even among
our brilliant English Jews who have hid their face from their own
The dark little girl looked up into his face with ill-suppressed wonder.
"Have you done preaching at me, Raphael?" inquired Sidney. "If so, pass
me a banana."
Raphael smiled sadly and obeyed.
"I'm afraid if I see much of Raphael I shall be converted to Judaism,"
said Sidney, peeling the banana. "I had better take a hansom to the
Riviera at once. I intended to spend Christmas there; I never dreamed I
should be talking theology in London."
"Oh, I think Christmas in London is best," said the hostess unguardedly.
"Oh, I don't know. Give me Brighton," said the host.
"Well, yes, I suppose Brighton _is_ pleasanter," said Mr. Montagu
"Oh, but so many Jews go there," said Percy Saville.
"Yes, that _is_ the drawback," said Mrs. Henry Goldsmith. "Do you know,
some years ago I discovered a delightful village in Devonshire, and took
the household there in the summer. The very next year when I went down I
found no less than two Jewish families temporarily located there. Of
course, I have never gone there since."
"Yes, it's wonderful how Jews scent out all the nicest places," agreed
Mrs. Montagu Samuels. "Five years ago you could escape them by not going
to Ramsgate; now even the Highlands are getting impossible."
Thereupon the hostess rose and the ladies retired to the drawing-room,
leaving the gentlemen to discuss coffee, cigars and the paradoxes of
Sidney, who, tired of religion, looked to dumb show plays for the
salvation of dramatic literature.
There was a little milk-jug on the coffee-tray, it represented a victory
over Mary O'Reilly. The late Aaron Goldsmith never took milk till six
hours after meat, and it was with some trepidation that the present Mr.
Goldsmith ordered it to be sent up one evening after dinner. He took an
early opportunity of explaining apologetically to Mary that some of his
guests were not so pious as himself, and hospitality demanded the
Mr. Henry Goldsmith did not like his coffee black. His dinner-table was
hardly ever without a guest.
When the gentlemen joined the ladies, Raphael instinctively returned to
his companion of the dinner-table. She had been singularly silent during
the meal, but her manner had attracted him. Over his black coffee and
cigarette it struck him that she might have been unwell, and that he had
been insufficiently attentive to the little duties of the table, and he
hastened to ask if she had a headache.
"No, no," she said, with a grateful smile. "At least not more than
usual." Her smile was full of pensive sweetness, which made her face
beautiful. It was a face that would have been almost plain but for the
soul behind. It was dark, with great earnest eyes. The profile was
disappointing, the curves were not perfect, and there was a reminder of
Polish origin in the lower jaw and the cheek-bone. Seen from the front,
the face fascinated again, in the Eastern glow of its coloring, in the
flash of the white teeth, in the depths of the brooding eyes, in the
strength of the features that yet softened to womanliest tenderness and
charm when flooded by the sunshine of a smile. The figure was _petite_
and graceful, set off by a simple tight-fitting, high-necked dress of
ivory silk draped with lace, with a spray of Neapolitan violets at the
throat. They sat in a niche of the spacious and artistically furnished
drawing-room, in the soft light of the candles, talking quietly while
Addie played Chopin.
Mrs. Henry Goldsmith's aesthetic instincts had had full play in the
elaborate carelessness of the _ensemble_, and the result was a triumph,
a medley of Persian luxury and Parisian grace, a dream of somniferous
couches and arm-chairs, rich tapestry, vases, fans, engravings, books,
bronzes, tiles, plaques and flowers. Mr. Henry Goldsmith was himself a
connoisseur in the arts, his own and his father's fortunes having been
built up in the curio and antique business, though to old Aaron
Goldsmith appreciation had meant strictly pricing, despite his genius
for detecting false Correggios and sham Louis Quatorze cabinets.
"Do you suffer from headaches?" inquired Raphael solicitously.
"A little. The doctor says I studied too much and worked too hard when a
little girl. Such is the punishment of perseverance. Life isn't like the
"Oh, but I wonder your parents let you over-exert yourself."
A melancholy smile played about the mobile lips. "I brought myself up,"
she said. "You look puzzled--Oh, I know! Confess you think I'm Miss
"Why--are--you--not?" he stammered.
"No, my name is Ansell, Esther Ansell."
"Pardon me. I am so bad at remembering names in introductions. But I've
just come back from Oxford and it's the first time I've been to this
house, and seeing you here without a cavalier when we arrived, I thought
you lived here."
"You thought rightly, I do live here." She laughed gently at his
"I wonder Sidney never mentioned you to me," he said.
"Do you mean Mr. Graham?" she said with a slight blush.
"Yes, I know he visits here."
"Oh, he is an artist. He has eyes only for the beautiful." She spoke
quickly, a little embarrassed.
"You wrong him; his interests are wider than that."
"Do you know I am so glad you didn't pay me the obvious compliment?" she
said, recovering herself. "It looked as if I were fishing for it. I'm so
He looked at her blankly.
"_I'm_ stupid," he said, "for I don't know what compliment I missed
"If you regret it I shall not think so well of you," she said. "You know
I've heard all about your brilliant success at Oxford."
"They put all those petty little things in the Jewish papers, don't
"I read it in the _Times_," retorted Esther. "You took a double first
and the prize for poetry and a heap of other things, but I noticed the
prize for poetry, because it is so rare to find a Jew writing poetry."
"Prize poetry is not poetry," he reminded her. "But, considering the
Jewish Bible contains the finest poetry in the world, I do not see why
you should be surprised to find a Jew trying to write some."
"Oh, you know what I mean," answered Esther. "What is the use of talking
about the old Jews? We seem to be a different race now. Who cares for
"Our poet's scroll reaches on uninterruptedly through the Middle Ages.
The passing phenomenon of to-day must not blind us to the real traits of
our race," said Raphael.
"Nor must we be blind to the passing phenomenon of to-day," retorted
Esther. "We have no ideals now."
"I see Sidney has been infecting you," he said gently.
"No, no; I beg you will not think that," she said, flushing almost
resentfully. "I have thought these things, as the Scripture tells us to
meditate on the Law, day and night, sleeping and waking, standing up and
"You cannot have thought of them without prejudice, then," he answered,
"if you say we have no ideals."
"I mean, we're not responsive to great poetry--to the message of a
Browning for instance."
"I deny it. Only a small percentage of his own race is responsive. I
would wager our percentage is proportionally higher. But Browning's
philosophy of religion is already ours, for hundreds of years every
Saturday night every Jew has been proclaiming the view of life and
Providence in 'Pisgah Sights.'"
All's lend and borrow,
Good, see, wants evil,
Joy demands sorrow,
Angel weds devil.
"What is this but the philosophy of our formula for ushering out the
Sabbath and welcoming in the days of toil, accepting the holy and the
profane, the light and the darkness?"
"Is that in the prayer-book?" said Esther astonished.
"Yes; you see you are ignorant of our own ritual while admiring
everything non-Jewish. Excuse me if I am frank, Miss Ansell, but there
are many people among us who rave over Italian antiquities but can see
nothing poetical in Judaism. They listen eagerly to Dante but despise
"I shall certainly look up the liturgy," said Esther. "But that will not
alter my opinion. The Jew may say these fine things, but they are only a
tune to him. Yes, I begin to recall the passage in Hebrew--I see my
father making _Havdolah_--the melody goes in my head like a sing-song.
But I never in my life thought of the meaning. As a little girl I always
got my conscious religious inspiration out of the New Testament. It
sounds very shocking, I know."
"Undoubtedly you put your finger on an evil. But there is religious
edification in common prayers and ceremonies even when divorced from
meaning. Remember the Latin prayers of the Catholic poor. Jews may be
below Judaism, but are not all men below their creed? If the race which
gave the world the Bible knows it least--" He stopped suddenly, for
Addie was playing pianissimo, and although she was his sister, he did
not like to put her out.
"It comes to this," said Esther when Chopin spoke louder, "our
prayer-book needs depolarization, as Wendell Holmes says of the Bible."
"Exactly," assented Raphael. "And what our people need is to make
acquaintance with the treasure of our own literature. Why go to Browning
for theism, when the words of his 'Rabbi Ben Ezra' are but a synopsis of
a famous Jewish argument:
"'I see the whole design.
I, who saw Power, see now Love, perfect too.
Perfect I call Thy plan,
Thanks that I was a man!
Maker, remaker, complete, I trust what thou shalt do.'
"It sounds like a bit of Bachja. That there is a Power outside us nobody
denies; that this Power works for our good and wisely, is not so hard to
grant when the facts of the soul are weighed with the facts of Nature.
Power, Love, Wisdom--there you have a real trinity which makes up the
Jewish God. And in this God we trust, incomprehensible as are His ways,
unintelligible as is His essence. 'Thy ways are not My ways nor Thy
thoughts My thoughts.' That comes into collision with no modern
philosophies; we appeal to experience and make no demands upon the
faculty for believing things 'because they are impossible.' And we are
proud and happy in that the dread Unknown God of the infinite Universe
has chosen our race as the medium by which to reveal His will to the
world. We are sanctified to His service. History testifies that this has
verily been our mission, that we have taught the world religion as truly
as Greece has taught beauty and science. Our miraculous survival through
the cataclysms of ancient and modern dynasties is a proof that our
mission is not yet over."
The sonata came to an end; Percy Saville started a comic song, playing
his own accompaniment. Fortunately, it was loud and rollicking.
"And do you really believe that we are sanctified to God's service?"
said Esther, casting a melancholy glance at Percy's grimaces.
"Can there be any doubt of it? God made choice of one race to be
messengers and apostles, martyrs at need to His truth. Happily, the
sacred duty is ours," he said earnestly, utterly unconscious of the
incongruity that struck Esther so keenly. And yet, of the two, he had by
far the greater gift of humor. It did not destroy his idealism, but kept
it in touch with things mundane. Esther's vision, though more
penetrating, lacked this corrective of humor, which makes always for
breadth of view. Perhaps it was because she was a woman, that the
trivial, sordid details of life's comedy hurt her so acutely that she
could scarcely sit out the play patiently. Where Raphael would have
admired the lute, Esther was troubled by the little rifts in it.
"But isn't that a narrow conception of God's revelation?" she asked.
