Infomotions, Inc.Nina Balatka / Trollope, Anthony, 1815-1882



Author: Trollope, Anthony, 1815-1882
Title: Nina Balatka
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): nina; trendellsohn; ziska; anton; souchey; anton trendellsohn; zamenoy; madame zamenoy; lotta; jew; rebecca; nina balatka; lotta luxa; aunt sophie; rebecca loth; josef balatka; aunt; karil zamenoy; ross markt; old balatka; cousin ziska; christian; old tre
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Title: Nina Balatka


Author: Anthony Trollope

Release Date: September, 2005  [EBook #8897]
[This file was first posted on August 26, 2003]
[Most recently updated: May 18, 2005]

Language: English

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***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK NINA BALATKA***


E-text prepared by Joseph E. Loewenstein, M.D.



NINA BALATKA

by

ANTHONY TROLLOPE







INTRODUCTION


Anthony Trollope was an established novelist of great renown when _Nina
Balatka_ was published in 1866, twenty years after his first novel.
Except for _La Vendee_, his third novel, set in France during the
Revolution, all his previous works were set in England or Ireland and
dealt with the upper levels of society: the nobility and the landed
gentry (wealthy or impoverished), and a few well-to-do merchants--people
several strata above the social levels of the characters popularized by
his contemporary Dickens. Most of Trollope's early novels were set in
the countryside or in provincial towns, with occasional forays into
London. The first of his political novels, _Can You Forgive Her_, dealing
with the Pallisers was published in 1864, two years before _Nina_. By the
time he began writing _Nina_, shortly after a tour of Europe, Trollope
was a master at chronicling the habits, foibles, customs, and ways of
life of his chosen subjects.

_Nina Balatka_ is, on the surface, a love story--not an unusual theme for
Trollope. Romance and courtship were woven throughout all his previous
works, often with two, three, or even more pairs of lovers per novel.
Most of his heroes and heroines, after facing numerous hurdles, often
of their own making, were eventually happily united by the next-to-last
chapter. A few were doomed to disappointment (Johnny Eames never won
the heart of Lily Dale through two of the "Barsetshire" novels), but
marital bliss--or at least the prospect of bliss--was the usual outcome.
Even so, the reader of Trollope soon notices his analytical description
of Victorian courtship and marriage. In the circles of Trollope's
characters, only the wealthy could afford to marry for love; those
without wealth had to marry for money, sometimes with disastrous
consequences. By the time of _Nina_, Trollope's best exploration of
this subject was the marriage between Plantagenet Palliser and Lady
Glencora M'Cluskie, the former a cold fish and the latter a hot-blooded
heiress in love with a penniless scoundrel (_Can You Forgive Her?_
1865). Yet to come was the disastrous marriage of intelligent Lady
Laura Standish to the wealthy but old-maidish Robert Kennedy in _Phineas
Finn_ and its sequel.

But _Nina Balatka_ is different from Trollope's previous novels in four
respects. First, Trollope was accustomed to include in his novels his
own witty editorial comments about various subjects, often paragraphs or
even several pages long. No such comments are found in _Nina_. Second,
the story is set in Prague instead of the British isles. Third, the
hero and heroine are already in love and engaged to one another at
the opening; we are not told any details about their falling in love.
The hero, Anton Trendellsohn is a successful businessman in his mid-
thirties--not the typical Trollopian hero in his early twenties, still
finding himself, and besotted with love. Anton is rather cold as lovers
go, seldom whispering words of endearment to Nina. But it is the fourth
difference which really sets this novel apart and makes it both a
masterpiece and an enigma. That fourth--and most important--difference
is clearly stated in the remarkable opening sentence of the novel:

     Nina Balatka was a maiden of Prague, born of Christian parents,
     and herself a Christian--but she loved a Jew; and this is her
     story.

Marriage--even worse, love--between a Christian and a Jew would have
been unacceptable to Victorian British readers. Blatant anti-semitism
was prevalent--perhaps ubiquitous--among the upper classes.

