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Title: The New Land

Stories of Jews Who Had a Part in the Making of Our Country

Author: Elma Ehrlich Levinger

Release Date: October 8, 2007 [eBook #22915]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

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THE NEW LAND

STORIES OF JEWS WHO HAD A PART
IN THE MAKING OF OUR COUNTRY

By

ELMA EHRLICH LEVINGER



"A new world, with great portals far outflung,
Holding a hope more sweet than time had sung,
To which the Jew, of life's high quest a part,
A pilgrim came, the Torah in his heart.
A land of promise, and fulfillment too;
Where on a sudden olden dreams came true....
Here grew we part of an ennobled state,
Gave and won honor, sat among the great,
And saw unfolding to our 'raptured view
The day long prayed for by the patient Jew."
From "The Jew in America," by Felix N. Gerson


NEW YORK
BLOCH PUBLISHING COMPANY
"THE JEWISH BOOK CONCERN"
1920






Copyright, 1920, by
BLOCH PUBLISHING COMPANY









TO
Grandmother and Grandfather Levinger
THESE "STORIES THAT REALLY HAPPENED"
ARE AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED







A LETTER TO MY READERS.


Dear Boys and Girls:

When your grandfather tells you a story, do you ever interrupt him to ask: "But is it all true?" And doesn't he often answer: "I don't know," or "I don't know when it's really true, and when it begins to be like a story book." And so, when you read through my little book—if you do read right through it to the very last page—you may wonder whether all my history stories really happened.

Yes—and no! I do know that cross old Peter Stuyvesant of New Amsterdam hated our people, but I never found any record of the Jewish boy who wanted to play with the governor's niece, pretty Katrina. The histories tell us how gallant young Franks became the friend of George Washington, but none of them mention that the Jewish soldier saved a Tory from the angry mob.

You understand now, don't you? So I'm going to turn the page right away that you may read for yourselves of the three Jews who whispered together on the deck of the "Santa Maria," as Columbus and his crew crossed the Sea of Darkness in search of a New Land.


E.E.L.


Note: The author expresses her thanks to the editors of The Hebrew Standard and The Jewish Child in which the stories, "In the Night Watches" and "A Place of Refuge," originally appeared.







CONTENTS.


  PAGE
IN THE NIGHT WATCHES 9
The Three who came with Columbus.  
WHEN KATRINA LOST HER WAY 14
A tale of the First Jewish Settlers of New Amsterdam.  
A PLACE OF REFUGE 33
How the Wanderer came to Rhode Island.  
"DOWN WITH KING GEORGE" 39
How Isaac Franks, of the American army, first heard the Declaration of Independence.  
THE LAST SERVICE 52
The story of a Rabbi who lived in New York when it was captured by the British in 1776.  
THE GENEROUS GIVER 68
The story of a Jewish money-lender of the Revolution.  
ACROSS THE WATERS 88
A story of the City of Refuge planned by Mordecai Noah.  
THREE AT GRACE 105
The story of the first Jewish settler in Alabama.  
THE LUCKY STONE 122
The adventures of Uriah P. Levy, the first naval officer of his day.  
THE PRINCESS OF PHILADELPHIA 140
The story of Rebecca Gratz and Washington Irving.  
A PRESENT FOR MR. LINCOLN 160
How President Lincoln set out for Washington and how he returned.  
THE LAND COLUMBUS FOUND 173
The story of the tablet placed upon the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.  





[9]

THE NEW LAND


IN THE NIGHT WATCHES

The Three Who Came With Columbus.


For a while there was no sound save the soft swish-swish of the waves as the "Santa Maria," the flagship of Columbus, ploughed its way through the darkness. The moon had long since disappeared and one by one the stars had left the sky until only the morning star remained to guide Alonzo de la Calle, crouching above his pilot wheel. The man's eyes ached for sleep, his fingers were numb from dampness and fatigue, his heart heavy with despair. "Dawn," he muttered at last, "almost the last of the night watches; Gonzalo will take my place at the wheel and I can sleep."

In the shifting light of the ship's lantern, swinging from the mast above his head, the pilot saw Bernal, the ship's doctor, advancing toward him; a little dark man, who dragged one foot as he walked. He would have passed without speaking; but Alonzo, hungry for companionship, caught his arm.

"You are in high favor with Columbus," he began, "and he confides in you. Tell me, is he still [10]determined to go on if the next few days do not bring us to land?"

The ship's doctor nodded almost sullenly, yet there was pride in his voice when he spoke. "The admiral will not turn back. Not though the very boards of our three vessels mutiny and refuse him obedience. He will go on!"

"It is madness. It is already seventy days since we left our fair land of Spain, and——"

Bernal interrupted him with a mocking laugh. "'Our fair land of Spain'," he sneered, "is not the land of the Jew nor have we found it fair." But before he could speak further, the other clapped a warning hand over his mouth.

"Hush!" exclaimed the little pilot, "Hush! We may be overheard, and, though our admiral is gentle to the sons of Israel, it might fare ill with us if the crew were to learn that there were 'secret Jews' on board. See, some one is coming——. Be silent," and he pointed to one who moved slowly toward them.

But Bernal laughed. "It is only Luis de Torres, the interpreter, one of our own people. Shalom Aleicha," he addressed himself to the newcomer, who answered, "Aleichem Shalom," but softly, glancing over his shoulder as he did so.

"Even in the midst of the Sea of Darkness you fear to use our holy tongue," taunted the physician. "We are no longer in Spain where the very walls of our houses had ears to hear our Shema and tongues to betray us to the officers of the Inquisition when we failed to come to their cursed masses." His [11]face twisted with rage as he pointed to his useless foot. "In Valencia I was denounced to the Inquisition, tortured almost unto death. But I escaped with my life; and now instead of spending my last days in peace in the land of my fathers I have come on this mad voyage across a sea without shore." He laughed harshly. "Yet even on these endless waves, I am safer than in the pleasant land of Spain."

Luis de Torres, who had stood leaning over the vessel's side, turned toward the speaker, his sensitive face showing pale and grave in the light of the swaying lantern. "Ah, Bernal," he said sadly, "has not the whole world become a great sea of endless waves for the unhappy children of Israel?" He shuddered slightly and drew his rich cloak more tightly about him. "I am a strong man; but I sicken and grow faint when I think of the tens of thousands of our brethren we saw scourged from the land of Spain even as we embarked and our three vessels were about to leave the port."

"Truly," Alonzo muttered, "truly, even a strong man may wish to forget what our eyes have seen. Night after night as I stand at my wheel I can see them, old men and little children and women with their babes. Where will they find rest?"

"There is no rest for Israel." It was Bernal who spoke in his sullen passion. "'Twas the ninth of Ab when our brethren were driven forth—the ninth of Ab; the day on which our Temple fell. Then we were scattered beneath the sky, but we thought at last that in the land of Spain we had found a [12]refuge. But there is no refuge for Israel, no rest for Him until death."

The sad eyes of Luis de Torres glowed with a strange light. "Nay, friend," he corrected gently, "the God of Israel will not forget His children forever. Who knows that this new route to India, of which the admiral dreams, may not lead us to a new land, an undiscovered place where no Jew will suffer for his faith. But, O God!" he cried with sudden pain, "We have waited so long, and still our people wander and are tossed to and fro, as we are tossed about by the waves of this unknown sea. Must each century bring its new Tisha B'ab, must we indeed suffer forever? Where is rest for us? What land will give us refuge?"

He raised his face to the brightening sky, his hands tearing at the gold chain about his throat. No one spoke for a moment, nor even moved until Alonzo turned back to his wheel, his eyes bright with strange tears. A cry burst from him; a cry of unbelieving joy.

"Land! Land!" and he pointed a trembling finger toward the misty outlines of palm trees, straight and slender beneath the early morning sky. Bernal echoed his cry with a great shout and in a moment, from every part of the ship, men came pouring, wide-eyed and unbelieving that they had crossed the Sea of Darkness at last. In their midst came a quiet man; a tall man with iron-gray hair and a firm mouth, who at first spoke no word, only gazed dumbly at the fulfillment of his dreams, stretching before him in the silvery light.

[13]"We have reached India," said Columbus at last.

Those about him laughed shrilly in their joy or wept or prayed. Alonzo, his eyes snapping with excitement, wrenched his wheel with hands no longer tired, and Bernal, the sneer for once absent from his lips, gazed with tense face toward the palm trees.

Only Luis de Torres stood apart, his face still convulsed from his passionate outburst of grief for his people. For, like the others, he could not know that instead of a new route to India a mighty continent had been discovered; nor did the unhappy dreamer dream that a very land of refuge and of hope for the wandering sons of Israel, lay before him across the smiling waters.






[14]

WHEN KATRINA LOST HER WAYToC

A Tale of the First Jewish Settlers of New Amsterdam.


The warm spring sunshine forced its way through the tiny diamond-shaped window panes to fall in a bright pool of light upon the table cloth and blue cups and bowls Mary Barsimon had brought with her from Holland. It was a pleasant room, shining with the exquisite neatness that characterized the dwelling of every Dutch housewife in New Amsterdam with the same simple, well-made furniture and bright hand-woven rugs. Yet it differed strikingly in two or three details from the other homes in the Dutch settlement; on the mantle-piece, above the blue-tiled fire-place, stood two brass candle-sticks for the Sabbath, while on the eastern wall hung a quaint wood-cut representing scenes from the Bible; Abraham sacrificing Isaac, Jacob dreaming of the ladder reaching up to heaven. This Mizrach, Samuel's father had once told him, hung upon the eastern wall of every good Jewish home, that at prayer all might be reminded to turn toward the east and face the site of the Temple at Jerusalem. For centuries the Temple had been in ruins and the children of those who had worshipped there scattered to the four corners of the earth. Jacob Barsimon himself had wandered from Spain to Holland, from Amsterdam to Jamaica, from Jamaica to the Dutch [15]colony of New Amsterdam upon the Atlantic; yet in all his wanderings he had brought with him the old Mizrach; and he still taught his twelve-year-old son to pray with his face toward the land of his fathers.

It was before this Mizrach that Jacob Barsimon stood one early spring morning in the year 1655, when New Amsterdam was still free from the rule of the English who were to re-name the colony New York. He stared at it with unseeing eyes, frowning darkly, his long, slender hands plucking nervously at the buttons of his coat. Samuel, assisting the young colored slave girl in removing the breakfast dishes, glanced at his father from time to time a little nervously, although he could not recall any prank or misdeed on his part that might have angered him. But his mother, after watching her husband for a few moments from her low chair at the window where she sat dressing the chubby two-year-old Rebecca, broke the heavy silence by asking:

"What is wrong, Jacob? What troubles you?"

For a moment Jacob Barsimon said nothing, but frowned more darkly than ever. At last he spoke. "Have you forgotten that a month from tomorrow is Samuel's birthday—that he will be thirteen?"

A tender smile played about the mother's mouth. "Surely, I remember the day he was born as well as though it were yesterday." She sighed a little, her hands busy with the buttons of the little girl's dress, her eyes gazing dreamily through the window. "We were still in Amsterdam, in dear old Holland, with [16]our own people. Do you remember, Jacob, how on the day when he was made a 'Son of the Covenant,' your old uncle acted as godfather and all of our neighbors——"

Jacob Barsimon interrupted her with a bitter laugh. "Neighbors! Yes, we had neighbors then, our own people, who were with us in joy and sorrow. But here, Jacob Aboaf and I are merely tolerated by the burghers. True, they allowed us to land when we came from Jamaica on the 'Pear Tree.' They have allowed me to trade with the Indies—as well they might, for even Peter Stuyvesant himself dare not say that we two Hebrews have ever been guilty of dishonesty in our trading ventures. But we are not at home here as we were in Holland or Jamaica; we are aliens and strangers and now comes this last insult to our people—to refuse them the right of residence here."

Frau Barsimon nodded gravely. "Yes, I know well why your heart is so bitter with disappointment when you think that it is almost time for our Samuel's barmitzvah and that save our neighbor, Jacob Aboaf, there may be none of our own people here to help us rejoice when Samuel becomes a 'Son of the Law.' And yet," she spoke cheerily enough, rocking the rosy baby upon her knee, "and yet, who knows but that by next Shabbath our Jewish friends will be granted the right of settling here? And if they are still here when Samuel's birthday comes," she nodded brightly to the wondering boy who had remained near the table, drinking in every word, "you will have a minyan (ten men required for a [17]Jewish ceremony) to hear you recite your barmitzvah speech and eat the feast I shall prepare for them." She sprang up suddenly, the baby tucked under one arm as she began to pile dishes with her free hand, scolding the slave girl as energetically as she worked for not having the table cleared. For if Frau Barsimon ever allowed herself the luxury of a moment's rest or gossip, she never failed to regain lost time by working twice as hard—and noisily—as soon as she took hold again.

"Father," asked Samuel, forgetting the cakes and ale of his barmitzvah party for a moment, "just why won't they let the Jews who came from South America last fall live in New Amsterdam like the rest of us? In Holland the Dutch were always kind to our people and in the Indies they allowed you to trade in peace."

Barsimon did not answer until the slow-handed, sharp-eared little slave girl had followed his wife into the kitchen. When he spoke his voice was tinged with a harsh bitterness. "Wiser men than you have asked that question, my boy, and no one has yet found an answer. True, Holland and those lands ruled by the Dutch have been places of refuge for us. No wonder that the poor souls who left Brazil in the 'St. Catarina' hoped to receive honorable treatment here at the hands of the burghers. It may be that they fear the rivalry of our brethren in trade, if more of us be allowed to take up residence in New Amsterdam. And perhaps," he spoke with a sort of grudging honesty, "perhaps, one can scarcely blame the worthy burghers for mistrusting [18]the newcomers and refusing to grant them welcome. They were unfortunate enough to have been robbed at Jamaica where they rested on their journey; when they reached here there was the disgrace of an auction in which their goods were sold to pay for their passage, and two of the passengers, David Israel and Moses Ambrosius, were held for security. You remember how a law suit was brought against them by Jacques de la Motthe, master of the vessel, for this same passage money; and although the matter is now settled, some of our honest citizens are not ready to welcome strangers who they believe are little better than vagabonds and paupers."

"But, father," protested the boy, "a goodly number out of the twenty-seven who came on the 'St. Catarina' last autumn have received gold from their brethren in Holland. All except the very poorest one. And I heard mother telling Frau Aboaf that you could ill afford giving all you did to help the poor widow on board the 'St. Catarina' and——"

"Jacob Aboaf and I have done but little,"—half-growled Barsimon, as though ashamed of the charity he was always ready to do by stealth. "And they were our brethren." He became silent again, striding to the window and scowling out into the bright spring sunshine. At last: "But perhaps we have managed to serve them with our pens as well as gold. Jacob Aboaf and I, with a few of our good Dutch townsmen, have written to the directors of the Dutch West India Company in Amsterdam, praying that these Jews, now forbidden lodging here, be allowed the rights and privileges, of all good [19]citizens. The directors should listen to our plea, for a large amount of the company's capital comes from Jewish purses. We might have heard favorably from them long ago had it not been for the stubborn hatred of Governor Stuyvesant, whose letters have poisoned their minds against us."

"But we have never harmed Governor Stuyvesant," observed Samuel, "so why should his hand be against us?"

Jacob Barsimon laughed grimly, lowering his voice as he answered, for he was a cautious man and did not care to risk having his words carried through the town by the little slave girl Minna, now clattering the breakfast dishes as she moved about the kitchen. "Does Peter Stuyvesant ever need a reason for his follies?" he asked dryly. "His head is as hard as his wooden leg and never a new idea has pierced his brain since the day he was born. He hates our people with as much reason as our black Minna fears witches and the evil eye. It is said that he has written to the directors at Amsterdam, begging that none of the Jewish nation be permitted to infest New Netherlands. He has used those very words in public places; infest the colony and be like a plague of hungry locusts. Perhaps he really believes the evil things he says of our brethren. Even eyes as shrewd as his may be blinded by hate. And one can understand his bitterness, his hardness of heart toward all mankind. His post here is not easy, harrassed by the savages on our borders, the Swedes, even the English, who have already cast covetous eyes upon this rich port. While his [20]private life—" the man's stern face grew rather tender—"has not been very happy. It is said that he left a half-sister in Holland, the one creature he ever loved or who knew his kindlier side. A few months ago her husband died and she dared the voyage with her little daughter that they might make their home with the governor. But the vessel was lost at sea and she was drowned. Only a sailor or two and several passengers survived and one of them brought the little girl to Peter Stuyvesant."

"I heard Minna tell of her," interrupted Samuel. "She says that once she helped the governor's cook carry the Sunday dinner home from market and she saw little Katrina playing on the great stairway of Peter Stuyvesant's house. Minna says she has long golden curls and her eyes are blue—blue as the little flowers that grow near the Wall every spring. I wonder we never see her, father!"

Barsimon sat down on the low settle beside the window and lighted his long pipe, puffing thoughtfully and gazing into the smoke as he spoke. "I would not have you repeat this, son, for it may be but idle gossip. But it is reported that since her mother's death the child has become the idol of the governor's hard, old heart. He is filled with foolish fears that he may lose her as cruelly as he lost her mother before her. He scarcely ever permits her to stir abroad and then only when she is followed by one of his faithful black slaves." He arose with his characteristic abruptness, and walking to the chest of drawers across from the fire-place, changed his black silken skull cap to the [21]broad-brimmed hat of his Dutch neighbors. "Forget what I have said," he told his son, briefly. "We live here only on sufferance and must guard our tongues. But you are a good lad and I know I need never regret having confided in you. And now study your barmitzvah portion. Even if the folk from the 'St. Catarina' are deported before your birthday and there is no minyan here and we can have no real feast in your honor, I would have you do your sainted grandfather credit and please your mother who has waited so long for the day when you should be old enough to be considered a man among our people." For a moment his hand lay kindly upon the boy's shoulder; then, with a shrug as though to shake off any foolish tenderness for the son he loved so dearly, he passed out of the house.

Samuel watched him from the window until his stolid, heavy-set figure disappeared down the winding road. Then, finding his portion in the Hebrew book which his father treasured so highly in those days when printed Hebrew books were still a rarity, he sank down on the settle and tried to concentrate on the task which his father had left for him. But more than once his dark eyes glanced from the heavy Hebrew characters to the pleasant scene that lay beyond the window; a scene one would never associate with crowded, bustling New York of our own day; the low, comfortable looking houses of the Dutch burghers, nestling under the great trees; the well-scoured windows blinking like so many sleepy eyes in the warm spring sunshine. It was a day for dreaming and adventure, not for study.

[22]For a little while the boy sat with his head resting upon the low window sill, his young mind busy with half-formed fancies, most of them circling about his talk with his father concerning the unhappy passengers of the 'St. Catarina.' Would the unfortunates be obliged to seek shelter elsewhere, or would they be allowed to dwell in New Amsterdam? If so, perhaps in time other Jewish families might come, bringing with them boys of his own age, among whom he might find a real playfellow. He sighed a little wistfully at the thought, for he had no close friends among the sturdy young Dutch lads of the neighborhood. Even a girl would be better than no one, he thought; not a mere baby like his little sister, but a girl old enough to play with him, to visit the Indians dwelling a little beyond the Wall, to wander with him to the other end of the settlement and stand upon the sea shore, searching for shells or lying upon the shining sands and weaving fantastic dream stories, too foolish for older and wiser folks to hear.

The boy fell to dreaming now, sitting there in the warm sunshine, for he was a quiet, thoughtful lad, unaccustomed to playing with youths of his own age, given to day-dreams and fairy legends. Today, as he half reclined on the settle near the window, his busy young brain painted a picture so strange that even Samuel himself had to smile over it; for as he gazed through the window with half-closed lids, the dusty road and little Dutch houses faded away and he seemed to see a shining, white street with tall buildings on either side, and many, many [23]people—more than he had ever seen in his life, even in Amsterdam across the seas—hurrying to and fro. He had heard his father say, nodding gravely over his pipe, that some day little New Amsterdam would be one of the greatest sea ports in the world. Jacob Aboaf had hooted at his friend's prophecy; but as he recalled it today, Samuel did not laugh. His day dream was very real to him, and when his mother came into the room she found him staring through the window with a strange smile about his mouth.

Frau Barsimon was a busy woman, with no time for day-dreams and she was often annoyed (and secretly alarmed) at her son's tendency to wander off into a world of his own making. Now she shook him, but gently, and spoke with her usual briskness.

"Samuel, Samuel, have you nothing better to do than sit nodding like an old spinning woman in the sunshine?"

The boy started guiltily, indicating his open book with a shame-faced laugh. "Father told me to study—barmitzvah," he faltered.

His mother shrugged goodnaturedly. Pious Jewess that she was, she was often inclined to quarrel with her husband who, she declared, was too fond of keeping the boy tied to his Hebrew lessons. "He needs a strong body now," she used to say when demanding an extra play-hour for Samuel. "When he is older and his head is less stuffed with dreaming it will be time enough to cram it with your learning. But first let him play out in the open air until he is tired and the fresh wind has blown all his [24]nonsense away." She was thinking the same heresy that moment, but all she did was to smile goodhumoredly and pull the boy to his feet. "Out of doors with you," she commanded, gayly, "and I will speak to father. Take a walk—a long one, and when you come back you will be able to study without falling half-asleep over your book."

Samuel needed no urging. A moment later he had kissed his mother good-bye, helped himself to a handful of sugar cookies from her blue crockery jar, and was whistling down the dusty road, feeling strangely anxious for some adventures; adventures as heroic as his father often related before the fire on winter evenings. His mother might have thrown up her hands in despair had she seen the dreamy look in his large eyes. True, he was no longer drowsing on the settle, but as he swung along under the soft spring sky, he saw himself the hero of a hundred fantastic tales—the captain of a trading-vessel bound for the Indies; the commander of a company of daring youths of his own age, all ready to resist the Indians when they should seek to fall upon New Amsterdam; again, a pirate with a plumed hat and a flashing sword. So, lost in dreaming, he wandered on down the quiet streets to the Wall which marked the boundary of the Settlement.

Suddenly realizing that he was tired and hungry, Samuel threw himself upon the grass, and taking his cookies from his pocket, began to munch them contendedly, wondering just what heroic deed he should plan for his next undertaking. But in the middle of a bite he stopped short, sitting up suddenly and [25]rubbing his eyes as though he had been asleep and feared he was still dreaming.

There on the grass beside him sat a little girl, almost his own age he judged; a little girl with golden hair and eyes as blue as the flowers growing in the young grass about them. To the simple lad she seemed as richly dressed as a fairy princess, for her frock was of flowered silk, she wore silver buckles upon her little shoes, and her daintily flounced cap was fastened at either ear with a quaint medallion of beaten gold. Samuel took in all of these details slowly, half afraid to speak lest he should drive away the delicate little creature, who had risen from the grass and now stood poised for flight like a gaily tinted butterfly. Then she spoke, and he knew there was very little of the fairy about her and that she was almost as human as himself.

"Boy," she said in unmistakable Dutch, pointing to the half-eaten cake in his hand, "boy, give me that. I am hungry." She spoke like one accustomed to instant obedience, taking the cake without a word of thanks and eating it prettily, her large blue eyes never leaving Samuel's wondering face. When nothing remained, she again held out her hand, with her pretty, imperious gesture. "More," said the little lady, and Samuel gave her his last cooky, wishing heartily that he had brought his mother's blue crockery jar along for the little lady's pleasure.

"I'm sorry," he said humbly, "but I ate the others before I knew you were coming. They are good, aren't they? Does your mother ever bake sugar [26]cakes?" he ended in a desperate attempt to make conversation.

She shook her blond head. "My mother is dead," she told him. "She was drowned and I would have been drowned, too, but a brave sailor held me tight until he found a spar and he tied me to it and we floated and floated and floated until a big ship passed us and brought us here." She spoke between bites, very calmly, as though her tale, as thrilling as any of Samuel's dream adventures, was no uncommon story for a dainty little maid to tell on a spring morning.

"Now I know who you are," Samuel exclaimed, forgetting his shyness in his delighted surprise. "Your name is Katrina and you live with the governor and your mother was lost at sea."

Katrina, having finished her cooky, pensively picked up the few crumbs from her lap as though she were still hungry. "I live with Uncle Peter," she corrected. "He is very good to me and gives me pretty presents;—he gave me these on my birthday," and she touched the gold medallions upon her ears complacently. "Only he never lets me go out and play alone like the other little girls who sometimes visit me say they do, and I get tired of staying in the garden. And when I go out walking with old black Daniel behind me, it is just as hard as staying at home. I want little girls and boys to play with and take me places;—I get tired of my dolls," she ended wistfully.

Samuel nodded with understanding sympathy. To have this little stranger maid listen to his stories [27]or follow him on his lonely rambles! If he might even go to play with her sometimes in the garden behind Peter Stuyvesant's house. He frowned at the thought: it was not hard to picture the old governor falling into one of his rages at the insolence of the Jewish boy who dared to walk down the garden path. And yet what fun they would have had with every bush a mysterious fairy castle, every tree a pirate ship to take them across the Main. He sighed regretfully, turning to listen to his companion's bright chatter.

