* * * * *
They all jumbled themselves into grotesque combinations, the things of to-day and the things of endless yesterdays, as Esther slept in the narrow little bed next to Dutch Debby, who squeezed herself into the wall, pretending to revel in exuberant spaciousness. It was long before she could get to sleep. The excitement of the day had brought on her headache; she was depressed by restriking the courses of so many narrow lives; the glow of her new-found mission had already faded in the thought that she was herself a pauper, and she wished she had let the dead past lie in its halo, not peered into the crude face of reality. But at bottom she felt a subtle melancholy joy in understanding herself at last, despite Hannah’s scepticism; in penetrating the secret of her pessimism, in knowing herself a Child of the Ghetto.
And yet Pesach Weingott played the fiddle merrily enough when she went to Becky’s engagement-party in her dreams, and galoped with Shosshi Shmendrik, disregarding the terrible eyes of the bride to be: when Hannah, wearing an aureole like a bridal veil, paired off with Meckisch, frothing at the mouth with soap, and Mrs. Belcovitch, whirling a medicine-bottle, went down the middle on a pair of huge stilts, one a thick one and one a thin one, while Malka spun round like a teetotum, throwing Ezekiel in long clothes through a hoop; what time Moses Ansell waltzed superbly with the dazzling Addie Leon, quite cutting out Levi and Miriam Hyams, and Raphael awkwardly twisted the Widow Finkelstein, to the evident delight of Sugarman the Shadchan, who had effected the introduction. It was wonderful how agile they all were, and how dexterously they avoided treading on her brother Benjamin, who lay unconcernedly in the centre of the floor, taking assiduous notes in a little copy-book for incorporation in a great novel, while Mrs. Henry Goldsmith stooped down to pat his brown hair patronizingly.
Esther thought it very proper of the grateful Greeners to go about offering the dancers rum from Dutch Debby’s tea-kettle, and very selfish of Sidney to stand in a corner, refusing to join in the dance and making cynical remarks about the whole thing for the amusement of the earnest little figure she had met on the stairs.
THE DEAD MONKEY AGAIN.