"No. Why should God not teach through a great race as through a great
"And you really think that Judaism is not dead, intellectually
"How can it die? Its truths are eternal, deep in human nature and the
constitution of things. Ah, I wish I could get you to see with the eyes
of the great Rabbis and sages in Israel; to look on this human life of
ours, not with the pessimism of Christianity, but as a holy and precious
gift, to be enjoyed heartily yet spent in God's service--birth,
marriage, death, all holy; good, evil, alike holy. Nothing on God's
earth common or purposeless. Everything chanting the great song of God's
praise; the morning stars singing together, as we say in the Dawn
As he spoke Esther's eyes filled with strange tears. Enthusiasm always
infected her, and for a brief instant her sordid universe seemed to be
transfigured to a sacred joyous reality, full of infinite potentialities
of worthy work and noble pleasure. A thunder of applausive hands marked
the end of Percy Saville's comic song. Mr. Montagu Samuels was beaming
at his brother's grotesque drollery. There was an interval of general
conversation, followed by a round game in which Raphael and Esther had
to take part. It was very dull, and they were glad to find themselves
"Ah, yes," said Esther, sadly, resuming the conversation as if there
had been no break, "but this is a Judaism of your own creation. The real
Judaism is a religion of pots and pans. It does not call to the soul's
depths like Christianity."
"Again, it is a question of the point of view taken. From a practical,
our ceremonialism is a training in self-conquest, while it links the
generations 'bound each to each by natural piety,' and unifies our atoms
dispersed to the four corners of the earth as nothing else could. From a
theoretical, it is but an extension of the principle I tried to show
you. Eating, drinking, every act of life is holy, is sanctified by some
relation to heaven. We will not arbitrarily divorce some portions of
life from religion, and say these are of the world, the flesh, or the
devil, any more than we will save up our religion for Sundays. There is
no devil, no original sin, no need of salvation from it, no need of a
mediator. Every Jew is in as direct relation with God as the Chief
Rabbi. Christianity is an historical failure--its counsels of
perfection, its command to turn the other cheek--a farce. When a modern
spiritual genius, a Tolstoi, repeats it, all Christendom laughs, as at a
new freak of insanity. All practical, honorable men are Jews at heart.
Judaism has never tampered with human dignity, nor perverted the moral
consciousness. Our housekeeper, a Christian, once said to my sifter
Addie, 'I'm so glad to see you do so much charity, Miss; _I_ need not,
because I'm saved already.' Judaism is the true 'religion of humanity.'
It does not seek to make men and women angels before their time. Our
marriage service blesses the King of the Universe, who has created 'joy
and gladness, bridegroom and bride, mirth and exultation, pleasure and
delight, love, brotherhood, peace and fellowship.'"
"It is all very beautiful in theory," said Esther. "But so is
Christianity, which is also not to be charged with its historical
caricatures, nor with its superiority to average human nature. As for
the doctrine of original sin, it is the one thing that the science of
heredity has demonstrated, with a difference. But do not be alarmed, I
do not call myself a Christian because I see some relation between the
dogmas of Christianity and the truths of experience, nor even
because"--here she smiled, wistfully--"I should like to believe in
Jesus. But you are less logical. When you said there was no devil, I
felt sure I was right; that you belong to the modern schools, who get
rid of all the old beliefs but cannot give up the old names. You know,
as well as I do, that, take away the belief in hell, a real
old-fashioned hell of fire and brimstone, even such Judaism as survives
would freeze to death without that genial warmth."
"I know nothing of the kind," he said, "and I am in no sense a modern. I
am (to adopt a phrase which is, to me, tautologous) an orthodox Jew."
Esther smiled. "Forgive my smiling," she said. "I am thinking of the
orthodox Jews I used to know, who used to bind their phylacteries on
their arms and foreheads every morning."
"I bind my phylacteries on my arm and forehead every morning," he said,
"What!" gasped Esther. "You an Oxford man!"
"Yes," he said, gravely. "Is it so astonishing to you?"
"Yes, it is. You are the first educated Jew I have ever met who believed
in that sort of thing."
"Nonsense?" he said, inquiringly. "There are hundreds like me."
She shook her head.
"There's the Rev. Joseph Strelitski. I suppose _he_ does, but then he's
paid for it."
"Oh, why will you sneer at Strelitski?" he said, pained. "He has a noble
soul. It is to the privilege of his conversation that I owe my best
understanding of Judaism."
"Ah, I was wondering why the old arguments sounded so different, so much
more convincing, from your lips," murmured Esther. "Now I know; because
he wears a white tie. That sets up all my bristles of contradiction when
he opens his mouth."
"But I wear a white tie, too," said Raphael, his smile broadening in
sympathy with the slow response on the girl's serious face.
"That's not a trade-mark," she protested. "But forgive me; I didn't
know Strelitski was a friend of yours. I won't say a word against him
any more. His sermons really are above the average, and he strives more
than the others to make Judaism more spiritual."
"More spiritual!" he repeated, the pained expression returning. "Why,
the very theory of Judaism has always been the spiritualization of the
"And the practice of Judaism has always been the materialization of the
spiritual," she answered.
He pondered the saying thoughtfully, his face growing sadder.
"You have lived among your books," Esther went on. "I have lived among
the brutal facts. I was born in the Ghetto, and when you talk of the
mission of Israel, silent sardonic laughter goes through me as I think
of the squalor and the misery."
"God works through human suffering; his ways are large," said Raphael,
almost in a whisper.
"And wasteful," said Esther. "Spare me clerical platitudes a la
Strelitski. I have seen so much."
"And suffered much?" he asked gently.
She nodded scarce perceptibly. "Oh, if you only knew my life!"
"Tell it me," he said. His voice was soft and caressing. His frank soul
seemed to pierce through all conventionalities, and to go straight to
"I cannot, not now," she murmured. "There is so much to tell."
"Tell me a little," he urged.
She began to speak of her history, scarce knowing why, forgetting he was
a stranger. Was it racial affinity, or was it merely the spiritual
affinity of souls that feel their identity through all differences of
"What is the use?" she said. "You, with your childhood, could never
realize mine. My mother died when I was seven; my father was a Russian
pauper alien who rarely got work. I had an elder brother of brilliant
promise. He died before he was thirteen. I had a lot of brothers and
sisters and a grandmother, and we all lived, half starved, in a garret."
Her eyes grew humid at the recollection; she saw the spacious
drawing-room and the dainty bric-a-brac through a mist.
"Poor child!" murmured Raphael.
"Strelitski, by the way, lived in our street then. He sold cigars on
commission and earned an honest living. Sometimes I used to think that
is why he never cares to meet my eye; he remembers me and knows I
remember him; at other times I thought he knew that I saw through his
professions of orthodoxy. But as you champion him, I suppose I must look
for a more creditable reason for his inability to look me straight in
the face. Well, I grew up, I got on well at school, and about ten years
ago I won a prize given by Mrs. Henry Goldsmith, whose kindly interest I
excited thenceforward. At thirteen I became a teacher. This had always
been my aspiration: when it was granted I was more unhappy than ever. I
began to realize acutely that we were terribly poor. I found it
difficult to dress so as to insure the respect of my pupils and
colleagues; the work was unspeakably hard and unpleasant; tiresome and
hungry little girls had to be ground to suit the inspectors, and fell
victims to the then prevalent competition among teachers for a high
percentage of passes. I had to teach Scripture history and I didn't
believe in it. None of us believed in it; the talking serpent, the
Egyptian miracles, Samson, Jonah and the whale, and all that. Everything
about me was sordid and unlovely. I yearned for a fuller, wider life,
for larger knowledge. I hungered for the sun. In short, I was intensely
miserable. At home things went from bad to worse; often I was the sole
bread-winner, and my few shillings a week were our only income. My
brother Solomon grew up, but could not get into a decent situation
because he must not work on the Sabbath. Oh, if you knew how young lives
are cramped and shipwrecked at the start by this one curse of the
Sabbath, you would not wish us to persevere in our isolation. It sent a
mad thrill of indignation through me to find my father daily entreating
the deaf heavens."
He would not argue now. His eyes were misty.
"Go on!" he murmured.
"The rest is nothing. Mrs. Henry Goldsmith stepped in as the _dea ex
machina_. She had no children, and she took it into her head to adopt
me. Naturally I was dazzled, though anxious about my brothers and
sisters. But my father looked upon it as a godsend. Without consulting
me, Mrs. Goldsmith arranged that he and the other children should be
shipped to America: she got him some work at a relative's in Chicago. I
suppose she was afraid of having the family permanently hanging about
the Terrace. At first I was grieved; but when the pain of parting was
over I found myself relieved to be rid of them, especially of my father.
It sounds shocking, I know, but I can confess all my vanities now, for I
have learned all is vanity. I thought Paradise was opening before me; I
was educated by the best masters, and graduated at the London
University. I travelled and saw the Continent; had my fill of sunshine
and beauty. I have had many happy moments, realized many childish
ambitions, but happiness is as far away as ever. My old
school-colleagues envy me, yet I do not know whether I would not go back
"Is there anything lacking in your life, then?" he asked gently.
"No, I happen to be a nasty, discontented little thing, that is all,"
she said, with a faint smile. "Look on me as a psychological paradox, or
a text for the preacher."
"And do the Goldsmiths know of your discontent?"
"Heaven forbid! They have been so very kind to me. We get along very
well together. I never discuss religion with them, only the services and
"And your relatives?"
"Ah, they are all well and happy. Solomon has a store in Detroit. He is
only nineteen and dreadfully enterprising. Father is a pillar of a
Chicago _Chevra_. He still talks Yiddish. He has escaped learning
American just as he escaped learning English. I buy him a queer old
Hebrew book sometimes with my pocket-money and he is happy. One little
sister is a type-writer, and the other is just out of school and does
the housework. I suppose I shall go out and see them all some day."
"What became of the grandmother you mentioned?"
"She had a Charity Funeral a year before the miracle happened. She was
very weak and ill, and the Charity Doctor warned her that she must not
fast on the Day of Atonement. But she wouldn't even moisten her parched
lips with a drop of cold water. And so she died; exhorting my father
with her last breath to beware of Mrs. Simons (a good-hearted widow who
was very kind to us), and to marry a pious Polish woman."
"And did he?"