"I suppose they're looking all over for me," she laughed mischievously, "cook and black Daniel and Uncle Peter, too. Won't he be cross! He was so cross this morning when he got a letter from Holland, a big letter with a big red seal, and he'll be crosser yet when I'm not home for dinner." She tossed her sunny curls defiantly. "But he won't dare to scold me; he'll scold everybody else and shake his cane at them, but he won't dare to be cross to me."

"But I think you ought to go home," suggested Samuel. "It isn't right to worry your uncle so when he is so good to you and gives you such nice presents."

She made a roguish little face. "I can't go home," she giggled, teasingly, "I've never been out alone and I lost my way almost as soon as I left the garden. So I'll just have to stay here all day until somebody from home comes and finds me." She sprang up, shaking out her silken skirts, dancing gayly in her little buckled shoes. "Come, boy," she commanded [28]imperiously, "Come and play with me." She fumbled in the pocket of her black satin apron and drew out a tiny worsted ball. "Let's play ball," she cried, "and then we'll run races and climb that tree over there and maybe you can tell me stories when I'm tired. My old nurse in Holland used to tell me brave tales, but I don't like those black Daniel tells—all about charms and goblins. Do you know any nice stories, boy?"

"Yes, a few," admitted Samuel modestly. His cheeks, usually so pale, were flushed with excitement; the little playfellow of his dreams seemed to have come to life in the flower-strewn meadow. He caught the bright ball she tossed to him and laughed with pleasure. "You catch wrongly," he chided her, "but I like to play with you."

The afternoon sped on golden wings. Perhaps neither of the children would have dreamed of the lateness of the hour had not Katrina interrupted Samuel in the middle of one of his glowing tales, exclaiming, "I'm hungry, now. I wonder what cook has for supper?"

Samuel started. The story of the old sea captain he had been telling his new friend was very real to him; he could almost see the old, ancient, weather-beaten vessel, hear the waves beating on the shores of that distant island where the golden treasure lay hidden for so many years. Now his dream people faded away and he saw that the sun was setting and felt the air growing chill and damp about them. He rose a little wearily and helped Katrina to her feet.

"We must go home," he said, gravely. "Perhaps [29]we did wrong to stay so long, but it was fun to play together, wasn't it? And did you like my stories?"

She nodded, bending to pick up the bouquet he had gathered for her earlier in the afternoon. "I like them as well as the tales my nursie used to tell," she commented, approvingly. "You'll show me the way home, won't you?"

Hand in hand, they walked slowly back to the dusty street that led to the governor's house. At the gate, Samuel was about to bid his little friend good-bye, but she caught his hand and drew him in after her. "Oh, you must stay," she protested, "you must stay and let Uncle Peter thank you for bringing me home. And I want you to tell me another story after supper. You must come in!"

"But my mother will be worried," declared Samuel, "and father——"

"We'll have Daniel go and tell them you are here," she solved the problem easily. Then she ran up the broad stairs, crying gaily, "Oh, Uncle, I've had the loveliest time," as a short, stern-faced man appeared in the doorway; a man with a silver-banded wooden leg and leaning on a heavy cane.

"Katrina!" he exclaimed with some sternness, but she pulled his hard face down to hers for a kiss.

"I've had such a lovely time," she cooed, "and this nice boy found me and brought me home. Thank him, Uncle Peter, and have him come in and tell me some more stories."

Samuel drew back; but the governor nodded for him to enter, and, feeling miserably shy and [30]uncertain of himself, he followed the pair into the house. The room they entered was richly furnished, but gloomy. Samuel, boy that he was, felt how much lovelier his mother's simple living room was with its shining brass and the few plants blooming at the window. The governor sat down behind a long table littered with papers and drew Katrina to his knee, at the same time motioning Samuel to be seated. Then he spoke, stroking the child's golden curls, his keen eyes growing gentle as they rested upon her pretty face.

"You have been of service to my little girl and I will do my best to reward you," said Governor Stuyvesant, kindly. "What will it be, my lad, a velvet suit brought over in the last cargo from Holland, or a golden chain?" Suddenly the eyes he turned upon Samuel grew cold and keen again. "You are not one of us, yet I have seen you before. Who is your father and what is his trade?"

"I am Samuel, the son of Jacob Barsimon," answered Samuel, and suddenly all his shyness left him and he gazed fearlessly into the governor's face. "And my father is an honest merchant of New Amsterdam."

"Yes—and of the tribe of Israel," muttered the old man, his brow darkening. "I wish my little one might have been indebted to another this day; but I am as honest a man as your father and what I promise, I keep. So name what reward you will for the favor you have rendered me—and be off."

Samuel rose, his face flushing with anger at the man's insolence, yet glowing with a hope he hardly [31]dared to utter even to himself. For the time had come, he believed, when he might play the hero, as he had done so many times before in his dreams. "I want no reward," he answered quietly, "but if you would render me favor for favor, I would ask you to withdraw the restriction you have placed upon my brethren—those Jews who sought these shores on the 'St. Catarina' and who desire to make their homes here."

The governor smiled grimly. "A true Jew," he muttered, with a sort of grudging admiration for the boy's boldness, "ever ready with his bargain! But I have no longer the power to grant you or refuse you your request." He picked up from the table a long, bulky envelope, from which dangled a red seal. "This came this morning from Holland. Tomorrow I must tell the burghers that the gentlemen of the Board of Directors of the Dutch West India Company have over-ridden my suggestions; they write that I must admit these Jews, provided that the poor among them shall not become a burden to our community, as they at first seemed likely to be, but be supported by their own nation." Again his grim smile. "No fear of that, when even a boy like you thinks of his people before gifts for himself. I wish," he half mused, "I wish that we had at least that virtue of your stiff-necked race."

Little Katrina, grown weary of all this, slipped from her uncle's knees and took Samuel's hand in hers. "Come into the garden," she commanded, "I want you to see my rose bushes and my new kittens and the swing, before supper."

[32]Samuel's eyes sought the governor's face, half-he told her, gently.

Her eager face clouded. "Then you will come and play with me tomorrow?" she asked.

Samuel's eyes sought the governor's face, half-defiantly, half-wistfully. "When your uncle sends for me, I will come," he said, and, bowing in a manner that would have delighted his careful mother, he left the room. Katrina was about to follow him, but her uncle called her back rather sternly.

"Nay, do not pout, my pretty," he told her, "for I will try to find you a worthier playfellow than the son of a Jew trader."

Samuel walked home slowly through the April twilight. In the harbor he could see the dim outlines of the 'St. Catarina,' which had in truth brought the Jewish wanderers to a home in New Amsterdam. But Samuel was not thinking of the wanderers who, after their months of weary waiting, could look toward the future with hopeful eyes; nor did he feel relieved that, since they were not to be deported, the newcomers would surely come to his barmitzvah party. At that moment he thought only of the golden-curled fairy princess who would never romp and play with him again.






[33]

A PLACE OF REFUGEToC

How the Wanderer Came to Rhode Island.


It was bitter cold. The icy wind howling through the forest caught up the snow and whirled it in great eddies against the trees. Reuben Mendoza, staggering through the blinding snowflakes, hugged his little son Benjamin closer to his heart, and prayed desperately that the storm might cease or that he might soon come to a place of refuge. His own limbs were aching with fatigue and cold. He had eaten nothing since early morning and was faint with hunger. Wearied and heartsick, he would have been glad to lie down upon the ground, to sink into sleep, perhaps a painless death, with the snow drifting above him; but he knew that he must struggle on for the sake of the child he was warming in his bosom.

Suddenly Benjamin, half asleep and numb with the cold, stirred a little and complained drowsily that he was hungry. His father paused for a moment and pressed his lean, bearded face against the child's rosy cheeks. "Be patient, little one," he comforted him, "for soon we shall find a lodging for the night. Surely, no one would turn even a Jew away in a storm like this."

Again he plodded on, footsore and discouraged. The wind lashed him like a whip, and, when he raised his head, the snow cut across his forehead like stripes of fire. His lips moving almost mechanically [34]in prayer, Reuben faltered through the storm, until at last utterly exhausted he stumbled to the ground. He tried to gain his feet again, for he thought he saw a light glimmering through the trees; but he was too tired to go farther. Why should he try to reach that light, he asked himself, as he dreamily stretched his tired limbs in the snow. But he felt little Benjamin moving beneath his cloak, and with one last effort he crawled through the drifts, clinging to the trees as he moved. A few moments later he found himself before a little shack. A single tallow candle shone through the window and cast a path of light before his weary feet. Reuben lurched forward against the door; it opened beneath his weight and he fell within the hut. He had a dim vision of two men bending over him; some one was taking little Benjamin from his arms; then the warm darkness wrapped him about like a cloak, and he knew nothing more.


When Reuben opened his eyes, he found that he was resting upon a couch of skins in one corner of the hut. It was a poor place; the walls were bare, and through their chinks snows drifted upon the frozen earthen floor. Beside the pallet there was no furniture in the room save a roughly hewn table and several chairs. Near the table sat two men, the one dressed in rich garments, a sword at his side; the other clothed in dull gray, with a broad white collar and a plain beaver hat. This man held [35]little Benjamin on his knee and stroked his dark curls as the child drank greedily from the steaming cup which the kind-eyed stranger held to his lips.

Reuben sat up among the skins and noticed in surprise that his hosts had removed his wet garments and replaced them with a long, warm cloak of bearskin. What manner of men were these, he asked himself, who treated a Jewish wanderer so kindly? As he advanced timidly toward the table, the man in gray turned to him and held out his hand.

"Shalom," he said smiling.

Reuben took his hand, astonished to hear the tongue of his fathers in the wilderness of the American forests. "Shalom aleichem," he faltered. "But you are not a Jew."

The other shook his head and answered him in English, a language Reuben had learned from the trading Englishmen and adventurers he had met while in South America. "No, but I am a minister and have studied the Hebrew tongue. And I love its greeting of 'Peace.' Would that my people were lovers of peace, even as your's have been for so long."

Benjamin ran to his father. "Father," he cried, "the good gentleman gave me warm milk to drink and bread to eat and this fine cloak to wear," and he proudly smoothed the robe wrapped about his chilled limbs.

The man in gray motioned Reuben to sit beside the table and placed food and drink before him. Half-famished, Reuben ate and drank, almost fearing that it would disappear as a feast sometimes does [36]in a dream. For surely he was dreaming: when in all his wretched wandering life, had people not of his own religion given him food and shelter and received him with gentle words?

His host sat upon the couch, holding Benjamin upon his knee. Now and then he spoke to the dark, haughty man who sat watching everything lazily from beneath his half-closed lids. Twice he asked Reuben whether he desired more food or drink. At last when the guest had satisfied his hunger, the host asked him from what place he had come and to what spot he meant to journey when the storm was over.

"I know not," answered the Jew. "My father's family was driven from Spain. They fled to Brazil, and later settled in Cayenne, where among our brethren from Holland we found a resting place until the French destroyed our homes and drove us forth to be wanderers on the face of the earth. When this child's mother died, I longed to go to a far country where I might forget my grief a little and begin life anew. So I took my son and came here with other voyagers to your colony of New Amsterdam. But there they gave me no welcome, because I was a Jew;—even in this new country some there are who hate the children of Jacob." He leaned forward, his thin face alight with a wistful hope. "But there they told me of a new colony in the far wilderness,—a colony where men of every race, of every creed, were welcome. Far off in the swamps and forests, they said, a man named Roger Williams had established a refuge for all those who were [37]persecuted and despised, and had proclaimed that no man would be troubled there for the sake of his religion, that each inhabitant might worship the God of his fathers in peace. So I took my staff again and my burden upon my back and my little child within my arms, and set out for this place where my son might grow up a free man, and not be called upon to forsake the faith for which we suffered in Spain."

The man in the velvet coat leaned across the table and spoke to Reuben in Spanish. "I, too, came from Spain," he said, "and I, too, came as a refugee; yea, with a price upon my head, for I had been denounced to the officers of the Inquisition and was doomed to die. Yet I am a good Catholic and loyal, and did not deserve their hatred. Those who are not of my faith in this new land mistrust and despise me; but here, in the colony of Rhode Island, I may follow the religion of my fathers, and Roger Williams has given me his hand in brotherhood."

The quiet man rose and again held out his hand to the Jewish wanderer. "And now I give my hand to you," he said, heartily. "My colony of Rhode Island has need of men strong enough to die—yes, and to live—for the faith they will be allowed to follow here in peace and in safety."

But Reuben had caught his hand and pressed it to his heart. "You are Roger Williams, the friend of the oppressed," he said brokenly.

"Yes," answered Williams, "and this day have you found a refuge with me and my people." A look of solemn hope lighted his gentle eyes. "'Tis [38]but a lonely spot in the wilderness, and we are few in number; but some day this wide land will be a refuge to the oppressed of every nation, and all those who are persecuted and despised will find a home within its borders."

Little by little, the winds outside ceased to drive the snow against the trees; the branches no longer tossed and creaked in the gale; a great white hush seemed to bless the quiet earth. The Spaniard who had walked to the window blew out the taper and pointed toward the rosy clouds. "Dawn is breaking," he said softly, and, bowing reverently above his rosary, began to tell the beads as he recited his morning prayer. Williams took a large Bible from the shelf above the couch, opened it, and, having read his morning psalm, covered his face with his hands as he knelt beside his chair to pray. With a great joy warming his heart, Reuben, no longer a wanderer on the face of the earth, put his arm about his son, and drew him to the window that he might look upon the land that his children's children and those who came after them were to inherit as their home. Then he drew his faded, tattered talith (shawl worn in prayer) from his pack, put it about his shoulders, and, facing the glowing east, the home land of his fathers, he praised the God of Israel who had brought him to this place of refuge. "Ma tobu oholekha" ("How goodly are thy tents"), prayed Reuben, and he sobbed like a child.






[39]

"DOWN WITH KING GEORGE!"ToC

How Isaac Franks, of the American Army, first heard the Declaration of Independence.


The news had spread like wild-fire that day in early July, 1776. Although there was not one of the American recruits stationed in New York under General Washington's command who had not heard something of the great happenings in Philadelphia a few days before, every soldier felt his heart beat faster under his buff and blue coat at the thought that he, too, would hear the Declaration of Independence read before the army. They stood waiting in their ranks, the first army of the Republic: raw farmers like those who fell at Lexington, bronzed backwoodsmen whose rifles had brought more than one lurking red-skin or savage forest beast to earth, with here and there a student, fresh from his books, or a merchant who had left his desk to fight for his country. And today they were to hear, stated simply and eloquently for all time, for what principles they fought.

In the ranks stood a slender, dark-browed boy of about seventeen. The muster roll gave his name as Isaac Franks, the simple record holding no promise of the day when the Jewish boy, a distinguished veteran of the Revolution, should entertain President Washington as his guest. Today young Franks stood undistinguished among the other eager patriots and [40]the future president was only the leader of an army of untrained "rebels", knowing full well that a traitor's death awaited him if his campaign against the British proved unsuccessful.

"I wish the general would come that we might hear the document and be dismissed," remarked Franks to the soldier who stood at his side; a tall, raw-boned youth about his own age. "This hot sun is enough to melt granite and we have been assembled for almost two hours."

The other, also wearied and over-heated, looked him over with a sneer. "A fine soldier with your complaints!" was his jeering comment. "I wonder to see a Jew in our ranks, but you'll not cumber us long, I'm thinking. You Jews are fit only for trading and money lending—not fighting. You'll melt away quickly enough in the heat of your first battle."

"Listen to me, Tim Durgan," retorted Franks, quietly enough, but with a dangerous sparkle in his eyes. "I've endured your sneering ever since I came to camp and I'm growing weary of it, too. I didn't know why you wouldn't be friends with me, when I've never done anything to offend you; but if it's because I'm a Jew—"

"I want no Hebrew coward for a friend of mine," was the surly answer.

"You can call me a coward as much as you like—I'll show you you're wrong when we face the redcoats. But you're not going to insult my people—understand?"

Tim laughed contemptuously. "How are you going to stop me?" He looked down at Isaac who was [41]a full head shorter than himself and of slighter build. "Going to fight me?"

At that moment the long lines of buff and blue straightened as one man and a murmur of "the General" passed down the ranks. Franks, the angry flush slowly dying from his cheeks, straightened his shoulders and gazed straight ahead; but he was not too intent on the arrival of General Washington to fling a fierce aside to his tormentor: "That's just what I intend to do if you don't take it back—fight you until you do!"

But a moment later all private hates and insults were forgotten as the boy looked toward the general, his soul in his eyes. Seated upon his great horse, the sun streaming upon his noble, powdered head and broad shoulders, the commander of the American Army looked what he later proved himself to be—an uncrowned king of men. A long, vibrating cheer rose from the soldiers' throats; then died away as Washington raised his hand for silence.

The young officer who rode beside him unrolled a piece of paper he carried, and read in a loud, clear voice the words which today every school boy knows or should know by heart. But the boys and men, pledged to fight and die for their country, heard them for the first time that day and thrilled at the rolling sentences of the Declaration of Independence, which declared them free forever from the rule of the British tyrant, King George III.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident," the noble words rang forth to the listening soldiers, "That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by [42]their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." An answering thrill awoke in every heart. Isaac Franks felt his lashes wet with sudden tears. The son of a nation of exiles, Jews driven from land to land from the days the Romans ploughed the place where once their Temple stood, he could appreciate the blessings of a home land where even the despised Jew might know the meaning of equality and liberty and justice. Then he thought of the taunts of his comrade and his face hardened; but only for a moment was he depressed. In America—the land which had pledged itself to grant equal opportunities to all men—his was the opportunity to show what the Jew was worth. He would teach Tim and his fellows that the descendants of David and the Maccabees were soldiers worthy of their ancestors.

Smiling a little grimly, he turned his face again toward the young officer and listened with stirring pulses to the charges brought against the British king; boy that he was, he realized that he and his companions were fighting not the English people, but a servile Parliament and an unworthy ruler who, according to the Declaration, was indeed a "tyrant unfit to be the ruler of a free people." How he wished that King George himself would cross the ocean to frighten the colonists into submission; he would much rather meet him in battle than any of his overdressed officers or those wretched Hessians, sold by their ruler like so much cattle to do battle for a country in which they had no interest. Well, [43]anyhow, Isaac told himself resolutely, he would do his best to defeat the redcoats—but he would teach Tim Durgan a well-needed lesson first!

"And for the support of this declaration," ended the reader, "with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."

Silence at first—then a mighty shout from the assembled soldiers. The air rang with cries of "With our lives—With our honor!" as the men of the new Republic pledged themselves to fight for the faith she had just declared to the world. Isaac Franks looked toward Washington; the Virginian sat leaning forward slightly in his saddle. His usually calm, almost cold face was working with emotion; his lips moved as though he were about to address his men. Then he leaned toward the officer who had read the Declaration and murmured something in a low tone. The latter turned to the army.

"The general hopes," the clear tones rang forth, "that this important event will serve as an incentive to every officer and soldier to act with fidelity and courage, as knowing that now the peace and safety of the country depend, under God, solely on the success of our arms and that he is in the service of a state possessed of sufficient power to reward his merit and advance him to the highest honors of a free country."

Slowly the soldiers broke ranks, the dullest man among them touched and awed as though he had attended a new church and had consecrated himself to her service. For a moment Isaac Franks forgot his [44]jeering comrade and his own threats; he walked to his quarters, head high in the air, eyes looking far away, as boy-like he dreamed of the days when a grateful commonwealth would "reward his merit and advance him to the highest honors of a free country." He walked on air, painting the future in the bright colors known only to seventeen, forgetful of the world about him, until he was recalled to earth by a mocking laugh and the question: "Still want to fight, Jew soldier?"

Franks stiffened and turned to face his tormentor, his face hot with anger. "Yes, I'll fight you this minute," he answered so loudly that several soldiers passing by overhead his words and stopped to see the fun. "And thank you for reminding me, Durgan."

He pulled off his coat with a deliberate calm he was far from feeling at that moment, for he knew only too well that his opponent was vastly superior to him in strength and perhaps in experience as well. But Isaac did not hesitate in spite of the goodnatured advice of big Bob MacDonald who stepped up at that moment: "Let him alone, son—you can't whip him and it's no use to try."

But Tim had already taken off his coat and stood leering down upon Isaac who felt that he could never retreat now; that he would always despise himself as a coward, a traitor to the heroes of his race. Setting his teeth for the drubbing he felt certain he would receive, he struck out blindly. Then he felt a hand grip his arm so tightly that he winced with pain, and looking up, saw that General Washington stood beside him.

[45]"Well, men?" the commander's voice was very stern. "Have you nothing better to do than spend your time brawling like a couple of tavern roisterers? Give me a good and sufficient reason for such behaviour or I'll have you both tied up and flogged to teach you to act like gentlemen and soldiers of the American Army."

His quiet eyes scanned the flushed, angry faces of the two lads. He turned sharply to Franks. "I am waiting!" he said.

For a moment Isaac wavered. He had heard enough of Washington's sense of justice to realize that if the chief knew his reason for challenging Durgan he might escape with a slight reprimand, or even a word of praise for defending his race. But only for a moment. A gentleman and a soldier in the American Army, young Franks decided, did not tell tales. He shook his head.

"I am sorry, your excellency," he answered, respectfully, "but I cannot tell you the reason of our quarrel since it concerns only ourselves."

Tim Durgan, who had waited for Isaac's accusation with a mocking smile about his mouth, gave an incredulous whistle. The despised "Jew soldier" was a man after all, who would risk undeserved punishment rather than betray a comrade, no matter how much he hated him. In his sudden admiration for the boy he forgot his awe of General Washington and burst out before he was granted permission to speak.

"I'll tell you, Excellency," he cried, warmly. "I've been plaguing and tormenting the lad and for no [46]fault of his own. I never saw a Jew in my whole life before I joined the army, but I'd heard tales of them; cowards and afraid of their own shadows. And I teased the boy, never knowing he'd mind, and when he did I just kept on to spite him. And when he threatened to fight me, I wanted to laugh, for you can see for yourself, Excellency, that I'm taller and broader than he and could toss him about if I'd a mind to. But he wasn't afraid and if you hadn't come up, he'd have tried to fight me all the same." He paused for breath, smiling broadly, and held out his hand to Franks. "It's all my fault, Your Excellency, and I'm willing to take what I ought to for it, but first let me shake hands with him and tell him such a game cock ought to've been born an Irishman and no mistake."

The general smiled as the two clasped hands. Then: "I am sorry I was disorderly, Your Excellency," apologized Franks. "I would have tried to forget a personal insult but I could not stand by and allow my people to be slandered. But I know now that he did not understand."

"It takes a long time for some of us to understand, my boy," answered the general slowly, and, so thought Isaac, a little sadly, too. "But some day, God grant it, we will all understand the words you both have heard today and America will know no distinction of race, creed or station—only the worth that makes a man." He turned suddenly to Tim Durgan. "You come of a fighting breed, my man," he said warmly, "and just now when you confessed your fault you showed true courage. I need fighters [47]as strong as your Irish ancestors; learn to fight only for our country and forget your petty quarrels and prejudices." He placed a kindly hand on Isaac's shoulder. "And a boy who is as loyal a Jew as you, must be a loyal American. I hope you will always carry yourself as honorably as you did today. What is your name, my lad?"

"Isaac Franks, sir," answered the boy, flushing beneath his commander's praise.

"Isaac Franks of this city?"

"Yes, sir. I have always lived in New York and I enlisted here."

"Then you must be the boy of whom Colonel Lescher spoke to me. He said that you were so eager to serve that you even bought your own uniform and field equipment. I expect to hear from you again." He was about to pass on, then paused to add kindly: "And since this is a holiday afternoon, why not spend it abroad instead of wrangling here. Now," with a slight smile, "my Hebrew David and my Irish Jonathan, be off with you; and hereafter keep your blows for the British," he added, half jestingly, as he walked off, leaving the two lads staring somewhat sheepishly at each other as they strolled a little apart from the others.

Tim was the first to speak. "It was great of you not to tell when he asked you," he said warmly. "And if I can ever make up to you for what I said about Jews—" which proves that Tim Durgan never made a foe or a friend by halves.

"We'll forget all about that," answered Franks lightly. "But we've wasted a good part of the [48]afternoon already. Let's take a long walk and drink to our friendship in some good brown ale. I know a tavern near Bowling Green where there's always jolly company and a full measure for a men in uniform."

Chatting idly together, the two began their walk through the camp, passing rapidly down the crowded streets. There was a great stir in the city, for the storm clouds of hate against the British ruler which had been gathering for so many months had suddenly burst at the news of the signing of the Declaration at Philadelphia, and the air was heavy with protests of loyalty to the new government, and threats against King George. So when Tim and Isaac reached Bowling Green it was an excited crowd that they found there, gathered about the leaden statue of King George III; men and half-grown boys, with here and there a soldier enjoying his half-holiday.

"One would think the British were already here," Tim growled goodnaturedly. "If these merchants would stop cackling together like the hens in my father's poultry yard at home, and shoulder a gun, we'd drive Master George's tin soldiers and the Hessians back across the water so quick they'd hardly know they'd been here at all."

From the confused murmur of many voices came one rumbling cry which the boys caught and smiled to hear: "Down with King George! We are free men. Down with King George!"