Let us consider the origins of this anti-semitism. Jews were first
allowed into England by William the Conqueror. For a while they
prospered, largely through money-lending, an occupation to which
they were restricted. In the 13th century a series of increasingly
oppressive laws and taxes reduced the Jewish community to poverty, and
the Jews were expelled from England in 1290. They were not allowed to
return until 1656, when Oliver Cromwell authorized their entry over
the objections of British merchants. Legal protection for the Jews
increased gradually; even the "Act for the More Effectual Suppressing
of Blasphemy and Profaneness" (1698) recognized the practice of Judaism
as legal, but there were probably only a few hundred Jews in the entire
country. The British Jewish community grew gradually, and efforts to
emancipate the Jews were included in various "Reform Acts" in the first
half of the 19th century, although many failed to become law. Gradually
Jews were admitted to the bar and other professions. Full citizenship
and rights, including the right to sit in Parliament, were granted in
1858--only seven years before Trollope began writing _Nina Balatka_. By
this time wealthy Jewish families were growing in number. This upward
mobility and increasing economic and political power no doubt made the
British upper classes envious and resentful, fuelling anti-semitism.

Trollope chose to have _Nina_ published anonymously in _Blackwood's
Magazine_ for reasons which he described in his autobiography:

     From the commencement of my success as a writer . . . I had
     always felt an injustice in literary affairs which had never
     afflicted me or even suggested itself to me while I was
     unsuccessful. It seemed to me that a name once earned carried
     with it too much favour . . .  The injustice which struck me did
     not consist in that which was withheld from me, but in that which
     was given to me. I felt that aspirants coming up below me might
     do work as good as mine, and probably much better work, and yet
     fail to have it appreciated. In order to test this, I determined
     to be such an aspirant myself, and to begin a course of novels
     anonymously, in order that I might see whether I could succeed in
     obtaining a second identity,--whether as I had made one mark by
     such literary ability as I possessed, I might succeed in doing so
     again. [1]

Why did Trollope start his "new" career with a novel whose central theme
was a subject of distaste at best--more likely revulsion--to the vast
majority of the reading public? Perhaps the nature of the novel itself
led him to consider publishing it anonymously, although we know he was
not averse to controversial subjects. In his first book, _The Macdermots
of Ballycloran_, which he thought had the best plot of all his novels,
the principal female character is seduced by a scoundrel and dies giving
birth to an illegitimate child.

Certainly _Nina_ was well-suited for the experiment because of it's
different setting and subject matter. Perhaps further to disguise his
authorship, Trollope wrote _Nina_ in a style of prose that reads almost
like a translation from a foreign language.

The experiment did not last long enough to test Trollope's hypothesis.
Mr. Hutton, critic for the _Spectator_, recognized Trollope as the author
and so stated in his review. Trollope did not deny the accusation.

One cannot discuss _Nina Balatka_ without addressing the question, was
Trollope himself anti-semitic? A careful reading of his works does not
provide a clear answer. Jews appear in some of his books and are referred
to in others, often as disreputable characters or money-lenders. They are
seldom mentioned by his Christian characters with respect, probably
realistically reflecting the sentiments of the classes he wrote about.
Some of his greatest villains in his later novels--Melmotte in _The Way
We Live Now_ (1875) and Lopez in _The Prime Minister_ (1876)--are rumored
to be Jewish, but Trollope never unequivocally identifies them as Jewish.
Perhaps his Christian characters expect them to be Jewish because they
are foreigners and villains.

However, if one ignores the dialogue of his characters, even the
descriptive and editorial comments by Trollope himself at first seem
anti-semitic. He consistently uses "Jew" as a pejorative adjective
instead of "Jewish." His descriptions of the appearance of Jewish
characters are usually unflattering and stereotypical. Even Anton
Trendellsohn, the hero of _Nina Balatka_, is described as follows:

     To those who know the outward types of his race there could be no
     doubt that Anton Trendellsohn was a very Jew among Jews. He was
     certainly a handsome man, not now very young, having reached some
     year certainly in advance of thirty, and his face was full of
     intellect. He was slightly made, below the middle height, but was
     well made in every limb, with small feet and hands, and small
     ears, and a well-turned neck. He was very dark--dark as a man can
     be, and yet show no sign of colour in his blood. No white man
     could be more dark and swarthy than Anton Trendellsohn. His eyes,
     however, which were quite black, were very bright. His jet-black
     hair, as it clustered round his ears, had in it something of a
     curl. Had it been allowed to grow, it would almost have hung in
     ringlets; but it was worn very short, as though its owner were
     jealous even of the curl. Anton Trendellsohn was decidedly a
     handsome man; but his eyes were somewhat too close together in his
     face, and the bridge of his aquiline nose was not sharply cut, as
     is mostly the case with such a nose on a Christian face. The olive
     oval face was without doubt the face of a Jew, and the mouth was
     greedy, and the teeth were perfect and bright, and the movement of
     the man's body was the movement of a Jew.

