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Forebodings Two Sketches part 5

This condition of lonely self-torment lasted a long while, and increased his exasperation.

And then, one day, he noticed that his healthy foot was growing stiff and the ankle swelling. When the head-surgeon came on his daily rounds, the patient confided his fear to him. The doctor examined the emaciated limb, unobserved lanced the abscess, perceived that the probe reached to the bone, rubbed his hands together and looked into the peasant`s face with a sad, doubtful look.

Better off than in your cottage

“This is a bad job, my good fellow. It may mean the other foot; was that what you were thinking of? And you are a bad subject. But we will do it for you here; you will be better off than in your cottage, we will give you plenty to eat.” And he passed on, accompanied by his assistant. At the door he turned back, bent over the sick man, and furtively, so that no one should see, passed his hand kindly over his head.

The peasant`s mind tj

Forebodings Two Sketches part 4

Everything real seemed to disappear; only dimly lighted, vacant space remained, pervaded by the smell of chloroform. He seemed to be in the interior of a huge cone, stretching along the ground like a tunnel. Far away in the distance, where it narrowed towards the opening, there was a sparkling white spot; if he could get there, he might escape. He seemed to be traveling day and night towards that chink along unending spiral lines running within the surface of the tunnel; he traveled under compulsion and with great effort, slowly, like a snail, although within him something leaped up like a rabbit caught in a snare, or as if wings were fluttering in his soul.

He knew what was beyond that chink. Only a few steps would lead him to the ridge under the wood … to his own four strips of potato-field! And whenever he roused himself mechanically from his apathy he had a vision of the potato-harvest. The transparent autumn haze in the fields was bringing objects that were far

Forebodings Two Sketches part 2

“Anton, my dear fellow,” the other, said, “well, you understand what I mean; God knows. You may be sure . . . confound it all!”

The second bell sounded, and then the third. The sympathizing friend stepped out of the carriage, and, as the train started, he waved an odd kind of farewell greeting, as if he were threatening him with his fists.

In the carriage were a number of poor people, Jews, women with enormously wide cloaks, who had elbowed their way to their seats, and sat chattering or smoking.

The student stood up and looked out of the window without seeing. Lines of sparks like living fire passed by the grimy window-pane, and balls of vapor and smoke, resembling large tufts of wool, were dashed to pieces and hurried to the ground by the wind. The smoke curled round the small shrubs growing close to the ground, moistened by the rain in the valley. The dusk of the autumn day spread a dim light over the landscape, and produced an effect of inde

Forebodings Two Sketches part 1

Stefan Zeromski (1864-1925)

Zeromski is an intensely dynamic writer. Not so popular as his older contemporary Prus, he excels in the psychological analysis of his characters. In the story that follows, we feel the influence of the late Nineteenth Century Russian novelists. Zeromski began by writing stories of modem life, then produced a series of historical novels, and finally returned to his first manner. His short stories are sombre studies of character.

The present version, translated by Else C. M. Benecke, is reprinted from Polish Tales, Oxford University Press, by permission of the publisher.

Forebodings Two Sketches

I had spent an hour at the railway station, waiting for the train to come in. I had stared indifferently at several ladies in turn who were yawning in the comers of the waiting-room. Then I had tried the effect of making eyes at a fair young girl with a small white nose, rosy cheeks, and eyes like forget-me-nots; she had

Two Worlds part 3

“No. Now listen,” someone said; “it is true that the ideal conversation gets as far away as possible from what one is talking about; but that, it seems to me, we could best do by turning back to what we started with.”

“Very well, then. The Greeks…”

“First the Phoenicians!”

“What do you know about the Phoenicians?”

“Nothing! But why should the Phoenicians always be skipped?”

Light fell in a few short flashes

The boat was now opposite the house, and just as it passed someone on board lighted his cigarette. The light fell in a few short flashes on the lady at the helm, and in the reddish glare one beheld a fresh, girlish face with a happy smile about the parted lips and a dreamy expression in the clear eyes that looked up to the dark sky. The light went out. A slight splash was heard, as of something thrown into the water, and the boat drifted past.

About a year later. The sun was setting

Two Worlds part 2

The bell began to toll in the small village church.

She turned from the sunset, and rocked her head to and fro, as if she sought to escape the sound of the bells, while she mumbled almost as an answer to the continuous ringing:

“I cannot wait. I cannot wait.”

But the sound continued.

As if in pain, she walked back and forth on the veranda. The shadows of despair had grown deeper, and she drew her breath heavily, like one who is forced to tears and cannot cry.