A thin little man in a black coat elbowed his way to the base of the statue from which vantage point he tried to address the crowd. "Friends," he [49]quavered, as the uproar died, the idle mob ever ready for some new amusement, "friends, don't be too rash. Look before you leap. We are only a handful of untrained farmers and merchants. The armies of King George——"

But before he could speak further, the crowd suddenly broke lose with: "Another cursed Tory! He is in the King's hire!—Drag him down!—Hang him to a tree to teach other Tories and traitors to hold their tongues!"

The suggestion was like a fire brand to dry timber. Before the two soldiers on the outskirts of the crowd could fully realized what had happened, a stout apprentice lad in a leather apron had procured a rope which another brawny fellow flung around the Tory's neck. He tried to plead for mercy but his voice was silenced by the howling of the mob, so desperate in its rage against the king that they sought blind vengeance on their victim for daring to speak in his behalf.

Isaac started forward, his face white and tense. "Come, Tim," he cried, "We must make them set him free."

The Irishman shrugged. "A Tory more or less! Let them hang him and welcome."

Isaac Franks did not answer. He only pushed his way through the mob, the crowd giving place to his uniform. He knew he could do nothing against them single-handed; yet he felt that he could not let this innocent man die. And, curiously enough, he thought less of the Tory's fate than the shame that would fall upon the people of his native [50]city, if they committed such a crime in their reckless fury. He neared the front where several older and cooler citizens stood trying in vain to persuade the angry patriots to release the Tory. Then a splendid thought flashed through his quick mind, and springing lightly upon the leaden statue, he cried in a ringing voice: "I come from General Washington."

The magic name hushed the angry crowd. They waited eagerly for the boy's words.

"I serve the general of the American Army," continued Franks, "and I am as loyal as any of you, for I carry a gun to defend my country while you do nothing but cackle, cackle like the hens in a poultry yard." The crowd, quick to respond to every suggestion, laughed goodhumoredly at Tim's mocking description which was now standing his friend in good stead. "And you have as much brains as the hens in a poultry yard," continued the boy, following his advantage, "for instead of pulling out the roots of your trouble, you attack this poor fool who never saw King George and is not even one of his soldiers." He leaned down and half pulled the rope from the Tory's neck. "He is not worthy the honor of hanging. Use your good rope to haul down the statue of his Gracious Majesty, King George III—which has cumbered our city too long. And melt the lead into bullets which the soldiers of General Washington will use against any Briton who dares to enter our New York."

A roar of applause broke from the crowd. "Down with King George!" they cried as a dozen eager [51]hands pulled the rope from the frightened Tory's neck and flung it about the statue. The Tory, only too glad to make his escape, crept away unnoticed in the crowd, already intent upon pulling the leaden effigy to the ground. They tugged as one man, that howling, maddened mob until with a great crash the deposed statue of the hated British king lay upon the ground. Then: "Bullets" was the cry, "bullets for our soldiers," as, laughing and shouting, the citizens of New York dragged the statue away to be melted into bullets for colonial rifles.

Isaac Franks looked longingly after them. But he knew that it would soon be time for "taps" and he dared not be late. With a little sigh, he turned his face toward the camp, where, under General Washington, he hoped to learn to become a good soldier of the Republic.






[52]

THE LAST SERVICEToC

The Story of a Rabbi Who Lived in New York When it Was Captured by the British in 1776.


A Sabbath hush brooded over the garden of the Rev. Mr. Gershom Mendes Seixas, minister of New York's one synagogue, Shearith Israel. The tall pink and white hollyhocks that bordered the prim paths nodded languidly in the warm September breeze. From the trees came the twitter of sparrows, now low and conversational, now high and shrill, "just like people in the synagogue," thought little David Phillips, as he strolled in his grandmother's garden on the other side of the hedge. And if David had pulled aside the white curtains of the Rabbi's study windows, he would have seen that the same Sabbath peace filled the low-ceilinged room, the walls covered with books, most of them rather forbidding in their musty, leather bindings. A peaceful, restful room on the Jewish rest day; but, boy as he was, David would have seen at a glance that Rabbi Seixas was not at peace with himself. A keen-eyed, quick-moving young man of about thirty, he paced restlessly up and down between the bookshelves, his hands clasped behind his back, his brows knit in thought. Several times he glanced at the tall clock his father had brought from Lisbon; it would soon be time for him to go to the synagogue; but what message had he to give his people?

[53]Down the quiet street came the roll of drums, and David rushed to the gate, wishing with all his heart that he might follow the soldiers. But he knew that his grandmother expected him to take her to the synagogue, and he did not dare to leave the garden; instead he stood kicking holes in the path with his shining Sabbath boots which at that moment he hated with all his might, just as he hated the ruffles of fine linen that his grandmother had painfully stitched for him with her loving, rheumatic old fingers, and his Sabbath suit in which he was never allowed to romp or play. And at that moment, with the British actually knocking at New York's front door, one could hardly blame a small boy for growing impatient at the restrictions of a doting old grandmother, no matter how much she might indulge the orphan grandson whom his dying father had left in her charge the year before. If he were only a man, thought David, longingly; only old enough to be with General Washington's troops across the river. But a ten-year-old boy, who couldn't even play the drum like Frank Morris, the apprentice lad who had run away to join the army, couldn't serve his country any better than a feeble old lady like Grandma or a minister like the rabbi next door.

The roll of drums had startled the rabbi as well as his young neighbor and he now appeared in his garden, walking with swift, nervous steps to the gate. At first, he did not seem to see David; only stared down the road with wide, eager eyes, his hands gripping the rails of the gate until his knuckles showed hard and white; then, as the drums grew fainter, his [54]shoulders relaxed a little, he sighed deeply, and, turning toward David, nodded kindly, even smiling, as though he had no deeper thought in his mind than giving his young friend a Sabbath greeting.

"Good Shabbas," said the rabbi. "I see you're all ready for service, my lad."

"Yes, sir. I'm just waiting for Grandmother." From far off came the last sound of the drums. "Did you hear the drums, sir? I wonder whether more of our troops are coming to the city."

The minister's face darkened. "Rather the American troops are leaving it, I fear," he answered gravely. "Mr. Levy who came by early this morning told me that four British ships have already passed up North River, and that there are about the same number anchored in Turtle Bay. They may make a landing at any time—and if they do——" he smiled somewhat grimly, "well, I fear, my lad, that we will be living in a British province."

But David had heard too much from his cousins in Philadelphia of the glorious doings of a few months before, the Declaration of Independence signed in July, the ringing of the great Liberty Bell. And he answered as sturdily as any other boy of 1776 might have done: "No, sir. The British may take the city, but no true-born American will submit to their rule."

Rabbi Seixas smiled a little at his fire. "But what will you do, David? They are already at our gates. From what I have heard not even General Washington, lying across the river with his troops, can stay the British now. General Howe will hold a [55]tight rein over the city and we must learn to bow our shoulders to the yoke."

David stiffened his small shoulders stubbornly as though he actually stood before the hated English officer. "The good people of Boston," he began, proudly, "were not afraid of the redcoats—" then stopped, for his older companion did not have to remind him of the fate of the Boston citizens shot down on the public common by the soldiers of King George.

"Ah, little David," said the minister, sadly, reading his thoughts, "we will be just as powerless before our foe as our ancestors were before the Philistines."

A merry twinkle sparkled in David's eyes; he was a bright little fellow and he had not studied Hebrew and Jewish history all the long winter with the Rev. Mr. Seixas without learning a few lessons very helpful in time of need. "Didn't David and his sling frighten the whole Philistine army away?" he asked, mischievously.

The minister did not smile. "But the Lord was on David's side," he answered, gravely. "Today he seems to have deserted His People."

Down the street came a man whose white hairs might have marked him as aged had not his bright eyes and resolute bearing spoken of undying youth. He paused a moment at the gate, bowing to the Rabbi with all the formal courtliness of his day.

"Good Shabbas, Mr. Gomez," said the minister. "You are on your way to the synagogue?"

"Yes. Perhaps it may be the last service we will have in Shearith Israel before the cursed British guns blow our roof about our ears," answered the older [56]man. "Alas, Mr. Seixas, when you were elected our Rabbi but a year ago, I predicted a long and fruitful term of service for you in our midst. But now—" a hopeless shrug completed the sentence.

"Believe me, I shall not fail in my duty as long as I serve the congregation of Shearith Israel," answered the young Rabbi, rather stiffly.

"I know—I know." The white head nodded gloomily. "You will do what you can as a priest, but this war must be won by men. I have lived almost seventy years, Mr. Seixas, and have always sought to be a good Jew and hold up the hands of those who served the Lord, as I know you strive to do. And in times of peace, a man of your learning and purity of heart is a worthy leader. But in these times that try men's souls, we need not priests, but men," he repeated and walked slowly away.

"What did he mean, Mr. Seixas?" asked David as the old man disappeared down the street. His eager little ears had taken in every word of the conversation; but he had not dared to ask questions while his elders were conversing, and had remained silent as a well-bred lad of his day was taught to do. "Does he mean we shouldn't have rabbis and ministers when there's a war?"

The rabbi shook his head. "Not exactly that, David. But perhaps he wishes that today we had fighting priests like the old Maccabees, those men who went to battle with swords in their hands, prayers in their hearts. And old Mr. Gomez is a fit descendant of those heroes," he cried with sudden warmth. "Old as he is, he offered to form a [57]company of soldiers for service and enlist himself. When he was told that he was too old to take the field, he said: 'I could stop a bullet as well as a younger man.' It is such a spirit that wins wars, David."

"That's splendid!" exclaimed the boy. "I know how he feels—just sitting around New York and waiting for the British to come and rule over us! If I were only old enough to go and fight, too! I wish," wistfully, "I were grown up like you. Then I wouldn't have to be here today, waiting to go to the synagogue with Grandmother. I'd be with Frank and General Washington and be fighting for my country."

The minister's cheeks flushed; he winced as though the boy's innocent words had hurt him deeply. When he spoke it seemed that he was almost thinking aloud; that he had forgotten his young companion on the other side of the hedge.

"How can I lay aside my clergyman's cloak for the soldier's uniform?" he asked, slowly. "And how can I leave my bride of a year—perhaps never to return to her? And my people—I have not been with them any longer: surely, my duty is to them; to guide and lead them in this time of danger and uncertainty. Otherwise I would be like a shepherd who rushes off to fight the robbers of the mountains, while his flocks are torn by wolves that ravage close at hand."

He spoke as though he were reciting the words of a speech already written and learned by rote, thought David, half-wondering if the minister weren't learning his sermon for that morning. For how [58]could the boy know that Mr. Seixas had again and again repeated to himself the very arguments he was now uttering aloud for the first time. Suddenly the young man who had stood like one in a dream, leaning upon the gate, his eyes looking far way, turned toward him and smiled almost in apology.

"Have you wondered at my words, little David?" he asked, almost lightly. "Ah, in days like these, one says many strange and unheard-of things. I have tried to refrain from speaking, for now mere words are idle and of little worth. But when I think of my New York—the city in which I was born and reared—in the hands of the British, I must speak, or my heart would choke me." His hand tugged at the linen stock about his throat. "God of Israel," he muttered, "in these dark days, give Thy servant light to see Thy ways—and strength to follow them."

David, feeling strangely awkward at hearing his rabbi pray, save in the pulpit, looked longingly at the house, hoping that his grandmother would come out and end the discussion which was becoming a little difficult for him. But he knew how long it always took her to don her Sabbath silk and long gold chain and earrings, and resigned himself to listen, should the Rev. Mr. Seixas care to talk to him further.

For a few moments there was silence between them. Then the rabbi turned to David again and continued to speak to him as though he were really grown up, and not a little boy who had studied Hebrew and history with him all winter.

"I am not afraid to go into battle," he said quietly, [59]"but I feel that it will take far more bravery to fight for our country right here at home. I must be on hand to cheer and comfort my people; to teach those who lose their dear ones on the battlefield to look to our God for consolation; to teach those who stay at home to do their part too, even if it be but knitting and baking dainties for our soldiers. That will be easy," he mused, "but how can I endure living here under British rule, feeling myself a slave among a slave people?" He threw back his head, his eyes glowing with the light of battle. "Our people have wandered, many of them, from Spain to Holland, from Holland to this blessed land, to be free; how can I, a leader in Israel, bow down to the sons of Belial who will come among us!" His hands clenched the wickets of the gate; he breathed hard and was silent.

As he spoke in ringing tones, an almost forgotten picture flashed before David's eyes. He was listening again to the rabbi's story of the days when the Romans besieged Jerusalem and laid it waste and took the people captive. He remembered how Mr. Seixas had glowed with pride when he told of those ancient Jews—"Fighters all, David, who could not live as slaves."

"Mr. Seixas," asked David, suddenly, "in the old days when the Romans burned the Temple and everything, what did the rabbis do? Did they fight like Bar Kochba and the other generals?"

With a visible effort, the rabbi wrenched himself back to the present. "The Romans"—he repeated, vaguely. "What did the rabbis do?" Again his [60]voice thrilled with pride as it had done when he had first told the child the story of Bar Kochba's rebellion. "They were brave men, David; priests and warriors. Rabbi Akiba did the thing I must try to do—kept the fighters brave and loyal; and when he could do no more, he died as bravely as the bravest soldier of them all."

"But there was one rabbi who didn't die," insisted David. "I forget his name, but I liked him better than all the others because he got the best of the Romans. Don't you know—he pretended he was dead and had his pupils take him to the Emperor in a coffin, that the guards wouldn't stop them when they passed the gates. And when the Emperor asked him what he wanted, he said 'Just let me build a school and I won't trouble anybody! What was his name, Mr. Seixas?"

"You are thinking of Rabbi Johanan ben Zakkai," answered his teacher, slowly. "You are right—he did 'get the best of the Romans,' as you say. He would have died rather than breathe the air of a Roman court like Josephus; instead he continued to fight the enemy of his people; he handed down to his disciples the sword with which they were to fight through the centuries."

"What sword?" asked David, puzzled.

"Not a real sword; the study of our Law, our Torah. He opened a school at Jabneh, you remember, and there he taught his scholars to be good Jews, even though Jerusalem was destroyed." His eyes widened and again he seemed to be looking far away. "Jerusalem was destroyed, even as the [61]city of my hope will be taken from me. But Rabbi ben Zakkai escaped to Jabneh and continued the battle there!" He spoke almost in a whisper and a strange light glowed in his face. "Have you been sent to teach me the truth, David? Truly, 'out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast Thou ordained truth.'"

Mistress Seixas appeared at the doorway, a bright-faced young woman, pretty in her Sabbath finery of gay silk mantle and flowered bonnet. "I am all ready, Gershom," she told her husband as she came down the path.

"And I am ready, too, Elkallah," he answered so gravely that David felt he meant much more than the simple words implied.

David, as a boy who was not yet Bar Mitzvah, sat beside his grandmother in the Shearith Israel synagogue that bright September morning, while the drums beat in the streets and the frightened citizens buzzed excitedly in knots upon the street corners, this man contending that the British would be defeated before they even crossed the Sound, his neighbor declaring that on the morrow the redcoats would surely be encamped in the city. Within the synagogue, the Jewish citizens of New York continued to hold their Sabbath services. A goodly assembly they were; Jews of proud blood from Spain and Portugal, descendants of the early settlers in New Amsterdam, when the city of New York was still in the hand of the Dutch; a sprinkling of Ashkenazim, German and Polish Jews, who at that time were too few in number to have a congregation of their own. There were [62]many children and young people there, pupils and graduates of the religious school the congregation had founded almost fifty years before for the teaching of Hebrew, modern languages and the common branches. While among the men sat sturdy patriots, Samuel Judah, Hayem Levy, Jacob Mosez and others whose names had appeared on the Non-importation agreement in 1769, when they with their gentile neighbors had dared to protest against the tyranny of Great Britain. Benjamin Seixas was there, too, one of the first Jews to become an officer in the American Army and several other Jewish soldiers in their uniforms of buff and blue sat nearby; while directly before him, his alert face thrust forward, sat old Mr. Gomez, drinking in every word of the sermon the young rabbi delivered after the Sabbath services were over; an English sermon, destined to make Jewish history in America.

At first Rabbi Seixas spoke quietly enough, reviewing for his people the causes which had led up to the break between the mother country, England, and her colonies. He spoke of the tyranny of the king and his slavish Parliament, the unjust taxes, the quartering of troops upon a law-abiding and peace-loving people. With quiet bitterness, he repeated the old story of the children of Israel who demanded that their prophet Samuel set a king over them, and of the prophet's warning that only evil would come to a people who served a king instead of the Lord of Hosts. "And today," went on Mr. Seixas, "today, we the people of the Thirteen Colonies have a king over us far more tyrannical and unjust than the [63]oriental monarch Samuel painted of old. To this day have I been silent, breathing no word against this Pharaoh of Egypt, for the mission of Israel has ever been peace, and next to God we have been loyal to the masters He has set over us. But in times like these we are serving Him best by defying those who rule in His name, but know not His laws of mercy and of justice. The time has come at last for us to enter the Valley of Decision. Where will you stand now, my people, when the redcoats thunder at our gates? Shall we bow before Pharaoh? Nay, the same God who rescued our fathers from the Pharaoh of Egypt will rescue us and all who call upon Him, from this new tyrant who would bend our necks and fetter us like very slaves."

There was a solemn hush in the synagogue, broken only by the murmur of the passing crowds outside, the distant roll of drums. For the first time that morning David was glad he had not been allowed to run off to see the soldiers. This was not an every-week sort of sermon about keeping the Sabbath or about some dead kings with long, hard names; the rabbi no longer seemed just a quiet man in a dark coat who had a great many books and knew everything and taught him Hebrew and history. Instead, he appeared like those splendid fighting priests he had mentioned that morning, a man who talked to God—and held a sword in his hand while he prayed.

For a moment Mr. Seixas stood before his congregation, looking down into the tense, upturned faces, yet past them, as though his eyes saw visions no other man there might see. Perhaps he was [64]thinking of what a great step he had just taken; how his words had outlawed him forever in the sight of the English king; had made him an exile from the dear city of his birth. Again his hands clutched at his stock and he breathed with difficulty, but only for a moment. For his eyes met those of his young wife, Elkallah, and he smiled to reassure her and give her comfort. When he spoke again, his voice was low and clear, but as strong as a trumpet call in battle.

"Tonight, perhaps; surely, tomorrow, the British will have entered our city—but they will not find me here. For I will not serve the Lord in a sanctuary from which Freedom has departed. I will leave the city and seek for a place of refuge where the soldiers of the colonies fight for freedom. And, my people, I ask you in the words of Mattathias, that warrior priest of other days—'Those who are on the Lord's side follow me!'"

Again a long silence, then an uproar from every side. "He speaks truly! It is slavery if we remain!" "I cannot leave my property to be confiscated by the Crown." "The British will never take the city." "They will be here by sunrise." And suddenly little David's shrill voice ringing above the others, although he never realized until hours afterwards, when he was reprimanded by his grandmother, that he had dared to speak out with all the older and wiser members of the congregation:

"O Mr. Seixas, please take me along, too! I don't want to live in New York any more if the redcoats are here."

"And I will follow you," cried another voice, [65]"although my fortune be forfeit and my land be seized by the king."

"And I—and I," rang out from every corner of the synagogue.

Some were silent, those who were to remain behind, and as Tories, know the friendship of the invaders. But the greater part of the worshippers, those whose ancestors like the Pilgrim Fathers had come to these shores to seek freedom before God, responded to their rabbi's call like true soldiers about their standard bearer.

"All that the Lord hath laid upon us, that will we do," cried out a very old man, rising to his feet and trembling with age as he spoke. "My eyes are dim, but He will not close them in death until they behold the rising of the sun of freedom upon these blessed shores."

He spoke like an ancient prophet and a hush like death fell upon the people. Slowly, like a man in a dream, Rabbi Seixas walked to the Ark and took from it the Scrolls of the Law; with the eyes of a man who sees visions he clasped the Torah to his breast and spoke: "When Jerusalem was destroyed, Rabbi Johanan ben Zakkai rebuilt a spiritual Jerusalem in the little town of Jabneh where the faithful ones sat at his feet and learned the Law. I will not leave our precious Torah behind me to be used by those who remain here to serve King George instead of the King of Israel. Some time, some place God will establish a refuge for His faithful ones and there will we worship Him as free men." He spoke with a great hope in his heart, although at that moment [66]he never dreamed how during the darkest days of the Revolution he would be allowed to labor and serve in Philadelphia until he should return to New York in triumph to witness the inauguration of George Washington as president of the United States.

At a word from the minister, the Shammas (sexton) and several members of the congregation quietly removed the velvet curtains from the Ark, taking the silver pointer, the Ner Tamid (perpetual light), all the sacred symbols which had made their worship beautiful for Sabbath after Sabbath during the years of security and peace. The congregation sat motionless, like people in a dream. Laying the Torah aside, Mr. Seixas came forward, his hands raised in blessing. His voice was tremulous with tears as he spoke: "Yevorekhekha Adonai we-yishm'rekha. Yaer Adonai panov eilekha wi'chunekha. Yisa Adonai panov eilekha weyasem lekha shalom." (The Lord bless thee and keep thee. The Lord make His face to shine upon thee and be gracious unto thee. The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee and give thee peace.)

Then, the Scroll again close to his heart, he passed among the silent worshippers out into the warm September sunshine.

One by one the people followed him as he stood before the synagogue where he had hoped to serve so many useful years. His face was grave, but his voice was firm, his bearing unafraid. His young wife, Elkallah, stood proudly beside him. Though threatened with exile, she held her head like a queen. From the synagogue came old Mistress Phillips, [67]leaning upon David's arm. "We will miss you sorely, Mr. Seixas," she said, sadly, "both as rabbi and as neighbor. I—ah, I am too old to leave the city where I was born. But perhaps I will send David to his cousins in Philadelphia."

"But I won't stay there," cried the boy, his cheeks flaming with excitement. "I'm going to be a soldier—just like the Maccabees." He raised flashing eyes to his teacher's face and something that he saw there made the happiness die out of his own. Boy that he was, he realized the ache in the rabbi's heart at leaving his work and his friends behind him.

"I'm sorry you have to go, Mr. Seixas," he said simply.

The young minister turned his somber eyes back toward the synagogue which he had entered a year before, his heart burning with great hopes for the future. Now, with the Torah in his arms, his congregation scattered, he felt himself a fugitive on the face of the earth. He looked about him at the older folk like Mistress Phillips whose dying bedside he might never comfort, at the little children he could no longer teach. Lastly he looked down into the tearful eyes of his young bride—a bride of a year, with exile and hardship before her. Then he straightened his shoulders and spoke bravely.

"Some day," said Rabbi Seixas, "I will return to serve our God in a city that He has made free."






[68]

THE GENEROUS GIVERToC

The Story of a Jewish Money Lender of the Revolution.


Jonas Schmidt, one of the jailors of the Provost, the grim old prison in New York, where the British had confined their numerous French and American prisoners after capturing the city from Washington in 1776, stood before Sir Henry Clinton, the English commander, shifting uneasily as he fumbled his cap with his great, hairy hands. Sir Henry looked him over coldly with his quiet, keen eyes that cowed man and horse alike; then he turned to his companion, General Heister, Commander of the Hessian mercenaries, purchased by the British king and sent overseas to fight his battles.

"We can get nothing out of this man," he said in a tone of cold contempt. "He is either too stupid—or clever enough to appear so!—to answer our questions." He nodded to the embarrassed jailor. "You may go now. But remember: if escapes become too numerous, I may find it necessary to use the gallows in the courtyard yonder and find another jailor for my prison."

Jonas bowed respectfully and lost no time in putting the door between him and Sir Henry. Tory though he was, the old man hated the English commander with all the strength of his simple soul. He had been eager enough to secure the situation of [69]jailor at the Provost, never dreaming of the horrors he might see there. Now, sickened with the prison stenches, with the half-starved prisoners wasting away with fever and dying before his eyes, he thought longingly of his little farm up in the hills where his placid wife and two stout daughters lived as peacefully as though the colonists had never rebelled against the mother country and hardly knew that the British held New York. "Too stupid to answer," muttered the old man, swinging his heavy keys, as he passed down the prison corridor. "But I am wise enough to hold my tongue when it profits me nothing to endanger the necks of better men than Sir Henry Clinton. Let him use his own eyes, if he will; mine will be shut when good Mr. Salomon chooses to walk abroad," and he chuckled softly as he passed down the dark, damp corridors.

Sir Henry's teeth clicked angrily as the door closed behind the jailor. "Well?" he demanded of the Hessian Commander. "Well, since this man seems to bear out the reputation for honesty you gave him, it seems that we are on the wrong trail. Yet I mistrust this Haym Salomon, though our friendly jailor declares that he knows naught against him. It might be well to keep a stricter watch on this Jew broker in the future."

General Heister nodded emphatically. He was far too good a diplomat to quarrel with Sir Henry or to waste breath defending a man whom the Englishman mistrusted. "I only know that he is a man of rare parts," he said, "a man who has traveled much before coming to America and has become versed in [70]many tongues. That is why, when I found him among the captured Americans two years ago, I deemed it better to use him and his talents rather than confine him with the others to rot and die of the prison fevers. So I have allowed him greater freedom than the other prisoners and found a place for him in the commissariat department where his knowledge of tongues and his Hebrew shrewdness have proved of great value to me."

