Suddenly it occurred to Shosshi that the widow’s waist was not very unlike that which he had engirdled imaginatively. He thought he would just try if the sensation was anything like what he had fancied. His arm strayed timidly round her black-beaded mantle. The sense of his audacity was delicious. He was wondering whether he ought to say She-hechyoni—the prayer over a new pleasure. But the Widow Finkelstein stopped his mouth with a kiss. After that Shosshi forgot his pious instincts.
Except old Mrs. Ansell, Sugarman was the only person scandalized. Shosshi’s irrepressible spirit of romance had robbed him of his commission. But Meckisch danced with Shosshi Shmendrik at the wedding, while the Calloh footed it with the Russian giantess. The men danced in one-half of the room, the women in the other.
THE HYAMS’S HONEYMOON.
“Beenah, hast thou heard aught about our Daniel?” There was a note of anxiety in old Hyams’s voice.
“Thou hast not heard talk of him and Sugarman’s daughter?”
“No, is there aught between them?” The listless old woman spoke a little eagerly.
“Only that a man told me that his son saw our Daniel pay court to the maiden.”
“At the Purim Ball.”
“The man is a tool; a youth must dance with some maiden or other.”
Miriam came in, fagged out from teaching. Old Hyams dropped from Yiddish into English.
“You are right, he must.”
Beenah replied in her slow painful English.
“Would he not have told us?”
Mendel repeated:—“Would he not have told us?”
Each avoided the others eye. Beenah dragged herself about the room, laying Miriam’s tea.
“Mother, I wish you wouldn’t scrape your feet along the floor so. It gets on my nerves and I am so worn out. Would he not have told you what? And who’s he?”
Beenah looked at her husband.
“I heard Daniel was engaged,” said old Hyams jerkily.
Miriam started and flushed.
“To whom?” she cried, in excitement.
“Sugarman’s daughter?” Miriam’s voice was pitched high.
Miriam’s voice rose to a higher pitch.
“Sugarman the Shadchan’s daughter?”
Miriam burst into a fit of incredulous laughter.
“As if Daniel would marry into a miserable family like that!”
“It is as good as ours,” said Mendel, with white lips.
His daughter looked at him astonished. “I thought your children had taught you more self-respect than that,” she said quietly. “Mr. Sugarman is a nice person to be related to!”
“At home, Mrs. Sugarman’s family was highly respected,” quavered old Hyams.
“We are not at home now,” said Miriam witheringly. “We’re in England. A bad-tempered old hag!”