The Rise of David Levinsky
Part 9 out of 11
"Always referring to her papa and her brother," I thought. "What a
Presently she and her long-faced chum were hailed by a group of
young men and women, and, excusing themselves to us, they ran
over to join them. I felt like a man sipping at a glass of wine when
the glass is suddenly seized from his hand
Some time later I sat on a cane chair amid flower-beds in front of
the Rigi Kulm, inhaling the scented evening air and gazing down
the sloping side of the lawn. Women and girls were returning
from the post-office, many of them with letters in their hands.
Some of these were so impatient to know their contents that they
were straining their eyes to read them in the sickly light that fell
from a sparse row of electric lamps. I watched their faces.
In one case it was quite evident that the letter was a love-message,
and that the girl who was reading it was tremendously happy. In
another I wondered whether the missive had come from a son. It
was for Miss Tevkin's return that I was watching. But the
dinner-gong sounded before she made her appearance
CHAPTER III DINNER at the Rigi Kulm on a Saturday evening
was not merely a meal. It was, in addition, or chiefly, a great
social function and a gown contest
The band was playing. As each matron or girl made her
appearance in the vast dining-room the female boarders already
seated would look her over with feverish interest, comparing her
gown and diamonds with their own. It was as though it were
especially for this parade of dresses and finery that the band was
playing. As the women came trooping in, arrayed for the
exhibition, some timid, others brazenly self-confident, they
seemed to be marching in time to the music, like so many
chorus-girls tripping before a theater audience, or like a
procession of model-girls at a style-display in a big department
store. Many of the women strutted affectedly, with "refined" mien.
Indeed, I knew that most of them had a feeling as though wearing a
hundred-and-fifty-dollar dress was in itself culture and education
Mrs. Kalch kept talking to me, now aloud, now in whispers. She
was passing judgment on the gowns and incidentally initiating me
into some of the innermost details of the gown race. It appeared
that the women kept tab on one another's dresses, shirt-waists,
shoes, ribbons, pins, earrings. She pointed out two matrons who
had never been seen twice in the same dress, waist, or skirt,
although they had lived in the hotel for more than five weeks. Of
one woman she informed me that she could afford to wear a new
gown every hour in the year, but that she was "too big a slob to
dress up and too lazy to undress even when she went to bed"; of
another, that she would owe her grocer and butcher rather than go
to the country with less than ten big trunks full of duds; of a third,
that she was repeatedly threatening to leave the hotel because its
bills of fare were typewritten, whereas "for the money she paid
she could go to a place with printed menu-cards."
"Must have been brought up on printed menu-cards," one of the
other women at our table commented, with a laugh
"That's right," Mrs. Kalch assented, appreciatively. "I could not say
whether her father was a horse-driver or a stoker in a bath-house,
but I do know that her husband kept a coal-and-ice cellar a few
"That'll do," her bewhiskered husband snarled. " "It's about time
you gave your tongue a rest."
Auntie Yetta's golden teeth glittered good-humoredly. The next
instant she called my attention to a woman who, driven to despair
by the superiority of her "bosom friend's" gowns, had gone to the
city for a fortnight, ostensibly to look for a new flat, but in reality
to replenish her wardrobe. She had just returned, on the big
"husband train," and now "her bosom friend won't be able to eat or
sleep, trying to guess what kind of dresses she brought back."
Nor was this the only kind of gossip upon which Mrs. Kalch
regaled me. She told me, for example, of some sensational
discoveries made by several boarders regarding a certain mother
of five children, of her sister who was "not a bit better," and of a
couple who were supposed to be man and wife, but who seemed
to be "somebody else's man and somebody else's wife."
At last Miss Tevkin and Miss Siegel entered the dining-room.
Something like a thrill passed through me. I felt like exclaiming,
"That's the one I met you with, isn't it? Not bad-looking," said Mrs.
"Which do you mean?"
"'Which do you mean'! The tall one, of course; the one you were so
Not the dwarf with the horse-face."
"They're fine, educated girls, both of them," I rejoined. "Both of
them! As if it was all the same to you!" At this she bent over and
gave me a glare and a smile that brought the color to my face.
"The tall one is certainly not bad-looking, but we don't call that
pretty in this place."
"Are there many prettier ones?" I asked, gaily
"I haven't counted them, but I can show you some girls who shine
like the sun. There is one!" she said, pointing at a girl on the other
side of the aisle. "A regular princess. Don't you think so?"
"She's a pretty girl, all right," I replied, "but in comparison with
that tall one she's like a nice piece of cotton goods alongside of a
piece of imported silk."
"Look at him! He's stuck on her. Does she know it? If she does not,
I'll tell her and collect a marriage-broker's commission."
I loathed myself for having talked too much.
"I was joking, of course," I tried to mend matters. "All girls are
pretty." Luckily Mrs. Kalch's attention was at this point diverted
by the arrival of the waiter with a huge platter laden with roast
chicken, which he placed in the middle of the table. There ensued
a silent race for the best portions.
One of the other two women at the table was the first to obtain
possession of the platter. Taking her time about it, she first made
a careful examination of its contents and then attacked what she
evidently considered a choice piece. By way of calling my
attention to the proceeding, Auntie Yetta stepped on my foot
under the table and gave me a knowing glance
The noise in the dining-room was unendurable. It seemed as
though everybody was talking at the top of his voice. The
musicians--a pianist and two violinists--found it difficult to make
themselves heard. They were pounding and sawing frantically in a
vain effort to beat the bedlam of conversation and laughter. It was
quite touching. The better to take in the effect of the turmoil, I
shut my eyes for a moment, whereupon the noise reminded me of
the Stock Exchange
The conductor, who played the first violin, was a fiery little fellow
with a high crown of black hair. He was working every muscle
and nerve in his body.
He played selections from "Aïda," the favorite opera of the
Ghetto; he played the popular American songs of the day; he
played celebrated "hits" of the Yiddish stage. All to no purpose.
Finally, he had recourse to what was apparently his last resort. He
struck up the "Star-spangled Banner The effect was
overwhelming. The few hundred diners rose like one man,
applauding. The children and many of the adults caught up the
tune joyously, passionately. It was an interesting scene. Men and
women were offering thanksgiving to the flag under which they
were eating this good dinner, wearing these expensive clothes.
There was the jingle of newly-acquired dollars in our applause.
But there was something else in it as well. Many of those who
were now paying tribute to the Stars and Stripes were listening to
the tune with grave, solemn mien. It was as if they were saying:
"We are not persecuted under this flag. At last we have found a
home." Love for America blazed up in my soul. I shouted to the
musicians, "My Country," and the cry spread like wildfire. The
musicians obeyed and we all sang the anthem from the bottom of
CHAPTER IV I WAS in the lobby, chatting with the clerk across
his counter and casting glances at the dining-room door. Miss
Tevkin had not yet finished her meal and I was watching for her to
appear. Presently she did, toying with Miss Siegel's hand
"Feeling better now?" I asked, stepping up to meet them. "I hope
you enjoyed your dinner."
"Oh, we were so hungry, I don't think we knew what we were
eating," Miss Tevkin returned, politely
"Going to take the air on the veranda?"
"Why--no. We are going out for a walk," she answered in a tone
that said as clearly as words that my company was not wanted.
And, nodding with exaggerated amiability, they passed out
The blood rushed to my face as though she had slapped it. I stood
"It's all because of Mrs. Kalch's tongue, confound her!" I thought.
"To-morrow I shall be in Tannersville and this trifling incident will
be forgotten." But at this I became aware that I did not care to go
to Tannersville and that the prospect of seeing Fanny had lost its
attraction for me. I went back to the counter and attempted to
resume my conversation with the clerk, but he was a handsome
fellow, which was one of his chief qualifications for the place,
and so I soon found myself in the midst of a bevy of girls and
married women. However, they all seemed to know that I was a
desirable match and they gradually transferred their attentions to
me, the girls in their own interests and the older matrons in those
of their marriageable daughters. Their crude amenities sickened
me. One middle-aged woman tried to monopolize me by a
confidential talk concerning the social inferiority of the Catskills
"The food is good here," she said, in English. "There's no kick
comin' on that score. But my daughter says with her dresses she
could go to any hotel in Atlantic City, and she's right, too. I don't
care what you say."
I fled as soon as I could. I went to look for a seat on the spacious
veranda. I said to myself that Miss Tevkin and Miss Siegel must
have had an appointment with some one else and that I had no
cause for feeling slighted by them
I felt reassured, but I was lonely. I was yearning for some
congenial company, and blamed fate for having allowed Miss
Tevkin to make another engagement--if she had
The veranda was crowded and almost as noisy as the dining-room
There was a hubbub of broken English, the gibberish being mostly
spoken with self-confidence and ease. Indeed, many of these
people had some difficulty in speaking their native tongue. Bad
English replete with literal translations from untranslatable
Yiddish idioms had become their natural speech. The younger
parents, however, more susceptible of the influence of their
children, spoke purer English.
It was a dark night, but the sky was full of stars, full of golden
The mountains rose black, vast, disquieting. A tumultuous choir of
invisible katydids was reciting an interminable poem on an
unpoetic subject that had something to do with Miss Tevkin. The
air was even richer in aroma than it had been in the morning, but
its breath seemed to be part of the uncanny stridulation of the
katydids. The windows of the dancing-pavilion beyond the level
part of the lawn gleamed like so many sheets of yellow fire.