In long, long years she had suffered from a painful malady which never let her rest, whether lying down or walking. She had consulted one “wise” woman after another. She had dragged herself from one “holy” spring to another, but without avail. Finally she had gone on the September pilgrimage to St. Bartholomew; and here an old one- eyed man had advised her to tie together a bouquet of edelweiss and a splinter of glass, a huck of corn, and some ferns from a graveyard,

Two Worlds part 1

Jens Peter Jacobsen (1847-1885)

Jacobsen, who began writing under the influence of Hans Christian Andersen, soon developed into a novelist and short story writer of great originality. Though he was as deeply interested in natural science as in literature, during the course of his short life he was influential chiefly as a writer.

Two Worlds is. typical of his poetic turn of mind, and reveals his technical skill as a story-teller. It is translated by H. Knudsen, first appeared in the Pagan magazine, and is here reprinted by permission of the editor.

Two Worlds

The Salzach is not a merry river. On its eastern bank lies a little village, very gloomy, very poor, and strangely quiet.

Like a miserable flock of misshapen beggars who have been stopped by the river, without fare for the ferryman, stand the houses down there on the uttermost edge of the bank, their decayed shoulders leaning against each other, and grope hopelessly with the

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Zheravna Festival

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Abandoned part 3

“Is he yours, Kulock? Well, I never!… Look at his little eyes … if he don`t look just like Marina! … her nose—exactly! as I live! What a jewel of a lad!… Give him to me!…” She took the baby from him, and bounced it up and down. “There!… there! you little rascal.”

Old man Kradnick, the “master” of the thieving gentry, got up slowly, approached the baby, examined it, and slapped Kulock on the back.

“Fine husky little chap!… He`ll climb through a transom nimbly enough, all right. … Who`s the mother?”

“May she burn like a fire! … She ran away, taking the candlesticks with her.”

“And left you the kid?”

“Yes.”

“That`s bad… that`s bad.”

The old man scratched his head. The younger Kradnick approached and said to Kulock: “That`s right. … I guess you`ll have to give up the profession now, and become a nurse. &

Abandoned part 2

He turned away from the child, put on his hat hurriedly, and went out, locking the door behind him. He walked on aimlessly, but with no peace of mind… The baby`s cries kept ringing in his ears, as if it were calling to him… In fancy he could see it before him, kicking its little legs about, wailing frantically… No! he must turn back. …“Oh, if I could get a-hold of her now!” he thought to himself, “I`d nab her by the throat and choke her!… choke her till her tongue stuck out, damn her!”

He entered a bakery, bought a roll, and went back to the house. The baby lay as before, uncovered, but smiling.

Comfortable Enough

“Devil take the brat! he looks comfortable enough, the little cuss.” .. .And he left the house again. But he couldn`t make himself walk on. All the time he fancied he heard the little one wailing… and it made him feel such a gnawing anguish at heart. …

He clenched his fists

Abandoned part 1

Sholom Asch (1880—1957)

Sholom Asch (or Ash) was born in Poland, and is to-day regarded as one of the most gifted of recent Yiddish writers. He was the writer of plays (The God Of Vengeance was produced in English and censored in New York), novels, and short stories. Like Peretz and certain others, he began writing in Hebrew, but, finding that there was only a small public he could reach by that medium, he soon turned to the Yiddish.

Abandoned is a story characteristic of the nervous style of this writer, brief, highly dramatic, and of compelling interest.

This story is reprinted from the Pagan magazine, the editor of which has authorized its inclusion in the present collection.

Abandoned

When Burih awoke he heard the baby crying, so with eyes still closed he called to his wife: “Golda! the brat is bawling.”

Golda did not answer. He looked around and noticed that she wasn`t in the house. He was rather surprised,

The Passover Guest part 4

And with these words my father sighs deeply, and my mother, as she looks at him, sighs also, and I cannot understand the reason. Surely we should be proud and glad to think we have such a land, ruled over by a Jewish king and high priest, a land with Levites and an organ, with an altar and sacrifices—and bright, sweet thoughts enfold me, and carry me away as on wings to that happy Jewish land where the houses are of pine-wood and roofed with silver, where the furniture is gold, and diamonds and pearls lie scattered in the street.