"No, I am still stepmotherless. Your white tie's gone wrong. It's all on
"It generally is," said Raphael, fumbling perfunctorily at the little
"Let me put it straight. There! And now you know all about me. I hope
you are going to repay my confidences in kind."
"I am afraid I cannot oblige with anything so romantic," he said
smiling. "I was born of rich but honest parents, of a family settled in
England for three generations, and went to Harrow and Oxford in due
course. That is all. I saw a little of the Ghetto, though, when I was a
boy. I had some correspondence on Hebrew Literature with a great Jewish
scholar, Gabriel Hamburg (he lives in Stockholm now), and one day when I
was up from Harrow I went to see him. By good fortune I assisted at the
foundation of the Holy Land League, now presided over by Gideon, the
member for Whitechapel. I was moved to tears by the enthusiasm; it was
there I made the acquaintance of Strelitski. He spoke as if inspired. I
also met a poverty-stricken poet, Melchitsedek Pinchas, who afterwards
sent me his work, _Metatoron's Flames_, to Harrow. A real neglected
genius. Now there's the man to bear in mind when one speaks of Jews and
poetry. After that night I kept up a regular intercourse with the
Ghetto, and have been there several times lately."
"But surely you don't also long to return to Palestine?"
"I do. Why should we not have our own country?"
"It would be too chaotic! Fancy all the Ghettos of the world
amalgamating. Everybody would want to be ambassador at Paris, as the old
"It would be a problem for the statesmen among us. Dissenters,
Churchmen, Atheists, Slum Savages, Clodhoppers, Philosophers,
Aristocrats--make up Protestant England. It is the popular ignorance of
the fact that Jews are as diverse as Protestants that makes such novels
as we were discussing at dinner harmful."
"But is the author to blame for that? He does not claim to present the
whole truth but a facet. English society lionized Thackeray for his
pictures of it. Good heavens! Do Jews suppose they alone are free from
the snobbery, hypocrisy and vulgarity that have shadowed every society
that has ever existed?"
"In no work of art can the spectator be left out of account," he urged.
"In a world full of smouldering prejudices a scrap of paper may start
the bonfire. English society can afford to laugh where Jewish society
must weep. That is why our papers are always so effusively grateful for
Christian compliments. You see it is quite true that the author paints
not the Jews but bad Jews, but, in the absence of paintings of good
Jews, bad Jews are taken as identical with Jews."
"Oh, then you agree with the others about the book?" she said in a
"I haven't read it; I am speaking generally. Have you?"
"And what did you think of it? I don't remember your expressing an
opinion at table."
She pondered an instant.
"I thought highly of it and agreed with every word of it." She paused.
He looked expectantly into the dark intense face. He saw it was charged
with further speech.
"Till I met you," she concluded abruptly.
A wave of emotion passed over his face.
"You don't mean that?" he murmured.
"Yes, I do. You have shown me new lights."
"I thought I was speaking platitudes," he said simply. "It would be
nearer the truth to say you have given _me_ new lights."
The little face flushed with pleasure; the dark skin shining, the eyes
sparkling. Esther looked quite pretty.
"How is that possible?" she said. "You have read and thought twice as
much as I."
"Then you must be indeed poorly off," he said, smiling. "But I am really
glad we met. I have been asked to edit a new Jewish paper, and our talk
has made me see more clearly the lines on which it must be run, if it is
to do any good. I am awfully indebted to you."
"A new Jewish paper?" she said, deeply interested. "We have so many
already. What is its _raison d'etre_?"
"To convert you," he said smiling, but with a ring of seriousness in the
"Isn't that like a steam-hammer cracking a nut or Hoti burning down his
house to roast a pig? And suppose I refuse to take in the new Jewish
paper? Will it suspend publication?" He laughed.
"What's this about a new Jewish paper?" said Mrs. Goldsmith, suddenly
appearing in front of them with her large genial smile. "Is that what
you two have been plotting? I noticed you've laid your heads together
all the evening. Ah well, birds of a feather flock together. Do you know
my little Esther took the scholarship for logic at London? I wanted her
to proceed to the M.A. at once, but the doctor said she must have a
rest." She laid her hand affectionately on the girl's hair.
Esther looked embarrassed.
"And so she is still a Bachelor," said Raphael, smiling but evidently
"Yes, but not for long I hope," returned Mrs. Goldsmith. "Come, darling,
everybody's dying to hear one of your little songs."
"The dying is premature," said Esther. "You know I only sing for my own
"Sing for mine, then," pleaded Raphael.
"To make you laugh?" queried Esther. "I know you'll laugh at the way I
play the accompaniment. One's fingers have to be used to it from
Her eyes finished the sentence, "and you know what mine was."
The look seemed to seal their secret sympathy.
She went to the piano and sang in a thin but trained soprano. The song
was a ballad with a quaint air full of sadness and heartbreak. To
Raphael, who had never heard the psalmic wails of "The Sons of the
Covenant" or the Polish ditties of Fanny Belcovitch, it seemed also full
of originality. He wished to lose himself in the sweet melancholy, but
Mrs. Goldsmith, who had taken Esther's seat at his side, would not let
"Her own composition--words and music," she whispered. "I wanted her to
publish it, but she is so shy and retiring. Who would think she was the
child of a pauper emigrant, a rough jewel one has picked up and
polished? If you really are going to start a new Jewish paper, she might
be of use to you. And then there is Miss Cissy Levine--you have read her
novels, of course? Sweetly pretty! Do you know, I think we are badly in
want of a new paper, and you are the only man in the community who could
give it us. We want educating, we poor people, we know so little of our
faith and our literature."
"I am so glad you feel the want of it," whispered Raphael, forgetting
Esther in his pleasure at finding a soul yearning for the light.
"Intensely. I suppose it will be advanced?"
Raphael looked at her a moment a little bewildered.
"No, it will be orthodox. It is the orthodox party that supplies the
A flash of light leaped into Mrs. Goldsmith's eyes.
"I am so glad it is not as I feared." she said. "The rival party has
hitherto monopolized the press, and I was afraid that like most of our
young men of talent you would give it that tendency. Now at last we poor
orthodox will have a voice. It will be written in English?"
"As far as I can," he said, smiling.
"No, you know what I mean. I thought the majority of the orthodox
couldn't read English and that they have their jargon papers. Will you
be able to get a circulation?"
"There are thousands of families in the East End now among whom English
is read if not written. The evening papers sell as well there as
anywhere else in London."
"Bravo!" murmured Mrs. Goldsmith, clapping her hands.
Esther had finished her song. Raphael awoke to the remembrance of her.
But she did not come to him again, sitting down instead on a lounge near
the piano, where Sidney bantered Addie with his most paradoxical
Raphael looked at her. Her expression was abstracted, her eyes had an
inward look. He hoped her headache had not got worse. She did not look
at all pretty now. She seemed a frail little creature with a sad
thoughtful face and an air of being alone in the midst of a merry
company. Poor little thing! He felt as if he had known her for years.
She seemed curiously out of harmony with all these people. He doubted
even his own capacity to commune with her inmost soul. He wished he
could be of service to her, could do anything for her that might lighten
her gloom and turn her morbid thoughts in healthier directions.
The butler brought in some claret negus. It was the break-up signal.
Raphael drank his negus with a pleasant sense of arming himself against
the cold air. He wanted to walk home smoking his pipe, which he always
carried in his overcoat. He clasped Esther's hand with a cordial smile
"We shall meet again soon, I trust," he said.
"I hope so," said Esther; "put me down as a subscriber to that paper."
"Thank you," he said; "I won't forget."
"What's that?" said Sidney, pricking up his ears; "doubled your
Sidney put his cousin Addie into a hansom, as she did not care to walk,
and got in beside her.
"My feet are tired," she said; "I danced a lot last night, and was out a
lot this afternoon. It's all very well for Raphael, who doesn't know
whether he's walking on his head or his heels. Here, put your collar up,
Raphael, not like that, it's all crumpled. Haven't you got a
handkerchief to put round your throat? Where's that one I gave you? Lend
him yours, Sidney."
"You don't mind if _I_ catch my death of cold; I've got to go on a
Christmas dance when I deposit you on your doorstep," grumbled Sidney.
"Catch! There, you duffer! It's gone into the mud. Sure you won't jump
in? Plenty of room. Addie can sit on my knee. Well, ta, ta! Merry
Raphael lit his pipe and strode off with long ungainly strides. It was a
clear frosty night, and the moonlight glistened on the silent spaces of
street and square.
"Go to bed, my dear," said Mrs. Goldsmith, returning to the lounge where
Esther still sat brooding. "You look quite worn out."
Left alone, Mrs. Goldsmith smiled pleasantly at Mr. Goldsmith, who,
uncertain of how he had behaved himself, always waited anxiously for the
verdict. He was pleased to find it was "not guilty" this time.
"I think that went off very well," she said. She was looking very lovely
to-night, the low bodice emphasizing the voluptuous outlines of the
"Splendidly," he returned. He stood with his coat-tails to the fire, his
coarse-grained face beaming like an extra lamp. "The people and those
croquettes were A1. The way Mary's picked up French cookery is
"Yes, especially considering she denies herself butter. But I'm not
thinking of that nor of our guests." He looked at her wonderingly.
"Henry," she continued impressively, "how would you like to get into
"Eh, Parliament? Me?" he stammered.
"Yes, why not? I've always had it in my eye."
His face grew gloomy. "It is not practicable," he said, shaking the head
with the prominent teeth and ears.
"Not practicable?" she echoed sharply. "Just think of what you've
achieved already, and don't tell me you're going to stop now. Not
practicable, indeed! Why, that's the very word you used years ago in the
provinces when I said you ought to be President. You said old
Winkelstein had been in the position too long to be ousted. And yet I
felt certain your superior English would tell in the long run in such a
miserable congregation of foreigners, and when Winkelstein had made that
delicious blunder about the 'university' of the Exodus instead of the
'anniversary,' and I went about laughing over it in all the best
circles, the poor man's day was over. And when we came to London, and
seemed to fall again to the bottom of the ladder because our greatness
was swallowed up in the vastness, didn't you despair then? Didn't you
tell me that we should never rise to the surface?"
"It didn't seem probable, did it?" he murmured in self-defence.
