“Ah, my benefactor, my benefactor!” he cried, in a joyous frenzy. “Now vill I give it to English Judaism. She is in my power. Oh, my benefactor!”
“No, no,” said Raphael, disengaging himself. “I have nothing to do with it.”
“But de paper—she is yours!” said the poet, forgetting his English in his excitement.
“No, I am only the editor. I have been dismissed, and you are appointed instead of me.”
Pinchas dropped back into his chair like a lump of lead. He hung his head again and folded his arms.
“Then they get not me for editor,” he said moodily.
“Nonsense, why not?” said Raphael, flushing.
“Vat you think me?” Pinchas asked indignantly. “Do you think I have a stone for a heart like Gideon M.P. or your English stockbrokers and Rabbis? No, you shall go on being editor. They think you are not able enough, not orthodox enough—they vant me—but do not fear. I shall not accept.”
“But then what will become of the next number?” remonstrated Raphael, touched. “I must not edit it.”
“Vat you care? Let her die!” cried Pinchas, in gloomy complacency. “You have made her; vy should she survive you? It is not right another should valk in your shoes—least of all, I.”
“But I don’t mind—I don’t mind a bit,” Raphael assured him. Pinchas shook his head obstinately. “If the paper dies, Sampson will have nothing to live upon,” Raphael reminded him.
“True, vairy true,” said the poet, patently beginning to yield. “That alters things. Ve cannot let Sampson starve.”
“No, you see!” said Raphael. “So you must keep it alive.”
“Yes, but,” said Pinchas, getting up thoughtfully, “Sampson is going off soon on tour vith his comic opera. He vill not need the Flag.”
“Oh, well, edit it till then.”
“Be it so,” said the poet resignedly. “Till Sampson’s comic-opera tour.”
“Till Sampson’s comic-opera tour,” repeated Raphael contentedly.
Raphael walked out of the office, a free man. Mountains of responsibility seemed to roll off his shoulders. His Messianic emotions were conscious of no laceration at the failure of this episode of his life; they were merged in greater. What a fool he had been to waste so much time, to make no effort to find the lonely girl! Surely, Esther must have expected him, if only as a friend, to give some sign that he did not share in the popular execration. Perchance she had already left London or the country, only to be found again by protracted knightly quest! He felt grateful to Providence for setting him free for her salvation. He made at once for the publishers’ and asked for her address. The junior partner knew of no such person. In vain Raphael reminded him that they had published Mordecai Josephs. That was by Mr. Edward Armitage. Raphael accepted the convention, and demanded this gentleman’s address instead. That, too, was refused, but all letters would be forwarded. Was Mr. Armitage in England? All letters would be forwarded. Upon that the junior partner stood, inexpugnable.