This is not the typical description of the romantic hero of a Victorian
novel. Even so, Trollope's description of Anton is less derogatory than
his description of Ezekiel Brehgert, a character in a later novel, _The
Way We Live Now_:

     He was a fat, greasy man, good-looking in a certain degree, about
     fifty, with hair dyed black, and beard and moustache dyed a dark
     purple colour. The charm of his face consisted in a pair of very
     bright black eyes, which were, however, set too near together in
     his face for the general delight of Christians. He was stout fat
     all over rather than corpulent and had that look of command in his
     face which has become common to master-butchers, probably by long
     intercourse with sheep and oxen.

The case for Trollope being anti-semitic is harder to support, however,
when one considers the behavior of his Jewish characters. Brehgert,
whose physical description above is stereotypic, is one of the few
characters in _The Way We Live Now_ whose actions are completely
honorable. Trollope wrote 16 novels before _Nina Balatka_; only two of
those contain Jewish characters. The first, who plays a minor role in
_Orley Farm_ (1862), is Soloman Aram, an attorney--a Victorian Rumpole
--known for defending the accused at the Old Bailey. His skill is needed
to defend Lady Mason against a charge of perjury, much to the distaste
of her Christian advisors. He acts with dignity and shows great
consideration for the personal comfort of Lady Mason during her trial.
The second Jewish character in Trollope's novels was Mr. Hart, a London
tailor who runs for a seat in Parliament in _Rachel Ray_ (1863). This
served no purpose in the plot; the situation probably was included
because legislation to allow Jews to serve in Parliament had been
passed only five years before, and the issue was still one of public
discussion. Mr. Hart's appearance is brief; he speaks only one or
two lines, and the reader is not told enough about him to judge his
character. Trollope describes him thus:

     . . . and then the Jewish hero, the tailor himself, came among
     them, and astonished their minds by the ease and volubility of his
     speeches. He did not pronounce his words with any of those soft
     slushy Judaic utterances by which they had been taught to believe
     he would disgrace himself. His nose was not hookey, with any
     especial hook, nor was it thicker at the bridge than was becoming.
     He was a dapper little man, with bright eyes, quick motion, ready
     tongue, and a very new hat. It seemed that he knew well how to
     canvass. He had a smile and a good word for all--enemies as well
     as friends.

In that novel, Trollope, himself, comments on prejudice and bigotry:

     . . . Mrs. Ray, in her quiet way, expressed much joy that Mr.
     Comfort's son-in-law should have been successful, and that
     Baslehurst should not have disgraced itself by any connection
     with a Jew. To her it had appeared monstrous that such a one
     should have been even permitted to show himself in the town as a
     candidate for its representation. To such she would have denied
     all civil rights, and almost all social rights. For a true spirit
     of persecution one should always go to a woman; and the milder,
     the sweeter, the more loving, the more womanly the woman, the
     stronger will be that spirit within her. Strong love for the thing
     loved necessitates strong hatred for the thing hated, and thence
     comes the spirit of persecution. They in England who are now
     keenest against the Jews, who would again take from them rights
     that they have lately won, are certainly those who think most of
     the faith of a Christian. The most deadly enemies of the Roman
     Catholics are they who love best their religion as Protestants.
     When we look to individuals we always find it so, though it
     hardly suits us to admit as much when we discuss these subjects
     broadly. To Mrs. Ray it was wonderful that a Jew should have been
     entertained in Baslehurst as a future member for the borough, and
     that he should have been admitted to speak aloud within a few
     yards of the church tower!