"Of course not. That's just my point. Your getting into the House of
Commons doesn't seem probable now. But in those days your getting merely
to know M.P.'s was equally improbable. The synagogal dignities were all
filled up by old hands, there was no way of getting on the Council and
meeting our magnates."
"Yes, but your solution of that difficulty won't do here. I had not much
difficulty in persuading the United Synagogue that a new synagogue was a
crying want in Kensington, but I could hardly persuade the government
that a new constituency is a crying want in London." He spoke pettishly;
his ambition always required rousing and was easily daunted.
"No, but somebody's going to start a new something else, Henry," said
Mrs. Goldsmith with enigmatic cheerfulness. "Trust in me; think of what
we have done in less than a dozen years at comparatively trifling costs,
thanks to that happy idea of a new synagogue--you the representative of
the Kensington synagogue, with a 'Sir' for a colleague and a
congregation that from exceptionally small beginnings has sprung up to
be the most fashionable in London; likewise a member of the Council of
the Anglo-Jewish Association and an honorary officer of the _Shechitah_
Board; I, connected with several first-class charities, on the Committee
of our leading school, and the acknowledged discoverer of a girl who
gives promise of doing something notable in literature or music. We have
a reputation for wealth, culture and hospitality, and it is quite two
years since we shook off the last of the Maida Vale lot, who are so
graphically painted in that novel of Mr. Armitage's. Who are our guests
now? Take to-night's! A celebrated artist, a brilliant young Oxford man,
both scions of the same wealthy and well-considered family, an
authoress of repute who dedicates her books (by permission) to the very
first families of the community; and lastly the Montagu Samuels with the
brother, Percy Saville, who both go only to the best houses. Is there
any other house, where the company is so exclusively Jewish, that could
boast of a better gathering?"
"I don't say anything against the company," said her husband awkwardly,
"it's better than we got in the Provinces. But your company isn't your
constituency. What constituency would have me?"
"Certainly, no ordinary constituency would have you," admitted his wife
frankly. "I am thinking of Whitechapel."
"But Gideon represents Whitechapel."
"Certainly; as Sidney Graham says, he represents it very well. But he
has made himself unpopular, his name has appeared in print as a guest at
City banquets, where the food can't be _kosher_. He has alienated a
goodly proportion of the Jewish vote."
"Well?" said Mr. Goldsmith, still wonderingly.
"Now is the time to bid for his shoes. Raphael Leon is about to
establish a new Jewish paper. I was mistaken about that young man. You
remember my telling you I had heard he was eccentric and despite his
brilliant career a little touched on religious matters. I naturally
supposed his case was like that of one or two other Jewish young men we
know and that he yearned for spirituality, and his remarks at table
rather confirmed the impression. But he is worse than that--and I nearly
put my foot in it--his craziness is on the score of orthodoxy! Fancy
that! A man who has been to Harrow and Oxford longing for a gaberdine
and side curls! Well, well, live and learn. What a sad trial for his
parents!" She paused, musing.
"But, Rosetta, what has Raphael Leon to do with my getting into
"Don't be stupid, Henry. Haven't I explained to you that Leon is going
to start an orthodox paper which will be circulated among your future
constituents. It's extremely fortunate that we have always kept our
religion. We have a widespread reputation for orthodoxy. We are friends
with Leon, and we can get Esther to write for the paper (I could see he
was rather struck by her). Through this paper we can keep you and your
orthodoxy constantly before the constituency. The poor people are quite
fascinated by the idea of rich Jews like us keeping a strictly _kosher_
table; but the image of a Member of Parliament with phylacteries on his
forehead will simply intoxicate them." She smiled, herself, at the
image; the smile that always intoxicated Percy Saville.
"You're a wonderful woman, Rosetta," said Henry, smiling in response
with admiring affection and making his incisors more prominent. He drew
her head down to him and kissed her lips. She returned his kiss
lingeringly and they had a flash of that happiness which is born of
mutual fidelity and trust.
"Can I do anything for you, mum, afore I go to bed?" said stout old Mary
O'Reilly, appearing at the door. Mary was a privileged person,
unappalled even by the butler. Having no relatives, she never took a
holiday and never went out except to Chapel.
"No, Mary, thank you. The dinner was excellent. Good night and merry
"Same to you, mum," and as the unconscious instrument of Henry
Goldsmith's candidature turned away, the Christmas bells broke merrily
upon the night. The peals fell upon the ears of Raphael Leon, still
striding along, casting a gaunt shadow on the hoar-frosted pavement, but
he marked them not; upon Addie sitting by her bedroom mirror thinking of
Sidney speeding to the Christmas dance; upon Esther turning restlessly
on the luxurious eider-down, oppressed by panoramic pictures of the
martyrdom of her race. Lying between sleep and waking, especially when
her brain had been excited, she had the faculty of seeing wonderful
vivid visions, indistinguishable from realities. The martyrs who mounted
the scaffold and the stake all had the face of Raphael.
"The mission of Israel" buzzed through her brain. Oh, the irony of
history! Here was another life going to be wasted on an illusory dream.
The figures of Raphael and her father suddenly came into grotesque
juxtaposition. A bitter smile passed across her face.
The Christmas bells rang on, proclaiming Peace in the name of Him who
came to bring a sword into the world.
"Surely," she thought, "the people of Christ has been the Christ of
And then she sobbed meaninglessly in the darkness
"THE FLAG OF JUDAH."
The call to edit the new Jewish paper seemed to Raphael the voice of
Providence. It came just when he was hesitating about his future,
divided between the attractions of the ministry, pure Hebrew scholarship
and philanthropy. The idea of a paper destroyed these conflicting claims
by comprehending them all. A paper would be at once a pulpit, a medium
for organizing effective human service, and an incentive to serious
study in the preparation of scholarly articles.
The paper was to be the property of the Co-operative Kosher Society, an
association originally founded to supply unimpeachable Passover cakes.
It was suspected by the pious that there was a taint of heresy in the
flour used by the ordinary bakers, and it was remarked that the
Rabbinate itself imported its _Matzoth_ from abroad. Successful in its
first object, the Co-operative Kosher Society extended its operations to
more perennial commodities, and sought to save Judaism from dubious
cheese and butter, as well as to provide public baths for women in
accordance with the precepts of Leviticus. But these ideals were not so
easy to achieve, and so gradually the idea of a paper to preach them to
a godless age formed itself. The members of the Society met in Aaron
Schlesinger's back office to consider them. Schlesinger was a cigar
merchant, and the discussions of the Society were invariably obscured by
gratuitous smoke Schlesinger's junior partner, Lewis De Haan, who also
had a separate business as a surveyor, was the soul of the Society, and
talked a great deal. He was a stalwart old man, with a fine imagination
and figure, boundless optimism, a big biceps, a long venerable white
beard, a keen sense of humor, and a versatility which enabled him to
turn from the price of real estate to the elucidation of a Talmudical
difficulty, and from the consignment of cigars to the organization of
apostolic movements. Among the leading spirits were our old friends,
Karlkammer the red-haired zealot, Sugarman the _Shadchan_, and Guedalyah
the greengrocer, together with Gradkoski the scholar, fancy goods
merchant and man of the world. A furniture-dealer, who was always
failing, was also an important personage, while Ebenezer Sugarman, a
young man who had once translated a romance from the Dutch, acted as
secretary. Melchitsedek Pinchas invariably turned up at the meetings and
smoked Schlesinger's cigars. He was not a member; he had not qualified
himself by taking ten pound shares (far from fully paid up), but nobody
liked to eject him, and no hint less strong than a physical would have
moved the poet.
All the members of the Council of the Co-operative Kosher Society spoke
English volubly and more or less grammatically, but none had sufficient
confidence in the others to propose one of them for editor, though it is
possible that none would have shrunk from having a shot. Diffidence is
not a mark of the Jew. The claims of Ebenezer Sugarman and of
Melchitsedek Pinchas were put forth most vehemently by Ebenezer and
Melchitsedek respectively, and their mutual accusations of incompetence
enlivened Mr. Schlesinger's back office.
"He ain't able to spell the commonest English words," said Ebenezer,
with a contemptuous guffaw that sounded like the croak of a raven.
The young litterateur, the sumptuousness of whose _Barmitzvah_-party was
still a memory with his father, had lank black hair, with a long nose
that supported blue spectacles.
"What does he know of the Holy Tongue?" croaked Melchitsedek
witheringly, adding in a confidential whisper to the cigar merchant: "I
and you, Schlesinger, are the only two men in England who can write the
Holy Tongue grammatically."
The little poet was as insinutive and volcanic (by turns) as ever. His
beard was, however, better trimmed and his complexion healthier, and he
looked younger than ten years ago. His clothes were quite spruce. For
several years he had travelled about the Continent, mainly at Raphael's
expense. He said his ideas came better in touring and at a distance from
the unappreciative English Jewry. It was a pity, for with his linguistic
genius his English would have been immaculate by this time. As it was,
there was a considerable improvement in his writing, if not so much in
"What do I know of the Holy Tongue!" repeated Ebenezer scornfully. "Hold
The Committee laughed, but Schlesinger, who was a serious man, said,
"Business, gentlemen, business."
"Come, then! I'll challenge you to translate a page of _Metatoron's
Flames_," said Pinchas, skipping about the office like a sprightly flea.
"You know no more than the Reverend Joseph Strelitski vith his vite tie
and his princely income."
De Haan seized the poet by the collar, swung him off his feet and tucked
him up in the coal-scuttle.
"Yah!" croaked Ebenezer. "Here's a fine editor. Ho! Ho! Ho!"
"We cannot have either of them. It's the only way to keep them quiet,"
said the furniture-dealer who was always failing.
Ebenezer's face fell and his voice rose.
"I don't see why I should be sacrificed to _'im_. There ain't a man in
England who can write English better than me. Why, everybody says so.
Look at the success of my book, _The Old Burgomaster_, the best Dutch
novel ever written. The _St. Pancras Press_ said it reminded them of
Lord Lytton, it did indeed. I can show you the paper. I can give you one
each if you like. And then it ain't as if I didn't know 'Ebrew, too.
Even if I was in doubt about anything, I could always go to my father.
You give me this paper to manage and I'll make your fortunes for you in
a twelvemonth; I will as sure as I stand here."
