the worst of us as samples of the best; they take the lowest of us as presentations of the highest; and they say ‘All Jews are alike.’ If, doing what I was content to do here, because I was grateful for the past and have small need of money now, I had been a Christian, I could have done it, compromising no one but my individual self. But doing it as a Jew, I could not choose but compromise the Jews of all conditions and all countries. It is a little hard upon us, but it is the truth. I would that all our people remembered it! Though I have little right to say so, seeing that it came home so late to me.”

The dolls’ dressmaker sat holding the old man by the hand, and looking thoughtfully in his face.

“Thus I reflected, I say, sitting that evening in my garden on the housetop. And passing the painful scene of that day in review before me many times, I always saw that the poor gentleman believed the story readily, because I was one of the Jews — that you believed the story readily, my child, because I was one of the Jews — that the story itself first came into the invention of the originator thereof, because I was one of the Jews. This was the result of my having had you three before me, face to face, and seeing the thing visibly presented as upon a theatre. Wherefore I perceived that the obligation was upon me to leave this service. But Jenny, my dear,” said Riah, breaking off, “I promised that you should pursue your questions, and I obstruct them.”

“On the contrary, godmother; my idea is as large now as a pumpkin — and you know what a pumpkin is, don’t you? So you gave notice that you were going? Does that come next?” asked Miss Jenny with a look of close attention.

“I indited a letter to my master. Yes. To that effect.”

“And what said Tingling-Tossing-Aching-Screaming-Scratching-Smarter?” asked Miss Wren with an unspeakable enjoyment in the utterance of those honorable titles and in the recollection of the pepper.

“He held me to certain months of servitude, which were his lawful term of notice. They expire to-morrow. Upon their expiration — not before — I had meant to set myself right with my Cinderella.”

“My idea is getting so immense now,” cried Miss Wren, clasping her temples, “that my head won’t hold it! Listen, godmother; I am going to expound. Little Eyes (that’s Screaming-Scratching- Smarter) owes you a heavy grudge for going. Little Eyes casts about how best to pay you off. Little Eyes thinks of Lizzie. Little Eyes says to himself, ‘I’ll find out where he has placed that girl, and I’ll betray his secret because it’s dear to him.’ Perhaps Little Eyes thinks, ‘I’ll make love to her myself too;’ but that I can’t swear — all the rest I can. So, Little Eyes comes to me, and I go to Little Eyes. That’s the way of it. And now the murder’s all out, I’m sorry,” added the dolls’ dressmaker, rigid from head to foot with energy as she shook her little fist before her eyes, “that I didn’t give him Cayenne pepper and chopped pickled Capsicum!”

This expression of regret being but partially intelligible to Mr. Riah, the old man reverted to the injuries Fledgeby had received, and hinted at the necessity of his at once going to tend that beaten cur.

“Godmother, godmother, godmother!” cried Miss Wren irritably, “I really lose all patience with you. One would think you believed in the Good Samaritan. How can you be so inconsistent?”

“Jenny dear,” began the old man gently, “it is the custom of our people to help —”

“Oh! Bother your people!” interposed Miss Wren, with a toss of her head. “If your people don’t know better than to go and help Little Eyes, it’s a pity they ever got out of Egypt. Over and above that,” she added, “he wouldn’t take your help if you offered it. Too much ashamed. Wants to keep it close and quiet, and to keep you out of the way.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.