_Nina Balatka_ presents a sharp contrast between the behaviors of the
Jewish and Christian characters. Nina and her father Josef Balatka
live on the edge of poverty; he was cheated out of his business by his
Christian brother-in-law, who is now wealthy. Josef's only source of
money was to sell his house to Anton Trendellsohn's father, who for many
years has allowed Josef and Nina to remain in the house without paying
any rent. Nina's Christian relatives use every form of deceit in their
attempt to turn Anton against Nina. Nina's Aunt Sophie spews invective
in every direction. She tells Nina, "Impudent girl!--brazen-faced,
impudent, bad girl! Do you not know that you would bring disgrace upon
us all?" To Nina's father she says, "Tell me that at once, Josef,
that I may know. Has she your sanction for--for--for this accursed
abomination?" To her husband she says, "Oh, I hate them! I do hate them!
Anything is fair against a Jew." And during a meeting with Anton she
exclaims, "How dares he come here to talk of his love? It is filthy--it
is worse than filthy--it is profane."

Anton's family also opposes the marriage, but Anton's father's behavior
toward Nina is in sharp contrast to that of her aunt:

     The old man's heart was softened towards her. He could not bring
     himself to say a word to her of direct encouragement, but he
     kissed her before she went, telling her that she was a good girl,
     and bidding her have no care as to the house in the Kleinseite. As
     long as he lived, and her father, her father should not be
     disturbed.

Anton, being more a businessman than a lover, at times behaves
insensitively toward Nina. Otherwise, throughout the novel, the Jewish
characters act with honesty and kindness. Even the Jewish maiden who
wants to marry Anton does not scheme to break up his engagement to Nina
but rather befriends Nina and eventually saves her life. One has to
wonder whether Trollope intended this contrast to induce his readers to
reconsider their prejudices. Consider his perception of his duty as a
writer:

     . . . And the criticism [of my work offered by Hawthorne],
     whether just or unjust, describes with wonderful accuracy the
     purport that I have ever had in view in my writing. I have always
     desired to 'hew out some lump of the earth', and to make men and
     women walk upon it just as they do walk here among us,--with not
     more of excellence, nor with exaggerated baseness,--so that my
     readers might recognise human beings like to themselves, and not
     feel themselves to be carried away among gods or demons. If I
     could do this, then I thought I might succeed in impregnating the
     mind of the novel-reader with a feeling that honesty is the best
     policy; that truth prevails while falsehood fails; that a girl
     will be loved as she is pure, and sweet, and unselfish; that a man
     will be honoured as he is true, and honest, and brave of heart;
     that things meanly done are ugly and odious, and things nobly done
     beautiful and gracious. . . There are many who would laugh at the
     idea of a novelist teaching either virtue or nobility,--those, for
     instance, who regard the reading of novels as a sin, and those
     also who think it to be simply an idle pastime. They look upon the
     tellers of stories as among the tribe of those who pander to the
     wicked pleasures of a wicked world. I have regarded my art from so
     different a point of view that I have ever thought of myself as a
     preacher of sermons, and my pulpit as one which I could make both
     salutary and agreeable to my audience. I do believe that no girl
     has risen from the reading of my pages less modest than she was
     before, and that some may have learned from them that modesty is
     a charm well worth preserving. I think that no youth has been
     taught that in falseness and flashness is to be found the road to
     manliness; but some may perhaps have learned from me that it is
     to be found in truth and a high but gentle spirit. Such are the
     lessons I have striven to teach; and I have thought that it might
     best be done by representing to my readers characters like
     themselves,--or to which they might liken themselves. [1]

Given Trollope's philosophy, it is reasonable to believe that the
actions of his characters should speak louder than their words. If
so, Trollope might well have been holding up a mirror to his audience
that they might examine their own prejudices. Unfortunately, we shall
never know.


     [1] Anthony Trollope. _An Autobiography_. Oxford University Press,
         Oxford, 1950.


                                            Joseph E. Loewenstein, M.D.
                                            Midland, 2003

               Copyright (C) 2003 Joseph E. Loewenstein, M.D.
               This Introduction to _Nina Balatka_ is protected by
               copyright and/or other applicable law. Any use of the
               work other than as authorized in "The Legal Small Print"
               section (found at the end of the book) is prohibited.







NINA BALATKA




VOLUME I




CHAPTER I


Nina Balatka was a maiden of Prague, born of Christian parents, and
herself a Christian--but she loved a Jew; and this is her story.