And I feel sure, were I really there, I should know what to do—I should know how to hide things—they would shake nothing out of me. I should certainly bring home a lovely present for my mother, diamond ear-rings and several pearl necklaces. I look at the one mother is wearing, at her ear-rings, and I feel a great desire to be in that country. And it occurs to me, that after Passover I will travel there with our guest, secretly, no one shall

The Passover Guest part 3

Having learned his name, my father was anxious to know whence, from what land he came. I understood this from the names of countries and towns which I caught, and from what my father translated for my mother, giving her a Yiddish version of nearly every phrase. And my mother was quite overcome by every single thing she heard, and Rikel the maid was overcome likewise.

And no wonder! It is not every day that a person comes from perhaps two thousand miles away, from a land only to be reached across seven seas and a desert, the desert journey alone requiring forty days and nights. And when you get near to the land, you have to climb a mountain of which the top reaches into the clouds, and this is covered with ice, and dreadful winds blow there, so that there is peril of death! But once the mountain is safely climbed, and the land is reached, one beholds a terrestrial Eden.

Kind of Fruit

Spices, cloves, herbs, and every kind of fruit—apples, pears, an

The Passover Guest part 2

Mother is taken up with the preparations for the Passover meal, and Rikel the maid is helping her. It is only when the time comes for saying Kiddush that my father and the guest hold a Hebrew conversation. I am proud to find that I understand nearly every word of it. Here it is in full.

My father: “Nu?” (That means, “Won`t you please say Kiddush?”) The guest: “Nu-nu!” (meaning, “Say it rather yourself!”)

My father: “Nu-O?” (“Why not you?”)

The guest: “O-nu?” (“Why should I?”)

My father: “I-O!” (“You first!”)

The guest: “O-ai!” (“To« first!”)

My father: “£-o-i!” (“I beg of you to say it!”)

The guest: “Ai-o-e!” (“I beg of you!”)

My father: “Ai-e-o-nu?” (“Why should you refuse?”)

The guest: “Oi-o-e-nu-nu!” (“If you insist, then I must.”)

And the guest took the cup of wine from my father`s hand, and reci

The Passover Guest part 1

Sholom Aleichem (Sholorn Rabinovitch) (1859-1916)

Rabinovitch, known everywhere by his pseudonym, Sholom Aleichem, was born in Russia. He is one of the most beloved figures in all Yiddish literature. In common with nearly all his contemporaries, he excels in the description of the pathos and tragedy of his people, though he was frequently able, as in ‘The Passover Guest, to turn a tragic theme into a richly comic one.

The passover guest is quaintly humorous, though at the same time a bitter commentary on life. It is the artist`s way of describing the lot of the Jew in the modern world.

This story is reprinted from the volume, Yiddish Tales, translated by Helena Frank, copyright, 1912, by the Jewish Publication Society of America, by whose permission and that of the Sholom Aleichem Foundation it is here reprinted.

The passover guest

Uthave a Passover guest for you, Reb Yoneh, such a guest as you A never had since you becam

The Easter Torch Part 8

Thetrap was ingeniously contrived: a long rope fastened round a block of wood;lengthwise, at the place where the sawn panel had dis-appeared, was aspring-ring which Leiba held open with his left hand, while at the same timehis right hand held the other end taut. At the psychological moment he sprangthe ring, and rapidly seizing the free end of the rope with both hands hepulled the whole arm inside by a supreme effort.

Ina second the operation was complete. It was accompanied by two cries, one ofdespair, the other of triumph: the hand is “pinned to the spot.” Footsteps wereheard retreating rapidly: Gheorghe`s companions were abandoning to Leiba theprey so cleverly caught.

TheJew hurried into the inn, took the lamp and with a decided movement turned upthe wick as high as it would go: the light concealed by the metal receiver rosegay and victorious, restoring definite outlines to the nebulous forms around.

Zibalwent into the passage wit

The Easter Torch Part 7

Ina few moments, this same gimlet would cause the destruction of Leiba and hisdomestic hearth. The two executioners would hold the victim prostrate on theground, and Gheorghe, with heel upon his body, would slowly bore the gimletinto the bone of the living breast as he had done into the dead wood, deeperand deeper, till it reached the heart, silencing its wild beatings and pinningit to the spot.

Leibabroke into a cold sweat; the man was overcome by his own imagination, and sanksoftly to his knees as though life were ebbing from him under the weight ofthis last horror, overwhelmed by the thought that he must abandon now all hopeof saving himself.

“Yes!Pinned to the spot,” he said, despairingly. “Yes! Pinned to the spot.”

Hestayed a moment, staring at the light by the window. For some moments he stoodaghast, as though in some other world, then he repeated with quivering eyelids:

“Yes!Pinned to the spot.”

Prol