Presently its door flew open, sending a slanting shaft of light over
I found a chair on the veranda, but I was restless, and the chatter of
two women in front of me grated on my nerves. I wondered where
Miss Tevkin and her companion were at this minute. I was saying
to myself that I would never come near them again, that I was
going to see Fanny; but I did not cease wondering where they
were. The two women in front of me were discussing the relative
virtues and faults of little boys and little girls. They agreed that a
boy was a "big loafer" and a great source of trouble, and that a
little girl was more obedient and clinging. It appeared that one of
these two mothers had a boy and two girls and that, contrary to
her own wish, he was her great pet, although he was not the
"I am just crazy for him," she said, plaintively
She boasted of his baseball record, whereupon she used the slang
of the game with so much authority that it became entertaining,
but by a curious association of ideas she turned the conversation
to the subject of a family who owed the hotel-keeper their last
summer's board and who had been accepted this time in the hope
that they would pay their old debt as well as their new bills
Two men to the right of me were complaining of the unions and
the walking delegates, of traveling salesmen, of buyers. Then they
took up the subject of charity, whereupon one of them enlarged on
"scientific philanthropy," apparently for the sheer lust of hearing
himself use the term
I recalled that one of the things I was booked to do in Tannersville
was to attend a charity meeting of East Side business men, of
which Kaplan was one of the organizers. Two subscriptions were
to be started--one for a home for aged immigrants and one for the
victims of the anti-Jewish riots in Russia--and I was expected to
contribute sums large enough to do credit to my prospective
The multitudinous jabber was suddenly interrupted by the sound of
scampering feet accompanied by merry shrieks. A young girl burst
from the vestibule door, closely followed by three young men. She
was about eighteen years old, well fed, of a ravishing
strawberries-and-cream complexion, her low-cut evening gown
leaving her plump arms and a good deal of her bust exposed. One
of the rocking-chairs on the porch impeding her way, she was
seized by her pursuers, apparently a willing victim, and held
prisoner. Two of her captors gripped her bare arms, while the
third clutched her by the neck. Thus they stood, the men stroking
and kneading her luscious flesh, and she beaming and giggling
rapturously. Then one of the men gathered her to him with one
arm, pressing his cheek against hers
"She's my wife," he jested. "We are married. Let go, boys."
"I'll sue you for alimony then," piped the girl
Finally, they released her, and the next minute I saw them walking
across the lawn in the direction of the dancing-pavilion
The man who had talked scientific philanthropy spat in disgust
"Shame!" he said. "Decent young people wouldn't behave like that
in Russia, would they?"
"Indeed they wouldn't," his interlocutor assented, vehemently.
"People over there haven't yet forgotten what decency is."
"Oh, well, it was only a joke, said a woman
"A nice joke, that!" retorted the man who had dwelt on scientific
"What would you have? Would you want American-born young
people to be a lot of greenhorns? This is not Russia. They are
Americans and they are young, so they want to have some fun.
They are just as respectable as the boys and the girls in the old
country. Only there is some life to them. That's all."
Young people were moving along the flagged walk or crossing the
lawn from various directions, all converging toward the pavilion.
They walked singly, in twos, in threes, and in larger groups, some
trudging along leisurely, others proceeding at a hurried pace.
Some came from our hotel, others from other places, the strangers
mostly in flocks. I watched them as they sauntered or scurried
along, as they receded through the thickening gloom, as they
emerged from it into the slanting shaft of light that fell from the
pavilion, and as they vanished in its blazing doorway. I gazed at
the spectacle until it fascinated me as something weird. The
pavilion with its brightly illuminated windows was an immense
magic lamp, and the young people flocking to it so many huge
moths of a supernatural species. As I saw them disappear in the
glare of the doorway I pictured them as being burned up. I was
tempted to join the unearthly procession and to be "burned" like
the others. Then, discarding the image, I visioned men and women
of ordinary flesh and blood dancing, and I was seized with a
desire to see the sexes in mutual embrace. But I exhorted myself
that I was soon to be a married man and that it was as well to keep
out of temptation's way
Presently I saw Miss Tevkin crossing the lawn, headed for the
pavilion. She was one of a bevy of girls and men. I watched her
get nearer and nearer to that shaft of light. When she was finally
swallowed up by the pavilion the lawn disappeared from my
consciousness. My thoughts were in the dance-hall, and a few
minutes later I was there in the flesh
It was a vast room and it was crowded. It was some time before I
located Miss Tevkin. The chaotic throng of dancers was a welter
of color and outline so superb, I thought, that it seemed as though
every face and figure in it were the consummation of youthful
beauty. However, as I contemplated the individual couples, in
quest of the girl who filled my thoughts, I met with disillusion
after disillusion. Then, after recovering from a sense of watching
a parade of uncomeliness, I began to discover figures or faces, or
both, that were decidedly charming, while here and there I came
upon a young woman of singular beauty. The number of
good-looking women or women with expressive faces was
remarkably large, in fact. As I scanned the crowd for the third
time it seemed to me that the homely women looked cleverer than
the pretty ones. Many of the girls or matrons were dressed far
more daringly than they would have been a year or two before.
Almost all of them were powdered and painted. Prosperity was
rapidly breaking the chains of American Puritanism, rapidly
"Frenchifying" the country, and the East Side was quick to fall
The band was again playing with might and main. The vehement
little conductor was again exerting every nerve and muscle. His
bow, which was also his baton, was pouring vim and sex mystery
into the dancers. As I looked at him it seemed to me as though the
music, the thunderous clatter of feet, and the hum of voices all
came from the fiery rhythm of his arm
Finally, I discovered Miss Tevkin. She was dancing with a
sallow-faced, homely, scholarly-looking fellow. The rhythmic
motion of her tall, stately frame, as it floated and swayed through
the dazzling light, brought a sob to my throat
When the waltz was over and her cavalier was taking her to a seat I
caught her eye. I nodded and smiled to her. She returned the
greeting, but immediately averted her face. Again I felt as if she
had slapped my cheek.
Was I repugnant to her? I thought of my victory over the
acrimonious photographer at the railroad station. Had I not won
her favor there? And it came over me that even on that occasion
she had shown me but scant cordiality. Was it all because of
Auntie Yetta's idiotic jest? She beckoned to Miss Siegel, who was
on the other side of the hall, and presently she was joined by her
and by some other young people.
She danced indefatigably, now with this man, now with that, but
always of the same "set." I watched her. Sometimes, as she
waltzed, she talked and laughed brokenly, exchanging jokes with
her partner or with some other dancing couple. Sometimes she
looked solemnly absorbed, as though dancing were a sacred
function. I wondered whether she was interested in any one of
these fellows in particular. I could see that it gave her special
pleasure to waltz with that sallow-faced man, but he was the best
dancer in her group, and so homely that I discarded the theory of
her caring for him otherwise than as a waltzing partner as absurd.
Nor did she seem to be particularly interested in anybody else on
the floor. As I scrutinized the men of her "set" I said to myself:
"They seem to be school-teachers or writers, or beginning
physicians, perhaps. They probably make less than one-third of
what I pay Bender. Yet they freely talk and joke with her, while I
cannot even get near her."
Miss Lazar, half naked, had been dancing with various partners,
most of all with a freckled lad of sixteen or seventeen who looked
as though he were panting to kiss her. She and I had exchanged
smiles and pleasantry, but in her semi-nudity she was far less
prepossessing than she had been in the afternoon, and I had an
uncontrollable desire to announce it to her, or to hurt her in some
other way. Finally, seeing a vacant seat by my side, she abruptly
broke away from the freckled youth and took it
"You'll have to excuse me, Ben," she said. "I'm tired."
Ben looked the picture of despair
"Don't cry, Ben. Go out and take a walk, or dance with some other
"Is this your catch after many days of fishing?" I asked
"Nope. I'm angling for bigger fish. He's just Ben, a college boy. He
has fallen in love with me this evening. When I dance with
somebody else he gets awful jealous." She laughed.
"He's a manly-looking boy, for all his freckles."
"He is. But how would you like a little girl to fall in love with
you?" I made no answer
"Why don't you dance?" she asked
"Not in my line." "Why?"
"Oh, I never cared to learn it," I answered, impatiently
"Come. I'll show you how. It's very simple."
"Too old for that kind of thing." "Too old? How old are you?"
"That's an indiscreet question. Would you tell me your age?"
"Indeed I would. Why not?" she said, with sportive defiance. "Only
you wouldn't believe me."
"Why wouldn't I? Do you look much older?"
"Oh, you cruel thing! I'm just twenty-three years and four months
There!" she said, with embarrassed gaiety.
"A sort of birthday, isn't it? I congratulate you."
"So you won't tell me how old you are, will you?" she resumed
"What do you want to know it for? Are you in the life-insurance
"Look at that girl over there," she said, trying to make
"She's showing off her slender figure. She thinks she looks awful
"You do have a sharp tongue."
"But you remember what Mrs. Kalch said: 'A sharp tongue, but a
The band struck up a two-step
Ben was coming over to her, his freckled face the image of
supplication. She shut her eyes and shook her head and the boy
stopped short, his jaw dropping as he did so
"Don't be hard on the poor boy," I pleaded
"That's none of your business. I want you to dance with me. Come
on. I'll teach you
I shut my eyes and shook my head precisely as she had done to
She burst into a laugh. "Ain't you tired of being a wall-flower?"
"I love it."
"Do you really? Or maybe you want to watch somebody?"
"I want to watch everybody," I replied, coloring the least bit.
"When you were dancing I watched you, and I thought--well, I
won't tell you what I thought."