Sir Henry gave a short laugh. "That Hebrew shrewdness of your learned friend may have proved of equal value to several of the French and American lads who have lately escaped from our prison. No, do not remove him—just yet. Give the rogue a long enough rope and he may find it dangling around his own neck on the scaffold out yonder." He turned to the sheaf of papers before him, pushing back his fine lace ruffles. "Enough of Haym Salomon. He will be my care hereafter. Now go over these lists with me, Heister," and he began to turn the closely written sheets with his long, nervous fingers.

At that moment Jonas, the jailor, was talking in low, excited tones to a man he had stopped in one of the prison corridors, a grave-faced man with shrewd eyes and a tender mouth which smiled now at the other's earnestness.

"I can only warn you, Mr. Salomon," repeated the little jailor, "that Sir Henry is watching you as a chicken hawk watches a tender pullet. Many a time have I lost a choice fowl through the appetite of those accursed thieves," he added, half to himself, as his mind wandered back to his quiet farm. Then, [71]pulling himself back to the present: "I know that many things go on in this prison which—which might not suit the pleasure of his majesty over seas, but," with a shrewd chuckle, "I cannot be every place and if a lad or two does escape—well, may the dear God be as gracious to my one boy should he fall into the hands of your George Washington and his rebels. But, Mr. Salomon," detaining the quiet man in the black coat who was about to pass on, "do not take too many risks just now. Do not allow your kind heart to lead you into danger. For if you are discovered being—ah—too kind to some of our prisoners, I cannot save you from Sir Henry. Promise me," laying one of his great, red hands on the other's arm, "promise me, you will attempt no more 'prison deliveries' until his suspicions are quieted."

Haym Salomon shook his head. "I am sorry to cause you anxiety, my friend," he answered, kindly, "for you have been a good friend to me. And I will try to be careful—if I can. But first there is a promise I must redeem. When that debt is paid, I will try to behave so discreetly that even Sir Henry Clinton will own his suspicions of me unfounded."

"A debt to be paid!" The jailor looked puzzled. "Why, you are one of the richest brokers in New York. If you owe any money, give me a word to your wife and I will see that the debt is discharged and your mind at rest."

Salomon shook his head, smilingly. "It is a debt money cannot pay," he answered. "I have pledged my word and that has never been broken, nor can I break it now." He passed on and the jailor looked [72]after him, a look of mingled respect and affection on his fat, stupid face.

A place of horror even to a well man, the old Provost meant unspeakable tortures to a youth slowly recovering from prison fever. Young Louis di Vernon, lying upon the dirty wooden floor, faint from the fever and sick for home, turned longing eyes toward the grated door which had not swung open since Jonas had entered with his breakfast of bread and water for the prisoners. But Haym Salomon had promised to come later in the day and the boy waited confidently, for like many others he trusted the quiet man with the shrewd eyes and tender mouth.

At last the door opened and Jonas enter the room, wooden bowls of a sticky, floury substance he called "gruel" on his tray. He passed between the men, leaving his bowls besides them on the floor. When they complained of thirst, he stopped for a moment to ladle out a dipperful of water from the wooden pail he carried upon his left arm, while now and then he stopped to hear some complaint of a weary man, to promise aid or seek to jest away the prisoner's melancholy.

"The broth too salt?" he repeated, gravely. "How can that be when one of your rebel friends serves behind the soup kettle this month? Now if a poor Hessian or loyal Englishman like myself were cook, you might have reason to complain that he spitefully over-seasoned your victuals. Or is it that the cooking of your rebels is as evil as your politics?" And again: "Too crowded, eh? Well, some folks are never satisfied and you'd be among the growlers, my [73]friend, if you slept on down and fine linen. Why among the well prisoners, 'tis so cramped for space that when their bones ache from the floor at night and they would turn, they find themselves wedged in so tight that not a man can budge till I give the order, 'Left, Right!' when they turn in a solid body and ease their weary sides. And you, who sleep in what they would consider a palace, poor souls, call yourself suffering for room."

He had reached Louis by this time and his quick eye noted how flushed the lad was, while his eager glance kept turning toward the grated door. With an impatient gesture the Frenchman pushed away the bowl the jailor set beside him. "I am sick of prison fare," he cried, hotly. "When I left France to follow Lafayette I never dreamed that I might die of prison fever in a hole like this. Take away your food; the sooner I starve, the sooner I am free."

Jonas looked him over sympathetically, but could say nothing of comfort; instead he pushed the bowl toward him again, thinking, perhaps, the dinner might do something to restore the boy's peace of mind. But the prisoner again shoved him aside and sat up, his eyes straining toward the grated door, where some one now rattled the bars.

"Let me in, friend Jonas," said the voice of Haym Salomon, "and I promise not to steal any of the good dinner you have brought your fledglings."

The heartsick prisoners smiled at the poor jest and more than one man turned eagerly as Jonas unlocked the door and admitted the Jewish broker, a prisoner like themselves, yet bringing with him the free air [74]of the outside world. Haym passed from one to the other, with here a smile, there a word of comfort or bit of quaint philosophy. Into the fever-hot hands of one flaxen-haired farmer lad lying half delirious and dreaming of home, he dropped a few flowers plucked in the prison yard that morning; to a lonely, discouraged Frenchman he spoke in his own tongue, uttering a homely proverb that caused the homesick foreigner to laugh back into his smiling face. At last he came to Louis, and, with a nod toward the puzzled Jonas, lifted the bowl of soup and placed it to the boy's lips.

"Drink," he commanded gently, but gravely. "You must eat and drink and grow strong or you will not be able to go back to your sweetheart in France. I have not forgotten my promise to write to her for you, but first you must please me and eat. And, now, Jonas, some of your good clear water—as sparkling as the wines of sunny France. Did I ever tell you, Louis, my lad, of the little inn where I ate my first meal in your country and how the good landlord laughed at my blunders, for then I knew little of your tongue?"

Never taking his eyes from his friend's face, the boy obediently ate and drank and Jonas looked on, well satisfied. He knew that his masters did not concern themselves whether the prisoners starved or not; yet, somehow, it made him uncomfortable at times to see boys no older than his own son wasting away before his eyes. He wondered whether he was hardy enough to be an efficient jailor.

Something of his thoughts must have been written [75]upon his broad, red face, for Salomon looking up quickly, nodded as though he understood. "Louis is a good lad, Jonas," he said, taking out his writing material and spreading it upon his knees. "There are many good lads here—boys like your boy who chooses to serve the king instead of the colonies. My little one is not yet old enough for the army; such a tiny mite, Louis!—but if he were, I should find it hard not to hate the man who caged him here behind bars like a beast and kept him stiffling in the prison darkness. You are too tender a man for such devil's work, friend Jonas. Ploughing and milking your peaceful cows might bring you less gold, but there would be no heart ache when the day's work was over."

Jonas scowled heavily. Rumors had reached him before of certain English sympathizers like himself who had found their work distasteful after a quiet talk with Salomon and had suddenly left their posts, declaring that they no longer desired to serve the king and his cause. To be sure, he, Jonas Schmidt, would remain a loyal servant to King George until the end of his days, and yet—why, should this quiet man prod his sleeping soul with disquieting thoughts?

"And now," Haym spoke briskly to the young Frenchman, "we will write to your sweetheart and tell her how well you are getting on and that as soon as the wound in your hand is healed you will write to her again." His pen raced over the paper. "Perhaps you will care to look it over and correct my spelling which is even worse in French than in English," and he handed the sheet covered with [76]French characters to Louis. The boy took it languidly enough, but his weary eyes brightened as he read:

"Do not show any surprise, but I must communicate with you in this way lest there be spies among the prisoners who would betray us. You are to grow weaker and tomorrow morning the jail physician, whom I have bribed, will find that you have died in the night. The grave digger will turn your body over to friends of the cause who will help you to leave New York and reach the Colonials in safety. If I am ever free and you need a friend, call upon me without reserve."

The boy, his eyes filled with sudden tears, reached out and would have pressed Salomon's hand, but the latter drew back laughingly. "Why such gratitude over a mere letter which has taken me but a moment to pen?" he said lightly, speaking loudly enough to be heard by those about him. He folded the sheet carefully, placing it in his breast; as he did so, he felt the eyes of a prisoner upon him; a newcomer who looked him over carefully; then turned away with an indifference that Haym believed was wholly feigned. But if Salomon felt that the man was an informer he gave no sign. "Now I must about my work," he told Louis. "I will see that your missive leaves by the next ship. So eat, my little friend, grow fat, and cease to worry. Au revoir."

"Au revoir," answered Louis, with equal lightness. "I know my betrothed will rejoice to see your letter."


[77]In one of the darkest cells of the old Provost sat Haym Salomon with chains about his wrists and ankles. From the courtyard he could hear the merry laughter of the British soldiers and their Hessian comrades as they smoked and jested after their evening meal. Like true soldiers, they took it all in a day's work and there seemed to be no lack of spirits among them even if they were assigned the grim task of hanging a man upon the morrow. And Haym Salomon, being condemned to death by a military court, smiled his grave, gentle smile to hear their mirth. He had played the game of chance and he had lost, so why should he complain?

Down the damp corridor came the shuffling of feet and a moment later Jonas Schmidt entered, a lantern in one hand, a straw basket on his arm. "Your wife has sent you something for your evening meal," he said gruffly, placing the basket on the bench beside the condemned man. He spoke loudly as he noticed a red-coated Briton loitering at the end of the passage. "Faith, she has sent you enough to feed a regiment. But women are ever foolish. My own wife is waiting for me below. She has come all the way to New York merely for advice about our milch heifer and traveled weighted down with cakes and eggs and butter—which all her careful packing could not shield enough from the August sun, and it has oozed through her finest linen napkin and she is sorely grieved. But not an egg is broken and tomorrow Sir Henry Clinton will eat eggs laid by loyal Tory hens for his breakfast with my compliments."

Haym glanced sharply at his old friend who [78]seldom indulged in such lengthy speech. He was about to the basket, touched at his poor wife's thoughtfulness, when the jailor gave a warning gesture and tiptoed to the door. Then he came back, nodding, well pleased at his own craft.

"The lobster has disappeared," he whispered. "I thought that my chatter would mislead him. But we have not a minute to lose. Open the basket and dress quickly in the woman's raiment you find there." Then, as Haym stared at him bewildered, "Dress, I say," and he pulled from the basket a calico dress, tightly rolled, a gay shawl and a woman's deep straw bonnet. "When you were pronounced guilty—and every man in New York knew what the outcome of your trial would be—I said that I for one would not have your blood upon my hands. No, no, Haym Salomon. You may be an infidel Jew, but you are a better Christian than all who worship in Trinity Church every Sabbath. By the will of God, my son passed through New York on his way home for a moment's visit with his mother. I entrusted him with a letter I dared not send through the post, telling her to come to me at once, bringing a set of garments exactly like those she herself would wear." He chuckled. "She came, thinking me quite mad, but obeying me as is her habit. In a moment, I had told her all. She left the extra clothes in that basket with me and now waits us beyond the courtyard, where Sir Henry and his friends will find an empty scaffold tomorrow."

Thus the little jailor, unlocking Haym's chains as he spoke.

[79]"But I do not understand—" Haym was still bewildered, after his long hours of torturing doubt and uncertainty—"You never spoke to me of escaping."

"I dared not raise your hopes too high. What if Sir Henry decided I was not so stupid after all and put another jailor in my place? But now all is ready. The sentinels below have seen my wife visit me today and I took pains to let them believe she was dining in my room, whereas she slipped away when the guard was being changed. Now when you leave the prison with me, I have but to say that I am taking my good dame to the stage coach." Again he chuckled, half forcing Salomon into the calico dress. "Instead, we will meet her at the appointed place, you will slip off these flounces—she cautioned me that you should not tread upon them and tear them down, as she loves this frock dearly,—and seek your good friend, General McDougall, who commands the rebel forces in our neighborhood and will grant you protection, while my wife and I will hurry back to our little farm."

"But your position here—" Haym fumbled with the unfamiliar buttons of the dress.

"I do not care to remain here and have Sir Henry Clinton try me in his court," answered the other, simply. "So a week ago I handed in my resignation—my rheumatism cannot endure this prison dampness—my wife insists that unless I come home for the harvest, she will come to fetch me—and other strong proofs that I must leave the dear old Provost. And, fortunately, my friend, the noble [80]gentleman who secured this post for me has fallen in battle, and no one else knows where to look for the stupid jailor who helped Haym Salomon to escape."

"But, my friend, I cannot allow you to take such a risk for me," protested Salomon. "And even if you are not punished—do you care to give up your post for my sake?"

"I, too, have grown tired of this devil's business," answered the little jailor. "Even if you were to die tomorrow, I should give it up and go back to my little farm where I might feel myself an honest man again."

Suddenly Haym sat down upon the bench, his mouth grim and stubborn. "I will not go. My name has always been spotless. But if I escape, there may be some who will believe that the charges brought against me are true, that I have acted as a secret agent for General Washington, endeavoring to burn the British warships and warehouses at his instigation. Whereas you know that my one crime was helping those few poor lads escape from their torture."

"Will you stay here and argue until morning when the guards will take you below to let you swing for your folly!" muttered Jonas, now thoroughly exasperated. "You and I and the world know that not even Sir Henry himself believes the charges brought against you at your trial. It was only when that young Frenchman escaped two months ago and one of Sir Henry's ready spies betrayed you, that you were clapped into his cell to face charges in his [81]court. I warned you then how it would be and you would not heed my words. Now let me save you before it is too late."

"But my wife and little son," murmured Salomon, as the other adjusted the heavy shawl about his shoulders. "Who will care for them?"

"You can send for them when you have found shelter. And if you stay and are hanged, who will protect them?" He pushed the large bonnet upon Salomon's head, nodding with satisfaction to see how it concealed his face. "Now, remember, say nothing and try to walk slowly—no, no, shorter steps! And put the basket on your arm." He stepped back to admire the result of his scheming. "Mr. Salomon," he said, seriously, "if I did not know that my good wife was waiting for me outside I would swear she stood before me. Come, take my arm,—remember, walk slowly—" and the two passed out into the sultry August night.


The Revolutionary War was over, and young Louis di Vernon, still very much of a boy despite the down upon his lip and the manly assurance achieved by almost seven years hard soldiering, leaned back in the shabby arm chair and looked questioningly at his host across the table. Since his escape from the old Provost, he had often heard tales of Haym Salomon's great wealth, the magnificent sums he had lent the government, his generosity toward the nation's unpaid representatives, especially his [82]young friend Madison. And yet this man of almost fabulous wealth, this patriot who with his business partner, Robert Morris, had made it possible to feed and clothe Washington's starving and naked soldiers, this financier who had negotiated loans with Holland and France, now sat before him, meanly dressed, his brows wrinkled with care, his drooping shoulders too expressive of defeat for one who had helped his country win a glorious victory.

"It is good to see you again," said Haym, slowly. "I have not forgotten you, but I thought you might have forgotten me." He coughed, a hard, dry cough, leaning his fast graying head upon his hand.

"We are used to having our friends forget us," murmured his wife, who sat sewing beside the lamp. She was a brisk, dark-haired woman, a member of the famous Franks family which had served the country so well during the dark days of the Revolution. "Of the many youths my husband aided in prison, you are the first one who came to thank him for his service."

"Nay, Rachel," her husband chided her gently. "I did not seek for thanks. And it was not those brave soldiers I tried to serve, but freedom." His tired eyes glowed with a warm light as he turned to Louis. "I was born in unhappy Poland, so it is not strange that I loved freedom with all my heart and with all my soul. And when I was in prison, no longer free to serve this country which had welcomed me so heartily, I thanked God that I was permitted to aid those who were fighting her battles [83]and seeking to make her free before the world."

"And after he escaped here to Philadelphia," added his wife, a note of pride in her voice, "he fought for the colonies just as surely as Colonel Franks upon the battlefield. You have heard of the vast sums of money he lent the bankrupt government—and without a bit of security, too."

Haym held up his hand in protest. "What security did I need? If I could not trust my country, whom should I trust?" he asked her in quiet sincerity.

She bent her dark head over the little garment she was mending, her lips curved a bit scornfully. "I try not to be impatient. I know that even though peace has come, commerce is still languishing; that it will take many, many months for the government to pay its debts. Yet it hurts me to see you so worried, so hampered because you lack capital to go on with your business." Her dark eyes sparkled with indignation. "You are only forty-five, Haym," she declared, almost fiercely, "and yet your many cares make you seem almost an old man."

"I am glad to have been able to give my youth to my country," he answered. Then, turning to Louis di Vernon: "Do not think my wife too bitter? She has had sore trials," and he gently patted her work-worn hand. "I know it is not for herself she grieves, but she is troubled for me and for our little ones. And, in truth, things have grown dark for us of late. My business has suffered during the war and I was obliged to neglect it while I attended to affairs of state. And now that peace [84]has come at last, I find that my old good fortune has deserted me."

"If you had only kept the remnant of your fortune," sighed his wife, "the sixty-four thousand dollars you lent to Mr. Morris for his bank would have tided us over these evil times."

"But I could not allow the National Bank to fail," protested Salomon. "Somehow," turning to his guest, "I have grown like the old philosopher of my people who was so unfortunate that he once declared that if he took to making shoes everyone would go barefoot, if he became a shroud maker, no one would die." He laughed softly, then grew suddenly grave. "The merchants to whom I have extended credit have failed. There have been losses at sea—" he shrugged, and became silent, his eyes grown strangely large in his thin white face, seeming to look into the far future. "Mr. Madison and my other friends will not forget me," he said slowly, "and my country in whose keeping I may have to leave my wife and infant children before long, will be glad to repay her debt and care for them." A strange look of peace swept over his tired face; it was well that his dimming eyes could not see the long years during which his country would forget to be grateful and to repay.

A feeling half of pity, half of shame filled the young man's heart. "I—I am sorry," he stammered.

"You need not pity me." Salomon smiled his old gentle smile. "I have been given a chance to serve the cause of freedom with my fortune; I have been of service to my own people, too, the Hebrews of [85]Philadelphia, and it gladdens my heart to believe that my children's children will worship the God of our fathers here in this place in the synagogue I have helped to build. I do not think my life has been such a very great failure after all," he ended, naively. "And it is good to know that what I have done has borne fruit. That is why your coming here tonight to thank me has heartened me more than news of the safe arrival of those missing merchant-ships at port."

Louis arose, his honest face red with shame. "I did not want to hurt you," he said, speaking with difficulty. "When I came here tonight and you both thought it was just to thank you before I set sail for France, I was ashamed to tell you the reason of my visit. For I am like the others; I would not have come to thank you for favors past; not knowing of your misfortune, I only came to ask new bounties; that is why I am ashamed."

"Then why do you tell me now?" Salomon's voice had grown very tired. "I should have liked to believe that you were not here for favors."

"I could not go away and have you believe a lie. You are too honest a man to lie to, Mr. Salomon. Are you sorry I told the truth?"

"No. That takes the pain away." A long silence while the January wind howled outside. At last Haym spoke. "What did you wish of me—though now I may be unable to grant it."

"I leave shortly for France," answered the young man, flushed beneath the other's quiet gaze. "Although I return a poor man, my betrothed has waited [86]for me and I desired to buy a bit of land for my own that we might become householders as our parents were before us. I knew you would trust me and that is why I came to you, my one friend in America."

"Now I am truly sorry for my losses," answered Salomon. "If I could only help you—but, perhaps, Mr. Morris—yes, I will give you a note to him, and though I am not prosperous today, he will be willing to trust me as your security."

But Louis di Vernon shook his head. "I cannot think of it," he answered, stubbornly. "Do not insist, or I shall be sorry that I told you of my desires. Please have this visit as it should have been; to thank you for your great kindness to me; not to ask more favors."

"As you will," answered Haym with a smile. "But you must not leave us without a little token for your betrothed." Going to the mantel piece, he took down a silver cup, quaintly carved, and slipped it into the young man's unwilling hand. "Nay, lad, take it, it is all I can give you—this and my blessing for your future." Again the wind shook the window pane. "It is a bitter night outside. We have no guest chamber, but if you care to sleep beside our fire——"

"Nay, after Valley Forge a soldier is not afraid of the storm," laughed the Frenchman. "And I cannot thank you for this—and all your kindness. But she is a woman and when I tell my Mairie, she will write you all the love and gratitude that is in our hearts." He bent over Mistress Salomon's hand [87]with all the courtly breeding of his race. "It is only Au revoir tonight, Madame, for I will try to see you again before I leave Philadelphia."

He gathered his cloak about him and went out into the storm, leaving Salomon to meet his wife's reproachful eyes. "Yes, I know, heart's dearest, that I should not give silver cups to beggarly Frenchmen," he told her with a whimsical smile, "for who knows when we will have to pawn the little that remains of our silver. But until then—" he shrugged goodnaturedly, and a fit of coughing drowned the rest.

Several days later young Louis di Vernon sat in a coffee house, his traveling bag and a bundle of toys and goodies for the little Salomon children at his feet. Over his cup he read the latest edition of the "Pennsylvania Journal and Weekly Advertiser," pausing to stare at a modest notice tucked in an obscure corner of the sheet. He put down his cup untasted and read it again with whitening lips: "On Thursday died Haym Salomon, a broker."






[88]

ACROSS THE WATERSToC

A Story of the City of Refuge Planned by Mordecai Noah.


The two children stood hand in hand in a corner of Mr. Mordecai Noah's handsome library in New York, both badly frightened, although the boy tried hard to appear at ease in his strange surroundings. They still wore the dress of their native Tunis; Hushiel in silken blouse and short black trousers, with mantle and fez such as Mohammedans wear, his little sister, Peninah, a quaint picture in her short jacket, baggy trousers and pointed cap. No wonder the old family servant, who had gasped when admitting them, had gone off to summon his master, declaring to himself that these visitors looked even more heathenish than the painted Indians who occasionally called upon Mr. Noah at his Buffalo home.

"Do sit down, Peninah," suggested the boy in a half-whisper, too overawed by the elegant furnishings and long rows of books to speak out loud. He pointed to a tall, carved arm chair but Peninah shook her head and clung more tightly to his arm.

"It's all so strange," she whispered back, "just like an old tale Nissim, the story teller, used to tell sometimes at home—all of it, the big ship, and the many people when we came on shore in New York and this room—" with a gesture towards the [89]table on which stood a tea service of heavy silver. "He must be a prince to have such treasures. Aren't you afraid to speak to him when he comes in?"

"A man is never afraid," answered twelve-year-old Hushiel, stoutly. "He may not remember me, but I am my father's son and he will do us kindness for his sake." He stopped suddenly as Mr. Mordecai Noah entered the room.

The master of the house was about forty, with deep, kindly eyes and a heavy mane of black hair brushed back from his benevolent forehead. He carried himself with the dignity befitting an author and statesman who was, perhaps, the most distinguished Jew in America in 1825. Yet in spite of his touch of hauteur there was a real kindliness in the manner in which he held out his hands to the strangers and bade them welcome.

"You have come a long way," he said, with a quick glance at their foreign garb. "Let me make you welcome to America." He drew them to one of the carved settles he had brought from England and seated himself in the great armchair before it, smiling at the quaint picture little Peninah made, her slippered feet dangling high above the floor. "And how can I serve you?" he asked graciously.

Hushiel felt his shyness disappearing before the great man's courtesy. "We are from Tunis," he answered, "and you may remember me, though I was but a tiny lad when you were the American consul there and visited my father about ten years ago. My father was Rabbi Reuben Faitusi," he added, not a little disappointed as the loved name failed to [90]awaken any memories in the eyes of the man before him.

"I met so many rabbis while I was in the East," apologized Mr. Noah, "that the name means nothing to me for a moment. But if I were to meet your father again I am sure I should know him at once," he ended politely.

"My father died six months ago," answered the boy, "my mother when she was born," and he nodded toward Peninah, who sat clutching his sleeve in her pretty bashfulness. "Before he died he told me how you visited our house and spoke long and bitterly of the persecution of our brethren which you had encountered through Europe and Africa on your travels. My father knew of what you spoke only too well, for the lot of our people has often been a harsh one in Tunis. And we have suffered for a long time." He drew himself up proudly. "My father's house are of the Tunsi, who some believe have been in the land for centuries—even before the First Temple was destroyed. And he told me what it meant for him to listen to the words of a stranger from a new land which was a land of hope for our ancient people."

A satisfied smile played about Noah's lips. "Yes, he was like so many others," he nodded, "thirsty for the message of comfort I brought my brethren across the seas. For, as I told him, I dreamed even then that this America of mine would be a Land of Promise for the Jews over the entire earth and that I might be permitted to be the Messiah to lead them here."

[91]Hushiel tried not to look shocked. He had heard too many tales of the Messiah, the princely leader of the House of David, who would some day appear in all his glorious might to restore the Chosen People to their own country, not to wonder how even this powerful prince in Israel should dare to use his name so lightly. But his eyes sparkled at the memories his host's words had awakened.

