“So it is, marm,” he admitted readily. “But if you taink dat I ought to pay for de damage you’re mistaken. If you lend me your cat”—here he began to make the argumentative movement with his thumb, as though scooping out imaginary kosher cheese with it; “If you lend me your cat to kill my rat,” his tones took on the strange Talmudic singsong—“and my rat instead kills your cat, then it is the fault of your cat and not the fault of my rat.”
Poor Mrs. Hyams could not meet this argument. If Mendel had been at home, he might have found a counter-analogy. As it was, Sugarman re-tucked Nehemiah under his arm and departed triumphant, almost consoled for the raid on his provisions by the thought of money saved. In the street he met the Shalotten Shammos.
“Blessed art thou who comest,” said the giant, in Hebrew; then relapsing into Yiddish he cried: “I’ve been wanting to see you. What did you mean by telling your wife you were sorry she had not a fourth uncle?”
“Soorka knew what I meant,” said Sugarman with a little croak of victory, “I have told her the story before. When the Almighty Shadchan was making marriages in Heaven, before we were yet born, the name of my wife was coupled with my own. The spirit of her eldest uncle hearing this flew up to the Angel who made the proclamation and said: ’Angel! thou art making a mistake. The man of whom thou makest mention will be of a lower status than this future niece of mine.’ Said the Angel; ’Sh! It is all right. She will halt on one leg.’ Came then the spirit of her second uncle and said: ’Angel, what blazonest thou? A niece of mine marry a man of such family?’ Says the Angel: ’Sh! It is all right. She will be blind in one eye.’ Came the spirit of her third uncle and said: ’Angel, hast thou not erred? Surely thou canst not mean to marry my future niece into such a humble family.’ Said the Angel: ’Sh! It is all right. She will be deaf in one ear.’ Now, do you see? If she had only had a fourth uncle, she would have been dumb into the bargain; there is only one mouth and my life would have been a happy one. Before I told Soorka that history she used to throw up her better breeding and finer family to me. Even in public she would shed my blood. Now she does not do it even in private.”
Sugarman the Shadchan winked, readjusted Nehemiah and went his way.
THE HOPE OF THE FAMILY.
It was a cold, bleak Sunday afternoon, and the Ansells were spending it as usual. Little Sarah was with Mrs. Simons, Rachel had gone to Victoria Park with a party of school-mates, the grandmother was asleep on the bed, covered with one of her son’s old coats (for there was no fire in the grate), with her pious vade mecum in her hand; Esther had prepared her lessons and was reading a little brown book at Dutch Debby’s, not being able to forget the