A splash of color overspread her face
"Go ahead. Speak out!" she said, with a sick smile
I took pity on her. "I'm joking, of course. But I do like to watch
people when they dance," I said, earnestly. "They do it in so many
different ways, don't you know." I proceeded to point out couple
after couple, commenting upon their peculiar manner and the
special expression of their faces. One man was seemingly about to
hurl his partner at somebody. Another man was eying other women
over the shoulder of the one with whom he danced, apparently his
wife. One woman was clinging to her partner with all her might,
while her half-shut eyes and half-opened mouth seemed to say,
"My, isn't it sweet!"
Miss Lazar greeted my observations with bursts of merry approval.
Encouraged by this and full of mischief and malice, I made her
watch a man with tapering white side-whiskers and watery eyes
who was staring at the bare bust of a fat woman
"You had better look out, for his watery eyes will soon be on you."
Miss Lazar lowered her head and burst into a confused giggle
"You're a holy terror," she declared.
I was tempted to take her out into the night and hug and kiss her
and tell her that she was a nuisance, but the fear of a
breach-of-promise suit held me in leash
I rose to go. As I picked my way through the crowd I watched Miss
Tevkin, who sat between Miss Siegel and one of their cavaliers.
Our eyes met, but she hastened to look away
"She has certainly made up her mind to shun me," I thought,
wretchedly. "She knows I am worth about a million, and yet she
does not want to have anything to do with me. Must be a Socialist.
The idea of a typewriter girl cutting me! Pooh! I could get a
prettier girl than she, and one well-educated, too, if I only cared
for that kind of thing in a wife. Let her stick to her beggarly
It all seemed so ridiculous. I was baffled, perplexed, full of
contempt and misery at once. "Perhaps she is engaged, after all," I
comforted myself, feeling that there was anything but comfort in
I was burning to have an explanation with her, to remove any bad
impression I might have made upon her
An asphalt walk in front of the pavilion and the adjoining section
of the lawn were astir with boarders. A tall woman of thirty, of
excellent figure, and all but naked, passed along like a flame, the
men frankly gloating over her flesh.
"Wait a moment! What's your hurry?" a young stallion shouted,
running after her hungrily
In another spot, on the lawn, I saw a young man in evening dress
chaffing a bare-shouldered girl who looked no more than fifteen
"What! Sweet sixteen and not yet kissed?" he said to her, aloud.
"Go on! I don't believe it. Anyhow, I'd like to be the fellow who's
going to get you."
"Would you? I'll tell your wife about it," the little girl replied, with
the good humor of a woman of forty
"Never mind my wife. But how about the fellow who is going to
"I'd like to see him myself. I hope he ain't going to be some boob."
The air was redolent of grass, flowers, ozone, and sex. All this was
flavored with Miss Tevkin's antipathy for me
CHAPTER V THE next morning I awoke utterly out of sorts. That
I was going to take the first train for Tannersville seemed to be a
matter of course, and yet I knew that I was not going to take that
train, nor any other that day. I dressed myself and went out for a
walk up the road, some distance beyond the grove.
The sun was out, but it had rained all night and the sandy road was
damp, solid, and smooth, like baked clay. It was half an hour
before breakfast-time when I returned to my cottage across the
road from the hotel.
As I was about to take a chair on the tiny porch I perceived the
sunlit figure of Miss Tevkin in the distance. She wore a large
sailor hat and I thought it greatly enhanced the effect of her tall
figure. She was making her way over a shaky little bridge. Then,
reaching the road, she turned into it. I remained standing like one
transfixed. The distance gave her new fascination. Every little
while she would pause to look up through something that glittered
in the sunshine, apparently an opera-glass. I had never heard that
opera-glasses were used for observing birds, but this was evidently
what she was doing at this moment, and the proceeding quickened
my sense not only of her intellectual refinement, but also of her
Presently she turned into a byway, passed the grove, and was lost
I seated myself, my eye on the spot where I had seen her disappear.
Somebody greeted me from the hotel lawn. I returned the
salutation mechanically and went on gazing at that spot. I knew
that I was making a fool of myself, but I could not help it. My
will-power was gone as it might from the effect of some drug
When she reappeared at last and I saw her coming back I crossed
over to the hotel veranda so as to be near her when she should
arrive. I found several of the boarders there, including the lawyer,
the photographer, and a jewelry merchant of my acquaintance. We
all watched her coming. At one moment, as she leveled her
opera-glass at a bird, the lawyer said: "Studying birds. She's a great
girl for studying. She is."
"Studying nothing!" the photographer jeered. "It's simply becoming
It's effective, don't you know."
The lawyer smiled sagely, as if what Mendelson said was precisely
what he himself had meant to intimate
I was inclined to think that Mendelson was right, but this did not
detract from the force that drew me to Miss Tevkin
When she reached the veranda the lawyer gallantly offered her a
chair, but she declined it, pleasantly, and went indoors. Her high
heels had left deep, dear-cut imprints in a small patch of damp,
sandy ground near the veranda.
This physical trace of her person fascinated me. It was a trace of
stern hostility, yet I could not keep my eye away from it. I gazed
and gazed at those foot-prints of hers till I seemed to be growing
stupid and dizzy. "Am I losing my head?" I said to myself. "Am I
obsessed? Why, I saw her yesterday for the first time and I have
scarcely spoken to her. What the devil is the matter with me?"
After breakfast we returned to the veranda. The jewelry-dealer and
the lawyer bored me unmercifully. Finally I was saved from them
by the arrival of the Sunday papers, but my reading was soon
disturbed by the intrusions of a mother and her marriageable
daughter. There was no escape. I had to lay down my paper and
let them torture me. There was a striking family resemblance
between the two, yet the daughter was as homely as the mother
was pretty. "She isn't as prepossessing as her ma, of course," the
older woman seemed to be saying to me, "but she's charming, all
the same, isn't she?"
Miss Lazar was watching me at a respectful distance. Mrs. Kalch
was deep in a game of pinochle in a small ground-floor room that
gave out on the veranda. The window was open and I could hear
Mrs. Kalch's voice. She seemed to have been losing. The little
room, by the way, was used both as a synagogue and a
gambling-room. In the mornings, before breakfast, it was filled
with old men in praying-shawls and phylacteries, while the rest of
the day, until late at night, it was in the possession of card-players
I wanted to wire Bender to send a message to Fanny, in my name,
stating that I had been unavoidably detained in the city, but I
lacked the energy to do so. I had not even the energy to extricate
myself from the attentions of the pretty mother of the homely girl
That charity meeting bothered me more than anything else. One
was apt to impute my absence to meanness. I pictured Kaplan's
disappointment, and I felt like going to Tannersville for his sake,
if for no other reason. The next best thing would have been to
have Bender wire my contribution to each of the two funds. But I
did not stir
The hotel-keeper came out to remind me of my train
"Thank you," I said, with a smile. "But the weather is too
confoundedly good. I'm too lazy to leave your place, Rivesman.
You must have ordered this weather on purpose to detain me."
I was hoping, of course, that my presence in this hotel would be
unknown to the Kaplans, for some time at least. Soon, however,
something happened which made it inevitable that they should
hear of it that very evening
On Sundays the Jewish summer hotels are usually visited by
committees of various philanthropic institutions who go from
place to place making speeches and collecting donations. One
such committee appeared in the dining-room of the Rigi Kulm at
the dinner-hour, which on Sundays was between 1 and 3. It
represented a day nursery, an establishment where the children of
the East Side poor are taken care of while their mothers are at
work, and it consisted of two men, one of whom was an eloquent
As the ecclesiastic took his stand near the piano and began his
appeal my heart sank within me. I had once met him at Kaplan's
house, where he was a frequent visitor, and had given him a
check. It goes without saying that I had to give him a contribution
now and to talk to him. At this I learned, to my consternation, that
he was going to Tannersville that very afternoon
"Shall I convey your regards?" he asked
"Very kind of you," I answered, and I added in an undertone, out of
Kalch's hearing, "Please tell Mr. Kaplan I'm here on an important
matter and that I have been detained longer than I expected."
When he had gone over to the next table I said to myself: "I don't
Come what may."
In the evening, as the crowd swarmed out of the dining-room, it
was greeted by a gorgeous sunset. Everybody appreciated its
beauty, but Miss Tevkin and Miss Siegel went into ecstasies over
it, with something of the specialist in their exclamations. As for
me, it was the first rich sunset I had seen since I crossed the
ocean, and then I had scarcely known what it was. The play of
color and light in the sky was a revelation to me. The edge of the
sun, a vivid red, was peeping out of a gray patch of cloud that
looked like a sack, the sack hanging with its mouth downward and
the red disk slowly emerging from it. Spread directly underneath
was a pool of molten gold into which the sun was seemingly about
to drop. As the disk continued to glide out of the bag it gradually
grew into a huge fiery ball of magnificent crimson, suffusing the
valley with divine light. At the moment when it was just going to
plunge into the golden pool the pool vanished. The crimson ball
kept sinking until it was buried in a region of darkness. When the
last fiery speck of it disappeared the sky broke into an evensong of
color so solemn, so pensive that my wretched mood interpreted it
as a visible dirge for the dead sun. Rose lapsed into purple, purple
merged into blue, the blue bordering on a field of hammered gold
that was changing shape and hue; all of which was eloquent of
sadness. It seemed as though the heavens were in an ecstasy of
grief and everybody about me were about to break into tears
some of the old women gasped. "How nice!" "Isn't it lovely?" said
"Isn't that glorious?" said Miss Tevkin. "It's one of the most
exquisite sunsets I have seen in a long time." And she referred to
certain "effects," apparently in the work of a well-known
landscape painter, which I did not understand
I discovered a note of consciousness in her rapture, something like
a patronizing approval of the sky by one who looked at it with a
professional eye. Nevertheless, I felt that my poor soul was
cringing before her
An epigram occurred to me, something about the discrepancy
between the spiritual quality of the sunset and the after-supper
satisfaction of the onlookers. I essayed to express it, but was so
embarrassed that I made a muddle of my English. Miss Tevkin
took no notice of the remark
The sunset was transformed into a thousand lumps of pearl, here
and there edged with flame. In some places the pearl thinned
away, dissolving into the color of the sky, while the outline of the
lump remained--a map of glowing tracery on a ground of the
subtlest blue. Drifts of gold were gleaming, blazing, going out. A
vast heap of silver caught fire. The outlined map disappeared, its
place being taken by a raised one, with continents, islands,
mountains, and seas of ravishing azure
What was the power behind this sublime spectacle? Where did it
come from? What did it all mean? I visioned a chorus of angels.