Pinchas had made spluttering interruptions as frequently as he could in
resistance of De Haan's brawny, hairy hand which was pressed against his
nose and mouth to keep him down in the coal-scuttle, but now he exploded
with a force that shook off the hand like a bottle of soda water
expelling its cork.
"You Man-of-the-Earth," he cried, sitting up in the coal-scuttle. "You
are not even orthodox. Here, my dear gentlemen, is the very position
created by Heaven for me--in this disgraceful country where genius
starves. Here at last you have the opportunity of covering yourselves
vid eternal glory. Have I not given you the idea of starting this paper?
And vas I not born to be a Redacteur, a Editor, as you call it? Into the
paper I vill pour all the fires of my song--"
"Yes, burn it up," croaked Ebenezer.
"I vill lead the Freethinkers and the Reformers back into the fold. I
vill be Elijah and my vings shall be quill pens. I vill save Judaism."
He started up, swelling, but De Haan caught him by his waistcoat and
readjusted him in the coal-scuttle.
"Here, take another cigar, Pinchas," he said, passing Schlesinger's
private box, as if with a twinge of remorse for his treatment of one he
admired as a poet though he could not take him seriously as a man.
The discussion proceeded; the furniture-dealer's counsel was followed;
it was definitely decided to let the two candidates neutralize each
"Vat vill you give me, if I find you a Redacteur?" suddenly asked
Pinchas. "I give up my editorial seat--"
"Editorial coal-scuttle," growled Ebenezer.
"Pooh! I find you a first-class Redacteur who vill not want a big
salary; perhaps he vill do it for nothing. How much commission vill you
"Ten shillings on every pound if he does not want a big salary," said De
Haan instantly, "and twelve and sixpence on every pound if he does it
And Pinchas, who was easily bamboozled when finance became complex, went
out to find Raphael.
Thus at the next meeting the poet produced Raphael in triumph, and
Gradkoski, who loved a reputation for sagacity, turned a little green
with disgust at his own forgetfulness. Gradkoski was among those
founders of the Holy Land League with whom Raphael had kept up
relations, and he could not deny that the young enthusiast was the ideal
man for the post. De Haan, who was busy directing the clerks to write
out ten thousand wrappers for the first number, and who had never heard
of Raphael before, held a whispered confabulation with Gradkoski and
Schlesinger and in a few moments Raphael was rescued from obscurity and
appointed to the editorship of the _Flag of Judah_ at a salary of
nothing a year. De Haan immediately conceived a vast contemptuous
admiration of the man.
"You von't forget me," whispered Pinchas, buttonholing the editor at the
first opportunity, and placing his forefinger insinuatingly alongside
his nose. "You vill remember that I expect a commission on your salary."
Raphael smiled good-naturedly and, turning to De Haan, said: "But do you
think there is any hope of a circulation?"
"A circulation, sir, a circulation!" repeated De Haan. "Why, we shall
not be able to print fast enough. There are seventy-thousand orthodox
Jews in London alone."
"And besides," added Gradkoski, in a corroboration strongly like a
contradiction, "we shall not have to rely on the circulation. Newspapers
depend on their advertisements."
"Do they?" said Raphael, helplessly.
"Of course," said Gradkoski with his air of worldly wisdom, "And don't
you see, being a religious paper we are bound to get all the communal
advertisements. Why, we get the Co-operative Kosher Society to start
"Yes, but we ain't: going to pay for that,"' said Sugarman the
"That doesn't matter," said De Haan. "It'll look well--we can fill up a
whole page with it. You know what Jews are--they won't ask 'is this
paper wanted?' they'll balance it in their hand, as if weighing up the
value of the advertisements, and ask 'does it pay?' But it _will_ pay,
it must pay; with you at the head of it, Mr. Leon, a man whose fame and
piety are known and respected wherever a _Mezuzah_ adorns a door-post,
a man who is in sympathy with the East End, and has the ear of the West,
a man who will preach the purest Judaism in the best English, with such
a man at the head of it, we shall be able to ask bigger prices for
advertisements than the existing Jewish papers."
Raphael left the office in a transport of enthusiasm, full of Messianic
emotions. At the next meeting he announced that he was afraid he could
not undertake the charge of the paper. Amid universal consternation,
tempered by the exultation of Ebenezer, he explained that he had been
thinking it over and did not see how it could be done. He said he had
been carefully studying the existing communal organs, and saw that they
dealt with many matters of which he knew nothing; whilst he might be
competent to form the taste of the community in religious and literary
matters, it appeared that the community was chiefly excited about
elections and charities. "Moreover," said he, "I noticed that it is
expected of these papers to publish obituaries of communal celebrities,
for whose biographies no adequate materials are anywhere extant. It
would scarcely be decent to obtrude upon the sacred grief of the
bereaved relatives with a request for particulars."
"Oh, that's all right," laughed De Haan. "I'm sure _my_ wife would be
glad to give you any information."
"Of course, of course," said Gradkoski, soothingly. "You will get the
obituaries sent in of themselves by the relatives."
Raphael's brow expressed surprise and incredulity.
"And besides, we are not going to crack up the same people as the other
papers," said De Haan; "otherwise we should not supply a want. We must
dole out our praise and blame quite differently, and we must be very
scrupulous to give only a little praise so that it shall be valued the
more." He stroked his white, beard tranquilly.
"But how about meetings?" urged Raphael. "I find that sometimes two take
place at once. I can go to one, but I can't be at both."
"Oh, that will be all right," said De Haan airily. "We will leave out
one and people will think it is unimportant. We are bringing out a
paper for our own ends, not to report the speeches of busybodies."
Raphael was already exhibiting a conscientiousness which must be nipped
in the bud. Seeing him silenced, Ebenezer burst forth anxiously:
"But Mr. Leon is right. There must be a sub-editor."
"Certainly there must be a sub-editor," cried Pinchas eagerly.
"Very well, then," said De Haan, struck with a sudden thought. "It is
true Mr. Leon cannot do all the work. I know a young fellow who'll be
just the very thing. He'll come for a pound a week."
"But I'll come for a pound a week," said Ebenezer.
"Yes, but you won't get it," said Schlesinger impatiently.
"_Sha_, Ebenezer," said old Sugarman imperiously.
De Haan thereupon hunted up a young gentleman, who dwelt in his mind as
"Little Sampson," and straightway secured him at the price named. He was
a lively young Bohemian born in Australia, who had served an
apprenticeship on the Anglo-Jewish press, worked his way up into the
larger journalistic world without, and was now engaged in organizing a
comic-opera touring company, and in drifting back again into Jewish
journalism. This young gentleman, who always wore long curling locks, an
eye-glass and a romantic cloak which covered a multitude of
shabbinesses, fully allayed Raphael's fears as to the difficulties of
"Obituaries!" he said scornfully. "You rely on me for that! The people
who are worth chronicling are sure to have lived in the back numbers of
our contemporaries, and I can always hunt them up in the Museum. As for
the people who are not, their families will send them in, and your only
trouble will be to conciliate the families of those you ignore."
"But about all those meetings?" said Raphael.
"I'll go to some," said the sub-editor good-naturedly, "whenever they
don't interfere with the rehearsals of my opera. You know of course I am
bringing out a comic-opera, composed by myself, some lovely tunes in it;
one goes like this: Ta ra ra ta, ta dee dum dee--that'll knock 'em.
Well, as I was saying, I'll help you as much as I can find time for.
You rely on me for that."
"Yes," said poor Raphael with a sickly smile, "but suppose neither of us
goes to some important meeting."
"No harm done. God bless you, I know the styles of all our chief
speakers--ahem--ha!--pauperization of the East End, ha!--I would
emphatically say that this scheme--ahem!--his lordship's untiring zeal
for hum!--the welfare of--and so on. Ta dee dum da, ta, ra, rum dee.
They always send on the agenda beforehand. That's all I want, and I'll
lay you twenty to one I'll turn out as good a report as any of our
rivals. You rely on me for _that_! I know exactly how debates go. At the
worst I can always swop with another reporter--a prize distribution for
an obituary, or a funeral for a concert."
"And do you really think we two between us can fill up the paper every
week?" said Raphael doubtfully.
Little Sampson broke into a shriek of laughter, dropped his eyeglass and
collapsed helplessly into the coal-scuttle. The Committeemen looked up
from their confabulations in astonishment.
"Fill up the paper! Ho! Ho! Ho!" roared little Sampson, still doubled
up. "Evidently _you've_ never had anything to do with papers. Why, the
reports of London and provincial sermons alone would fill three papers a
"Yes, but how are we to get these reports, especially from the
"How? Ho! Ho! Ho!" And for some time little Sampson was physically
incapable of speech. "Don't you know," he gasped, "that the ministers
always send up their own sermons, pages upon pages of foolscap?"
"Indeed?" murmured Raphael.
"What, haven't you noticed all Jewish sermons are eloquent?".
"They write that themselves?"
"Of course; sometimes they put 'able,' and sometimes 'learned,' but, as
a rule, they prefer to be 'eloquent.' The run on that epithet is
tremendous. Ta dee dum da. In holiday seasons they are also very fond of
'enthralling the audience,' and of 'melting them to tears,' but this is
chiefly during the Ten Days of Repentance, or when a boy is
_Barmitzvah_. Then, think of the people who send in accounts of the
oranges they gave away to distressed widows, or of the prizes won by
their children at fourth-rate schools, or of the silver pointers they
present to the synagogue. Whenever a reader sends a letter to an evening
paper, he will want you to quote it; and, if he writes a paragraph in
the obscurest leaflet, he will want you to note it as 'Literary
Intelligence.' Why, my dear fellow, your chief task will be to cut down.
Ta, ra, ra, ta! Any Jewish paper could be entirely supported by
voluntary contributions--as, for the matter of that, could any newspaper
in the world." He got up and shook the coal-dust languidly from his
"Besides, we shall all be helping you with articles," said De Haan,
"Yes, we shall all be helping you," said Ebenezer.
"I vill give you from the Pierian spring--bucketsful," said Pinchas in a
flush of generosity.
"Thank you, I shall be much obliged," said Raphael, heartily, "for I
don't quite see the use of a paper filled up as Mr. Sampson suggests."