Nina Balatka was the daughter of one Josef Balatka, an old merchant
of Prague, who was living at the time of this story; but Nina's mother
was dead. Josef, in the course of his business, had become closely
connected with a certain Jew named Trendellsohn, who lived in a mean
house in the Jews' quarter in Prague--habitation in that one allotted
portion of the town having been the enforced custom with the Jews then,
as it still is now. In business with Trendellsohn, the father, there
was Anton, his son; and Anton Trendellsohn was the Jew whom Nina
Balatka loved. Now it had so happened that Josef Balatka, Nina's
father, had drifted out of a partnership with Karil Zamenoy, a wealthy
Christian merchant of Prague, and had drifted into a partnership with
Trendellsohn. How this had come to pass needs not to be told here, as
it had all occurred in years when Nina was an infant. But in these
shiftings Balatka became a ruined man, and at the time of which I write
he and his daughter were almost penniless. The reader must know that
Karil Zamenoy and Josef Balatka had married sisters. Josef's wife,
Nina's mother, had long been dead, having died--so said Sophie Zamenoy,
her sister--of a broken heart; of a heart that had broken itself in
grief, because her husband had joined his fortunes with those of a Jew.
Whether the disgrace of the alliance or its disastrous result may have
broken the lady's heart, or whether she may have died of a pleurisy, as
the doctors said, we need not inquire here. Her soul had been long at
rest, and her spirit, we may hope, had ceased to fret itself in horror
at contact with a Jew. But Sophie Zamenoy was alive and strong, and
could still hate a Jew as intensely as Jews ever were hated in those
earlier days in which hatred could satisfy itself with persecution. In
her time but little power was left to Madame Zamenoy to persecute the
Trendellsohns other than that which nature had given to her in the
bitterness of her tongue. She could revile them behind their back, or,
if opportunity offered, to their faces; and both she had done often,
telling the world of Prague that the Trendellsohns had killed her
sister, and robbed her foolish brother-in-law. But hitherto the full
vial of her wrath had not been emptied, as it came to be emptied
afterwards; for she had not yet learned the mad iniquity of her niece.
But at the moment of which I now speak, Nina herself knew her own
iniquity, hardly knowing, however, whether her love did or did not
disgrace her. But she did know that any thought as to that was too
late. She loved the man, and had told him so; and were he gipsy as well
as Jew, it would be required of her that she should go out with him
into the wilderness. And Nina Balatka was prepared to go out into the
wilderness. Karil Zamenoy and his wife were prosperous people, and
lived in a comfortable modern house in the New Town. It stood in
a straight street, and at the back of the house there ran another
straight street. This part of the city is very little like that old
Prague, which may not be so comfortable, but which, of all cities on
the earth, is surely the most picturesque. Here lived Sophie Zamenoy;
and so far up in the world had she mounted, that she had a coach of
her own in which to be drawn about the thoroughfares of Prague and its
suburbs, and a stout little pair of Bohemian horses--ponies they were
called by those who wished to detract somewhat from Madame Zamenoy's
position. Madame Zamenoy had been at Paris, and took much delight
in telling her friends that the carriage also was Parisian; but, in
truth, it had come no further than from Dresden. Josef Balatka and
his daughter were very, very poor; but, poor as they were, they lived
in a large house, which, at least nominally, belonged to old Balatka
himself, and which had been his residence in the days of his better
fortunes. It was in the Kleinseite, that narrow portion of the town,
which lies on the other side of the river Moldau--the further side,
that is, from the so-called Old and New Town, on the western side of
the river, immediately under the great hill of the Hradschin. The
Old Town and the New Town are thus on one side of the river, and the
Kleinseite and the Hradschin on the other. To those who know Prague,
it need not here be explained that the streets of the Kleinseite are
wonderful in their picturesque architecture, wonderful in their lights
and shades, wonderful in their strange mixture of shops and palaces--
and now, alas! also of Austrian barracks--and wonderful in their
intricacy and great steepness of ascent. Balatka's house stood in a
small courtyard near to the river, but altogether hidden from it,
somewhat to the right of the main street of the Kleinseite as you pass
over the bridge. A lane, for it is little more, turning from the main
street between the side walls of what were once two palaces, comes
suddenly into a small square, and from a corner of this square there is
an open stone archway leading into a court. In this court is the door,
or doors, as I may say, of the house in which Balatka lived with his
daughter Nina. Opposite to these two doors was the blind wall of
another residence. Balatka's house occupied two sides of the court,
and no other window, therefore, besides his own looked either upon it
or upon him. The aspect of the place is such as to strike with wonder a
stranger to Prague--that in the heart of so large a city there should
be an abode so sequestered, so isolated, so desolate, and yet so close
to the thickest throng of life. But there are others such, perhaps many
others such, in Prague; and Nina Balatka, who had been born there,
thought nothing of the quaintness of her abode. Immediately over the
little square stood the palace of the Hradschin, the wide-spreading
residence of the old kings of Bohemia, now the habitation of an ex-
emperor of the House of Hapsburg, who must surely find the thousand
