“But Reb Shemuel is away,” said Mrs. Jacobs.
“And I must go away, too, by the first train to-morrow,” said Sam. “However, there’s no hurry. I’ll arrange to run up to town again in a fortnight or so, and then Reb Shemuel shall see that we are properly untied. You don’t mind being my wife for a fortnight, I hope, Miss Jacobs?” asked Sam, winking gleefully at Leah. She smiled back at him and they laughed together over the danger they had just escaped. Hannah laughed too, in contemptuous amusement at the rigidity of Jewish Law.
“I’ll tell you what, Sam, can’t you come back for next Saturday week?” said Leah.
“Why?” asked Sam. “What’s on?”
“The Purim Ball at the Club. As you’ve got to come back to give Hannah Gett, you might as well come in time to take me to the ball.”
“Right you are,” said Sam cheerfully.
Leah clapped her hands. “Oh that will be jolly,” she said. “And we’ll take Hannah with us,” she added as an afterthought.
“Is that by way of compensation for losing my husband?” Hannah asked with a smile.
Leah gave a happy laugh, and turned the new ring on her finger in delighted contemplation.
“All’s well that ends well,” said Sam. “Through this joke Leah will be the belle of the Purim Ball. I think I deserve another piece of plaice, Leah, for that compliment. As for you, Mr. Maggid, you’re a saint and a Talmud sage!”
The Maggid’s face was brightened by a smile. He intoned the grace with unction when the meal ended, and everybody joined in heartily at the specifically vocal portions. Then the Maggid left, and the cards were brought out.
It is inadvisable to play cards before fried fish, because it is well known that you may lose, and losing may ruffle your temper, and you may call your partner an ass, or your partner may call you an ass. To-night the greatest good humor prevailed, though several pounds changed hands. They played Loo, “Klobbiyos,” Napoleon, Vingt-et-un, and especially Brag. Solo whist had not yet come in to drive everything else out. Old Hyams did not spiel, because he could not afford to, and Hannah Jacobs because she did not care to. These and a few other guests left early. But the family party stayed late. On a warm green table, under a cheerful gas light, with brandy and whiskey and sweets and fruit to hand, with no trains or busses to catch, what wonder if the light-hearted assembly played far into the new day?
Meanwhile the Redeemed Son slept peacefully in his crib with his legs curled up, and his little fists clenched beneath the coverlet.
THE PAUPER ALIEN.