Victoria Park was the Park to the Ghetto. A couple of miles off, far enough to make a visit to it an excursion, it was a perpetual blessing to the Ghetto. On rare Sunday afternoons the Ansell family minus the Bube toiled there and back en masse, Moses carrying Isaac and Sarah by turns upon his shoulder. Esther loved the Park in all weathers, but best of all in the summer, when the great lake was bright and busy with boats, and the birds twittered in the leafy trees and the lobelias and calceolarias were woven into wonderful patterns by the gardeners. Then she would throw herself down on the thick grass and look up in mystic rapture at the brooding blue sky and forget to read the book she had brought with her, while the other children chased one another about in savage delight. Only once on a Saturday afternoon when her father was not with them, did she get Dutch Debby to break through her retired habits and accompany them, and then it was not summer but late autumn. There was an indefinable melancholy about the sere landscape. Russet refuse strewed the paths and the gaunt trees waved fleshless arms in the breeze. The November haze rose from the moist ground and dulled the blue of heaven with smoky clouds amid which the sun, a red sailless boat, floated at anchor among golden and crimson furrows and glimmering far-dotted fleeces. The small lake was slimy, reflecting the trees on its borders as a network of dirty branches. A solitary swan ruffled its plumes and elongated its throat, doubled in quivering outlines beneath the muddy surface. All at once the splash of oars was heard and the sluggish waters were stirred by the passage of a boat in which a heroic young man was rowing a no less heroic young woman.
Dutch Debby burst into tears and went home. After that she fell back entirely on Bobby and Esther and the London Journal and never even saved up nine shillings again.
A SILENT FAMILY.
Sugarman the Shadchan arrived one evening a few days before Purim at the tiny two-storied house in which Esther’s teacher lived, with little Nehemiah tucked under his arm. Nehemiah wore shoes and short red socks. The rest of his legs was bare. Sugarman always carried him so as to demonstrate this fact. Sugarman himself was rigged out in a handsome manner, and the day not being holy, his blue bandanna peeped out from his left coat-tail, instead of being tied round his trouser band.
“Good morning, marm,” he said cheerfully.
“Good morning, Sugarman,” said Mrs. Hyams.
She was a little careworn old woman of sixty with white hair. Had she been more pious her hair would never have turned gray. But Miriam had long since put her veto on her mother’s black wig. Mrs. Hyams was a meek, weak person and submitted in silence to the outrage on her deepest instincts. Old Hyams was stronger, but not strong enough. He, too, was a silent person.