chambers of the royal mansion all too wide a retreat for the use of his
old age. So immediately did the imperial hill tower over the spot on
which Balatka lived, that it would seem at night, when the moon was
shining as it shines only at Prague, that the colonnades of the palace
were the upper storeys of some enormous edifice, of which the broken
merchant's small courtyard formed a lower portion. The long rows of
windows would glimmer in the sheen of the night, and Nina would stand
in the gloom of the archway counting them till they would seem to be
uncountable, and wondering what might be the thoughts of those who
abode there. But those who abode there were few in number, and their
thoughts were hardly worthy of Nina's speculation. The windows of
kings' palaces look out from many chambers. The windows of the
Hradschin look out, as we are told, from a thousand. But the rooms
within have seldom many tenants, nor the tenants, perhaps, many
thoughts. Chamber after chamber, you shall pass through them by the
score, and know by signs unconsciously recognised that there is not,
and never has been, true habitation within them. Windows almost
innumerable are there, that they may be seen from the outside--and such
is the use of palaces. But Nina, as she would look, would people the
rooms with throngs of bright inhabitants, and would think of the joys
of happy girls who were loved by Christian youths, and who could dare
to tell their friends of their love. But Nina Balatka was no coward,
and she had already determined that she would at once tell her love to
those who had a right to know in what way she intended to dispose of
herself. As to her father, if only he could have been alone in the
matter, she would have had some hope of a compromise which would have
made it not absolutely necessary that she should separate herself from
him for ever in giving herself to Anton Trendellsohn. Josef Balatka
would doubtless express horror, and would feel shame that his daughter
should love a Jew--though he had not scrupled to allow Nina to go
frequently among these people, and to use her services with them for
staving off the ill consequences of his own idleness and ill-fortune;
but he was a meek, broken man, and was so accustomed to yield to Nina
that at last he might have yielded to her even in this. There was,
however, that Madame Zamenoy, her aunt--her aunt with the bitter tongue;
and there was Ziska Zamenoy, her cousin--her rich and handsome cousin,
who would so soon declare himself willing to become more than cousin,
if Nina would but give him one nod of encouragement, or half a smile of
welcome. But Nina hated her Christian lover, cousin though he was, as
warmly as she loved the Jew. Nina, indeed, loved none of the Zamenoys--
neither her cousin Ziska, nor her very Christian aunt Sophie with the
bitter tongue, nor her prosperous, money-loving, acutely mercantile
uncle Karil; but, nevertheless, she was in some degree so subject to
them, that she knew that she was bound to tell them what path in life
she meant to tread. Madame Zamenoy had offered to take her niece to
the prosperous house in the Windberg-gasse when the old house in the
Kleinseite had become poor and desolate; and though this generous offer
had been most fatuously declined--most wickedly declined, as aunt
Sophie used to declare--nevertheless other favours had been vouchsafed;
and other favours had been accepted, with sore injury to Nina's pride.
As she thought of this, standing in the gloom of the evening under the
archway, she remembered that the very frock she wore had been sent to
her by her aunt. But I in spite of the bitter tongue, and in spite of
Ziska's derision, she would tell her tale, and would tell it soon. She
knew her own courage, and trusted it; and, dreadful as the hour would
be, she would not put it off by one moment. As soon as Anton should
desire her to declare her purpose, she would declare it; and as he who
stands on a precipice, contemplating the expediency of throwing himself
from the rock, will feel himself gradually seized by a mad desire to do
the deed out of hand at once, so did Nina feel anxious to walk off to
the Windberg-gasse, and dare and endure all that the Zamenoys could say
or do. She knew, or thought she knew, that persecution could not go now
beyond the work of the tongue. No priest could immure her. No law could
touch her because she was minded to marry a Jew. Even the people in
these days were mild and forbearing in their usages with the Jews, and
she thought that the girls of the Kleinseite would not tear her clothes
from her back even when they knew of her love. One thing, however, was
certain. Though every rag should be torn from her--though some priest
might have special power given him to persecute her--though the
Zamenoys in their wrath should be able to crush her--even though her
own father should refuse to see her, she would be true to the Jew. Love
to her should be so sacred that no other sacredness should be able to
touch its sanctity. She had thought much of love, but had never loved
before. Now she loved, and, heart and soul, she belonged to him to whom
she had devoted herself. Whatever suffering might be before her, though
it were suffering unto death, she would endure it if her lover demanded
such endurance. Hitherto, there was but one person who suspected her.
In her father's house there still remained an old dependant, who,
though he was a man, was cook and housemaid, and washer-woman and
servant-of-all-work; or perhaps it would be more true to say that
he and Nina between them did all that the requirements of the house
demanded. Souchey--for that was his name--was very faithful, but with
his fidelity had come a want of reverence towards his master and
mistress, and an absence of all respectful demeanour. The enjoyment of
this apparent independence by Souchey himself went far, perhaps, in
lieu of wages.