He flung his arms out and drew them in again. It was a way he had when
in earnest. "Then, I should like to have some foreign news. Where's that
to come from?"
"You rely on me for _that_," said little Sampson, cheerfully. "I will
write at once to all the chief Jewish papers in the world, French,
German, Dutch, Italian, Hebrew, and American, asking them to exchange
with us. There is never any dearth of foreign news. I translate a thing
from the Italian _Vessillo Israelitico_, and the _Israelitische
Nieuwsbode_ copies it from us; _Der Israelit_ then translates it into
German, whence it gets into Hebrew, in _Hamagid_, thence into _L'Univers
Israelite_, of Paris, and thence into the _American Hebrew_. When I see
it in American, not having to translate it, it strikes me as fresh, and
so I transfer it bodily to our columns, whence it gets translated into
Italian, and so the merry-go-round goes eternally on. Ta dee rum day.
You rely on me for your foreign news. Why, I can get you foreign
telegrams if you'll only allow me to stick 'Trieste, December 21,' or
things of that sort at the top. Ti, tum, tee ti." He went on humming a
sprightly air, then, suddenly interrupting himself, he said, "but have
you got an advertisement canvasser, Mr. De Haan?"
"No, not yet," said De Haan, turning around. The committee had resolved
itself into animated groups, dotted about the office, each group marked
by a smoke-drift. The clerks were still writing the ten thousand
wrappers, swearing inaudibly.
"Well, when are you going to get him?"
"Oh, we shall have advertisements rolling in of themselves," said De
Haan, with a magnificent sweep of the arm. "And we shall all assist in
that department! Help yourself to another cigar, Sampson." And he passed
Schlesinger's box. Raphael and Karlkammer were the only two men in the
room not smoking cigars--Raphael, because he preferred his pipe, and
Karlkammer for some more mystic reason.
"We must not ignore Cabalah," the zealot's voice was heard to observe.
"You can't get advertisements by Cabalah," drily interrupted Guedalyah,
the greengrocer, a practical man, as everybody knew.
"No, indeed," protested Sampson. "The advertisement canvasser is a more
important man than the editor."
Ebenezer pricked up his ears.
"I thought _you_ undertook to do some canvassing for your money," said
"So I will, so I will; rely on me for that. I shouldn't be surprised if
I get the capitalists who are backing up my opera to give you the
advertisements of the tour, and I'll do all I can in my spare time. But
I feel sure you'll want another man--only, you must pay him well and
give him a good commission. It'll pay best in the long run to have a
good man, there are so many seedy duffers about," said little Sampson,
drawing his faded cloak loftily around him. "You want an eloquent,
persuasive man, with a gift of the gab--"
"Didn't I tell you so?" interrupted Pinchas, putting his finger to his
nose. "I vill go to the advertisers and speak burning words to them. I
"Garn! They'd kick you out!" croaked Ebenezer. "They'll only listen to
an Englishman." His coarse-featured face glistened with spite.
"My Ebenezer has a good appearance," said old Sugarman, "and his English
is fine, and dat is half de battle."
Schlesinger, appealed to, intimated that Ebenezer might try, but that
they could not well spare him any percentage at the start. After much
haggling, Ebenezer consented to waive his commission, if the committee
would consent to allow an original tale of his to appear in the paper.
The stipulation having been agreed to, he capered joyously about the
office and winked periodically at Pinchas from behind the battery of his
blue spectacles. The poet was, however, rapt in a discussion as to the
best printer. The Committee were for having Gluck, who had done odd jobs
for most of them, but Pinchas launched into a narrative of how, when he
edited a great organ in Buda-Pesth, he had effected vast economies by
starting a little printing-office of his own in connection with the
"You vill set up a little establishment," he said. "I vill manage it for
a few pounds a veek. Then I vill not only print your paper, I vill get
you large profits from extra printing. Vith a man of great business
talent at the head of it--"
De Haan made a threatening movement, and Pinchas edged away from the
proximity of the coal-scuttle.
"Gluck's our printer!" said De Haan peremptorily. "He has Hebrew type.
We shall want a lot of that. We must have a lot of Hebrew
quotations--not spell Hebrew words in English like the other papers. And
the Hebrew date must come before the English. The public must see at
once that our principles are superior. Besides, Gluck's a Jew, which
will save us from the danger of having any of the printing done on
"But shan't we want a publisher?" asked Sampson.
"That's vat I say," cried Pinchas. "If I set up this office, I can be
your publisher too. Ve must do things business-like."
"Nonsense, nonsense! We are our own publishers," said De Haan. "Our
clerks will send out the invoices and the subscription copies, and an
extra office-boy can sell the papers across the counter."
Sampson smiled in his sleeve.
"All right. That will do--for the first number," he said cordially. "Ta
ra ra ta."
"Now then, Mr. Leon, everything is settled," said De Haan, stroking his
beard briskly. "I think I'll ask you to help us to draw up the posters.
We shall cover all London, sir, all London."
"But wouldn't that be wasting money?" said Raphael.
"Oh, we're going to do the thing properly. I don't believe in meanness."
"It'll be enough if we cover the East End," said Schlesinger, drily.
"Quite so. The East End _is_ London as far as we're concerned," said De
Raphael took the pen and the paper which De Haan tendered him and wrote
_The Flag of Judah_, the title having been fixed at their first
"The only orthodox paper!" dictated De Haan. "Largest circulation of any
Jewish paper in the world!"
"No, how can we say that?" said Raphael, pausing.
"No, of course not," said De Haan. "I was thinking of the subsequent
posters. Look out for the first number--on Friday, January 1st. The best
Jewish writers! The truest Jewish teachings! Latest Jewish news and
finest Jewish stories. Every Friday. Twopence."
"Twopence?" echoed Raphael, looking up. "I thought you wanted to appeal
to the masses. I should say it must be a penny."
"It _will_ be a penny," said De Haan oracularly.
"We have thought it all over," interposed Gradkoski. "The first number
will be bought up out of curiosity, whether at a penny or at twopence.
The second will go almost as well, for people will be anxious to see how
it compares with the first. In that number we shall announce that owing
to the enormous success we have been able to reduce it to a penny;
meantime we make all the extra pennies."
"I see," said Raphael dubiously.
"We must have _Chochma_" said De Haan. "Our sages recommend that."
Raphael still had his doubts, but he had also a painful sense of his
lack of the "practical wisdom" recommended by the sages cited. He
thought these men were probably in the right. Even religion could not be
pushed on the masses without business methods, and so long as they were
in earnest about the doctrines to be preached, he could even feel a dim
admiration for their superior shrewdness in executing a task in which he
himself would have hopelessly broken down. Raphael's mind was large; and
larger by being conscious of its cloistral limitations. And the men were
in earnest; not even their most intimate friends could call this into
"We are going to save London," De Haan put it in one of his dithyrambic
moments. "Orthodoxy has too long been voiceless, and yet it is
five-sixths of Judaea. A small minority has had all the say. We must
redress the balance. We must plead the cause of the People against the
Raphael's breast throbbed with similar hopes. His Messianic emotions
resurged. Sugarman's solicitous request that he should buy a Hamburg
Lottery Ticket scarcely penetrated his consciousness. Carrying the copy
of the poster, he accompanied De Haan to Gluck's. It was a small shop in
a back street with jargon-papers and hand-bills in the window and a
pervasive heavy oleaginous odor. A hand-press occupied the centre of the
interior, the back of which was partitioned of and marked "Private."
Gluck came forward, grinning welcome. He wore an unkempt beard and a
"Can you undertake to print an eight-page paper?" inquired De Haan.
"If I can print at all, I can print anything," responded Gluck
reproachfully. "How many shall you want?"
"It's the orthodox paper we've been planning so long," said De Haan
Gluck nodded his head.
"There are seventy thousand orthodox Jews in London alone," said De
Haan, with rotund enunciation. "So you see what you may have to print.
It'll be worth your while to do it extra cheap."
Gluck agreed readily, naming a low figure. After half an hour's
discussion it was reduced by ten per cent.
"Good-bye, then," said De Haan. "So let it stand. We shall start with a
thousand copies of the first number, but where we shall end, the Holy
One, blessed be He, alone knows. I will now leave you and the editor to
talk over the rest. To-day's Monday. We must have the first number out
by Friday week. Can you do that, Mr. Leon?"
"Oh, that will be ample," said Raphael, shooting out his arms.
He did not remain of that opinion. Never had he gone through such an
awful, anxious time, not even in his preparations for the stiffest
exams. He worked sixteen hours a day at the paper. The only evening he
allowed himself off was when he dined with Mrs. Henry Goldsmith and met
Esther. First numbers invariably take twice as long to produce as second
numbers, even in the best regulated establishments. All sorts of
mysterious sticks and leads, and fonts and forms, are found wanting at
the eleventh hour. As a substitute for gray hair-dye there is nothing in
the market to compete with the production of first numbers. But in
Gluck's establishment, these difficulties were multiplied by a hundred.
Gluck spent a great deal of time in going round the corner to get
something from a brother printer. It took an enormous time to get a
proof of any article out of Gluck.
"My men are so careful," Gluck explained. "They don't like to pass
anything till it's free from typos."
The men must have been highly disappointed, for the proofs were
invariably returned bristling with corrections and having a highly
hieroglyphic appearance. Then Gluck would go in and slang his men. He
kept them behind the partition painted "Private."