My heart was full of God, full of that stately girl, full of misery
"If I only got a chance to have a decent talk with her!" I said to
myself again and again
CHAPTER VI IT was Monday afternoon. The week-end boarders
and many others had left, and I was still idling my precious time
away on the big veranda, listening to the gossip of women who
bored me and trying to keep track of a girl who shunned me. My
establishment in New York was feverishly busy and my presence
was urgently needed there. It was more than probable that Bender
had wired to Tannersville to call me home. The situation was
Moreover, I was beginning to feel uneasy about certain payments
that required my personal attendance.
It was a quiet, pleasant afternoon. The boarders were scattered
over the various parts of the hotel and its surroundings.
Twenty-four of them, forming two coach parties, had gone to see
some celebrated Catskill views, one to the Old Mountain House
and the other to East Windham. Some were in the village. Miss
Tevkin, wearing her immense straw hat, and with her opera-glass
in her hand, was looking at birds in the vicinity of the hotel.
Thus rambling about leisurely, she sauntered over to the main road
near the grove. A few minutes later she turned into the same path
where I had watched her disappear on the morning of the day
before. And once more I saw her vanish there
I went out for a walk in the opposite direction. Soon, however, I
turned back, strolling with studied aimiessness, toward that spot
What was my purpose? At first I did not know, but by little and
little, as I moved along, an idea took shape in my brain: If I met
her alone I might force her to listen to me and let her see the stuff
I was made of. I lacked courage, however. While I was priming
myself for the coup I wished that it would be postponed. I
dawdled. There were swarms of strange insects on the road,
creatures I had never seen before. At first I thought they were
grasshoppers, but they were gray and had wings. Every now and
then I would pause to watch them leap (or were they flying?) and
drop to the ground again, becoming part of the dusty road. I
followed them with genuine interest, yet all the time I kept
working on the speech that I was going to deliver to Miss Tevkin
I was lingering at a spot a few yards from the grove on the opposite
side of the main road when suddenly twilight fell over half of the
valley. I raised my eyes. Behold! an inky cloud was crawling over
the mountains, growing in size as it advanced. A flash of lightning
snapped across the heavens. It was as though the sky screened a
world of dazzling glory into which a glimpse had now been
offered by a momentary crack in the screen. The flash was
followed by a devout peal of thunder, as if a giant whose abode
was in those dark clouds broke into a murmur of glorification at
sight of the splendors above the sky. The trees shuddered,
awe-stricken. I went under cover. A farmer was chasing a cow. As
my eyes turned toward the grove they fell on Miss Tevkin, who
was standing at the farther end of it, under its leafy roof, facing
the main road. My heart beat fast. I dared not stir
A shower broke loose, a great, torrential downpour. It came in
sheets, with an impetuous, though genial, clatter. It seemed as
though the valley was swiftly filling with water and in less than an
hour's time it would reach the tops of the trees. I thought of Noah's
flood. I could almost see his dove winging her way over the
waters. The storm had been in progress but seven or eight minutes
when it came to an end. The sky broke into a smile again, as if it
had all been a joke.
Miss Tevkin left the shelter of the trees and set out in the direction
of the hotel. I do not know whether she was aware of my
It was clearing beautifully, when a new cloud gathered. This time a
great, stern force, violent, vengeful, came into play. A lash of fire
smote the firmament with frantic suddenness, shattering it into a
myriad of blinding sparks, yet leaving it uninjured. There was a
pause and then came a ferocious crash. The universe was falling
to pieces. Then somebody seemed to be tearing an inner heaven of
metal as one tears a sheet of linen. This released a torrent that
descended with the roar of Niagara, as though the metal vault that
had just been rent asunder had been its prison. Miss Tevkin ran
back to cover. The torrent slackened, settling down to a steady
rain, spirited, zealous, amicable again
In a turmoil of agitation I crossed over to her. Instead, however, of
beginning at the beginning of my well-prepared little speech, I
blurted out something else
"You can't run away from me now," I said, with timid flippancy
"Please, leave me alone," she besought, turning away
I was literally stunned. Instead of trying to say what I had in my
mind and to force her to listen, I slunk away, in the rain, like a
The shock seemed to have a sobering effect on me. I suddenly
realized the imbecility of the part I had been playing, even the
humor of it. The first thing I did upon reaching the hotel was to
ask the clerk about the next train--not to Tannersville, but direct to
New York. Going to see Fanny was out of the question now
There was a late train connecting with a Hudson River boat and I
CHAPTER VII WHEN I got home and my business reasserted its
multitudinous demands on my attention, the Catskill incident
seemed to be fading into the character of a passing summer-resort
episode, but I was mistaken; the pang it left in my heart persisted
A fortnight after my return to the city I forced myself to take a trip
to Tannersville. Fanny came to meet me at the train. As we kissed
it was borne in upon me that I was irretrievably estranged from
her. I tried to play my part, with poor success
"Are you worried, Dave? What's the matter with you?" Fanny
demanded again and again.
Her "What's the matter with you?" jarred on me
I offered her sundry excuses, but I did not even take pains to make
them ring true
Finally she had a cry and I kissed her tears away. While doing so I
worked myself into a mild fit of love, but my lips had scarcely
released hers when it was again clear to me that she was not going
to be my wife
Our engagement was broken shortly after the family came back to
That burden lifted, it seemed as though the memory of my
unfortunate acquaintance with Miss Tevkin had suddenly grown
in clarity and painful acuteness
Our rush season had passed, but we were busy preparing for our
removal to new quarters, on Fifth Avenue near Twenty-third
Street. That locality had already become the center of the
cloak-and-suit trade, being built up with new sky-scrapers, full of
up-to-date cloak-factories, dress-factories, and
ladies'-waist-factories. The sight of the celebrated Avenue
swarming with Jewish mechanics out for their lunch hour or going
home after a day's work was already a daily spectacle
The new aspect of that section of the proud thoroughfare marked
the advent of the Russian Jew as the head of one of the largest
industries in the United States. Also, it meant that as master of
that industry he had made good, for in his hands it had increased a
hundredfold, garments that had formerly reached only the few
having been placed within the reach of the masses. Foreigners
ourselves, and mostly unable to speak English, we had
Americanized the system of providing clothes for the American
woman of moderate or humble means. The ingenuity and
unyielding tenacity of our managers, foremen, and operatives had
introduced a thousand and one devices for making by machine
garments that used to be considered possible only as the product
of handwork. This--added to a vastly increased division of labor,
the invention, at our instance, of all sorts of machinery for the
manufacture of trimmings, and the enormous scale upon which
production was carried on by us--had the effect of cheapening the
better class of garments prodigiously. We had done away with
prohibitive prices and greatly improved the popular taste. Indeed,
the Russian Jew had made the average American girl a
When I learned the trade a cloak made of the cheapest satinette
cost eighteen dollars. To-day nobody would wear it. One can now
buy a whole suit made of all-wool material and silk-lined for
What I have said of cloaks and suits applies also to skirts and
dresses, the production of which is a branch of our trade. It was
the Russian Jew who had introduced the factory-made gown,
constantly perfecting it and reducing the cost of its production.
The ready-made silk dress which the American woman of small
means now buys for a few dollars is of the very latest style and as
tasteful in its lines, color scheme, and trimming as a high-class
designer can make it. A ten-dollar gown is copied from a
Whereupon our gifted dress-designers are indefatigably at work on
the problem of providing a good fit for almost any figure, with as
little alteration as possible, and the results achieved in this
direction are truly phenomenal. Nor is it mere apish copying. We
make it our business to know how the American woman wants to
look, what sort of lines she would like her figure to have. Many a
time when I saw a well-dressed American woman in the street I
followed her for blocks, scanning the make-up of her cloak, jacket,
or suit. I never wearied of studying the trend of the American
woman's taste. The subject had become a veritable idée fixé with
The average American woman is the best-dressed average woman
in the world, and the Russian Jew has had a good deal to do with
making her one.
My Fifth Avenue establishment occupied four vast floors, the rent
being thirty-eight thousand dollars a year. The office floor, which
was elaborately furnished, had an immense waiting-room with
gold letters on doors of dull glass bearing the legends: "General
Offices," "Show-rooms," "Private Offices," "Salesmen. Please
show samples of merchandise between 9 and 12 A.M.," and
"Information." The "Private Office" door led to a secluded little
kingdom with the inscription "David Levinsky" on one of its
several doors, another door leading from my private office to the
I employed a large staff of trained bookkeepers, stenographers,
clerks, and cloak models. These models were all American girls
of Anglo-Saxon origin, since a young woman of other stock is not
likely to be built on American lines--with the exception of
Scandinavian and Irish girls, who have the American figure. But
the figure alone was not enough, I thought. In selecting my
model-girls, I preferred a good-looking face and good manners,
and, if possible, good grammar. Experience had taught me that
refinement in a model was helpful in making a sale, even in the
case of the least refined of customers. Indeed, often it is even
more effectual than a tempting complexion
My new place was the talk of the trade. Friends came to look it
over. I received numerous letters of congratulation, from mill
men, bankers, retail merchants, buyers, private friends. My range
of acquaintance was very wide.
