“Oh, you are a saint, Meshe,” said Malka, so impressed that she admitted him to the equality of the second person plural. “If everybody knew as much Terah as you, the Messiah would soon be here. Here are five shillings. For five shillings you can get a basket of lemons in the Orange Market in Duke’s Place, and if you sell them in the Lane at a halfpenny each, you will make a good profit. Put aside five shillings of your takings and get another basket, and so you will be able to live till the tailoring picks up a bit.” Moses listened as if he had never heard of the elementary principles of barter.
“May the Name, blessed be It, bless you, and may you see rejoicings on your children’s children.”
So Moses went away and bought dinner, treating his family to some beuglich, or circular twisted rolls, in his joy. But on the morrow he repaired to the Market, thinking on the way of the ethical distinction between “duties of the heart” and “duties of the limbs,” as expounded in choice Hebrew by Rabbenu Bachja, and he laid out the remnant in lemons. Then he stationed himself in Petticoat Lane, crying, in his imperfect English, “Lemans, verra good lemans, two a penny each, two a penny each!”
THE REDEMPTION OF THE SON AND THE DAUGHTER.
Malka did not have long to wait for her liege lord. He was a fresh-colored young man of thirty, rather good-looking, with side whiskers, keen, eager glance, and an air of perpetually doing business. Though a native of Germany, he spoke English as well as many Lane Jews, whose comparative impiety was a certificate of British birth. Michael Birnbaum was a great man in the local little synagogue if only one of the crowd at “Duke’s Plaizer.” He had been successively Gabbai and Parnass, or treasurer and president, and had presented the plush curtain, with its mystical decoration of intersecting triangles, woven in silk, that hung before the Ark in which the scrolls of the Law were kept. He was the very antithesis of Moses Ansell. His energy was restless. From hawking he had risen to a profitable traffic in gold lace and Brummagem jewelry, with a large clientele all over the country, before he was twenty. He touched nothing which he did not profit by; and when he married, at twenty-three, a woman nearly twice his age, the transaction was not without the usual percentage. Very soon his line was diamonds,—real diamonds. He carried, a pocket-knife which was a combination of a corkscrew, a pair of scissors, a file, a pair of tweezers, a toothpick, and half a dozen other things, and which seemed an epitome of his character. His temperament was lively, and, like Ephraim Phillips, he liked music-halls. Fortunately, Malka was too conscious of her charms to dream of jealousy.
Michael smacked her soundly on the mouth with his lips and said: “Well, mother!”