"My father spoke to me of his talk with you many times," he told Mr. Noah, "and how he dreamed that he might come to dwell in the city of refuge you planned for our people. And he promised to take me and her," with a gesture toward Peninah, who nodded vigorously. "But his eyes closed before he could behold our return. Year by year he had saved a little to make the journey; this he gave me and to it I added my mite that I had laid aside from my earnings as a mechanic; then I sold our household goods and came with Peninah to you that we might be among the first to enter your city, even as our father wished us to be."

A strange look crept into Mr. Noah's eyes; a look of exultation and joy; he seemed for a moment like a man who sees a great hope fulfilled and is glad. "Your father had the faith of God in his heart," he said at last, "and you two are worthy of being called his children. Sometimes I myself have doubted whether I could forge my dream into reality. But when you come to me with your young and fearless hearts, trusting so in my mission, I must believe that I cannot fail. And you seem to have been sent here by a miracle. All through the [92]ten years since I was consul to Tunis I have planned for a city of refuge for our people. Perhaps some day we will return to Palestine, but meanwhile—" he made a sweeping gesture—"meanwhile the virgin wilderness of this land awaits our people. Here we will build and plough; here we will launch our trading vessels—the Phoenicians of the New World." He had forgotten his listeners and spoke as though addressing a great multitude. "And others have shared my dreams. My good friend, Samuel Leggett, although a Christian, has seen my vision, and has aided me with his sympathy—and his gold." His dream-filled eyes actually twinkled and now he spoke simply with no thought of a vast audience to listen. "I am grateful for his sympathy, but his gold—with my own private fortune—helped me even more. With it I have purchased a great tract of land on the Niagara River for the site of our Jewish colony. Yes," he repeated, proudly, "I have purchased over two thousand acres of land on Grand Island. Persecuted Jews from all over the world will plant their farms there. And some day it will be one of the greatest commercial centers of the world, as well as a farming colony, for it lies close to the Great Lakes and opposite the new Erie Canal, through which our vessels loaded with the produce of our farms will sail to feed the nations."

He paused for breath and Hushiel nodded, understanding but little the reason of his hosts' enthusiasm, but at least grasping the fact that the city of refuge of which his father had dreamed so long was about to be built.

[93]"And what will you call your city?" he ventured.

"Ararat," answered the founder. "Some of my friends have tried to persuade me to name it after myself; this I would not do, but since I would have future generations know of my share in the building of the city, I shall call it Ararat, which they may interpret as the city of Noah. But above all would I remind all that hear its name that it is a city of refuge, even as the mountain Ararat was a place of safety after the flood which destroyed the earth in the days of Noah of old. Our people, tossed for so long upon the seas of bitterness and hatred, will rest here as the ark rested upon the mountain Ararat when the waters of the flood subsided."

"But will only Jews be welcome there?"

"It will be as open as Abraham's tent to every wanderer who seeks shelter there," replied Mordecai Noah with a magnificent gesture. "Especially to our brethren, the Indians. For I firmly believe," he went on, not pausing to think that the boy from across the seas could not possibly understand him, "I firmly believe that the red men are descended from the lost tribes of Israel and are ready to extend to us the hand of brotherhood and forsake their own gods for the God of our fathers. You have never seen our Indian brothers?" Hushiel shook his head, but Peninah, thoroughly worn out by her journey and the long talk which she could not comprehend, had fallen asleep and could not answer. "Then you will see them for the first time at the dedication ceremony of our city of Ararat," he promised graciously.

[94]"And when will the city be dedicated?" The boy's tone was eager.

"Next week. And I will take both of you to Buffalo with me that you may see the ceremonies. You see you have come in good time," answered Mr. Mordecai Noah.


"But I won't go in these clothes," objected Peninah hotly.

For almost a week she and her brother had been guests in Mr. Noah's household, and every day one or another of his Christian or Jewish friends had come to visit them. They were very wonderful people, these Americans, thought Peninah, and most wonderful of all were the little girls of her own age, with their full skirts and dainty bonnets. True, they had never seen the Sahara Desert or crossed the mysterious ocean, yet she envied them their pretty clothes, feeling outlandishly queer in her pointed cap and baggy trousers. Mr. Noah had been very kind to her; he had brought her several pretty trinkets and a box of sweetmeats, almost as good as those one could buy in the bazaar at home, she told Hushiel—but on one point he was firm and nothing could move him.

"Tomorrow will be a great day for every Jew upon the face of the earth," he had told the children the evening before the day set for the dedication ceremonies for which he had brought them to Buffalo. "I should like to purchase a little present for each of you, some token that you may show [95]your children some day when you tell them of the founding of Ararat, my city. What shall it be?" he asked, smiling into their eager faces.

"You have given us too much already, more than we can ever repay," protested Hushiel, but his modest answer was quite drowned by Peninah's shrill:

"I want a new dress and a bonnet with strings and slippers like the little American girls wear!"

"Peninah! Aren't you ashamed to ask for so much," chided her brother.

"And I want a little black silk bag to carry tomorrow," went on Peninah, unabashed. "And I think I'd like blue ribbons on the bonnet."

Mr. Noah smiled indulgently, but he shook his head. "I will get you an outfit such as little American girls wear," he promised, kindly, "but you must not wear it tomorrow."

Peninah stared at him. "But I want them for tomorrow," she protested. "All the little girls I have met here in your house are coming tomorrow and if I am dressed as they are, they will not stare at me as though I were a dancing girl at a fair. I'm going to take off these," she tugged angrily at the bright beads about her neck, "and these," and she gave a defiant twitch to her hated Oriental trousers.

"Your clothes are very pretty," soothed Mr. Noah, "but if you prefer to dress like the people of our country, I will buy you everything you need. Only tomorrow you must wear the clothes you wore at home—even if the people stare."

"But why?—I look so different——"

"It is just because your clothes are so different," [96]explained Mordecai Noah patiently, "that I want you to wear them. My dream is to have our city a refuge for the Jews of all the nations of the earth. Many people of Buffalo have heard your story, but they have not seen you. When they see you and Hushiel in your native dress, it will impress them greatly as they realize that even the children of the lands far across the sea have sought my city and long to make their home there. You understand, don't you?"

Hushiel nodded, but Peninah stamped her small, slippered foot angrily. "I won't go if I have to wear these horrid clothes which make people stare at me," she declared angrily, and ran from the room, crying as she went. Mr. Noah seemed really disturbed and was about to call her back, but Hushiel only laughed a little and shrugged at her anger.

"'The camel wanted to have horns, so he lost his ears for his greediness'," he quoted in Hebrew. "It is hard to satisfy a woman. Just let her have her cry and she will be as gentle as a lamb in the morning."

But Peninah was decidedly sulky at breakfast the next morning and as the hour to attend the dedication ceremony drew near she grew actually violent in declaring that she wouldn't leave the house to be "a show thing for all those strange people to look at!" "They can look at you, Hushiel, all they want to," she exclaimed, "but I won't go out into the streets until I have new clothes!" She folded her small arms defiantly and glared angrily at her brother.

[97]Hushiel, usually patient and long-suffering, was now really angry. He grasped her shoulders and shook her so energetically that her bright beads rattled merrily together. "Now listen to me," he began sternly, as he released her, and she stood gasping for breath, staring at him with eyes wide with hurt astonishment. "I've been listening to your foolish words till I'm tired. So you must listen to me now and obey me for I take our father's place in our household, don't I?" She nodded sullenly, for she knew that in their native country a lad as young as Hushiel would be considered grown to manhood. "If he were here today he would command you to dry your foolish tears and come to the place where they are celebrating the founding of our new city. If he who has given us so many gifts and welcomes us to his home desires you to go there in your native dress, you will obey him. Else you will have to deal with me," and he scowled so fiercely, that even the dauntless Peninah was a little frightened. "Besides," he ended, craftily, "you are so anxious to see the Indians and Mr. Noah himself has promised that there will be red men at the great festival today."

With a shrug of elaborate carelessness which didn't deceive her brother in the least, Peninah dried her eyes and began to smooth her rumpled attire. "I'll go," she said, indifferently, "but not because I have to obey you. It's just because I do want to see those Indians."

Peninah's wish was gratified, for there was a goodly sprinkling of red men at the dedication ceremonies of the city of Ararat held in Buffalo on that bright [98]September day so long ago. So many citizens had expressed their desire to be present that it was discovered that it would be impossible to secure enough boats to convey them to Grand Island. So, although a monument was erected on the spot where the city of Ararat was to be built, the dedication ceremonies were held in the large Episcopalian church of Buffalo, which was soon crowded with those who either wished Mr. Noah success in his strange undertaking or were drawn by idle curiosity to witness the festival.

Neither of the children from Tunis ever forgot that day. First there was the long and impressive procession down the main streets of Buffalo, led by a band of musicians playing stirring melodies all the while. After the musicians came companies of soldiers, many of whom had distinguished themselves in the war of 1812, in which conflict Noah had received the rank of major; behind them, garbed in their picturesque regalia, walked several companies of Masons, for Mr. Noah was a prominent member of that organization; and then came Mordecai Noah himself, wearing a magnificent robe of crimson silk trimmed with bands of ermine. Behind the Governor and Judge of Israel, as he styled himself, followed men prominent in the affairs of the city and state, a distinguished company, all eager to show their interest in the proposed Jewish city of refuge. At last the procession filed slowly into the church. The dim, rich light struggling through the stained windows fell like an enchanted robe upon those who had marched and those who were gathered there; it was [99]a picture the like of which has never been seen in America since that day.

The two children from across the seas sat wide-eyed as they looked about them. The citizens of Buffalo, the richly garbed officials and soldiers who had marched in the procession, above all, the Indians in their feathers and blankets and beads, stern-faced and tall and slender, seemed people from another world. For a moment Hushiel was troubled: would his father think it right for him to attend a Christian church even on such a day? Then he forgot his scruples as Mordecai Noah, still in his crimson mantle, advanced on the platform to speak to the people. The boy looked from his regal figure on the Christian clergymen in their dark, plain robes, and his heart thrilled with pride. Mordecai Noah, he thought, stood head and shoulders above all other men, as Israel, under his wise guidance, would some day stand above the nations. He heard not a word of the long oration that followed. Instead he dreamed of the city which would arise on Grand Island, a city as mighty as Jerusalem of old, and in his dream he saw the nations of the earth entering its gates to pay tribute to its crimson-clad king. So he happily built his city of the clouds until the ceremonies were almost over and a salute of twenty-four guns made little Peninah start with terror and cling to him, crying aloud in her fright.

And now came busy, happy days for Hushiel and Peninah. Peninah, dressed "just like a little American girl," as she proudly told herself a dozen times [100]a day, was sent to a school. But Mr. Noah, really interested in Hushiel, undertook to teach him himself, delighting in the boy's fine mind, so well trained by his long Talmudic studies with his father. As soon as he learned to read and write English, the lad proved to be of great assistance to his benefactor, copying Mr. Noah's manuscripts for the press, for that gentleman was an eminent journalist and one of the most popular dramatists of his day, and, in time, even assisting him with his foreign correspondence.

The letters from abroad grew extremely heavy, for directly after the dedication ceremonies, Mr. Noah, as self-appointed Judge of Israel, sent a proclamation to all of the leading Jewish communities of the world, declaring that Ararat was established and inviting citizens of every country to come and make their home there. Those who were content in their adopted lands, he wrote, might remain in their homes, and he begged all Jewish soldiers in foreign armies to remember that the Jew must be true to the obligation of the state in which he lives. But he urged every loyal Jew who longed for the restoration of Israel's glory to pay a yearly tax of three shekels (ancient Jewish coin worth about a quarter in our currency) and to appoint deputies in their respective countries who would elect a new ruler or Judge of the Jewish state every fourth year. And that the new state should be thoroughly democratic, Mordecai Noah appointed influential Jews in every important Jewish community to act as his commissioners in governing the city of Ararat.

[101]To Hushiel the proclamation seemed all that could be desired and he waited eagerly for the warm response he felt must come from every Jew to whom Noah appealed. But to his great surprise, the post brought letter after letter either of ridicule or denunciation; even the Jews who lived in the countries of darkest persecution refused to listen to his offer of a home in the new Jewish colony. True, many of them longed to emigrate to America, the land which had been a place of refuge to their brothers for so many years. Others dreamed of a return to Palestine, willing to live there as exiles in their homeland until the coming of the Messiah brought Israel's freedom. Letter after letter from across the seas refused to aid Noah in his dream for Jewish emancipation. "We are happy in our adopted land," wrote one. "When God in His mercy sends the Messiah, then will He lead Israel back to the Promised Land, Palestine, and not before," wrote another. While the Jews of America, in their pride as American citizens, were as swift as their brethren abroad to ridicule Noah's plans for Ararat, denouncing them as impious or impractical.

But the boy's faith in the project never wavered. He did not venture to offer his master sympathy for his disappointment, but in his shy, boyish way, he did manage to assure Noah again and again that he still believed in the city of refuge and longed to dwell there. And Noah never failed to smile at his half-uttered assurances, although he never answered them directly. Once he kindly placed his hand upon the boy's shoulder and Hushiel felt as [102]proud as a young squire whom his master had dubbed knight.

Gradually the correspondence concerning Ararat diminished and finally it ceased altogether. Mordecai Noah made no comment; there was still plenty of work for Hushiel with the newspaper articles; he also copied portions of the Book of Jasher which Mr. Noah was translating from the Hebrew. So the two labored together day after day, but neither even mentioned the dream that had called Hushiel across the seas.

"I am going to Washington on business," his master informed Hushiel one morning as they sat in his study, ready to begin work on the day's tasks. "I may be gone for some time. You have been working hard and faithfully," he added kindly, "and you deserve a holiday. Would you care to go to Washington with me?"

Hushiel answered with difficulty, his eyes seeking the floor, for suddenly a daring idea had captured his brain. "You are very kind," he stammered, "but—if I might—may I spend my holiday as I please, if I am back at my tasks in time?"

"Surely." Noah's hand sought his wallet. "Here is money. Give Peninah a little treat, too, and do not hurry back to your desk too soon. When you are ready for work again, you will find plenty of manuscript which I will leave for you to copy during my absence. I think I will be gone a fortnight."

"My holiday will not last that long," answered the boy, turning back to his papers. "And, please sir, do not mention this to Peninah. I will buy her [103]some pleasure with the money you have just given me. But I must have my holiday alone."

So Hushiel was alone when he stood before the monument of brick and wood which had been erected on Grand Island, the proposed site of the city of Ararat. To the lad, unused to the wilderness of America, the journey down the river had been a fascinating one. Now he stood alone in the vast silence, broken only by the roar of the Falls in the distance. How long he stood here before the pile of bricks and wood Hushiel never knew. When he tried to recall the scene years afterwards, he pictured clearly a slender, dark-skinned boy lying upon the ground, weeping bitterly as he listened to the rumblings of Niagara which seemed to mock him as he grieved for the city which had perished at its birth. For now he realized without a word from Mordecai Noah that the dream had failed—that his people must wait a little longer for a real Messiah to lead them into the Land of Promise. Bitterest of all, even more bitter than the breaking of his dream, was the realization that Mordecai Noah, for all his lofty ideals, his generous motives, was not of the stuff of which leaders are made. His voice, no matter how eloquent, would never be heeded should he again seek to call the wandering children of Israel together. And thinking of these things, the boy wept like a little child.

Years later, when the monument on Grand Island had fallen into decay, Hushiel saw the cornerstone of the dream city, Ararat, displayed in one of the rooms of the Buffalo Historical Society. He was no [104]longer a sensitive boy, yet the tears sprang to his eyes as he re-read the old inscription which you may still read if you visit the Society's rooms today: "Shema Yisroel, Adonoi Elohenu, Adonoi Echod (Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One). Ararat, a City of Refuge for the Jews, Founded by Mr. M. Noah in the month Tishri, 5586, Sept., 1825, and in the 50th year of American Independence."






[105]

THREE AT GRACEToC

The Story of the First Jewish Settler in Alabama.


Colonel Hawkins, the Indian agent for the government at Pole Cat Springs, Alabama, in 1804, leaned across the pine table to extend a cordial hand to his visitor. Abram Mordecai, who stood before him, although almost fifty, gave one the impression of a much younger man. Lean and lithe as a panther, with shaggy black hair and keen eyes, his distinctly Jewish features were so tanned and weather-beaten that he looked far more the Indian than the Jew. He nodded gayly to his employer before he flung himself into a chair, his gun-stock between his knees, his great brown hands clasped behind his head. As he sat there dressed in the buckskin shirt and trousers of his half-civilized Indian neighbors, every free movement of his large body suggesting his life in the wilderness, the Jewish adventurer presented a perfect picture of the pioneer of his day.

"I have come, Colonel Hawkins," he began in his usual abrupt manner, "to ask your help in building a cotton gin. Yes," as the other showed surprise, "I know the enterprise seems a strange one for a rover like me to suggest, and, perhaps, a foolish undertaking in the wilderness. Yet the wilderness must pass and we must build now for the days to come."

[106]"Go on, Mordecai," encouraged his chief. "What are your plans?"

"I know how eager you are to civilize the Indians in our region and teach them the arts of peace," went on Mordecai. "Thus far we have done nothing but trade with them for pelties and healing barks and oils. But could we not have the squaws raise the cotton and bring it down the river in their canoes and prepare it in our gin for the market in New Orleans?"

"Good." Hawkins nodded approvingly. "First we must gain permission of the Hickory Ground Indians for the erection of our gin, for it will not be wise to risk their enmity at the outset. But there is not another gin in the state. Where shall we find a pattern; where shall we get the workmen to fashion one for us; or the needed tools?"

"I have thought of that," Abram Mordecai told him. "There are two Jews of Georgia, Lyon and Barrett, who have both the tools and the skill for the task. I met Lyon when we were both young men serving in the army under General Washington. You can rely upon him for faithful service."

A little smile curved the agent's lips. "You Jews!" he exclaimed. "Is there any enterprise in which you have not had a hand? Even back to the building of the pyramids in old Egypt! It is like a Jew to plan the first cotton gin in Alabama—and to bring two of his race to build it."

"We are indeed builders," answered Mordecai a little dryly, "but not always for ourselves." He rose. "Shall I send for them?"

[107]"The sooner the better. And it will be good to meet your fellow Hebrews again, eh, Mordecai?"

Abram Mordecai, already at the door, turned a moment. His eyes, a striking hazel in the tan of his roughened face, grew wistful for a moment. "I am more Indian than Jew, more savage than white man," he answered gravely. "Perhaps it is a pity," and he was gone.

Mordecai, the child of the wilderness, where the struggle against savage and beast of prey sharpen the wits and teach the pioneer the need for rapid decisions, lost no time in executing his commission. As soon as word could reach Lyon, he informed his old comrade of the work he had in mind for him. The next post told Mordecai that the two men with their tools, gin saws and other materials loaded upon pack horses, were already on their way to Alabama. He waited eagerly for their arrival. The gin meant more to him than a source of revenue, were he successful in the cotton market. For, as Hawkins had observed, the Jew was not content to be a mere trader and hunter, like so many adventurers of the back woods. He longed to build, to create something lasting even in that ever-changing wilderness. And perhaps, mingled with his impatience, was a queer longing to see his own again, not merely white men like Colonel Hawkins, but Jews such as he had known before leaving his native Pennsylvania so many years ago. He smiled to find himself actually counting the days before he could expect Lyon and Barrett to arrive.

They came at last one evening near sunset, two [108]brown-skinned rovers in half-savage dress affected by the backwoodsmen of that day; Lyon, grave and silent, Barrett, with a boy's laugh, despite the sprinkling of gray in his curly hair. Mordecai stood at the door of his hut to greet them. A little behind him, humbly respectful like all the women of her nation to her lord and master, stood a squaw clad in a blanket with strings of beads woven in the long, dark braids of her hair. Her bright, black eyes sparkled with interest as she surveyed the strangers; but as they came nearer, she turned quickly and went back into the hut, where she continued to prepare the evening meal. But Mordecai advanced toward the travellers, his hand extended in welcome.

"Shalom Aleichem," he began, his tongue faltering a little over the old Hebrew greeting he had not used for so long. "I am glad you have come at last."

"Aleichem Shalom," answered Lyon. "It is long since we have met, Abram Mordecai." He took his old comrade's outstretched hand and indicated Barrett with a curt nod. "My friend," he said, briefly. "He will help us build the gin."

"You are both welcome," their host assured them. "Becky," he called, and the Indian woman appeared at the door, "unload the horses and bed them for the night with ours," and he indicated a roughly constructed barn a little way from the hut which it so resembled. "But first bring a pail of fresh water from the spring that these gentlemen may wash after their journey."

[109]Becky, still devouring the newcomers with her eyes, curiously, like those of an inquisitive squirrel, caught up a wooden bucket that stood by the open door and started down the winding path that led to the spring. "My wife," explained Mordecai, pretending not to see the look of surprise with which his former friend Lyon greeted his statement. "Yes," half in apology, "I know it seems strange to you. But for so many years I felt myself a part of the Creek nation, that when I was ill with malarial fever and she nursed me back to health, I was glad to lessen my loneliness and make her my wife according to the customs of her people. Yet," and he smiled a little bitterly, "yet, strange as it may seem, I still remember that I am a Jew."

He led them into the little cabin with its one window and floor of clay. At one end stood a rude fireplace made of bricks where a huge kettle swung Indian-fashion above the logs. At the other end of the room several heavy blankets indicated a bed, the only furniture being a few rough chairs, a table and an old trunk half covered by a gayly striped blanket such as Indian women weave. "A rough place, even for the wilderness," confessed Mordecai, "but I dare attempt no better. Of late, the Indians once so friendly, have grown surly and suspicious; they rightly fear that the white man will wrench the wilderness from them. Especially Towerculla, a neighboring chief, who hates the ways of the whites and has been murmuring against me ever since he has heard that a cotton gin will be erected through my agency. So who knows when I will be driven [110]from this place by the red men—providing that they allow me to escape with my life."

"And have you no white neighbors?" asked Barrett, who had seated himself upon the trunk, where he sat loosening his dusty leggins.

"There is 'Old Milly'." Mordecai's hazel eyes twinkled a little. "She is the wife of an English soldier who deserted from the army during the Revolution. After her husband's death she took up her abode here. She is a woman of strong and resolute character and has considerable power over the Indians of this district, who stand greatly in awe of her. She lately married a red man and is really a great person in our little community, for she owns several slaves and many horses and cattle. Tomorrow I will introduce you to my only white neighbor. But here is Becky with the water," as the squaw entered with the brimming pail. "Wash the dust from your faces that we may sit and eat, for you must be nearly famished."

The travelers, having washed in the wooden basin that stood on one of the chairs and shaken some of the dust from their garments, now came eagerly enough to the table, which the silent Becky had prepared for them. Upon the bare boards she had set several mugs and heavy crockery bowls, pewter forks and a large, steaming vessel of the stew which she had taken from the fire, as well as several cakes made of corn flour and cooked in the ashes. Such fare was familiar enough to the pioneers, but the two guests could not help staring at the book that lay at each plate, a worn Sidur (prayer book), the [111]ancient Hebrew characters looking strangely foreign in the primitive forests of America. Abram Mordecai saw the two men exchange glances and flushed a little beneath his tan.

"A foolish thought of mine," he murmured. "When I left my father's house in Pennsylvania I carried one of these in my pack, wrapped in the talith (praying shawl), he had brought with him from Germany. And later I found the two others in the bundle of a Jewish peddlar murdered by the Indians. The Indian agent at St. Mary's sent me to ransom him and several other captives taken by the Creeks, but I came too late. Somehow, I could not bear to throw them away or destroy them. They have been with me in all my wanderings and more than once when I thought it about time for the fall holy days have I read the prayers and wished that I might have a few of my brethren with me to observe them aright. And tonight—" for a moment the confident, self-reliant adventurer seemed as embarrassed as a bashful child, "and tonight I hoped that since there would be three of us at grace, we might read the benedictions together—if you care to—and I would know how it feels to be a Jew again."

Barrett laughed, his hearty school boy laugh, as he flung himself unceremoniously into a chair beside the table. "It's many a day since I've said or heard a brocha (blessing)," he said, "but I'll go through it without any book, thank you."

Lyon said nothing, as he took the place Mordecai assigned him at the foot of the table, but there [112]was a tender look about his grave mouth. Perhaps he realized how difficult it had been for Mordecai to confess his loneliness for the customs of his people; but, according to his wont, he said nothing.

Smiling almost childishly, Mordecai passed a bowl of water to each of his guests that they might wash their hands, which they did, murmuring the blessing as they did so. Then, taking his place at the head of the table, he poured water over his own hands, saying the Hebrew benediction as he wiped them upon a faded red napkin which lay beside his Sidur. Somehow, after his brief confession, he felt ashamed to tell his guests that the napkin had belonged to his mother and had rested beside the neglected Sidur for so many years. Then, breaking a bit from the bread and handing it to each of the men, he repeated the blessing for which, although he had not recited it for so many years, he need no prompting from the worn black book beside his plate.

"Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who bringest forth bread from the earth," he said in Hebrew.