In hundreds of American cities and towns there were business
people with whom my firm was in correspondence or whom I
knew personally, who called me Dave and whom I called Jim,
Jack, or Ned. So, many of these people, having received my
circular describing my new place, sent their felicitations. Some of
these letters were inspired by genuine admiration for my enterprise
and energy. All of them had genuine admiration for my success.
Success! Success! Success! It was the almighty goddess of the
hour. Thousands of new fortunes were advertising her gaudy
splendors. Newspapers, magazines, and public speeches were full
of her glory, and he who found favor in her eyes found favor in
the eyes of man
Nodelman scarcely ever left my place during the first three days.
He would show visitors over the four floors with a charming
pride, like that of a mother. Among the things he exhibited was
the stub-book of my first check account, a photograph of the
rickety house where I had had my first shop, and letters of
congratulation from some well-known financiers. Bender, with a
big, shining bald disk on his head, slender and spruce as ever, was
fussing around with the gruff air of an unappreciated genius, while
Loeb, also bald-headed, but fat and beaming, was telling
everybody about the scraps he and I used to have on the road
when he was a star drummer and I a struggling beginner
One of the men who came to congratulate me at my magnificent
new place on Fifth Avenue was the kindly American commission
merchant who had been the first to grant me credit when I was
badly in need of it. As I took him over my immense factory,
splendid showrooms, and offices, we recalled the days when it
took a man of special generosity to treat a beginning manufacturer
of my type as he had treated me. That was the time when
woolen-mills would even refuse to bother with a check of a
Russian Jew; he had to bring cash.
In the rôle of manufacturer he was regarded as a joke. By hard
work, perseverance, thrift, and ingenuity, however, we had
completely changed all that. By the time I moved to the avenue
our beginners could get any amount of credit. The American
merchants dealing in raw material had gradually realized our
energy, ability, and responsibility--realized that we were a good
risk, while we, on our part, had assimilated the ways of the
advanced American business man
Another man who came to see my new establishment was Eaton,
the Philadelphia buyer who had given me my first lesson in table
manners. He had a small, but well-established, business of his
own now, and it was with my financial aid that he had founded it.
Our friendship had never flagged. Sometimes I go to spend a day
or two in his cozy little house in North Philadelphia, where I feel
as much at home as I do in Bender's or Nodelman's house
I assigned one of my office men to the special duty of looking up
and inviting Mr. Even, the kindly old man who had bought me my
first American suit of clothes and paid for my first American bath.
He came back with the report that Mr. Even had been dead for
over four years. The news was a genuine shock to me. It was as
though it had come from my birthplace and concerned the death
of a half-forgotten relative. It stirred a swarm of memories; but, of
course, impressions and moods of this kind do not last long. I
received requests for donations from all sorts of East Side
institutions and I responded liberally. Mindels, the handsome
doctor, made me contribute twenty-five hundred dollars to a
prospective hospital in which he expected to be one of the leading
There was dining and wining. I was being toasted, complimented,
One of these dinners was given in my honor by my office
employees, salesmen, designers, and foremen. Bender, who
presided, told, in an elaborate and high-flown oration, of his
experiences as my school-teacher, of our walks after school hours,
and of our chance meeting a few years later
Loeb made a rough-and-ready speech, the gist of which was a joke
on the bottle of milk which I had spilled while in the employ of
Manheimer Brothers and which had led to my becoming a
manufacturer. His concluding words were: "There's at least one
saying that has come true. I mean the saying, 'There's no use
crying over spilled milk.' Mr. Levinsky, you certainly have no
reason to cry over the milk you spilled at Manheimer's, have
I had heard the witticism from him more than once before. So had
some of the other men present. Nevertheless, he now delivered it
with gusto, and it was received with a hearty roar of merriment, in
which his own laughter was the loudest
Among the people who came to rejoice in my success were some
whose appearance was an amusing surprise to me. One of these
was Octavius, the violinist, who had had nothing but contempt for
me in the days when to go twenty-four hours without food was a
usual experience with me. He had scarcely changed. He entered
my office with bohemian self-importance
"Glad to see you, Levinsky. I was glad to hear of your rise in the
world," he said, somewhat pompously. "I can't complain, either,
though. However, our fields are so different."
The implication was that, while I had succeeded as a prosaic,
pitiable cloak-manufacturer, he had conquered the world by the
magic of his violin and compositions. He never referred to olden
times. Instead, he boasted of his successes, present and future.
The upshot of the interview was that I sent a check to the treasurer
of the free conservatory of which Octavius was one of the
I was elated and happy, but there was a fly in the ointment of my
The question, "Who are you living for?" reverberated through the
four vast floors of my factory, and the image of Miss Tevkin
visited me again and again, marring my festive mood. My sense of
triumph often clashed with a feeling of self-pity and yearning. The
rebuff I had received at her hands in the afternoon of that storm
lay like a mosquito in my soul
BOOK XIII AT HER FATHER'S HOUSE CHAPTER I I MADE it
my business to visit a well-known Hebrew book-store on Canal
Street. I asked for Tevkin's works. It appeared that before he
emigrated to America he had published three small volumes of
verse and prose, that they had once aroused much interest, but that
they were now practically out of print. I tried two other stores,
with the same result. I was referred to the Astor Library, whose
Hebrew department was becoming one of the richest in the world.
Sitting down in a public library to read a book seemed to be an
undignified proceeding for a manufacturer to engage in, but my
curiosity was beyond considerations of this sort. Whenever I
thought of Miss Tevkin I beheld the image of those three
books--the only things related to her with which I was able to
come in contact
Finally, on a Saturday afternoon, I found myself at one of the green
tables of Astor Library. I was reading poetry written in the holy
tongue, a language I had not used for more than eighteen years
Two of Tevkin's three little volumes were made up of poetry,
while the third consisted of brief essays, prose, poems,
"meditations," and epigrams. I came across a "meditation" entitled
"My Children," and took it up eagerly. It contained but three
sentences: "My children love me, yet my heart is hungry. They are
mine, yet they are strangers. I am homesick for them even when I
clasp them to my bosom."
The next "meditation," on the same page, had the word "Poetry"
for its head-line
"The children of Israel have been pent up in cities," it ran. "The
stuffy synagogue has been field and forest to them. But then there
is more beauty in a heaven visioned by a congregation of
worshipers than in the bluest heaven sung by the minstrel of
landscapes. They are not worshipers. They are poets. It is not God
they are speaking to. It is a sublime image. It is not their Creator.
It is their poetic creation."
Several of the poems were dedicated to Doctor Rachaeles, and of
these one of two stanzas seemed to contain a timid allusion to
Tevkin's love for his daughter. Here it is in prosaic English: "Saith
Koheleth, the son of David: 'All the rivers run into the sea, yet the
sea is not full.' Ah! the rivers are flowing and flowing, yet they are
full as ever. And my lips are speaking and speaking, yet my heart
is full as ever
"Behold! The brook is murmuring and murmuring, but I know not
of what. My heart is yearning and yearning, and I know not of
what. I cherish the murmur of the brook. I cherish the pang of my
The following lines, which were also dedicated to Doctor
Rachaeles and which were entitled "Night," betray a similar
mood, perhaps, without distinctly referring to the poet's yearnings
"Hush! the night is speaking. Each twinkle of a star is a word from
the world beyond. It is the language of men who were once here,
but are no more.
A thousand generations of departed souls are speaking to us in
words of twinkling stars. I seem to be one of them. I hear my own
ghost whispering to me: 'Alas!' it says, 'Alas!'"
The three volumes were full of Biblical quaintness, and my
estrangement from the language only added to the bizarre effect
of its terse grammatical construction. I read a number of the
poems, and several of the things in the prose volume. His Hebrew
is truly marvelous, and much of the strength and charm of his
message is bound up in it. As I read his poetry or prose I seemed
to be listening to Jeremiah or Isaiah. The rhythm of his lines is not
the only thing that is lost in my translation. There is a prehistoric
vigor and a mystic beauty to them which elude the English at my
command. To be sure, every word I read in his three little volumes
was tinged with the fact that the author was the father of the girl
who had cast her spell over me.
But then the thought that she had grown up in the house of the man
who had written these lines intensified the glow of her nimbus
As I returned the books to the official in charge of the Hebrew
department I lingered to draw him into conversation. He was a
well-known member of the East Side Bohème. I had heard of him
as a man who spoke several languages and was amazingly well
read--a walking library of knowledge, not only of books, but also
of men and things. Accordingly, I hoped to extract from him some
information about Tevkin. He was a portly man, with a round,
youthful face and a baby smile. He smiled far more than he spoke.
He answered my questions either by some laconic phrase or by
leaving me for a minute and then returning with some book,
pamphlet, or newspaper-clipping in which he pointed out a
passage that was supposed to contain a reply to my query. I had
quite a long talk with him. Now and then we were interrupted by
some one asking for or returning a book, but each time he was
released he readily gave me his attention again
Speaking of Tevkin, I inquired, "Why doesn't he write some more
of those things?" For an answer he withdrew and soon came back
with several issues of The Pen, a Hebrew weekly published in
New York, in which he showed me an article by Tevkin
"Have you read it?" I asked
He nodded and smiled
"Is it good?"
