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?”


“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. … A fine trick she played you, eh?”
“Don`t you be breaking your head about me. … The Lord is a provider, and Kulock is Kulock!”

He took up the infant in his arms and started across the town. It seemed to him that people were pointing their fingers, and laughing, at him.
When he reached the wood on the outskirts of the town, he seated himself on a stone.

Round about not a soul was to be seen. The branches of the trees murmured sadly, as they shed their yellowed leaves… the sound of a distant stream was faintly audible, as it gurgled and splashed among the stones.

Feeling Bitterness

Burih put down the child near him, and regarded it with a feeling of bitterness. The baby stared at him silently, sucking its hand and looking as if absorbed in meditation. Kulock hadn`t the least idea what to do with the child. For a fleeting moment he thought of abandoning it, but immediately a feeling of pity for the helpless mite, for his own flesh and blood, drove the thought from his mind. He took the child in his arms again, and pressed its little body close to him, examining, meanwhile, all its features. He thought he recognized his own, in them, and felt a glad warmth in all his limbs at the idea.

“Little Kulock!” he cried to the baby; “yes, you`re a little Kulock, all right; and you`ll be a fine chap too, I`ll bet. You`ll climb through transoms, and ventilators, and garret-windows… break off locks, and steal calf-skin leather. … And then you`ll have children… and their mother will desert them. … But—will you wander with your children from house to house begging for bread?… Who are you?… A Kulock, like me… you… I.”
He laid the child down near the river-bank, and stood behind a tree to see what it would do. … It pushed about with its legs, sucked its hands, and whimpered, as if in play. “Mam-m-a… mam-m-a.”

He stole behind another tree, farther away, but he could still hear its cries. He glided thus from tree to farther and farther away, till he heard and saw nothing more. … Then he took to his heels. But even as he ran, the infant`s cries kept ringing in his ears. “It might be rolling down into the river,” he thought suddenly. … His head ached, and he felt a gnawing at his heart. … But he kept on running. …

Presently he stopped, looked around, and quickly retraced his steps.
He found the child crying aloud. He took it up in his arms, and approached the huts on the outskirts of the wood. … Passing from door to door, he begged in a broken voice: “Give an orphan a little milk… give an orphan a little milk. …”

Read More about A Picnic part 4


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 and returned to the house. Now the baby was crying with a prolonged wail, “Mam-m-m-ma!… mam-m-m-ma!…”

“Your mamma, eh? The brat! … Go and look for your precious mamma—plague take her!”

He took the child in his arms. It nestled up to him, seeking something eagerly with its little lips.

“Blast her ugly soul,” he kept on cursing, while he patted the infant`s cheek and body. “Don`t cry, Shloimale… be quiet now… be quiet, I beg you.”

Baby with a Spoon

The baby continued to seek with its little mouth, waved its hands about, and nodded its head, as if on the point of speaking. He drew it closer to him, at the same time looking about for some milk. He found a little on the stove, and soaked some of the roll in it. Then he began to feed the baby with a spoon, talking to it meanwhile, in a gentle voice. … “Eat, sonny, eat. … Your mother—devil take her—has deserted you. … Even a dog doesn`t abandon its young. … She`s worse than a dog. … Don`t cry. … No, I won`t abandon you … on my word of honor, I won`t.”

When the baby had quieted down, he wrapped it in a cloth, and took it into the street.

His presence in the market-place created quite a stir. Burih Kulock* with a baby! … From his “stand,” Kradnick called out: “Hey, Kulock! where did you get the kid?”

Kradnick`s wife got up excitedly, and hurried up to the baby with open arms. She wiped her face with her apron several times out of sheer gladness… laughed, and slapped the tiny urchin on the buttocks.

Read More about The Priest`s Tale part 8


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.


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, but he thought: She must have {?one to wash herself. He took a piece of linen and stuck it into the infant`s mouth to stop its wailing. Then he started to dress.
While thus occupied, he began to figure how much he`d be able to “land” for the silver candlesticks he had “lifted” from the Zhobliner house. On the impulse of the moment he climbed up into the attic to examine “the goods.” They were gone! He rummaged about everywhere … Gone!

Quickly clambering down again he hastened over to where his wife`s things hung, and tore away the sheet covering them. They too were gone!… Only then did it begin to dawn on him that she had run cares?” he said to himself with forced unconcern, spitting on the walls. “That`s a nice how do they do!… Ha-ha-ha-ha…”

He glanced at the baby.

“But what`s to be done with the damned brat?” he murmured to himself reflectively. “If I only knew where she is I`d leave it right in front of her door… Take it!… It`s yours!”

An evil thought suddenly flashed through his mind, causing him to grow pale, and bite his upper lip, while his hands trembled. He approached the infant, which lay uncovered, its dirty rag of a blanket kicked aside, its hands stuffed into its mouth, smiling vaguely into empty space… The shape of its mouth reminded him of some one… was it an old acquaintance?… He couldn`t rightly remember…

Read More about Basil II part 5