“But why can’t they save the Jews altogether?” queried Esther.
“Oh,” said Moses mysteriously. “Cabalah is a great force and must not be abused. The Holy Name must not be made common. Moreover one might lose one’s life.”
“Could the Masters make men?” inquired Esther, who had recently come across Frankenstein.
“Certainly,” said Moses. “And what is more, it stands written that Reb Chanina and Reb Osheya fashioned a fine fat calf on Friday and enjoyed it on the Sabbath.”
“Oh, father!” said Solomon, piteously, “don’t you know Cabalah?”
A year before we got to know Esther Ansell she got to know Dutch Debby and it changed her life. Dutch Debby was a tall sallow ungainly girl who lived in the wee back room on the second floor behind Mrs. Simons and supported herself and her dog by needle-work. Nobody ever came to see her, for it was whispered that her parents had cast her out when she presented them with an illegitimate grandchild. The baby was fortunate enough to die, but she still continued to incur suspicion by keeping a dog, which is an un-Jewish trait. Bobby often squatted on the stairs guarding her door and, as it was very dark on the staircase, Esther suffered great agonies lest she should tread on his tail and provoke reprisals. Her anxiety led her to do so one afternoon and Bobby’s teeth just penetrated through her stocking. The clamor brought out Dutch Debby, who took the girl into her room and soothed her. Esther had often wondered what uncanny mysteries lay behind that dark dog-guarded door and she was rather more afraid of Debby than of Bobby.
But that afternoon saw the beginning of a friendship which added one to the many factors which were moulding the future woman. For Debby turned out a very mild bogie, indeed, with a good English vocabulary and a stock of old London Journals, more precious to Esther than mines of Ind. Debby kept them under the bed, which, as the size of the bed all but coincided with the area of the room, was a wise arrangement. And on the long summer evenings and the Sunday afternoons when her little ones needed no looking after and were traipsing about playing “whoop!” and pussy-cat in the street downstairs, Esther slipped into the wee back room, where the treasures lay, and there, by the open window, overlooking the dingy back yard and the slanting perspectives of sun-decked red tiles