"It isn't bad," he answered, with a smile
"Not as good as the things in those three volumes?"
"This kind of thing doesn't pay, does it? How does he make a
"I don't know. I understand he has several grown children."
"So they support the family?"
"I suppose so. I am not sure, though."
"Can't a Hebrew writer make a living in New York?"
He shook his head and smiled
The dailies of the Ghetto, the newspapers that can afford to pay,
are published, not in the language of Isaiah and Job, but in
Yiddish, the German dialect spoken by the Jewish masses of
to-day. I asked the librarian whether Tevkin wrote for those
papers, and he brought me several clippings containing some of
Tevkin's Yiddish contributions. It appeared, however, that the
articles he wrote in his living mother-tongue lacked the spirit and
the charm that distinguished his style when he used the language
of the prophets. Altogether, Tevkin seemed to be accounted one
of the "has-beens" of the Ghetto
One of the bits of information I squeezed out of the librarian was
that Tevkin was a passionate frequenter of Yampolsky's café, a
well-known gathering-place of the East Side Bohème
I had heard a good deal about the resort. I knew that many or most
of its patrons were Socialists or anarchists or some other kind of
"ists." After my experience at the Cooper Institute meeting,
Yampolsky's café seemed to be the last place in the world for me
to visit. But I was drawn to it as a butterfly is to a flame, and
finally the temptation got the better of me
CHAPTER II THE café was a spacious room of six corners and a
lop-sided general appearance.
It was about 4 o'clock of an afternoon. I sat at the end of one of the
tables, a glass of Russian tea before me. There were two other
customers at that table, both poorly clad and, as it seemed to me,
ill-fed. Two tables in a narrow and dingier part of the room were
occupied by disheveled chess-players and three or four lookers-on.
Altogether there were about fifteen people in the place. Some of
the conversations were carried on aloud. A man with curly dark
hair who was eating soup at the table directly in front of me was
satirizing somebody between spoonfuls, relishing his acrimony as
if it were spice to his soup. A feminine voice back of me was
trying to prove to somebody that she did much more for her sister
than her sister did for her. I was wretchedly ill at ease at first. I
loathed myself for being here. I felt like one who had strayed into
a disreputable den. In addition, I was in dread of being
recognized. The man who sat by my side had the hair and the
complexion of a gipsy. He looked exhausted and morose.
Presently he had a fried steak served him. It was heavily laden with
As he fell to cutting and eating it hungrily the odor of the fried
onions and the sound of his lips sickened me. The steak put him in
good humor. He became sociable and turned out to be a gay,
though a venomous, fellow. His small talk raised my spirits, too.
Nor did anybody in the café seem to know who I was or to take
any notice of me. I took a humorous view of the situation and had
the gipsy-faced man tell me who was who
"Shall I begin with this great man?" he asked, facetiously, pointing
his fork at himself. "I am the world-renowned translator and
feuilleton writer whose writings have greatly increased the
circulation of the Yiddish Tribune."
Under the guise of playful vanity he gave vent to a torrent of
self-appreciation. He then named all the "other notables
present"--a poet, a cartoonist, a budding playwright, a
distinguished Russian revolutionist, an editor, and another
newspaper man--maligning and deriding some of them and
grudgingly praising the others. Much of what he said was lost upon
me, for, although he knew that I was a rank outsider, he used a
jargon of nicknames, catch-phrases, and allusions that was
apparently peculiar to the East Side Bohème. He was part of that
little world, and he was unable to put himself in the place of one
who was not. I subsequently had occasion to read one of his
articles and I found it full of the same jargon. The public did not
understand him, but he either did not know it or did not care
As he did not point out Tevkin to me, I concluded that the Hebrew
poet was not at the café
"Do you know Tevkin?" I inquired.
"There he is," he answered, directing my glance to a gray-haired,
clean-shaven, commonplace-looking man of medium stature who
stood in the chess corner, watching one of the games. "Do you
"No, but I have heard of him. You did not include him in your list
of notables, did you?"
"Oh, well, he was a notable once upon a time. Our rule is, 'Let the
dead past bury it's dead.'"
I felt sorry for poor Tevkin. Turning half-way around in my seat, I
took to eying the Hebrew poet. I felt disappointed. That this
prosaic-looking old man should have written the lines that I had
read at the Astor Library seemed inconceivable. The fact,
however, that he was the father of the tall, stately, beautiful girl
whose image was ever before me ennobled his face
I stepped over to him and said: "You are Mr. Tevkin, aren't you?
Allow me to introduce myself. Levinsky."
He bowed, grasping my hand, evidently loath to take his eyes off
"I read some of your poems the other day," I added
"My poems?" he asked, coloring
"Yes; I had heard of them, and as I happened to be at the Astor
Library I asked for your three volumes. I read several things in
each of them. I liked them tremendously."
He blushed again. "It seems an age since they were written," he
said, in confusion. "Those were different days."
We sat down at a secluded table. To propitiate the proprietor and
the waiter I ordered hot cheese-cakes. I offered to order something
for Tevkin, but he declined, and he ordered a glass of tea, with the
tacit understanding that he was to pay for it himself
"Why don't you give us some more poems like those?"
He produced his business card, saying, "This is the kind of poetry
that goes in America."
The card described him as a "general business agent and real-estate
broker." This meant that he earned, or tried to earn, an income by
acting as broker for people who wanted to sell or buy
soda-and-cigarette stands, news-stands, laundries, grocery-stores,
delicatessen-stores, butcher shops, cigar-stores, book-stores, and
what not, from a peddier's push-cart to a "parcel" of real estate or
an interest in a small factory. Scores of stores and stands change
hands in the Ghetto every day, the purchaser being usually a
workman who has saved up some money with an eye to business
"Does it pay?" I ventured to ask.
"I am not in it merely for the fun of it, am I?" he returned,
somewhat resentfully. "Business is business and poetry is poetry. I
hate to confound the two. One must make a living. Thank God, I
know how to look things in the face. I am no dreamer. It is sweet
to earn your livelihood."
"Of course it is. Still, dreaming is no crime, either."
"Ah, that's another kind of dreaming. Do you write?"
"Oh no," I said, with a laugh. "I am just a prosaic business man."
And by way of showing that I was not, I veered the conversation
back to his poetry.
I sought to impress him with a sense of my deep and critical
appreciation of what I had read in his three volumes. I spoke
enthusiastically of most of it, but took exception to the basic idea
in a poem on Job and Solomon
"It's fine as poetry," I said. "Some lines in it are perfectly beautiful.
But the parallel is not convincing."
"Why not?" he said, bristling up.
We locked horns. He was pugnacious, bitter, but ineffectual. He
quoted Hebrew, he spoke partly in Yiddish and partly in English;
he repeatedly used the words "subjective" and "objective"; he
dwelt on Job's "obvious tragedy" and Solomon's "inner sadness,"
but he was a poor talker and apparently displeased with his own
"Oh, I don't make myself clear," he said, in despair
"But you do," I reassured him. "I understand you perfectly."
"No, you don't. You're only saying it to please me. But then what
matters it whether a business agent has a correct conception of
Solomon's psychology or not?" he said, bitterly. "Seriously, Mr.
Levinsky, I am often out of sorts with myself for hanging around
this café. This is the gathering-place of talent, not of business
"Why? Why?" I tried to console him. "I am sure you have more
talent than all of them put together. Do you think anybody in this
café could write verse or prose like yours?"
He looked down, his features hardening into a frown. "Anyhow, I
cannot afford the time. While I loiter here I am liable to miss a
customer. I must give myself entirely to my business, entirely,
entirely--every bit of myself. I must forget I ever did any
scribbling." "You are taking it too hard, Mr. Tevkin. One can
attend to business and yet find time for writing."
All at once he brightened up bashfully and took to reciting a
Here is the essence of it: "Since the destruction of the Temple
instrumental music has been forbidden in the synagogues. The
Children of Israel are in mourning. They are in exile and in
mourning. Silent is their harp. So is mine. I am in exile. I am in a
strange land. My harp is silent." "Is it your poem?" I asked.
He nodded bashfully
"When did you compose it?"
"A few weeks ago."
"Has it been printed?" He shook his head
"I could have it printed in a Hebrew weekly we publish here,
but--well, I did not care to."
"You mean The Pen?"
"Yes. Do you see it sometimes?"
"I did, once. I am going to subscribe for it. Anyhow, the poem
belies itself. It shows that your harp has not fallen silent."
He smiled, flushed with satisfaction, like a shy schoolboy, and
proceeded to recite another Hebrew poem: "Most song-birds do
not sing in captivity. I was once a song-bird, but America is my
cage. It is not my home. My song is gone."
"This poem, too, gives itself the lie!" I declared. "But the idea of
America being likened to a prison!"
"It is of my soul I speak," he said, resentfully. "Russia did not
imprison it, did it? Russia is a better country than America,
anyhow, even if she is oppressed by a czar. It's a freer country,
too--for the spirit, at least.
There is more poetry there, more music, more feeling, even if our
people do suffer appalling persecution. The Russian people are
really a warm-hearted people. Besides, one enjoys life in Russia
better than here. Oh, a thousand times better. There is too much
materialism here, too much hurry and too much prose, and--yes,
too much machinery. It's all very well to make shoes or bread by
machinery, but alas! the things of the spirit, too, seem to be
machine-made in America. If my younger children were not so
attached to this country and did not love it so, and if I could make
a living in Russia now, I should be ready to go back at once."