"Nina," he said to her one morning, "you are seeing too much of Anton
Trendellsohn."

"What do you mean by that, Souchey?" said the girl, sharply.

"You are seeing too much of Anton Trendellsohn," repeated the old man.

"I have to see him on father's account. You know that. You know that,
Souchey, and you shouldn't say such things."

"You are seeing too much of Anton Trendellsohn," said Souchey for the
third time. "Anton Trendellsohn is a Jew."

Then Nina knew that Souchey had read her secret, and was sure that it
would spread from him through Lotta Luxa, her aunt's confidential maid,
up to her aunt's ears. Not that Souchey would be untrue to her on
behalf of Madame Zamenoy, whom he hated; but that he would think
himself bound by his religious duty--he who never went near priest or
mass himself--to save his mistress from the perils of the Jew. The
story of her love must be told, and Nina preferred to tell it herself
to having it told for her by her servant Souchey. She must see Anton.
When the evening therefore had come, and there was sufficient dusk upon
the bridge to allow of her passing over without observation, she put
her old cloak upon her shoulders, with the hood drawn over her head,
and, crossing the river, turned to the left and made her way through
the narrow crooked streets which led to the Jews' quarter. She knew the
path well, and could have found it with blindfolded eyes. In the middle
of that close and densely populated region of Prague stands the old
Jewish synagogue--the oldest place of worship belonging to the Jews in
Europe, as they delight to tell you; and in a pinched-up, high-gabled
house immediately behind the synagogue, at the corner of two streets,
each so narrow as hardly to admit a vehicle, dwelt the Trendellsohns.
On the basement floor there had once been a shop. There was no shop
now, for the Trendellsohns were rich, and no longer dealt in retail
matters; but there had been no care, or perhaps no ambition, at work,
to alter the appearance of their residence, and the old shutters were
upon the window, making the house look as though it were deserted.
There was a high-pitched sharp roof over the gable, which, as
the building stood alone fronting upon the synagogue, made it so
remarkable, that all who knew Prague well, knew the house in which the
Trendellsohns lived. Nina had often wished, as in latter days she had
entered it, that it was less remarkable, so that she might have gone in
and out with smaller risk of observation. It was now the beginning of
September, and the clocks of the town had just struck eight as Nina put
her hand on the lock of the Jew's door. As usual it was not bolted,
and she was able to enter without waiting in the street for a servant
to come to her. She went at once along the narrow passage and up the
gloomy wooden stairs, at the foot of which there hung a small lamp,
giving just light enough to expel the actual blackness of night. On the
first landing Nina knocked at a door, and was desired to enter by a
soft female voice. The only occupant of the room when she entered was a
dark-haired child, some twelve years old perhaps, but small in stature
and delicate, and, as appeared to the eye, almost wan. "Well, Ruth
dear," said Nina, "is Anton at home this evening?"

"He is up-stairs with grandfather, Nina. Shall I tell him?"