Becky, as her husband called her, stood in the background as silent as a bronze statute until the little ceremony was over. If she was impressed by the strangeness of it all, she gave no sign. For so many of the customs of her husband's alien race were strange to her that she had long ago ceased to wonder or desire any explanation. Now at a sign from Mordecai, she took away the bowl of water, and, filling a plate with the savoury stew, took it to the corner of the hut, here, crouched upon the blankets, [113]she ate her supper, quite content to watch the white strangers from a distance.

Mordecai served his guests, then himself, and over the stew and corn bread the men exchanged stories of their experiences in the wilderness. The host told a little of his own adventures since leaving the east, of his life as a trader with the Indians, of the peace treaty he had brought about with the Chickasaw nation, of his journeys south to New Orleans and Mobile, his furs and medicinal barks piled high in the barge with no companions but the painted savages to assist him. A life of highly-colored adventure with variety enough to satisfy any spirit, but even now Mordecai was growing restless and longed for another enterprise to occupy him after the cotton gin should be completed.

Then, the meal being over, Mordecai, with the same shamefaced bashfulness he had shown when speaking of the Sidurim, turned the pages of the book, saying almost wistfully: "I know that tonight is not a festival or Sabbath with us, gentlemen, but if you would care to go over the psalm with me——"

"We've been waiting a long time for this and we'll give good measure," laughed little Barrett, but his eyes did not jest as Mordecai in the quaint old sing-song of the synagogue began "When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion" and Lyon gravely followed.

"And now," Mordecai's face fairly glowed with pleasure, "now we will have the special grace, since there are three of us at the table."

[114]"Let us say grace," he began, with hardly a look at the Hebrew.

"Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forever," responded his guests.

"With the permission of those present," went on the host, "we will bless Him of whose bounty we have partaken."

"Blessed be He of whose bounty we have partaken," answered the others, "and through whose goodness we live."

As Mordecai repeated the Hebrew phrases, learned in his almost forgotten Cheder (Hebrew School) days, a great longing came upon him and the tears coursed down his cheeks. To return again to this home, to keep the customs of his people and to die at last with Jewish friends about him and the Hebrew's declaration of faith upon his lips! But, as he closed the book, his eyes glanced about the little room and they grew dark with pain. The gun standing in the corner, the furs drying upon the wall, Becky crouching upon the blankets—all spoke to him of a life he had lived too long to exchange for the quiet existence of which he sometimes dreamed. He rose, and, with an abrupt gesture, pointed to a shaggy robe before the fire place.

"I have no better bed to offer you," he said, "but I know you are not used to a soft couch. You must be tired from your journey. Becky will tend to your horses so you had better sleep now, that tomorrow we may start out early and visit Colonel Hawkins. He would see you before you begin work on the cotton gin."

[115]The cotton gin, the first to be built in Alabama, was completed in due time, and Barrett and Lyons, their pack horses again loaded with their tools, were ready to return to Georgia. If Mordecai felt any pain at having his co-religionists depart, he was skilful in concealing it. For, after his confidence over the supper table, he had slipped back into his stoical reserve and not even the taciturn Lyon was more silent or chary of speech in anything that did not directly concern the business in hand. So it was merry little Barrett who alone mentioned the occasion that for a moment had brought the strangers of the wilderness together and had made them brothers.

"We'll be coming back again when we want a taste of Becky's good stew—and a blessing afterwards," he jested as he swung himself into his saddle and reached down to shake hands with Mordecai.

"Or to build another gin if the Indians do not molest this one and drive me off," answered Mordecai lightly, but the jest lingered in his mind. His life among the superstitious savages, his solitary hours in the wilderness, had helped to tinge his shrewd, practical mind with a strong mysticism. He tried to dismiss the matter; but, as he walked back to his hut that evening, Barrett's light words haunted him and gave him no rest. "Perhaps," he muttered, "perhaps, before my life is over, we will meet again and there will be three of us at grace."

But his fancies fled and his dreamy face grew hard and alert as he came to the clearing before [116]his hut. There, in the midst of his Indian followers, all armed with long poles, stood Chief Towerculla, threatening Becky. The squaw had placed herself in the door of the hut, where she stood with folded arms, listening to the Chief's angry threats. If she felt any fear, there was no trace of it in her expressionless face. Nor did she seem relieved when Mordecai pushed between her and the angry Indian and demanded what business had brought him there. She merely shrugged a little, hitched up her buckskin skirt and resumed her task of pounding corn between two stones at the door of the hut, appearing to take no interest in the quarrel that followed. For like a good squaw, she did not think it seemly to interfere in her husband's business affairs.

"And now, Towerculla," began Mordecai in the Indian tongue which he spoke fluently. "Why do you come here and seek to frighten my squaw in my absence? And why have you brought your men with you?"

The Chief grunted in disgust. "And why do you bring the pale face here to build?" he answered Mordecai question for question. "Our squaws are well satisfied to work in the fields, to make oil from the hickory nuts, to weave blankets. But you would have them sell you cotton to make you rich; you would build a store and other white men would be greedy to trade with our women and build other gins and other stores—and soon there would be many of your people while we—" he waved his hand toward his warriors, "we children of the red [117]men would be driven further into the wilderness. You have already driven us too far, you white men. I am willing to spare you for the sake of 'Old Milly,' whom we do not fear, for she is one of us. And she has pleaded for you more than once. So I will allow you and your squaw to depart in peace. By tomorrow morning leave for some other place—for it is not good to dwell here any longer."

For a moment Mordecai was too astonished to answer. Then he laughed boldly into the Indian's angry face. Towerculla sprang for him, but Mordecai swiftly stepped aside, and crouching, sprung upon the Chief and struck him to the ground. For a minute the two struggled together. Then the Indians fell upon Mordecai and released Towerculla, who rose from the dust, his face terrible in his anger. Mordecai struggled in vain against the blows of Towerculla's followers. As he sank to the ground overpowered, he caught himself murmuring, "They cannot kill me, until we three say grace together again," even while he longed for death to cut short the agony which was beginning to wrack every limb of his cruelly beaten body. Then out of the mist of red which seemed to swim before his eyes, a merciful black cloud descended and he knew nothing more until he regained consciousness and found himself in "Old Milly's" cabin, with Becky, still calm of face and quiet of voice bathing his wounds with cool water from the spring.

"What has happened?" he asked, trying to rise, but falling back moaning in his pain.

"Old Milly," a tall, sharp-faced woman, who sat [118]weaving a basket as skillfully as any squaw, answered him. "Towerculla would have slain you, had not Becky brought me in time. He is not a good enemy to have, Abram Mordecai. When you are stronger, you must take his advice and go away. The Indians did not burn the barn, so your horses are safe, but the house was in flames before I could reach it and persuade Towerculla to leave you in peace."

Becky rose and walked to the table. Returning to where her husband lay, she placed in his hand three books with worn black covers and a faded red napkin. "I ran and got these when I saw they were destroying our cabin," she told him. "I knew you had kept them long; that they were dear to you as the gods of our people are to us—like a charm, maybe, to keep death away. And perhaps, when the white men come again, you will want to have them on the table and sing."

For the moment, Mordecai forgot that Becky was only a squaw, undeserving, according to the custom of her people, either thanks or praise. "You are a very good wife," he said, gently, "and I will buy you real gold earrings with the first money I earn from the cotton gin." And since he was so weak, neither woman dared to tell him for several days that the vengeance of the Indians had extended to the gin house, which now lay a heap of black ruins hear the river.

Broken in body and ruined in fortune, Mordecai accompanied by the faithful Becky, bade farewell to Colonel Hawkins and journeyed further into the [119]wilderness. For the Indian agent prudently refused to erect a second gin while the Indians still planned to injure Mordecai, and the adventurer himself felt that it would be hopeless to seek to gain the friendship of the embittered Chief. Trader and trapper, he led his solitary existence in the south, with no companionship but Becky's, until her death left him entirely alone.

He had regained his former vigor by this time and sometimes dreamed of returning to his boyhood home. But from the pioneer towns springing up wherever he passed, he knew that a new civilization was rising in America; that he was of the generation that must pass away as surely as the Indian and he realized that he would feel sadly out of place in the surroundings that he had known as a boy. Yet, dreamer that he was, he never ceased to picture himself, a sober stay-at-home citizen, living out the last years of his life in communion with his fellow Jews, who had never left their quiet firesides. Nor in all his wanderings did he ever part with the three Sidurim and the faded red napkin. For as he grew older, the fantastic notion grew ever stronger that before he died he would again say grace with the builders of his cotton gin.

Almost a century old, he wandered back at last to Montgomery county, seeking the very spot where his hut had stood before Chief Towerculla had driven him away. Now the settlement of Dudlyville, so close at hand, made him feel cramped and uncomfortable. Colonel Hawkins had long since left Pole Cat Springs; Chief Towerculla, driven away [120]by the white men he had always feared, was dead; "Old Milly" no longer lived in her savage kingdom with her husband and her slaves.

But he felt too tired to travel further; perhaps he realized that no matter where he went he would feel lonely as the survivor of another day and generation. So he built a tiny cabin for himself, even putting together some crude furniture. Here he lived, never seeing a human face unless he walked to the village to secure supplies, which the settlers, vaguely touched by his loneliness, never failed to press upon him. He talked to them sometimes of the days before the wilderness had been conquered, speaking too, of the first cotton gin, which the Indians had destroyed. "I love the spot," he used to say, "but it is growing too crowded; yes," with a shake of his white head, "too crowded for one who needs plenty of fresh air to breathe. Next spring I must journey on." But when spring came, he would wait until fall, and again through the long winter. For his old ambition had left him and though his heart still wandered afar through the forests, his feet were too weary to follow it.

But one evening he felt strangely strong and refreshed. He had worked hard all the afternoon cleaning his little hut and now the humble room looked as spotless as spring water and vigorous scrubbing could make it. Even the table and chairs were scoured and the fireplace cleaned, while, to complete the day's task Mordecai had emptied an old barrel in the corner, burning the heap of odds and ends which had accumulated since his return. But now as [121]he stood behind the table he held in his hand three black books and a faded napkin which he could not bring himself to destroy. As he stood there with the rays of the setting sun falling through the open door on his shaggy white head, old memories burned in his faded eyes and a strange, dreamy smile played about his mouth.

"I have found the books—it is time for them to come and say 'grace'," he murmured to himself. "I have put my house in order. I know it is time for me to go away—into the Great Wilderness—but not until we have three at grace once more."

Carefully placing a book at each place, he drew up two chairs and a box, spread the napkin at the head of the table and set out his few poor dishes and humble evening meal. Then he took his place, opened his book and waited. The Hebrew letters seemed strangely blurred; for the first time in his life his keen eyes failed him. But, glancing up, he thought he saw his two guests, Lyon and Barrett in their places waiting for him to begin the blessing before the meal.

"I am ready," he said, and even as he spoke, his head dropped upon the open book and Mordecai's restless spirit was at rest forever.






[122]

THE LUCKY STONEToC

The Adventures of Uriah P. Levy, the First Naval Officer of his Day.


A little brown sand piper scudded along the beach. Uriah Levy, a brown-faced lad who looked several years older than a boy who had just passed his eleventh birthday, lay upon the shore and smiled to see it flirt importantly past him as though in a tremendous hurry to reach its destination. Then his keen eyes turned toward the sea, blue and stainless, as level as the long looking glass in his mother's parlor at home. Several sea gulls skimmed the quiet waters, now rising until their gray-white plumage melted into the clouds, now seeming to float upon the tide. Uriah was a trifle sorry when they disappeared at last, for he loved the sea gulls dearly. They seemed so akin to him in their wild freedom, in their love for the solitary waste of waters. Ever since he could remember, he, too, had loved the sea, since the days when he was a tiny boy, sailing his paper boats to strange ports across the ocean. And tomorrow he was going to sea at last—a real cabin boy in a real vessel! He threw himself back upon the warm sands and with half-closed eyes lay dreaming of the future.

He was aroused from his day dreaming by the strange uneasiness that comes to one who feels that he is being observed. Sitting up, he saw that Ned Allison, a lad whose father owned a fishing shack [123]near by, had come down to the beach and was now standing over him, his hands thrust into the pockets of his ragged trousers, his bare, brown toes kicking among the pebbles at his feet. The newcomer was a few years younger than Levy, a grave, stolid lad with bright, restless eyes.

"Hello, Ned," Uriah greeted him. "Did you know I was going to sea tomorrow?"

"No. You're lucky." The other's tone was delightfully envious of Uriah's good fortune. "I've got to wait till I'm twelve or maybe fifteen, I guess. Father's rheumatism is bad lately and I have to help him. How're you going?" He sank beside Uriah on the sands and gazed longingly over the blue waters.

"I'm going to ship as cabin boy; but I won't be gone long." Uriah couldn't help bragging a little as he told his good fortune. "I'm going to be like Paul Jones and that crowd—if it takes a hundred years."

"You'll be too old then," observed Ned dryly. He began to turn over the heap of pebbles that lay between them. "Now if you were to find an oyster or clam shell with several big pearls you could buy a ship of your own right now and——"

"I'd make you first mate," promised Uriah, generously. Leaning on his elbow, he too began to turn over the pebbles, for like every boy of his years he never gave up hope of finding an oyster shell thickly studded with pearls, each one milk-white and shining and worth a king's ransom. "Yes," he went on, dreamily, "I'd rig out a brig right away and sail the seas till I got tired. First, I guess, I'd clear the [124]Spanish Main of pirates and then I'd visit far-off countries across the ocean. Remember what old Captain Ferguson told us about 'em; palm trees, and naked black men who'll sell you ivory and precious stones for a string of beads or a piece of red cloth? That's what I'd do if I had a ship of my own."

"I think I'd rather go to war," observed Allison with equal seriousness.

"Of course! If there would only be a war with some country or other, I'd like to be captain of the American Navy and capture all the other nation's vessels and tow 'em into port." His eager face clouded. "But I've heard my father say that this country's lucky to have peace after the Revolution; that we have to rest and grow strong. I suppose it isn't any more likely than either of us ever finding a pearl among all these stones." Suddenly he interrupted himself with a shrill whistle of delight. "I found a lucky stone," he exclaimed, "a beauty," holding it up for Ned's inspection. "And I'm going to wear it for luck as long as I'm a sailor." He took a piece of string from his pocket and ran it through one of the holes. "Maybe," he laughed, hanging the charm about his neck, "maybe this is almost as good as finding a pearl. Anyhow, I don't care about being rich as long as I can go to sea."

Uriah Levy stood upon the sea shore, no longer a dreaming boy, but a stalwart youth of twenty. At sixteen he already held the position of first mate after becoming part owner of the brig, "Five Sisters," on which he had made five voyages. It had not been easy for a youth with the down of manhood scarcely [125]visible upon his cheeks to rule a crew gathered in that day from the riff-raff and scum of the sailing-ports. Yet the Jewish lad, who one day was to make it his boast that he had abolished the barbarous custom of corporal punishment from the United States Navy, by resorting to force ruled without difficulty when his lawless seamen once realized his courage and the strength of his fists.

But in the year 1812 the times were still wild times upon the ocean and it was no uncommon thing for a law-abiding crew to grow weary of the restraints of their commander, mutiny and follow the sea after the manner of the pirates who still ruled the Spanish Main. And so, when Uriah P. Levy became master of the schooner, "George Washington," not even his iron discipline was strong enough to withstand the plotting of several of the bolder spirits of his crew. Almost under his very eyes, the mutiny had been hatched and had grown to a head.

Standing upon the lonely sea shore, Uriah recalled the swarthy, leering face of Sam Jones, recently punished for infraction of discipline, and the crooked smile of Martin, he who puffed everlastingly at his pipe and wore a red handkerchief for a turban and earrings of heavy gold. He had known them for the ringleaders in the plot against him, even before they had seized command of the vessel and taken possession of the cabin that they might hold council whether their master should be spared or cast into the sea.

"He's but a boy," Martin had argued. "Let him go. Put him in a boat and set him adrift. We're off [126]the coast of Carolina now and even if he gets there with a whole skin, he's not likely to worry us when we're flying the black flag on the Main."

But Sam Jones had urged instant death. "Let him walk the plank," he suggested, his small eyes glittering with hate. "He's only a boy, but I tell you I'm afraid of him—sore afraid."

Martin laughed scornfully, puffing at his pipe. "I'm willing to take the risk," he declared, "though it's no concern of mine. So let's shake dice and the man who wins will say what's to be done with him."

There in the dimly lighted cabin, Levy with his arms bound behind him, had watched the game of dice as calmly as though his life did not lie in the hands of the two who played for such a ghastly stake. Out on the deck, the mutineers drank and jested and sang uproariously in their new freedom. He wondered if that were to be the end: a short plank, a blow to thrust him into the dark waves of the ocean which he had loved so well. Uriah closed his eyes, swaying a little; but he was quite calm, even smiling, when Jones sneered in disgust:

"Born to hang, will never drown. You win, Martin." He pushed the dice aside and rose to release Levy from his bonds. "Here you," he called to several sailors loitering near the door, "get a small boat ready and set him adrift."

"And put in a pair of oars," added Martin. "Give the lad a fighting chance, can't you? And some bread and a jug of water, too." Somehow he felt suddenly uncomfortable before the boy's quiet gaze. "Aren't you going to thank me?" he half blustered.

[127]"I am an American gentleman," answered Levy, very slowly, "and I hold no speech with outlaws and pirates." And before the astonished mutineer could answer him he followed the sailors from the cabin.

And now his perilous journey was over at last, although his frail boat had been destroyed on the rocks before he reached the shore. An excellent swimmer, Levy had stripped off his shoes and coat and jumped into the water. Cleaving the waves with long powerful strokes, he soon reached land, where for several hours he lay wet and exhausted, so bitterly discouraged that he almost wished Jones had prevailed and cut his throat or forced him to walk the plank. Better to have fallen asleep beneath the waves, he thought, than try to live, a hopeless and a defeated man.

It was now past sunset and Levy mechanically set about building a fire to warm his aching limbs and keep off any prowling beasts while he slept. Scooping a hollow in the sand beyond the reach of the tide, he gathered dry drift wood which he finally lighted by the aid of a spark struck from two stones. He was hungry now and even more anxious for a smoke than for food; at that moment he hated the crew less for making off with the vessel in which he had had a third interest than for casting him on this deserted shore without even the solace of his evening pipe. Muttering angrily, he leaned over the fire to stir the blaze; as he did so the damp string about his neck swung free and he noticed the little lucky stone still fastened to the end.

Strangely enough, the sight of the pebble he had [128]worn as a charm for so many years gave him courage. His bold spirit which for a little while had lain bruised and discouraged grew strong again; he felt that he was not the man to submit tamely to treachery and misfortune. He must win back all that he had lost that day, not only the stolen vessel but his self-respect. He must not allow himself beaten. Crouching by the fire, his chin resting on his clenched fists, his eyes on the flames, the boy vowed not to rest until he had defeated his enemies and secured what was his own. "I'm strong and young," he told himself, confidently, "and so far my luck has never failed me." And he fingered the little stone on the string about his neck. At last the fire died down, but there was no one to stir the dying embers, for Uriah Levy had fallen asleep upon the sands, the luck stone still clutched between his strong, brown fingers, a confident smile upon his lips.

In the days that followed, it was not an easy thing for young Levy to smile confidently in the faces of those who predicted certain failure in his undertaking. "Other merchants and commanders have suffered from pirates and mutinous crews before your day," he was informed at every turn. "Better ship again and look for better luck."

Kindly and well-meant advice, but Levy would have none of it. He still smiled, though now somewhat grimly, as he went from friend to friend, insisting that he would not fail to bring his piratical crew to justice. And so confident was he that he would eventually find a backer, that he even spent several days roaming about the wharves in order to pick out a [129]trustworthy crew, should he find anyone willing to send him to sea on his own vessel again.

"Why, Uriah Levy," exclaimed a deep voice as a stout sailor came toward him. "You surely haven't forgotten me?"

"You're Ned Allison," said Levy after a long look had convinced him that the slender fisher boy had grown into the burly man before him. "And do you follow the sea now as you planned?"

"Yes. My poor father died two years ago. So I sent mother to live with her sister and here I am. I just hit port last week and now I'm ready to leave again as soon as I find a good berth. Just can't feel at home on dry land anymore."

Levy nodded understandingly. "Take me to a good tavern around here," he suggested. "I want to talk to you."

Allison willingly led the way to a tavern in the neighborhood much frequented by sailors, chatting lightly as they walked. Levy hardly knew him for the shy, taciturn playfellow of his boyhood. He sipped his ale slowly as he studied Ned's bright, eager face. Somehow he felt encouraged at the thought that he might induce Allison to accompany him, should he set out on what seemed to be a hopeless voyage.

"And what have you been doing?" asked Allison, pausing for breath. "The last I heard of you, you were master of the 'George Washington' and part owner. Not that you look very lively and prosperous," he added with a keen glance.

[130]Levy briefly related the story of the mutiny and his hope to pursue and punish his mutinous crew. "And I'll do it, too," he added, passionately. "Though I suppose you, like the rest, think it's a mad venture," he ended, doubtfully.

Allison put down his mug before replying. "I can't say that I do," he answered slowly. "Though it's risking a good deal if you catch up to the dogs and they sink your ship in the scuffle. You couldn't afford that, could you?"

"I'm not thinking of the money alone," insisted Levy. "Nor of revenge; although I've been treated pretty shabbily and they'll pay for it, if I live long enough to track them down. But it's a matter of conscience with me, too, Allison. I'm going to do my share in making the sea clean of piracy. Maybe there won't be a war in our time, though they say there's trouble threatening with England, but I'll serve my country in this way at least. Want to help me?" and he leaned across the table, looking straight into Ned's eyes.

"I'd rather ship with you as master than any man I know, Sir," answered Allison, gravely.

Less than a week later, Uriah Levy succeeded in convincing several wealthy friends of the sanity of his plan. They advanced the necessary funds and with a carefully picked crew he started out on a vessel of his own with Allison as first mate in pursuit of the sailors who had cast him afloat near the Carolina shores.

Of all the tales Ned Allison loved to tell his grandchildren when he had grown to be an old man, they [131]clamored most for the story of the sea fight in which Uriah Levy conquered the pirate crew of the "George Washington." It was a short battle, but a terrible one, which he fought a year after the mutiny; and before the mutineers finally lowered their black flag in token of surrender, a third of the crew lay dead or wounded upon the slippery decks. Old Martin, his pipe still between his teeth, lay among the dead, but Sam Jones, his right arm hanging limp and useless at his side, was among the survivors who were put into irons when their vessel was taken in tow and Levy turned his face homeward. Like the other mutineers Jones never doubted what his fate would be, for those days were hard days and the men who lived by the sword knew only too well that at any moment death by the sword might be their portion. Hourly they waited for Levy to pass judgment upon them, to hang them from the yard arm of the ship which they had sailed under the flag of piracy. While Levy's own crew grew impatient until the first mate, Allison, ventured to speak to him of the matter as they sat in Levy's cabin the night after the battle.

"I can't help wondering, sir," Allison began, doubtfully, "why you have said nothing so far concerning the fate of our prisoners, since it is practically in your hands."

Levy shook his head as he puffed thoughtfully at his pipe. Perhaps he was thinking of the night when Jones had threatened him with death and laughed at his helplessness. "According to the 'unwritten law' which is made to cover so many lawless acts, I [132]have the power to deal with them as I think fit," he answered. "And I must confess I was sorely tempted to take the law into my own hands when I knew the mutineers were in my power. But," smiling a little, "it is much better to leave it to the law courts when we reach port."

"And if they should be acquitted?" Allison's eyes snapped with excitement. "Sir, if I were in your place——"

"If you were in my place, you might not be censured for yielding to your desire for revenge," returned Levy, very quietly. "But I—" his voice took on a tinge of bitterness, "I am a Jew and these wretches, no matter how criminal, would be pitied as the victim of a Jew's vengeance. Even in America, my dear Allison, and in spite of the liberal influence of men like Thomas Jefferson, it is not always easy to be a Jew."

The civil authorities, however, were entirely on Levy's side at the trial and the mutineers were duly tried and condemned to death. The young sailor was about to put out to sea again, for he longed for further adventure, when the outbreak of the war of 1812 set him a-dreaming once more of serving his country upon the sea. In spite of his youth, he was commissioned sailing master in the United States Navy, serving on the ship, "Alert," and later on the brig, "Argus," which ran the blockade to France, Mr. Crawford, the American minister to that country, being aboard. The "Argus" captured several English vessels, one of which was placed at Levy's command; but his triumph was short-lived; recaptured by [133]the English, Levy and his crew were kept prisoners of war in England for over a year.

Regaining his freedom, Levy returned to America to be promoted to the rank of lieutenant. It was then that he realized how just had been his complaint to Allison, for on every hand those who were envious of his good fortune proved even more malicious because of his loyalty to his faith. Levy suffered, too, from the hatred of those naval officers who looked upon him as an intruder into their ranks. For, with the exception of a year's attendance at the Naval School in Philadelphia, he had had no naval training and had worked his way up from the ranks. Perhaps his long fight against the practise of flogging unruly sailors helped to add to the number of his enemies, for those in authority were outraged that this Jewish upstart should criticise a custom so deeply rooted in the traditions of the navy. Another man of quieter temper might have tried to combat the prejudice and hatred which met him at every turn; but Levy's nature was not a patient one. When raised to the rank of captain, he felt that he could not allow the slanders of one of his enemies to go unanswered; he challenged the Jew-hater to a duel and caused his opponent to pay for his insults with his life.