"'Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, saith your God,'" I quoted,
"It's all a matter of mood. Poets are men of moods." And again I
quoted, "'Attend unto me, O my friend, and give ear unto me, O
my comrade.'" I took up the cudgels for America
He listened gloomily, leaving my arguments unanswered. By way
of broaching the subject of his daughter I steered my talk to a
point that gave me a chance to refer to his little "meditation," "My
Children." "How well you do remember my poor little volumes,"
he said, greatly flattered. "Yes, 'My children love me.' They are
not children, but angels.
And yet--God save me from having to be supported by them. They
bring in a considerable sum at the end of the week, and they hate
to see me work or worry. But, oh, how sweet it is to earn one's
own living! Thank God, I do earn my share and my wife's. My
children are bitterly opposed to it. They beg me to stay home, but
I say: 'No, children mine! As long as your father can earn his
bread, his bread he will earn.' That's why my humdrum occupation
is so sweet to me." At this he lowered his eyes and said, with the
embarrassed simper which seemed to accompany every remark of
his that implied self-appreciation, "I wrote something on this
subject the other day, just a line or two: 'There are instances when
the jewel of poetry glints out of the prose of trade.'"
The fact that his children contributed to the maintenance of the
family nest was evidently a sore spot in his heart
His face, sensitive and mobile in the extreme, was like a
cinematographic film. It recorded the subtlest change in his mood.
The notion of its being a commonplace face seemed to me absurd
now. It was a different image almost every minute, and my mental
portrait of it was as unlike my first impression of it as a motion
picture is unlike any of its component photographs
I parted from him without referring to his daughter, but I felt that I
had won his heart, and it seemed to be a matter of days when he
would invite me to his house
The next time I saw him, on an afternoon at Yampolsky's café
again, there was an elusive deference in his demeanor. He seemed
to me more reserved and ill at ease than he had been on the
previous occasion. Finally he said, "I had no idea you were David
Levinsky, the cloak-manufacturer."
My vanity was so flattered that I was unable to restrain my face
from betraying it. I answered, with a beaming smile, "I told you I
was in the cloak business, didn't I?"
"I don't think you did. Anyhow, I did not know what kind of a
cloak-factory yours was," he said
"What kind do you mean?" I laughed.
"Well, I am glad to know you are so successful. There was
somebody who recognized you last time you were here. Your
secret leaked out."
"Secret! Well, what difference does it all make? To possess a
talent like yours is a far greater success than to own a factory,
even if mine were the largest in the world."
He waved his hand deprecatingly
Our conversation was disturbed by a quarrel between two men at a
near-by table. I was at a loss to make out what it was all about.
Tevkin attempted to enlighten me, but I listened to him only
partly, being interested in the darts of the two belligerents. All I
could gather was that they were story-writers of two opposing
schools. I felt, however, that their hostility was based upon
professional jealousy rather than upon a divergence of artistic
Finally one of them paid his check and departed. Tevkin told me
more about them. He spoke of the one who stayed in the café
with admiration. "He's a real artist; some of his stories are perfect
gems," he said. "He's a good fellow, too. Only he thinks too much
of himself. But then perhaps this is an inevitable part of talent, the
shadow that is inseparable from the light of genius."
"Perhaps it's the engine that sets it in motion, gives it incentive."
"Perhaps. I wish I had some of it." I reflected that he did seem to
have some of "it." At all events, he did not seem to begrudge
others their success. He spoke of the other people in the café with
singular good-will, and even enthusiasm, in fact
Some of the people present I had seen on my previous visit. Of the
others Tevkin pointed out a man to me who knew six languages
well and had a working acquaintance with several more; another
who had published an excellent Hebrew translation of some of the
English poets, and a third whose son, a young violinist, "had taken
Europe by storm."
An intellectual-looking Gentile made his entry. He shook hands
with one of the men I had seen on the former occasion and seated
himself by his side
"Either a journalist in search of material," Tevkin explained to me
in answer to a question, "or simply a man of literary tastes who is
drawn to the atmosphere of this place."
The café rose in my estimation
I learned from Tevkin that many of Yampolsky's patrons were poor
working-men and that some of these were poets, writers of stories,
or thinkers, but that the café was also frequented by some
professional and business men. At this he directed my attention to
a "Talmud-faced" man whom he described as a liquor-dealer who
"would be a celebrated writer if he were not worth half a million."
The last piece of information was a most agreeable surprise to me.
It made me feel safe in the place. I regarded the liquor-dealer with
some contempt, however. "Pshaw! half a million. He's probably
worth a good deal less.
Anyhow, I could buy and sell him." At the same time I said to
myself, "He's well-to-do and yet he chums around with people in
whom intellectual Gentiles take an interest." I envied him. I felt
I felt still cheaper when I heard that the literary liquor-dealer
generously contributed to the maintenance of The Pen, the
Hebrew weekly with which Tevkin was connected, and that he,
the liquor-dealer, wrote for that publication
It appeared that Tevkin had an office which was a short distance
from the bohemian café. I asked to see it, and he yielded
"You can take it for granted that your office is a more imposing
one than mine," he jested
"Ah, but there was a time when all my office amounted to was an
old desk. So there will be a time when yours will occupy a
splendid building on Wall Street."
"That's far more than I aspire to. All I want is to make a modest
living, so that my daughters should not have to go to work. They
don't work in a shop, of course. One is a stenographer in a fine
office and the other a school-teacher. But what difference does it
His office proved to be the hall bedroom of an apartment occupied
by the family of a cantor named Wolpert. We first entered the
dining-room, a door connecting it with Tevkin's "office" being
wide open. It was late and the gas-light was burning. Seated at a
large oval table, covered with a white oil-cloth, was Wolpert and
two other men, all the three of them with full beards and with the
stamp of intellectual life on their faces
"There are some queer people in the world who will still read my
poetry," Tevkin said to them, by way of introducing me. "Here is
one of them. Mr.
Levinsky, David Levinsky, the cloak-manufacturer."
The announcement made something of a stir.
Mrs. Wolpert brought us tea. From the ensuing conversation I
gleaned that these people, including Tevkin, were ardent Zionists
of a certain type, and that they were part of a group in which the
poet was a ruling spirit. When I happened to drop a remark to the
effect that Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament, was a dead
language, Wolpert exclaimed: "Oh no! Not any longer, Mr.
Levinsky. It has risen from the dead."
The other two chimed in, each in his way, the burden of their
argument being that Hebrew was the living tongue of the Zionist
colonists in Palestine
"The children of our colonists speak it as American children do
English," said Tevkin, exultingly. "They speak it as the sons and
daughters of Jerusalem spoke it at the time of the prophets. We
are no dreamers. We can tell the difference between a dream and
a hard fact, can't we?"--to the other two. "For centuries the tongue
of our fathers spoke from the grave to us. Now, however, it has
come to life again."
He took me into his "office," lighting the gas-jet in it. A few
minutes later he shut the dining-room door, his face assuming an
extremely grave mien
"By the way, an idea has occurred to me," he said. "But first I want
you to know that I do not mean to profit by our spiritual friendship
for purposes of a material nature. Do you believe me?"
"I certainly do. Go ahead, Mr. Tevkin."
"What I want to say is a pure matter of business. Do you
understand? If you don't want to go into it, just say so, and we
shall drop it."
"Of course," I answered
We were unable to look each other in the face.
"There is a parcel of real estate in Brooklyn," he resumed. "One
could have it for a song."
"But I don't buy real estate," I replied, my cheeks on fire. He
looked at the floor and, after a moment's silence, he said: "That's
all. Excuse me. I don't want you to think I want to presume upon
"But I don't. On the contrary, I wish it were in my line. I should be
"That's all," he cut me short. "Let us say no more about it." And he
made an awkward effort to talk Zionism again
CHAPTER III THE real-estate "boom" which had seized upon the
five Ghettos of Greater New York a few years before was still
intoxicating a certain element of their population. Small
tradesmen of the slums, and even working-men, were investing
their savings in houses and lots. Jewish carpenters, house-painters,
bricklayers, or instalment peddlers became builders of tenements
or frame dwellings, real-estate speculators. Deals were being
closed, and poor men were making thousands of dollars in less
time than it took them to drink the glass of tea or the plate of
sorrel soup over which the transaction took place. Women, too,
were ardently dabbling in real estate, and one of them was Mrs.
Chaikin, the wife of my talented designer
Tevkin was not the first broker to offer me a "good thing" in real
Attempts in that direction had been made before and I had warded
them all off
Instinct told me not to let my attention be diverted from my regular
business to what I considered a gamble. "Unreal estate," I would
call it. My friend Nodelman was of the same opinion. "It's a poker
game traveling under a false passport," was his way of putting it.
Once, as I sat in a Brooklyn street-car, I was accosted by a
bewigged woman who occupied the next seat and whom I had
never seen before
"You speak Yiddish, don't you?" she began, after scrutinizing me
"I do. Why?"
"I just wanted to know."
"Is that all?"
"Well, it is and it is not," she said, with a shrewd, good-natured
"Since we are talking, I might as well ask you if you would not
care to take a look at a couple of new houses in East New York."
I did not interrupt her and she proceeded to describe the houses
and the bargain they represented
When she finally paused for my answer and I perpetrated a labored
witticism about her "peddling real estate in street-cars" she flared
up: "Why not? Is it anything to be ashamed of or to hide? Did I
steal those houses? I can assure you I paid good money for them.
So why should I be afraid to speak about them? And when I say it
is a bargain, I mean it. That, too, I can say aloud and to everybody
in the world, because it is the truth, the holy truth. May I not live
to see my children again if it is not.