The fatal Friday drew nearer and nearer. By Thursday not a single page
had been made up. Still Gluck pointed out that there were only eight,
and the day was long. Raphael had not the least idea in the world how to
make up a paper, but about eleven little Sampson kindly strolled into
Gluck's, and explained to his editor his own method of pasting the
proofs on sheets of paper of the size of the pages. He even made up one
page himself to a blithe vocal accompaniment. When the busy composer and
acting-manager hurried off to conduct a rehearsal, Raphael expressed his
gratitude warmly. The hours flew; the paper evolved as by geologic
stages. As the fateful day wore on, Gluck was scarcely visible for a
moment. Raphael was left alone eating his heart out in the shop, and
solacing himself with huge whiffs of smoke. At immense intervals Gluck
appeared from behind the partition bearing a page or a galley slip. He
said his men could not be trusted to do their work unless he was
present. Raphael replied that he had not seen the compositors come
through the shop to get their dinners, and he hoped Gluck would not find
it necessary to cut off their meal-times. Gluck reassured him on this
point; he said his men were so loyal that they preferred to bring their
food with them rather than have the paper delayed. Later on he casually
mentioned that there was a back entrance. He would not allow Raphael to
talk to his workmen personally, arguing that it spoiled their
discipline. By eleven o'clock at night seven pages had been pulled and
corrected: but the eighth page was not forthcoming. The _Flag_ had to be
machined, dried, folded, and a number of copies put into wrappers and
posted by three in the morning. The situation looked desperate. At a
quarter to twelve, Gluck explained that a column of matter already set
up had been "pied" by a careless compositor. It happened to be the
column containing the latest news and Raphael had not even seen a proof
of it. Still, Gluck conjured him not to trouble further: he would give
his reader strict injunctions not to miss the slightest error. Raphael
had already seen and passed the first column of this page, let him leave
it to Gluck to attend to this second column; all would be well without
his remaining later, and he would receive a copy of the _Flag_ by the
first post. The poor editor, whose head was splitting, weakly yielded;
he just caught the midnight train to the West End and he went to bed
feeling happy and hopeful.
At seven o'clock the next morning the whole Leon household was roused by
a thunderous double rat-tat at the door. Addie was even heard to scream.
A housemaid knocked at Raphael's door and pushed a telegram under it.
Raphael jumped out of bed and read: "Third of column more matter wanted.
Come at once. Gluck."
"How can that be?" he asked himself in consternation. "If the latest
news made a column when it was first set up before the accident, how can
it make less now?"
He dashed up to Gluck's office in a hansom and put the conundrum to him.
"You see we had no time to distribute the 'pie,' and we had no more type
of that kind, so we had to reset it smaller," answered Gluck glibly. His
eyes were blood-shot, his face was haggard. The door of the private
compartment stood open.
"Your men are not come yet, I suppose," said Raphael.
"No," said Gluck. "They didn't go away till two, poor fellows. Is that
the copy?" he asked, as Raphael handed him a couple of slips he had
distractedly scribbled in the cab under the heading of "Talmudic Tales."
"Thank you, it's just about the size. I shall have to set it myself."
"But won't we be terribly late?" said poor Raphael.
"We shall be out to-day," responded Gluck cheerfully. "We shall be in
time for the Sabbath, and that's the important thing. Don't you see
they're half-printed already?" He indicated a huge pile of sheets.
Raphael examined them with beating heart. "We've only got to print 'em
on the other side and the thing's done," said Gluck.
"Where are your machines?"
"There," said Gluck, pointing.
"That hand-press!" cried Raphael, astonished. "Do you mean to say you
print them all with your own hand?"
"Why not?" said the dauntless Gluck. "I shall wrap them up for the
post, too." And he shut himself up with the last of the "copy."
Raphael having exhausted his interest in the half-paper, fell to
striding about the little shop, when who should come in but Pinchas,
smoking a cigar of the Schlesinger brand.
"Ah, my Prince of Redacteurs," said Pinchas, darting at Raphael's hand
and kissing it. "Did I not say you vould produce the finest paper in the
kingdom? But vy have I not my copy by post? You must not listen to
Ebenezer ven he says I must not be on the free list, the blackguard."
Raphael explained to the incredulous poet that Ebenezer had not said
anything of the kind. Suddenly Pinchas's eye caught sight of the sheets.
He swooped down upon them like a hawk. Then he uttered a shriek of
"Vere's my poem, my great poesie?"
Raphael looked embarrassed.
"This is only half the paper," he said evasively.
"Ha, then it vill appear in the other half, _hein_?" he said with hope
tempered by a terrible suspicion.
"N--n--o," stammered Raphael timidly.
"No?" shrieked Pinchas.
"You see--the--fact is, it wouldn't scan. Your Hebrew poetry is perfect,
but English poetry is made rather differently and I've been too busy to
"But it is exactly like Lord Byron's!" shrieked Pinchas. "Mein Gott! All
night I lie avake--vaiting for the post. At eight o'clock the post
comes--but _The Flag of Judah_ she vaves not! I rush round here--and now
my beautiful poem vill not appear." He seized the sheet again, then
cried fiercely: "You have a tale, 'The Waters of Babylon,' by Ebenezer
the fool-boy, but my poesie have you not. _Gott in Himmel_!" He tore the
sheet frantically across and rushed from the shop. In five minutes he
reappeared. Raphael was absorbed in reading the last proof. Pinchas
plucked timidly at his coat-tails.
"You vill put it in next veek?" he said winningly.
"I dare say," said Raphael gently.
"Ah, promise me. I vill love you like a brother, I vill be grateful to
you for ever and ever. I vill never ask another favor of you in all my
life. Ve are already like brothers--_hein_? I and you, the only two
"Yes, yes," interrupted Raphael, "it shall appear next week."
"God bless you!" said Pinchas, kissing Raphael's coat-tails passionately
and rushing without.
Looking up accidentally some minutes afterwards, Raphael was astonished
to see the poet's carneying head thrust through the half-open door with
a finger laid insinuatingly on the side of the nose. The head was fixed
there as if petrified, waiting to catch the editor's eye.
The first number of _The Flag of Judah_ appeared early in the afternoon.
THE TROUBLES OF AN EDITOR.
The new organ did not create a profound impression. By the rival party
it was mildly derided, though many fair-minded persons were impressed by
the rather unusual combination of rigid orthodoxy with a high spiritual
tone and Raphael's conception of Judaism as outlined in his first
leader, his view of it as a happy human compromise between an empty
unpractical spiritualism and a choked-up over-practical formalism,
avoiding the opposite extremes of its offshoots, Christianity and
Mohammedanism, was novel to many of his readers, unaccustomed to think
about their faith. Dissatisfied as Raphael was with the number, he felt
he had fluttered some of the dove-cotes at least. Several people of
taste congratulated him during Saturday and Sunday, and it was with a
continuance of Messianic emotions and with agreeable anticipations that
he repaired on Monday morning to the little den which had been
inexpensively fitted up for him above the offices of Messrs. Schlesinger
and De Haan. To his surprise he found it crammed with the committee; all
gathered round little Sampson, who, with flushed face and cloak
tragically folded, was expostulating at the top of his voice. Pinchas
stood at the back in silent amusement. As Raphael entered jauntily,
from a dozen lips, the lowering faces turned quickly towards him.
Involuntarily Raphael started back in alarm, then stood rooted to the
threshold. There was a dread ominous silence. Then the storm burst.
"_Du Shegetz! Du Pasha Yisroile!_" came from all quarters of the
To be called a graceless Gentile and a sinner in Israel is not pleasant
to a pious Jew: but all Raphael's minor sensations were swallowed up in
a great wonderment.
"We are ruined!" moaned the furniture-dealer, who was always failing.
"You have ruined us!" came the chorus from the thick, sensuous lips, and
swarthy fists were shaken threateningly. Sugarman's hairy paw was almost
against his face. Raphael turned cold, then a rush of red-hot blood
flooded his veins. He put out his good right hand and smote the nearest
fist aside. Sugarman blenched and skipped back and the line of fists
"Don't be fools, gentlemen," said De Haan, his keen sense of humor
asserting itself. "Let Mr. Leon sit down."
Raphael, still dazed, took his seat on the editorial chair. "Now, what
can I do for you?" he said courteously. The fists dropped at his calm.
"Do for us," said Schlesinger drily. "You've done for the paper. It's
not worth twopence."
"Well, bring it out at a penny at once then," laughed little Sampson,
reinforced by the arrival of his editor.
Guedalyah the greengrocer glowered at him.
"I am very sorry, gentlemen, I have not been able to satisfy you," said
Raphael. "But in a first number one can't do much."
"Can't they?" said De Haan. "You've done so much damage to orthodoxy
that we don't know whether to go on with the paper."
"You're joking," murmured Raphael.
"I wish I was," laughed De Haan bitterly.
"But you astonish me." persisted Raphael. "Would you be so good as to
point out where I have gone wrong?"
"With pleasure. Or rather with pain," said De Haan. Each of the
committee drew a tattered copy from his pocket, and followed De Haan's
demonstration with a murmured accompaniment of lamentation.
"The paper was founded to inculcate the inspection of cheese, the better
supervision of the sale of meat, the construction of ladies' baths, and
all the principles of true Judaism," said De Haan gloomily, "and there's
not one word about these things, but a great deal about spirituality and
the significance of the ritual. But I will begin at the beginning. Page
"But that's advertisements," muttered Raphael.
"The part surest to be read! The very first line of the paper is simply
shocking. It reads:
"Death: On the 59th ult., at 22 Buckley St., the Rev. Abraham Barnett,
in his fifty-fourth--"
"But death is always shocking; what's wrong about that?" interposed
"Wrong!" repeated De Haan, witheringly. "Where did you get that from?
That was never sent in."
"No, of course not," said the sub-editor. "But we had to have at least
one advertisement of that kind; just to show we should be pleased to
advertise our readers' deaths. I looked in the daily papers to see if
there were any births or marriages with Jewish names, but I couldn't
find any, and that was the only Jewish-sounding death I could see."
"But the Rev. Abraham Barnett was a _Meshumad_," shrieked Sugarman the
_Shadchan_. Raphael turned pale. To have inserted an advertisement about
an apostate missionary was indeed terrible. But little Sampson's
audacity did not desert him.
"I thought the orthodox party would be pleased to hear of the death of a
_Meshumad_," he said suavely, screwing his eyeglass more tightly into
its orbit, "on the same principle that anti-Semites take in the Jewish
papers to hear of the death of Jews."
For a moment De Haan was staggered. "That would be all very well," he
said; "let him be an atonement for us all, but then you've gone and put
'May his soul he bound up in the bundle of life.'"
It was true. The stock Hebrew equivalent for R.I.P. glared from the
"Fortunately, that taking advertisement of _kosher_ trousers comes just
underneath," said De Haan, "and that may draw off the attention. On page
2 you actually say in a note that Rabbenu Bachja's great poem on
repentance should be incorporated in the ritual and might advantageously
replace the obscure _Piyut_ by Kalir. But this is rank Reform--it's
worse than the papers we come to supersede."