Although the duel was still recognized as an honorable means of settling a controversy between gentlemen, Levy was made to pay bitterly for his vindication. His enemies were too strong for him. He fought them bravely and with his old proud spirit, but when the trial was over, Allison still serving in [134]the navy, read in one of the newspapers that his old master had been court-martialed and dropped from the roll of the United States Navy as captain.

"I knew they'd get him," thought the honest seaman. "Ah, he was too good for them and now they put him to shame. I couldn't blame him if he turned against his country when he's treated so after all his services. And I wonder what'll happen to him if he doesn't follow the sea."

Allison was right in suspecting that his old playmate would turn in his trouble to the sea as a child when hurt or tired runs to its mother for comfort. Glad of an offer to take charge of an important business commission in Brazil, Levy left the United States, hoping that the long sea voyage might do a little toward easing the pain in his heart. But he found that he had been mistaken, although no one ever knew how deeply he suffered from the moment he left the land he had sought to serve from his boyhood. Disgraced by his country, tired and broken in spirit, he spent endless hours in brooding over his misfortune. No longer the commander of his men, not even a common seaman, he spent the long days on board leaning upon the rail, looking with somber eyes upon the waves. His proud heart was bitter against those who had goaded him on to his ruin; he felt that there was no justice for the Jew in the whole world, not even in America. Although he had already set the wheels in motion for a new trial, he was confident that his enemies would again prove too powerful for him. It was a hopeless and a [135]heartsick man who landed at last and began his new duties at the Brazilian Capital.

Several days after his arrival, Uriah P. Levy stood by the window of his room reading a letter, his brows knitted in thought. The note was written on the royal stationery and requested him to appear the next morning for an audience with Emperor Dom Pedro. Levy could think of but one reason for such a strange command. Perhaps the slanders of his enemies had preceded him even to this far-off place; perhaps he was already under suspicion and the audience with the emperor might lead to imprisonment or ejection from the country. The thought of new difficulties to encounter wakened his fighting spirit; he was strangely elated and the dreadful langor which had seized him during his journey disappeared.

"I am ready for another good fight," he told himself grimly as he prepared for bed. That night for the first time since his court-martial he slept the long hours through, and he rested as peacefully as a little child.

Dressing himself with his usual care and holding his head as proudly as though he still wore his country's uniform, Levy appeared at the palace and was immediately ushered into the emperor's presence. His quick eyes, long trained to notice the smallest detail, quickly took in every feature of the richly appointed room, noting even the fantastic carving of the chair on which the emperor sat, and one of the rings he wore, a flat green emerald with a mystic letter carved upon it making the jewel, so he judged, a sort of talisman. He smiled in spite of himself as he [136]remembered his own humble charm, the lucky stone. Perhaps the pebble's usefulness was over; he could hardly call his career especially fortunate just now.

Emperor Dom Pedro was a man of a few words. He murmured a few polite phrases of greeting, asked Levy of his voyage and whether he had completed the mission which had brought him to Brazil. "For if you have," he ended, "I may have matters of interest to discuss with you."

"I am not quite finished with the business which brought me here," answered Levy, "but naturally I am honored by your majesty's request to appear before you and not a little eager to learn what matters you may care to discuss with me."

The emperor twirled the ring with its strange green stone about his finger. "I have heard much of you," he returned, briefly, "and I need men of your daring and enterprise in my service. Will you take an important commission under the Brazilian government?"

For a moment Levy wavered. Already an exile in spirit, he felt he did not have the courage to return to his native country. Here was an opportunity for an honorable career which would bring him position, wealth, all the excitement his daring heart desired. Then, curiously enough, as he gazed at the emperor's ring, there flashed across his mind the picture of a brown-faced boy upon the sands, a boy turning a lucky stone in his fingers as he dreamed of a glorious career in the country of his birth. He turned to the emperor and spoke quietly, but with his characteristic decision.

[137]"Your majesty," said Uriah Levy, "I thank you. But the humblest position in my country's service is more to be preferred than royal favor." And bowing before Dom Pedro, he left the court.

Nor was Levy's trust in the justice of his country unfounded. Just as he had persisted in bringing his mutinous crew to punishment, now he showed the same determination in insisting that a court of inquiry be established to question the justice of his court-martial. He prepared his own defense—merely a statement of his record while in the service of his country—a record that won his complete and honorable acquittal. Not only was he restored to his old rank in the United States Navy, but shortly afterwards he rose to the advanced rank of commodore.

When the Civil War broke out he was holding the position of flag officer, the highest rank in our navy at that time. The years had been kind to the little cabin boy and his private inheritance had grown into a considerable fortune. He had already purchased Monticello, the home of his old idol, Thomas Jefferson, intending to preserve it as a national shrine, and had presented a statue of the author of our Declaration of Independence to the nation's Hall of Fame. Now he felt that there was but one cause to which he cared to devote his wealth; he sought an interview with President Lincoln and placed his entire private fortune at the nation's disposal.

A few days later, his boyhood friend, Ned Allison, now crippled with rheumatism but with a laugh as hearty and boyish as of old, visited his former [138]master. He found Uriah Levy grown frail and listless, the fires of his youth beginning to burn low as he neared his seventieth year. To be sure the commodore tried to rouse himself, asking after Ned's children, and even laughing feebly at the latter's account of his youngest grandson, "named Uriah Levy Allison, after you, sir," who now toddled along the beach where the two boys had searched among the pebbles so long ago.

"We didn't know we'd live to see two wars, did we, sir," mused Allison, "when we were just lads playing before my father's shack. Well, even if we're past our prime now, they can't say we didn't do our part back in 1812," and he chuckled a little in his pride.

But Levy's eyes were sad. "We have lived a little too long, Allison," he said, gravely but without bitterness. "When this war broke out I tried to help once more. But my offer of my entire fortune—and it was little enough to offer my country—has been refused, although I am allowed to subscribe to the war loan. Yet money means so little in a time like this. Whenever I hear the call for volunteers, I am like the old war horse that is turned out to grass. I am an old man now, nearly seventy, and must sit at home by the fire. But it hurts a little, Allison; it hurts a little."

For a while there was silence between them. When Allison rose to go, Levy followed him to the door, stopping a moment at the drawer of his desk to wrap a small package which he thrust into his old friend's hand.

[139]"'Tis for the boy, my name-sake," he explained. "The money will buy him some toy—maybe a small vessel to sail when the tide is low—and the other—," he laughed a little confusedly. "I found the trifle among some old keepsakes and papers the other day when I put my affairs in order. Give it to the boy and tell him of the day we found it. And come again soon, Allison, and talk over old times."

Out in the street, Ned Allison removed the wrappings from the little package. It contained a gold piece and a lucky stone with a bit of soiled string still fastened through one of the holes.






[140]

THE PRINCESS OF PHILADELPHIAToC

The Story of Rebecca Gratz and Washington Irving.


The spring rain fell on the roof with a gentle murmur, tinkling merrily as though it were pleased to hear the happy laughter of the children playing in the garret of Michael Gratz's house in Philadelphia. Six children romped there that Saturday afternoon in early springtime, away back in the year 1712, Rebecca Gratz, her younger brothers and sister and the one guest she had invited to her eleventh birthday party, Matilda Hoffman, a girl about her own age, whose fair long braids formed a striking contrast to Rebecca's dusky curls.

Just now the merriment was at its height for Rebecca, aided by Matilda, was setting the table, while nine-year-old Rachel tried to amuse baby Benjamin who was making violent efforts to nibble at the trimmings of the birthday cake. Joseph and Jacob, fine sturdy fellows of seven and six, had found a pair of fencing foils in one of the old trunks in the corner and were engaged in a lively duel, displaying such recklessness that had their mother seen them she would have confiscated the weapons without delay. Perhaps Rebecca would have stopped this dangerous play had she not been too busy with the banquet-table—really a board placed upon two barrels and covered with a gay red scarf Rachel had found with the fencing foils.

[141]"It does look nice," she admitted, viewing her efforts with her head on one side as Matilda poured out the last glass of gooseberry wine and set it in its place. "Only," with a little sigh, "I do wish my birthday hadn't come today so we could have had candles instead of those wax roses on the cake."

"Why couldn't you?" Matilda asked curiously.

"It isn't right for people to light birthday candles on Shabbas," explained Rachel. "Jewish people, I mean," she qualified as she tied a napkin around Benjamin's fat neck and deposited him in a seat at the table furtherest from the birthday cake. "But it's different for you 'cause you're not Jewish."

"It's queer people are all different and go to different churches," puzzled Matilda. "My mamma says——"

But no one ever heard her mother's opinion on the subject, for Joseph and Jacob on seeing Rebecca take her place at the head of the table raced to their seats with howls like hungry Indians at dinner time. For a few minutes the children's noisy tongues were hushed as the little hostess passed out sandwiches and jelly tarts. But when all the plates were empty to the last crumb and only the birthday cake remained in solitary splendor, just beyond the reach of Benjamin's greedy fingers, Joseph remarked with a satisfied sigh:

"This was just like one of those king's dinners in the fairy books. Like the banquet Esther gave the king at Purim."

"I wish it was Purim again," observed Jacob, who, seeing that the pitcher was empty, began to wish that he had drunk his second glass of gooseberry [142]wine a little more slowly. "Don't you remember last Purim, Becky, how you wore mother's old black silk and played you were Queen Esther? But Joe and Hyman took all the good parts and wouldn't let me be a king or anything."

"We don't have to wait till Purim to dress up and play king and queen," Rebecca told him, her brows knit in her effort to divide the pink and white cake into six slices of equal thickness. "As soon as we've finished our cake, we'll look through those old trunks over there. There're ever so many dresses and things from Austria and an Indian blanket and beads and such things and I know mother wouldn't care if we played with them as long as we put 'em all back again."

Joseph sprang up, his piece of frosted cake in his hand. "I want the Indian stuff," he cried.

"And I'll shoot you with my gun," challenged Jacob, pushing Rachel away from the trunk. "You're so slow, Rachel, we'll never get anything out."

The other children followed, all but little Benjamin. Benjamin was still too young to be interested in the game of "dressing up." So he toddled about the deserted table, picking stray crumbs from the plates and turning over the empty glasses in the hope of finding a few drops of gooseberry wine.

Strange, isn't it, that no matter how long it takes to get ready for breakfast, the slowest boy or girl can button himself into a make-believe outfit in the twinkling of an eye. In an incredibly short time, the five youngsters were dressed, each to satisfy his own peculiar taste: Joseph as an Indian in blanket and [143]beads, with a crimson band about his head; Jacob, carrying a sword, wore a moth-eaten smoking jacket, a bright sash and crimson Turkish turban; Rachel and Matilda were two dainty ladies in full skirts of blue and pink, with deep bonnets; while Rebecca was rather splendid in a yellow silk wrapper, a long veil fastened about her head with a string of pearl beads she had found in the treasure trunk. Laughing merrily, they all raced to the long mirror which stood at the other end of the garret; though cracked and discolored they were able to distinguish the gaily clad figures within its mottled depths, more like the quaint images of an old tapestry than happy, romping children at play. Then they scattered to their own games, the boys to stage an exciting battle between a red skin and a gallant soldier, the little girls to comfort Benjamin, who, having cleared the table, began to howl dismally that he wanted to get "dwessed, too!"

Laughing at his earnestness, the girls dressed him in a bright dressing gown striped in red and yellow, even providing him with a cane "for a gun like brother's." Then, the boys having grown tired of their Indian warfare, the entire company began a gay game of blind man's buff which ended somewhat abruptly as it was easy to tell at a touch just who was "caught" by the peculiar costume he wore.

"Ball—play ball," suggested little Benjamin, wandering from the open trunk, a small crystal ball in his hand.

"What is it?" asked Joseph, taking it curiously, "a paper weight or——"

[144]"I know," cried Matilda, as she examined the crystal globe. "My aunt has one just like it—she got it from London. You do crystal gazing in it."

"Crystal gazing?" Rebecca was frankly puzzled.

"Yes. She showed me how to do it. You just sit with the ball in front of you and look into it for a long time and don't think of anything else and all of a sudden you see pictures; that's what aunt said."

"What kind of pictures?" Joseph demanded.

"Pictures of what's going to happen. You see just what you're going to do when you grow up."

"I don't believe that nonsense," declared Rebecca, with an emphatic shake of her dark curls. "Father says it's all foolishness—like believing what a gypsy fortune-teller promises you."

"Well, let's try it, anyhow," suggested Rachel. "It won't do any harm and it'll give us something to do till the rain's over and we can go out and play again."

The crystal ball placed upon the table, the five dark and the one flaxen head bent over it eagerly. "But we'll never see anything this way," corrected Matilda. "It's Rebecca's party, so let her have the ball first. No one else must look or say a single word till she's seen her picture."

Cheeks flushed with excitement, shining dark eyes fastened upon the crystal, Rebecca sat motionless, scarcely daring to breathe as she waited for the picture of her future to appear in the glass. The others clustered about her, expectant and silent. At last she shook her head and pushed the ball aside. "I can't see a single thing," she complained.

[145]"But I want to try it," declared Jacob, reaching for the crystal. "Now all keep quiet and maybe I'll see something, even if Becky couldn't."

Again patient waiting until Jacob got up in disgust. "It's a silly game," he jeered. "Maybe your aunt could see things in an old glass ball, but nobody else can."

"It's more fun just playing 'pretend'," declared his sister Rachel. "Let's do it." She flung herself upon an old fur rug near the window, pulling Benjamin down beside her. "We'll just sit in a circle and pretend we've looked in the glass ball and it told us just what we were going to do when we grow up. I want to tell my fortune first," she ended importantly.

"That's a silly girl game," objected Jacob; but, tired of romping, he, too, threw himself upon the rug and waited with the rest of the circle for Rachel to disclose her future.

"When I'm grown up," began Rachel very slowly, her eyes fixed on the trees beyond the window, dripping with rain, "I'm going to be very beautiful like Miss Franks in New York used to be, and go to parties and balls every single night and have all the officers in the army writing poetry about me and making toasts for me, just as she did. And I'll always wear pink silk," she concluded, with a glance at her rosy ruffles.

"I should think you'd get awfully tired of balls every night," observed Matilda. "I'd much rather be like my governess. She isn't pretty at all but she knows just everything and she writes verses, too. When I grow up, I'm going to write a whole book [146]and everybody will say how smart I am." She spoke very seriously and the others looked at their ambitious little friend respectfully. Happy children as they were, they could not read the future and see that Matilda Hoffman, although one of the most accomplished young women of her time, would never write the wonderful book of which she dreamed. Nor could they guess that instead her lovely life would be an inspiration to a writer whose books every American would come to know and cherish.

"And I'm going 'way west to the lands father's just bought," declared Jacob, "and live with the Indians and wear a blanket and go hunting all the time."

"And I'm going with you," piped Benjamin, not understanding what the game was about, but determined not to lose any of the fun. Though something of that afternoon's pretending came to pass for him, for when a man he actually sought what was then the far western territory of Kentucky and became one of the leading citizens of Lexington.

"Well, I'm going to be a merchant like father," Joseph spoke with his usual grave determination, never dreaming of the day when he would become a senator. "And what are you going to do, Becky?"

Rebecca considered for a moment. Although older than the others, this child's play was very fascinating to her. "The other day," she said slowly, "I had the legend of St. Elizabeth for my French lesson. I think I'd like to be just like her when I grow up."

"Was she beautiful and everything like that?" asked Rachel.

[147]"I suppose so." Rebecca's voice had grown rather dreamy. "The ladies in stories always are beautiful, aren't they? But I liked her because she went about doing good among the poor peasants, even if her mean husband wanted her to stay at home."

"Did he ever find out?" asked Jacob.

"Once he thought he did." Rebecca smiled at the recollection. "She was going through the castle courtyard with a basket on her arm and some one told him she was taking bread to the poor people. He was very angry and ran after her and asked her what was underneath the napkin on her basket. You can just imagine how frightened she was!"

"Did she tell him?" Matilda wanted to know.

"I suppose she was so frightened she just didn't know she was telling a lie," Rebecca excused her heroine, "and before she knew what she was saying, she told her husband that she was carrying roses. And it was in the middle of the winter, too! And when he snatched the napkin off the basket—" the story teller paused impressively, "what do you suppose he found there?"

"Bread," chorused her listeners.

"No!" Rebecca shook her curls. "Because she was so good, God saved her from telling a lie and her basket was filled with beautiful red roses. And when her husband saw how much God thought of her, he became good, too, and tried to help Elizabeth care for all the poor people in the country."

"She must have been very rich to help so many poor people," observed Joseph.

"Oh, she was a real princess and I guess all [148]princesses have plenty of money," answered his sister easily.

"Then you can be just like her, if you want to," the admiring Matilda assured her. "Your papa's one of the richest men in Philadelphia, I guess, and you're beautiful like Elizabeth and with that long veil and those pearls you look just like a real princess this minute, doesn't she, Rachel?"

"Let's play the princess in the tower?" cried Joseph, springing up, already weary of the game. "Becky, you get on top of that trunk and we'll put chairs around it and play it's a high tower and Jacob and I will be princes and come and rescue you and take you away on our horses—the way they did in the fairy book you read us the other day."

"But what'll we be?" cried Rachel and Matilda together.

"You can be her ladies-in-waiting or something," Joseph decided, "and Benjamin can be our page and hold our horses while we climb into the tower." He straddled one of the fencing foils and pranced across the room. "A rescue!" he called shrilly to his brothers, "a rescue for the lovely Princess Rebecca."

Hyman Gratz, Rebecca's sixteen-year-old brother, entering the room at that moment, smiled at their sport. Swinging Benjamin to his shoulder he advanced toward the tower which sheltered the three lovely ladies and pulled Rebecca's face down to his for a kiss. "Having a happy birthday?" he asked.

"Just splendid." Rebecca's eyes danced with happiness. "We're playing the princess in the tower and I'm the princess."

[149]Hyman, his face suddenly grave, looked over the happy, dancing figures in their fantastic dresses. Although he did not know why, he wished at that moment that the children playing in the old attic need never grow up, but might always be carefree and laughing in their idle games. His eyes lingered longest on Rebecca, such a dainty little princess in her yellow silk and pearls and he sighted a little. But all he said was: "If I were you youngsters, I'd play in the garden. The rain's all over and there's a fine rainbow just behind the old chestnut tree."


Washington Irving sat crouched in one of the great arm chairs of the drawing room in Mr. Gratz's house in Philadelphia. His elbow on his knee, he sat with his hand shading his face, his eyes seeking the floor. When Rebecca Gratz entered the room, he seemed about to rise, but with a gesture she urged him to remain seated and took a chair beside him. For a long time they sat there in silence, Rebecca's hands twisting a small package that lay in her lap, her face pale and tired, her dark eyes filled with tears.

Sitting there with the soft candle light falling upon her simple blue dress and white arms, she made a picture which young Irving would have appreciated at any other moment. The slim little princess of the nursery had grown into a graceful young girl of gracious, yet dignified bearing, her abundant hair brushed simply back from her forehead, the gravity of her sweet face increased by the earnestness that never left [150]her large dark eyes, even when she smiled. For even in her gayest moments there was always a hint of gentle gravity about Rebecca Gratz; tonight, when utterly exhausted from watching at the deathbed of her childhood friend, Matilda Hoffman, she looked like a beautiful graven image of Sorrow.

At last Rebecca spoke, her low voice tremulous with tears: "The end was very easy—God was good to her at the last. And I do not think she suffered much lately. Matilda just seemed to fade away, not like one ill, but very tired. She often spoke of you when we were together; that is why I asked brother Hyman to send for you. I thought you would like to hear it all from me."

The young man in the arm chair shifted a little. "Yes, I would like to hear everything from you," he answered, not trusting himself to meet her eyes.

Simply, tenderly, Rebecca told young Irving of the last illness of the young girl whom he had hoped to marry. Now and then her voice broke, for she had loved Matilda Hoffman dearly; but she went bravely on until the end, when she placed the little package in Irving's hand. "She said I was to give you this," she told him, and looked away while he opened the cord with fingers that trembled a little.

The tokens that Washington Irving now gazed upon with tear-dimmed eyes and which were never to leave his possession during all the years when he was to acquire fame and wealth as America's leading author were a little prayer book and Bible. Between the pages of the latter the dead girl had placed a lock of her bright hair; as he raised the worn little [151]book several faded rose leaves fell upon the carpet.

"I pressed one of the roses from her coffin for you," Rebecca told him. "I did not think it would fade so soon."

There was a long silence between them, then, the two books pressed again his cheek, the young man burst into a fit of passionate weeping. "It was not right," he cried fiercely. "She was so good and beautiful and young. And we would have been so happy together. It was not right that she should die."

"I know—I loved her, too," said Rebecca gently.

He turned upon her almost angrily. "You can never know. I was her lover; you were only her friend."

"'The heart knoweth its own bitterness'," quoted the girl softly.

But Irving impatiently shook off the pitying hand she had dropped upon his arm, "What do you know of sorrow?" he demanded. "You have everything your heart can desire; wealth, youth, beauty, friends—I have no one."

"And with all my gifts I am more unhappy than you," Rebecca persisted. "For I have not even the memory of a happy friendship and love like yours to bring me comfort now."

For a moment Irving forgot his own grief. "I do not understand," he murmured.

She smiled sadly. "You will not repeat this, I know," she told him quietly. "Only my own family know, but you have been such a close friend of my brother's that my secret is safe with you. I have [152]loved—and been loved—by a young man who was all my parents could desire for me. But last month he went away and I shall never see him again."

For the first time that evening Irving's eyes met hers. The girl's glance was sad but very brave. "I do not understand," he repeated.

Again she smiled sadly. "You know how liberal my family have always been in their religious opinions. We have always mingled freely with non-Jews; Matilda, although not a Jewess, was my dearest friend. In fact, a number of my relatives have married outside our faith." She broke off a moment. "The young man was not a Jew," she said slowly. "He loved his religion as well as I did mine. It was very hard to have him go away." She leaned toward Washington Irving and lightly touched the two little books she had given him. "You have lost your joy, too," she said, and now her clear tones trembled a little. "Neither of us can ever be very happy again. We will both be so lonely sometimes, that I think we must learn to be very good friends, don't you?" And Irving pressed her hand in silence.

It was a more portly Irving, the Irving with the bright eyes and kindly smile which we have learned to associate with the author of "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," that waited for Rebecca Gratz in the drawing room of her father's home about ten years later. Since the death of Matilda Hoffman, he had grown to be a very close friend of the Gratz family, never failing when in Philadelphia to visit their home where he might [153]"roost," as he put it, in the large, comfortable guest room. He had never referred to his intimate conversation with Rebecca when she had tried to comfort him after Matilda's death; yet their mutual grief and confidence had created a strong bond between them, and when Irving returned from an extended trip abroad, he welcomed the opportunity of going to Philadelphia to see his latest book through the press. For he longed to visit Miss Gratz, who, so the home letters had informed him, had grown to be a famous beauty and belle during his absence.

She came into the room with her swaying, graceful carriage of old days, but with a new dignity and reserve of manner, carrying her lovely head with just a little more pride than in her girlhood, greeting Irving, for all her warm friendliness, like a young queen graciously ready to accept homage from her subjects. She sank into a low chair beside the fire, the flames casting a warm glow over her arms and neck from which her gold colored scarf had slipped at her entrance. Irving thought of another night ten years ago when she had sat in that very chair with the candle light falling upon her blue draperies. Then she had been a lovely girl just on the threshold of life; now she was a cultured, well-poised woman of the world, crowned by virtue of her beauty and position as the ruler of the society in which she moved. He sighed a little and suddenly felt that he was growing old. For a while they spoke of what had occurred during Irving's absence from America, the countries the young author had visited, the great men he had met on his travels. Finally he told her [154]of his visit to Sir Walter Scott, "days of solid enchantment," he described them, from the moment when the famous author had limped down to the gate of his estate in Scotland to welcome him, his favorite stag hound leaping about him, as he grasped his guest's hand.

"We spent much of our time in long rambles over the hills," Irving continued, "Scott telling me legends of the countryside as only he could tell them. And in the evenings we would sit like medieval barons before the blazing logs in the great dim hall at Abbotsford and there would be more stories and confidences until long after midnight. Ah, Rebecca, it was worth a trip across the Atlantic, just to touch his hand."

She leaned toward him, her eyes sparkling. "How I would like to know him—not only his books, which I love so much, but the real man in his home," she cried.

Irving smiled mysteriously. "You may not know him, but he knows you well, my lady. I told him of my American friends, your brother Hyman among them, and, surely, I could not omit you, another heroine to hang in his gallery of fair ladies of romance."

Rebecca shook her head, smilingly. "But I am not a heroine nor a lady of romance," she protested.