There!" After a pause she resumed: "Well?"
I made no reply
"Will you come along and see the houses? It is not far from here."
"I have no time."
She took up some details tending to show that by buying those two
frame buildings of hers and selling them again I was sure to
"clear" a profit of ten thousand dollars
I made no reply
"Well? Will you come along?"
"Leave me alone, please."
"Ah, you are angry, aren't you?" she said, sneeringly. "Is it because
you haven't any money?"
The awkward scene that had attended Tevkin's attempt to get me
interested in his parcel haunted me. I craved to see him again and
to let him sell me something. To be sure, my chief motive was a
desire to cultivate his friendship, to increase my chances of being
invited to his house. The risk of buying some city lots in Brooklyn
seemed to be a trifling price to pay for the prospect of coming into
closer relations with him. Besides, the "parcel" seemed to be a
sure investment. But I was also eager to do something for him for
his own sake. And so I made an appointment with him by
telephone and called at his wretched little office again
"Where is the parcel you mentioned the other day?" I began.
"Where is it located?"
"Never mind that," he said, hotly. "There shall be no business
between you and me. Nothing but pure spiritual friendship. I made
a foolish mistake last time. I hate myself for it. If you were a
smaller man financially I should not mind it, perhaps. As it is, it
would simply mean that you help me out.
It would mean charity."
I laughed and argued and insisted, and he succumbed. We made an
appointment to meet at Malbin's, a large restaurant on Grand
Street that was known as the "Real Estate Exchange" of the
Ghetto. There I was introduced to a plain-looking man who
proved to be the then owner of the parcel, and closed a contract
for a deed.
Encouraged by this transaction, Tevkin rapidly developed some
far-reaching real-estate projects in which he apparently expected
me to be the central figure. One afternoon as we sat over glasses
of tea at Malbin's he said: "If you want to drink a glass of real
Russian tea, come up some evening. We shall all be very glad to
I felt the color mounting to my face as I said, "I don't think your
daughter would like it."
"My daughter?" he asked, in amazement. "But I have three
"The one that spent some time at the Rigi Kulm in the Catskills
"Anna?" he asked, with still greater surprise, as it were
"I don't know her first name, but I suppose that's the one."
"If she was at the Rigi Kulm, it's Anna."
"Well, I had the pleasure of meeting her there, but I am afraid I
was somewhat of a persona non grata with her," I said, in a partial
attempt to make a joke of it
He dropped his glance, leveled it at me once more, and dropped it
"Why, what was the matter?" he inquired, in great embarrassment
"Nothing was the matter. A case of dislike at first sight, I
"You'd better ask her, Mr. Tevkin." He made no reply, nor did he
repeat his invitation. He was manifestly on pins and needles to get
away, without having the courage to do so.
"So that's what you wanted to meet me for?" he muttered looking
at the wall
"Well, I'll tell you frankly how it was, Mr. Tevkin," I said, and
began with a partial lie calculated to bribe him: "I became
interested in her because I heard that she was your daughter, and
afterward, when I had returned to the city, I made it my business
to go to the library and to read your works. My enthusiasm for
your writings is genuine, however, I assure you, Mr. Tevkin.
And when I went to that café it was for the purpose of making
your acquaintance, as much for your own sake as for hers. There, I
have told you the whole story."
There was mixed satisfaction and perplexity in his look
The next morning my mail included a letter from him. It was
penned in Hebrew. It read like a chapter of the Old Testament. He
pointed out, with exquisite tact, that it was merely as a would-be
courtier that I had failed to find favor in his daughter's
eyes--something that is purely a matter of taste and chance. He
then went on to intimate that if the unfortunate little situation
rendered it at all inconvenient for me to visit his house he did not
see why he and I could not continue our friendly relations
"If I have found as much grace in thine eyes as thou hast found in
mine," he wrote, "it would pain me to forfeit thy friendship. Let
the unpleasant incident be forgotten, then. I have a very important
business proposition to make, but should it fail to arouse thine
interest, why, then, let all business, too, be eliminated, and let our
bond be one of unalloyed friendship. I have been hungry for a
fellow-spirit for years and in thee I have found one at last. Shall I
be estranged from thee for external causes?"
Whereupon he went into raptures over a prospective real-estate
company of which he wanted me to be a leading shareholder.
Companies or "combines" of this sort were then being formed on
the East Side by the score and some of them were said to be
reaping fabulous profits.
My Hebrew, which had never been perfect (for the Talmud is
chiefly in Chaldaic and Aramaic), was by now quite out of gear.
So my answer was framed partly in Yiddish, but mostly in
English, the English being tacitly intended for his daughter,
although he understood the language perfectly. I said, in
substance, that I was going to be as frank as he was, that I did not
propose to invest more money in real estate, and that I asked to be
allowed to call on his daughter. The following passage was
entirely in English: "I have made a misleading impression on Miss
Tevkin. I have done myself a great injustice and I beg for a chance
to repair the damage. In business I am said to know how to show
my goods to their best advantage. Unfortunately, this instinct
seems often to desert me in private life. There I am apt to put my
least attractive wares in the show-window, to expose some
unlovable trait of my character, while whatever good there may be
in me eludes the eye of a superficial acquaintance.
"Please assure your daughter that it is not to force my attentions
upon her that I am asking for an interview. All I want is to try to
convince her that her image of me is, spiritually speaking, not a
Two days passed. In the morning of the third I received a
telephone-call from Tevkin, asking to meet me. Impelled by a
desire to impress him with my importance, I invited him to my
place of business. When he came I designedly kept him in my
waiting-room for some minutes before I received him. When he
was finally admitted to my private office he faced me with studied
indifference. He said he had only a minute's time, yet he stayed
nearly an hour. He asked me to come to his house. He spoke
guardedly, giving vague answers to my questions. The best I could
make of his explanation was that his daughter had been prejudiced
against me by the fact that everybody at the Rigi Kulm had looked
upon me as a great matrimonial "catch."
"Mv children have extremely modern ideas," he said. "Topsy-turvy
ones." His face brightened, and he added: "The old rule is,
'Poverty is no disgrace.' Their rule is, 'Wealth is a disgrace.'" And
he flushed and burst into a little laugh of approbation at his own
"I suppose your daughter regarded me as a parvenu, an upstart, an
ignoramus," I remarked
"No, not at all. She says she heard you say some clever things."
"Still, your letter was a surprise to her. She had not thought you
capable of writing such things."
What really had occurred between father and daughter concerning
my desire to call I never learned
Tevkin's house was apparently full of Socialism. Indeed, so was
the house of almost every intellectual family among our
immigrants. I hated and dreaded that world as much as ever and I
dreaded Miss Tevkin more than ever, but, moth-like, I was drawn
to the flame with greater and greater force. I went to the Tevkins'
with the feeling of one going to his doom
CHAPTER IV THE family occupied a large, old, private house in
the Harlem section of Fifth Avenue, a locality swarming with our
people. I called at 8 in the evening. It was in the latter part of
March, nearly eight months after my unfortunate experience in the
Catskills. I was received in the hall by Tevkin. He took me into a
spacious parlor whose walls were lined with old book-cases and
book-stands. There I found Anna and two of the other children of
the numerous family. She wore a blouse of green velvet and a
black four-in-hand tie. She welcomed me with a cordial
handshake and a gay smile, as though all that had transpired
between us had been a childish misunderstanding, but she was ill
at ease. As for me, I was literally panic-stricken. It was at this
moment, when I came face to face with her for the first time in the
eight months following that Catskill incident, that I became aware
of being definitely in love with her
The book-cases and book-stands were full to bursting. There was a
piano in the room and two tables littered with books, prints, and
photographs. The space between book-cases and over the piano
was hung with etchings, crayons, pen-and-ink drawings, and
photographs. The other two of Tevkin's children present were a
chubby girl of twelve, named Gracie, and a young man of
twenty-eight, two or three years older than Anna, named Sasha.
Sasha had a half-interest in an evening preparatory school in
which he taught mathematics, being now confined to the house by
a slight indisposition
Mrs. Tevkin made her appearance--a handsome old woman of
striking presence, tall, almost majestic, with a mass of white hair,
with the beautiful features of the girl who was the cause of my
being there. I thought of Naphtali. I had a desire to discover his
address and to write him about my meeting with the hero and
heroine of the romance of which he had told me a few months
before I left Antomir. "I go to their house. She is still beautiful," I
pictured myself saying to him. Her demeanor and the very
intonation of her speech seemed to proclaim the fact that she was
the daughter of that illustrious physician of Odessa. It did not take
me long to discover, however, that under the surface of her good
breeding and refinement was a woman of scant intellect
Seeing me look at the book-cases, she said: "These are not all the
books we have. There are some in the other rooms, too. Plenty of
them. It's quite a job for an American servant-girl to dust them."
Anna smiled good-humoredly
The next utterance of Mrs. Tevkin's was to the effect that one had
to put up with crowded quarters in America--a hint at the better
days which the family had seen in Russia
Anna's younger sister, Elsie, a school-teacher, came in. She had
quicker movements and a sharper look than the stenographer and
she bore strong resemblance to her father. Anna was the prettier
of the two. We went down into the dining-room, where we found
Russian tea, cake, and preserves.
Presently we were joined by George, an insurance-collector, who
was between Anna and Sasha, and Emil, an artist employed on a
Sunday paper, who was between Anna and Elsie. Emil was a
handsome fellow with a picturesque face which betrayed his
vocation. The crayons and the pen-and-ink drawings that I had
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