"But surely you know it is only the Printing Press that has stereotyped
our liturgy, that for Maimonides and Ibn Ezra, for David Kimchi and
Joseph Albo, the contents were fluid, that--"
"We don't deny that," interrupted Schlesinger drily. "But we can't have
any more alterations now-a-days. Who is there worthy to alter them?
"Certainly not. I merely suggest."
"You are playing into the hands of our enemies," said De Haan, shaking
his head. "We must not let our readers even imagine that the prayer-book
can be tampered with. It's the thin end of the wedge. To trim our
liturgy is like trimming living flesh; wherever you cut, the blood
oozes. The four cubits of the _Halacha_--that is what is wanted, not
changes in the liturgy. Once touch anything, and where are you to stop?
Our religion becomes a flux. Our old Judaism is like an old family
mansion, where each generation has left a memorial and where every room
is hallowed with traditions of merrymaking and mourning. We do not want
our fathers' home decorated in the latest style; the next step will be
removal to a new dwelling altogether. On page 3 you refer to the second
"But I deny that there were two Isaiahs."
"So you do; but it is better for our readers not to hear of such impious
theories. The space would be much better occupied in explaining the
Portion for the week. The next leaderette has a flippant tone, which has
excited unfavorable comment among some of the most important members of
the Dalston Synagogue. They object to humor in a religious paper. On
page 4 you have deliberately missed an opportunity of puffing the Kosher
Co-operative Society. Indeed, there is not a word throughout about our
Society. But I like Mr. Henry Goldsmith's letter on this page, though;
he is a good orthodox man and he writes from a good address. It will
show we are not only read in the East End. Pity he's such a
Man-of-the-Earth, though. Yes, and that's good--the communication from
the Rev. Joseph Strelitski. I think he's a bit of an _Epikouros_ but it
looks as if the whole of the Kensington Synagogue was with us. I
understand he is a friend of yours: it will be as well for you to
continue friendly. Several of us here knew him well in _Olov Hasholom_
times, but he is become so grand and rarely shows himself at the Holy
Land League Meetings. He can help us a lot if he will."
"Oh, I'm sure he will," said Raphael.
"That's good," said De Haan, caressing his white beard. Then growing
gloomy again, he went on, "On page 5 you have a little article by
Gabriel Hamburg, a well-known _Epikouros_."
"Oh, but he's one of the greatest scholars in Europe!" broke in Raphael.
"I thought you'd be extra pleased to have it. He sent it to me from
Stockholm as a special favor." He did not mention he had secretly paid
for it. "I know some of his views are heterodox, and I don't agree with
half he says, but this article is perfectly harmless."
"Well, let it pass--very few of our readers have ever heard of him. But
on the same page you have a Latin quotation. I don't say there's
anything wrong in that, but it smacks of Reform. Our readers don't
understand it and it looks as if our Hebrew were poor. The Mishna
contains texts suited for all purposes. We are in no need of Roman
writers. On page 6 you speak of the Reform _Shool_, as if it were to be
reasoned with. Sir, if we mention these freethinkers at all, it must be
in the strongest language. By worshipping bare-headed and by seating the
sexes together they have denied Judaism."
"Stop a minute!" interrupted Raphael warmly. "Who told you the Reformers
"Who told me, indeed? Why, it's common knowledge. That's how they've
been going on for the last fifty years." "Everybody knows it," said the
Committee in chorus.
"Has one of you ever been there?" said Raphael, rising in excitement.
"God forbid!" said the chorus.
"Well, I have, and it's a lie," said Raphael. His arms whirled round to
the discomfort of the Committee.
"You ought not to have gone there," said Schlesinger severely. "Besides,
will you deny they have the organ in their Sabbath services?"
"No, I won't!"
"Well, then!" said De Haan, triumphantly. "If they are capable of that,
they are capable of any wickedness. Orthodox people can have nothing to
do with them."
"But orthodox immigrants take their money," said Raphael.
"Their money is _kosher_', they are _tripha_," said De Haan
sententiously. "Page 7, now we get to the most dreadful thing of all!" A
solemn silence fell on the room, Pinchas sniggered unobtrusively.
"You have a little article headed, 'Talmudic Tales.' Why in heaven's
name you couldn't have finished the column with bits of news I don't
know. Satan himself must have put the thought into your head. Just at
the end of the paper, too! For I can't reckon page 8, which is simply
our own advertisement."
"I thought it would be amusing," said Raphael.
"Amusing! If you had simply told the tales, it might have been. But look
how you introduce them! 'These amusing tales occur in the fifth chapter
of Baba Bathra, and are related by Rabbi Bar Bar Channah. Our readers
will see that they are parables or allegories rather than actual
"But do you mean to say you look upon them as facts?" cried Raphael,
sawing the air wildly and pacing about on the toes of the Committee.
"Surely!" said De Haan, while a low growl at his blasphemous doubts ran
along the lips of the Committee.
"Was it treacherously to undermine Judaism that you so eagerly offered
to edit for nothing?" said the furniture-dealer who was always failing.
"But listen here!" cried Raphael, exasperated. "Harmez, the son of
Lilith, a demon, saddled two mules and made them stand on opposite sides
of the River Doneg. He then jumped from the back of one to that of the
other. He had, at the time, a cup of wine in each hand, and as he
jumped, he threw the wine from each cup into the other without spilling
a drop, although a hurricane was blowing at the time. When the King of
demons heard that Harmez had been thus showing off to mortals, he slew
him. Does any of you believe that?"
"Vould our Sages (their memories for a blessing) put anything into the
Talmud that vasn't true?" queried Sugarman. "Ve know there are demons
because it stands that Solomon knew their language."
"But then, what about this?" pursued Raphael. "'I saw a frog which was
as big as the district of Akra Hagronia. A sea-monster came and
swallowed the frog, and a raven came and ate the sea-monster. The raven
then went and perched on a tree' Consider how strong that tree must have
been. R. Papa ben Samuel remarks, 'Had I not been present, I should not
have believed it.' Doesn't this appendix about ben Samuel show that it
was never meant to be taken seriously?"
"It has some high meaning we do not understand in these degenerate
times," said Guedalyah the greengrocer. "It is not for our paper to
weaken faith in the Talmud."
"Hear, hear!" said De Haan, while "_Epikouros_" rumbled through the air,
like distant thunder.
"Didn't I say an Englishman could never master the Talmud?" Sugarman
asked in triumph.
This reminder of Raphael's congenital incompetence softened their minds
towards him, so that when he straightway resigned his editorship, their
self-constituted spokesman besought him to remain. Perhaps they
remembered, too, that he was cheap.
"But we must all edit the paper," said De Haan enthusiastically, when
peace was re-established. "We must have meetings every day and every
article must he read aloud before it is printed."
Little Sampson winked cynically, passing his hand pensively through his
thick tangled locks, but Raphael saw no objection to the arrangement. As
before, he felt his own impracticability borne in upon him, and he
decided to sacrifice himself for the Cause as far as conscience
permitted. Excessive as it was the zeal of these men, it was after all
in the true groove. His annoyance returned for a while, however, when
Sugarman the _Shadchan_ seized the auspicious moment of restored amity
to inquire insinuatingly if his sister was engaged. Pinchas and little
Sampson went down the stairs, quivering with noiseless laughter, which
became boisterous when they reached the street. Pinchas was in high
"The fool-men!" he said, as he led the sub-editor into a public-house
and regaled him on stout and sandwiches. "They believe any
_Narrischkeit_. I and you are the only two sensible Jews in England. You
vill see that my poesie goes in next week--promise me that! To your
life!" here they touched glasses. "Ah, it is beautiful poesie. Such high
tragic ideas! You vill kiss me when you read them!" He laughed in
childish light-heartedness. "Perhaps I write you a comic opera for your
company--_hein_? Already I love you like a brother. Another glass stout?
Bring us two more, thou Hebe of the hops-nectar. You have seen my comedy
'The Hornet of Judah'--No?--Ah, she vas a great comedy, Sampson. All
London talked of her. She has been translated into every tongue. Perhaps
I play in your company. I am a great actor--_hein_? You know not my
forte is voman's parts--I make myself so lovely complexion vith red
paint, I fall in love vith me." He sniggered over his stout. "The
Redacteur vill not redact long, _hein_?" he said presently. "He is a
fool-man. If he work for nothing they think that is what he is worth.
They are orthodox, he, he!"
"But he is orthodox too," said little Sampson.
"Yes," replied Pinchas musingly. "It is strange. It is very strange. I
cannot understand him. Never in all my experience have I met another
such man. There vas an Italian exile I talked vith once in the island
of Chios, his eyes were like Leon's, soft vith a shining splendor like
the stars vich are the eyes of the angels of love. Ah, he is a good man,
and he writes sharp; he has ideas, not like an English Jew at all. I
could throw my arms round him sometimes. I love him like a brother." His
voice softened. "Another glass stout; ve vill drink to him."
Raphael did not find the editing by Committee feasible. The friction was
incessant, the waste of time monstrous. The second number cost him even
more headaches than the first, and this, although the gallant Gluck
abandoning his single-handed emprise fortified himself with a real live
compositor and had arranged for the paper to be printed by machinery.
The position was intolerable. It put a touch of acid into his
dulciferous mildness! Just before going to press he was positively rude
to Pinchas. It would seem that little Sampson sheltering himself behind
his capitalists had refused to give the poet a commission for a comic
opera, and Pinchas raved at Gideon, M.P., who he was sure was Sampson's
financial backer, and threatened to shoot him and danced maniacally
about the office.
"I have written an attack on the Member for Vitechapel," he said,
growing calmer, "to hand him down to the execration of posterity, and I
have brought it to the _Flag_. It must go in this veek."
"We have already your poem," said Raphael.
"I know, but I do not grudge my work, I am not like your money-making
"There is no room. The paper is full."
"Leave out Ebenezer's tale--with the blue spectacles."
"There is none. It was completed in one number."
"Well, must you put in your leader?"
"Absolutely; please go away. I have this page to read."
"But you can leave out some advertisements?"
"I must not. We have too few as it is."
The poet put his finger alongside his nose, but Raphael was adamant.
"Do me this one favor," he pleaded. "I love you like a brother; just
this one little thing. I vill never ask another favor of you all my
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