"Scott seemed to think you were," Irving insisted. "I told him of your beauty, your goodness—well, you can't deny them," as she raised a protesting hand, "and your loyalty to your people. He had not finished his novel, 'Rob Roy,' then, but he told me he was eager to write a new romance, with the adventures of a lovely Jewess named Rebecca to form the [155]silver thread of the story. He has written me from time to time," went on Irving, as Rebecca smiled a little incredulously, "to tell me how the work progressed. Much of the romance was dictated when Scott lay on a couch too ill to write. He tells me that his two secretaries grew to love the heroine, Rebecca, as much as he did, and that once one of them grew so impatient to hear what became of her, that he looked up from his manuscript and cried: 'That is fine, Mr. Scott—get on—get on!'"

"And did Mr. Scott finally 'get on' and finish his book with a Jewish heroine?" laughed Rebecca.

Irving reached toward the table and handed her a package he had placed there. She broke the string curiously, a slow flush mounting her cheek as she saw the volume, the first to be read by an American, but now in every library in the land. "'Ivanhoe'," she read the tide, softly, "but, surely, I am not in the story."

"He sent me this letter with the volume," answered Irving, drawing a sheet of folded taper from between the pages. "I brought it with me because I knew it would interest you."

And Rebecca, flushing over one of the most beautiful compliments ever paid an American girl, read: "How do you like my Rebecca? Does the Rebecca I have pictured compare well with the pattern given?" She folded the paper and slipped it back between the pages. "But, surely, I am not in the story," she repeated. "I am not a lady of romance, not a real princess since the days little Matilda and Rachel and I used to dress up and pretend we lived in a fairy tale."

[156]Irving's merry eyes softened at mention of their dead friend. Then: "You are more like a lady of romance than any woman I have ever known," he declared stoutly, "and I have met some of the greatest ladies of all Europe. But none of them seemed half so much a queen as you. No, I am not flattering you, Rebecca. Hasn't your brother written me of all your triumphs in society, here in Philadelphia, when he took you to Saratoga Springs, when you visited your brother in Lexington and were treated like a real princess by everyone who met you from Henry Clay down to the negro slaves?"

"Oh, that—" Rebecca shrugged a little disdainfully. "I hope the Lady Rebecca in 'Ivanhoe' does something worth while."

"She heals the sick and comforts the suffering; she is a great lady in the real sense of the word; lady, a loaf-giver," answered Irving. "Just as you are," he concluded, warmly.

"What else is there for me to do?" said Rebecca. "I shall never build a home of my own or have little ones to love and care for. So I am glad to use my wealth and leisure in building other homes, in being something of a mother to the little orphans of our city."

"No matter whether they are Jew or Gentile," added Washington Irving who had heard much of her many charities.

"We have all one Father," she reminded him, gently. "But, really, I do not do half that I would. I am not a St. Elizabeth and no miracles are wrought for me," and she smiled a little at her childish [157]admiration of the generous lady. "So I am half afraid to read what you have brought me," indicating the volume, "for I know I shall be found wanting when I am cast in the scale with the lovely Lady Rebecca."

"No, indeed! She is all that a princess in romance should be, but I prefer our own Princess of Philadelphia," answered Washington Irving, gallantly.

The Princess of Philadelphia, as the great author often called her, half in jest, half in earnest, lived to be very old, surviving many members of her family, and the brilliant circle over which she had long reigned as a queen. But she was not too lonely; the young girls whom she guided as an older sister, the orphan children who found in her a second mother, countless unfortunates, some of them needing gold, others a word of hope and comfort, became her subjects and enthroned her in their grateful hearts. Her life, after all, was a placid one. Unlike the Rebecca of the romance, she never experienced thrilling adventures; no duels were fought in her names; no gallant knights sought to save her from her enemies. Yet even when her marvellous beauty faded and her glossy hair became threaded with gray, she remained as youthful as any princess in a fairy tale, for she never grew old at heart. And little children, divining the youth in her soul, always felt that she was one of them.

It happened one day that Rebecca Gratz visited the Hebrew School she had founded in Philadelphia, the forerunner of our modern Jewish Sabbath School and the first institution of its kind in America. She had not only donated large sums of money for its [158]support, but had helped to select and plan text books for the students, even writing some of the daily prayers to be used by the little Jewish children of her native city. It was her birthday—the seventy-fifth—and as the gentle-faced old lady passed down the quiet corridors, she thought half-tenderly, half-sadly of the birthday party in the garret so many years ago. What silly things children dream! she thought with a smile. Matilda had written no wise books and her adventure-loving brother had never lived with the Indians. For herself—well, she was not really a princess as Matilda had declared she ought to be, but like the Princess Elizabeth she had been allowed to go about doing good among the people.

A sound of stiffled sobbing reached her ear. Turning, she saw a little girl curled up in one of the low window sills, an open book on her lap. Rebecca Gratz hurried to her and slipped a comforting arm about the shaking shoulders.

"Tell me what is the matter?" she whispered.

The child raised a wet face. "Oh, it's you, Miss Gratz," she exclaimed. "I know I'm just as silly, but I can't help it. I came to the sad part of the book where they want to burn 'Rebecca' for a witch and I just couldn't help crying. Though I know it's going to come out all right in the end," she added, wiping her eyes, "'cause story books always do."

"Yes, story books do, even if real people's stories don't always end happily," agreed Miss Gratz, sitting beside her. "Do you like the book, Helen?"

"Ever so much, Miss Gratz. Miss Cohen, my teacher, lent it to me. And what do you suppose she [159]said?" She hesitated a moment, then, encouraged by the kind eyes looking down into hers, added bashfully: "Miss Cohen said, 'You ought to enjoy 'Ivanhoe,' Helen, because a great many people think the character of Rebecca was taken from our Miss Gratz.' Is that really true?" she ended, shyly.

Miss Gratz laughed as gayly as a child. "I mustn't tell," she teased. "Only it doesn't seem likely, does it? The Rebecca in the story wears pearls and veils every day and is imprisoned in a dungeon and goes to the tournament. While I am just a plain old lady in a bonnet and shawl and never do anything more exciting than visit your Hebrew classes. So it's not likely Rebecca in the story and I are the same person, is it?"

Helen considered a moment, her eyes fastened upon Miss Gratz's face. When she spoke it was in a tone of deep conviction. "Maybe Miss Cohen wasn't exactly right," she admitted, "but even if you're not a real princess, and all that, you're just as sweet and good as Rebecca in the story book, anyhow."






[160]

A PRESENT FOR MR. LINCOLNToC

How President Lincoln Set Out for Washington and How He Returned.


Little Morris Rosenfelt stirred uneasily on the hard bench as he tried in vain to concentrate his wandering thoughts on his Hebrew lesson. It happened to be all about the building of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, but Morris was not at all interested in Bezalel, the artist of old, who built the first sanctuary for his people. Instead, although his eyes were fastened to the coarse black characters in the page before him, the boy was living over again the scene that had passed in the parlor of his father's house, the night before.

Mr. Abraham Kohn, city clerk of Chicago, had dropped in to talk over congregational matters with Morris's father, for Mr. Kohn was one of the early presidents of Kehilath Anshe Ma'arav, Chicago's first synagogue, and one of its most active members. Morris, busy in the next room with his lessons for the next day, had paid scant attention to their conversation, until the words, "Mr. Lincoln," and "flag" caught his ear. Then he closed his geography with a slam, for like every other nine-year-old boy of his day, he had heard much of the "rail splitter from Illinois," as his opponents called him, and shared his state's enthusiasm for the man who had just been elected president.

[161]"I'm glad we Jews did our part in electing him," said Mr. Kohn. "He will make a strong president in these uncertain times; perhaps, the only man who can keep this country out of civil war if the southern states attempt to secede."

"They'll not fight, especially as Mr. Lincoln has promised not to interfere with slavery in the states where it now exists," Mr. Rosenfelt answered easily. He was a stout, cheerful man who refused to borrow trouble, very unlike Morris's mother who always saw sorrow and accident for her family hovering in the near future. "With a strong man like Mr. Lincoln in Washington, we can stop worrying for a while."

"I hope so." Mr. Kohn's voice was a little doubtful. "I hate to predict trouble, but I do believe that our candidate is going to have a harder row to plough than any president we ever had since Washington. I was thinking of that when I had the verses printed on the flag I am going to send him."

"Oh, are you going to send Mr. Lincoln a flag?" cried Morris, forgetting he was not supposed to be listening.

His father shook his head and ordered the boy to attend to his lessons. "His reports are worse every month," he told Mr. Kohn. "Rabbi Adler tells me he is a good boy, but that doesn't raise his marks in Hebrew and arithmetic and history, and his mother——"

"But I don't like history about dead people," objected the boy. "Now Mr. Lincoln's alive—and he's history, too, isn't he?"

"The boy's right," laughed Mr. Kohn. "Come [162]in here, Morris, if your father'll let you, and I'll tell you all about the flag I'm sending Mr. Lincoln next week before he leaves his home in Springfield for Washington." Morris, needing no second invitation, gladly deserted his books and slipped into the parlor, curling up in one corner of the horsehair sofa as he attempted to be as little in the way as possible. For he didn't want his mother, should she happen to come into the room, to send him back to his lessons again.

"It is a large American flag," explained Mr. Kohn, "woven of the finest silk. And across it I've had inscribed in Hebrew the command given to Joshua when he took command of the Israelites after the death of Moses." He turned to Morris, a teasing twinkle in his eyes. "I suppose you can tell your father what that was," he said, very seriously. "What?" as Morris, really embarrassed, shook his head. "I thought you really learned more in Rabbi Adler's school. Suppose you get your Bible and show us how well you can translate the passage."

Doubtful of his skill as translator, but sure that kindly Mr. Kohn who had been one of the early cantors of the congregation and "knew everything about Hebrew" would lend him a hand at the hard places, Morris turned to the first chapter of Joshua, and, with a little prompting translated the command given to the Jewish leader:

"Have I not commanded thee?" he read. "Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." He looked up, his [163]boyish spirit thrilled with the words. "I like that," he exclaimed naively, "it's so—so—alive—not a bit like the Bible."

"So that's what's written on your flag?" commented Mr. Rosenfelt. "Well, no matter what happens, I guess we won't have to worry over our Mr. Lincoln. He'll be 'strong and of good courage,' alright, and make us glad we sent him on to Washington. Morris, go into the dining room now and study your lessons. Are you going to take the flag to Mr. Lincoln yourself before he leaves Springfield?" he asked, turning back to Mr. Kohn, as Morris unwillingly went back to his lessons for the next morning.

"No. I can't leave my work just now," answered Mr. Kohn, who was city clerk. "But I'm sending it with a friend who will be in Springfield before Mr. Lincoln leaves. I want him to have a real going-away present to tell him what the Jews of Illinois think of their new president."

Then the talk drifted to other matters, but Morris went to bed his heart filled with envy for the man who should take the flag to Mr. Lincoln. He knew that there wasn't the slightest chance for him to go to Springfield; his mother would remember all the dreadful stories she had ever heard of little boys being kidnapped while taking railway journeys alone; his father would tell him he couldn't spare the money for such a trip and that Morris couldn't afford to lose a day of school. Then, if he couldn't go to Springfield, it would be almost as good to send a present to Mr. Lincoln such as Mr. Kohn [164]planned to do—but what could a little boy with a limited amount of pocket money send a man just elected to be president of the United States. He even crept out of bed very stealthily, not caring to arouse his ever-wakeful mother in the next room—to look over the treasures in the top drawer of his little dresser; the finest stamp collection ever possessed by any boy who attended his school, he thought proudly; a box of shells and lucky stones gathered on the lake shore last vacation; a prize book given him at school for perfect attendance, which Morris never cared to read, as it seemed to be the tale of a very good little boy who always stood at the head of his class and never disobeyed his parents; a set of fishing tackle discarded by his older brother, Harry. Treasures, though they were, Morris would have sent any or all of them with Mr. Kohn's flag as a going-away gift to the new president, already enshrined in so many hearts; but, boy though he was, he knew that a grown up man would not care for his poor presents. He even lifted his little blue bank and rattled it softly; but he did not take the trouble to pry it open, for he knew that for all its jingling, the pennies inside would not amount up to more than a dollar. Disappointed, yet determined not to let Mr. Kohn outdo him in the matter, Morris crept back to bed.

The next morning he found his plans for Mr. Lincoln's present far more fascinating than his lessons as he sat in the basement schoolroom provided for the children of the congregation. One of the school's non-Jewish teachers had heard his history and [165]geography. In a little while Rabbi Adler would take the classes in Hebrew and German. Morris knew he ought to prepare the lessons so shamefully neglected the night before, but he found it difficult to put his mind on his task.

Fortunately for him, he wasn't called upon during the Hebrew session and managed to escape a scolding for his lack of preparation. So he sat sedately with his eyes glued upon the thick black characters, while his mind pictured the flag with the Hebrew lettering which was to be sent to Springfield. He had seen a good many pictures of Mr. Lincoln and now he tried to imagine how the kindly, homely face would break into a smile at Mr. Kohn's thoughtfulness. Then he roused himself to listen, for now the rabbi was saying something about the lesson that really interested him.

"Of course," said Rabbi Adler, "the Sanctuary Bezalel built in the desert wasn't half so beautiful as the Temple we afterwards raised at Jerusalem. But we were willing to wait. It was always that way with our people—with every nation, too; we must wait for what is worth while and if we wait long enough and work while we are waiting, we will finally achieve what we have been striving for." He paused for a moment, closing his book, as he looked over the class. "Has anyone a question to ask about the lesson?" he ended, in his usual way.

Hardly thinking what he did, Morris shot his hand up in the air, then wished with all his heart that he had not raised it, when the rabbi said: "Well, Morris, what's your question?"

[166]"It's not exactly about the lesson," confessed the boy, awkwardly. "But when you talked about waiting for something for a long time, I wondered—I—how long is a person president of the United States?" he ended desperately, realizing how foolish his question must sound not only to the teacher but to his fellow students as well.

If Rabbi Adler failed to see any connection between the building of the Sanctuary and American politics, he was too kind to say so. "The president is elected for four years," he answered, "although sometimes he is reelected for a second term, which makes eight years in all."

"Then Mr. Lincoln'll be in Washington eight years, 'cause everybody will want him for two terms," decided Morris, loyally, though a little disappointed that the plan which had just occurred to him must take so long to mature.

"So you're a Lincoln man, too?" smiled his teacher. He hesitated a moment, then, feeling that high civic ideals were as necessary to his class as Hebrew, he went on: "We who have worked hard to elect Mr. Lincoln feel that our country is in good hands. He is not one of our people, yet I believe he is more like our Hebrew prophets than any man, Jew or non-Jew, living today. None of you boys may ever be president, but if you strive as earnestly as Mr. Lincoln has always done to serve the right, I shall be well satisfied.... We will take the next chapter for tomorrow," and the lesson was over.

Next came the German class and Morris, after reading and translating his portion of a German fairy [167]tale quite creditably, sank back in his place, again busy with his plans. Rabbi Adler was right, he decided. If one just worked and waited, everything would turn out all right. So Mr. Lincoln would be gone for four years, perhaps eight. Well, since a Jewish gentleman had sent him a going-away present, wouldn't it be a fine thing for a Jewish boy to send him some gift when he returned to his home in Springfield? Morris wasn't sure just what the gift would be, but he was no longer worried. Even four years were not long to wait, especially if one had to save a good deal of money in the interval. For Morris was sure that he would have to send a really expensive present; perhaps a gold watch, which at that particular moment was the one thing, next to a Shetland pony, he most desired for himself.

The four years passed for Morris, now slowly when lessons were long and hard, now all too swiftly during the holiday seasons. They were years of struggle for the nation now torn asunder by a dreadful civil war. Even from the first, Morris was not too young to understand the history that was being made about him; the firing upon Fort Sumter; the secession of the southern states; Mr. Lincoln's call for volunteers. How he despised himself for being such a small boy when he saw his brother Harry in his blue uniform with the brass buttons! He couldn't understand why his mother had cried when Harry went away to be a soldier, since he himself felt cruelly cheated in being deprived of marching off to the battle field. Nor could he understand [168]why Rabbi Adler's voice always faltered now when he read the Kaddish prayer for the mourners every Sabbath in the synagogue, although he had heard that his teacher's young son, Dankmar, serving in the artillery, was wounded at the battle of Chickamauga. For war to the little boy meant nothing but lines of straight soldiers marching to music with flying banners above them, and even when bits of crape appeared, so it seemed, upon the doors of every other home in the city, he thought only of the glory, not the horror of it all. Nor did he ever imagine how President Lincoln's great heart almost broke in those days over the suffering not only of his own Northern soldiers, but the Southern boys too, whom he would never call "rebels" nor cease to regard but as brother Americans. When the boy thought of the president at all, it was always as the captain of a mighty host, pressing fearlessly on to victory. "Like Joshua," he thought, remembering the verses on the flag, resolving that when victory did come at last he would celebrate in his own way, by sending Mr. Lincoln his present.

"We can't do too much for Mr. Lincoln," his brother Harry had said when he came home on a furlough, so tanned and sturdy that even Mrs. Rosenfelt had to confess that his soldiering had not broken down his health. And Morris's heart had reechoed the sentiment again and again, especially when Harry was taken to one of the Washington hospitals and wrote glowingly of the president's visits to the sick and wounded soldiers. "He's not like a president—he's just like a father," he wrote, [169]and more than one bereaved household in those dark days learned to agree with him.

For the sadly-tried man from Illinois was never too busy with affairs of state to write a word of comfort to a mother who had lost her son on the battlefield, never too harassed with his many duties to listen to a plea for a furlough or a pardon. But, perhaps, of all the stories that reached Morris at that time the account of Mr. Abraham Jonas of Peoria meant the most.

Mr. Jonas was a Jewish citizen of Peoria, Illinois, and had been a staunch friend and political associate of Lincoln before the latter left Springfield for the White House. Strangely enough, Mr. Jonas's four sons all enlisted in the Southern army. Towards the close of the war, Abraham Jonas fell ill, and, learning from his doctors that his disease would prove fatal, felt that he could never die in peace until he had seen his son Charles, then a Confederate prisoner of war on Johnson's Island, Lake Erie. The dying father appealed to his old friend, and President Lincoln at once gave the order to parole Charles Jonas for three weeks that he might visit his father's bedside.

"After that," admitted Mrs. Rosenfelt, wiping her eyes as she heard the story from a Chicago friend of the Jonas family, "after that, I'll forgive the president everything!" She never explained just why she should feel called upon to forgive President Lincoln for anything, but up to that time the good lady had entertained the notion that the president had made the war and was entirely responsible [170]for her son's enlistment. "Things like that make you feel that there's good in everybody's heart even in war time. Anyhow, the war can't last much longer."

The great war did end that very year and in the spring of 1865 Morris realized that at last he might send Mr. Lincoln his present. "Just for a sort of extra celebration," he told himself, as he counted the money he had so painfully hoarded in an old wallet during the four years of waiting.

It was not a large sum after all, for Mr. Rosenfelt was not a rich man and his business interests had suffered during the war. And, it must be confessed, several times Morris had yielded to temptation and had broken into his little treasury to buy some toy or pleasure that he felt he just must have, intending to pay himself back as soon as he could earn the money. But chores were few and brought little, and even his uncle's barmitzvah present of five dollars failed to raise the sum above fifteen. Still that was a good deal, thought Morris, although he couldn't buy a gold watch with it. But he had grown up a little during the past four years and realized that probably Mr. Lincoln had a gold watch, anyhow. And so, much as he hated to do it, for he wanted the secret to be all his own, he decided to ask his father's advice and waited impatiently for him to come in from the porch, where he stood talking with a neighbor, and have breakfast the Saturday morning after peace was declared.

Although he was only a boy of thirteen at the time, Morris never forgot how the parlor looked [171]that day with the flag draped over Harry's picture taken in uniform, the pale sunshine of early spring streaming upon the bright red geranium plant on the marble-topped table. There was a large tidy on the table, a doily his mother had crotched, his mother who started up with a cry of alarm as Mr. Rosenfelt entered, his face white with terror.

"Harry——" was all she could say for a moment. Then, when she could control her voice a little: "Has anything happened to our Harry?"

Her husband shook his head. "No," he answered in a matter-of-fact tone that contrasted strangely with his dreadful pallor. "Harry, thank God, is safe and will soon be on his way home. But President Lincoln——"

"Yes?" cried Mrs. Rosenfelt, "the president?"

"He was shot last evening by an assassin. He has just died," answered her husband, and he spoke as one speaks of a dear friend.

"It can't be true," cried Morris, hotly. "No one would hurt him—he was so good—we all loved him so." The tears ran down his face as he spoke and for once he was not ashamed to have his father see him cry. Without another word he turned and ran upstairs to his own room. The little blue bank still standing upon the dresser hurt him with a sudden memory. He was comparatively rich now, but he hated the fifteen dollars he had saved with so much eagerness through the years of patient waiting.

The money, still unspent, lay in Morris's wallet the day Mr. Lincoln came home to Springfield. The humble rail splitter had returned to his home town [172]in kingly triumph. As his funeral train crossed the continent, every great city, every tiny village, crape-hung and grief-stricken, had sent its citizens to do him homage. Even the farmers from the scattered farms along the way lit funeral pyres as the dark procession thundered past through the night. Now the citizens of Chicago stood bowed in grief as the body of the martyred president was borne through the silent streets. Strong men wept openly and unashamed; but Morris, standing at his father's side on the curbing, did not cry. Somehow, it all seemed too terrible for tears. And, because he was just a small boy, after all not the least of his grief was the thought that now it was too late to send Mr. Lincoln his present.






[173]

THE LAND COLUMBUS FOUNDToC

The Story of the Tablet Placed Upon the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.


This isn't a story at all, just a sort of "good-bye" word to the boys and girls who have read these tales of Jewish men and women who tried to do their part in the making of America. Do you remember away back to the first one, the story of the Jews who from Columbus's flag ship dreamed of the promised land, but never knew that the continent their admiral discovered would some day be a place of refuge for their race? Now, every year, thousands of men and women and children, a great many of our own people among them, seek a refuge here. If you go to Ellis Island, you may see them entering this New World where they hope to find home and happiness. I have seen them with their baskets and their bundles of household goods, their little children in their arms, (do you remember how Reuben wandered through the storm carrying his little son?), crossing the gang plank of the steamer which brings them to the island, raising their tired eyes in mute gratitude to the American flag which floats above them as they pass. And from where I stood I could also see the great Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World, the woman with the light in her hand to guide the weary wanderers across the sea.

[174]If you visit this statue, boys and girls, you will see at the base a bronze tablet with a short poem engraved upon it. The poem was written by a Jewish woman, Emma Lazarus, our first and greatest Jewish American poet. As a girl she had cared little for the history and traditions of her people; her verses were about the gods of Greece and Rome and the legends of the Middle Ages. Then, when the dreadful persecution of our people in Russia in 1881 drove many of them to our shores, she was called upon to assist in caring for some of the homeless wanderers and, like a loving mother, she gathered them to her heart.

Something new and beautiful awoke in her soul and she gave her strength and energy in caring for these exiles of her own blood. When she wrote now it was of her people. She read our long and wonderful history and immortalized the heroism of our martyrs in such poems as her tragedy, "The Dance to Death." She wrote shorter verses, too, and there are few Jewish boys and girls who have not recited or at least heard her stirring Chanukkah recitations, "The Feast of Lights," and "The Banner of the Jew." Her poems had always been very beautiful, winning the praises of such a high critic as Ralph Waldo Emerson, but now they glowed with a new beauty, her love and new found kinship with her race.

It was her passionate love for America and her knowledge of all that our country means to the Jew, both the native-born and the persecuted wanderer from other lands, that made her see in the Statue [175]of Liberty more than a mere mass of sculptured stone. Instead she saw a gracious, loving woman guarding the gates of the New World, not like the ancient giant figure striding the harbor at Rhodes, a haughty menace to the nations, but a symbol of welcome and freedom and justice to all mankind. So she wrote her verses, to be inscribed later at the statue's base, telling as only a great poet could what America means to her children.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land,
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome: her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"



Typographical errors corrected in text:


Page   29:  her's replaced with hers
Page   31:  her's replaced with hers
Page   58:  earings replaced with earrings
Page   63:  Pharoah replaced with Pharaoh
Page   71:  'For if your are discovered' replaced with 'For if you are discovered'
Page   76:  'Your are to grow weaker' replaced with 'You are to grow weaker'
Page   77:  'wrists and angles' replaced with 'wrists and ankles'
Page   78:  abuot replaced with about
Page   89:  Hussiel replaced with Hushiel (twice)
Page   91:  Hussiel replaced with Hushiel
Page   92:  hosts's replaced with hosts'
Page   93:  persade replaced with persuade
Page 102:  Hushel replaced with Hushiel
Page 119:  earings replaced with earrings
Page 123:  pears replaced with pearls
Page 144:  wainted replaced with waited
Page 151:  'love like your's' replaced with 'love like yours'
Page 152:  'Irving's eyes met her's' replaced with 'Irving's eyes met hers'
Page 154:  befor replaced with before
Page 159:  her's replaced with hers

Note that the printers' error on page 32, which starts with "Samuel's eyes sought the governor's face, half- he told her, gently." has been left as is. Every copy of the story consulted has the same error.

 

 


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