"If you will, dear," said Nina, stooping down and kissing her.

"Nice Nina, dear Nina, good Nina," said the girl, rubbing her glossy
curls against her friend's cheeks. "Ah, dear, how I wish you lived
here!"

"But I have a father, as you have a grandfather, Ruth."

"And he is a Christian."

"And so am I, Ruth."

"But you like us, and are good, and nice, and dear--and oh, Nina, you
are so beautiful! I wish you were one of us, and lived here. There is
Miriam Harter--her hair is as light as yours, and her eyes are as
grey."

"What has that to do with it?"

"Only I am so dark, and most of us are dark here in Prague. Anton says
that away in Palestine our girls are as fair as the girls in Saxony."

"And does not Anton like girls to be dark?"

"Anton likes fair hair--such as yours--and bright grey eyes such as
you have got. I said they were green, and he pulled my ears. But now
I look, Nina, I think they are green. And so bright! I can see my own
in them, though it is so dark. That is what they call looking babies."

"Go to your uncle, Ruth, and tell him that I want him--on business."

"I will, and he'll come to you. He won't let me come down again, so
kiss me, Nina; good-bye."

Nina kissed the child again, and then was left alone in the room. It
was a comfortable chamber, having in it sofas and arm-chairs--much more
comfortable, Nina used to think, than her aunt's grand drawing-room in
the Windberg-gasse, which was covered all over with a carpet, after the
fashion of drawing-rooms in Paris; but the Jew's sitting-room was dark,
with walls painted a gloomy green colour, and there was but one small
lamp of oil upon the table. But yet Nina loved the room, and as she sat
there waiting for her lover, she wished that it had been her lot to
have been born a Jewess. Only, had that been so, her hair might perhaps
have been black, and her eyes dark, and Anton would not have liked her.
She put her hand up for a moment to her rich brown tresses, and felt
them as she took joy in thinking that Anton Trendellsohn loved to look
upon fair beauty.

After a short while Anton Trendellsohn came down. To those who know
the outward types of his race there could be no doubt that Anton
Trendellsohn was a very Jew among Jews. He was certainly a handsome
man, not now very young, having reached some year certainly in advance
of thirty, and his face was full of intellect. He was slightly made,
below the middle height, but was well made in every limb, with small
feet and hands, and small ears, and a well-turned neck. He was very
dark--dark as a man can be, and yet show no sign of colour in his
blood. No white man could be more dark and swarthy than Anton
Trendellsohn. His eyes, however, which were quite black, were very
bright. His jet-black hair, as it clustered round his ears, had in it
something of a curl. Had it been allowed to grow, it would almost have
hung in ringlets; but it was worn very short, as though its owner were
jealous even of the curl. Anton Trendellsohn was decidedly a handsome
man; but his eyes were somewhat too close together in his face, and the
bridge of his aquiline nose was not sharply cut, as is mostly the case
with such a nose on a Christian face. The olive oval face was without
doubt the face of a Jew, and the mouth was greedy, and the teeth were
perfect and bright, and the movement of the man's body was the movement
of a Jew. But not the less on that account had he behaved with
Christian forbearance to his Christian debtor, Josef Balatka, and with
Christian chivalry to Balatka's daughter, till that chivalry had turned
itself into love.

"Nina," he said, putting out his hand, and holding hers as he spoke, "I
hardly expected you this evening; but I am glad to see you--very glad."

"I hope I am not troubling you, Anton?"

"How can you trouble me? The sun does not trouble us when we want light
and heat."

"Can I give you light and heat?"

"The light and heat I love best, Nina."

"If I thought that--if I could really think that--I would be happy
still, and would mind nothing."

"And what is it you do mind?"

"There are things to trouble us, of course. When aunt Sophie says that
all of us have our troubles--even she--I suppose that even she speaks
the truth."

"Your aunt Sophie is a fool."

"I should not mind if she were only a fool. But a fool can sometimes be
right."

"And she has been scolding you because--you--prefer a Jew to a
Christian."

"No--not yet, Anton. She does not know it yet; but she must know it."

"Sit down, Nina." He was still holding her by the hand; and now, as he
spoke, he led her to a sofa which stood between the two windows. There
he seated her, and sat by her side, still holding her hand in his.
"Yes," he said, "she must know it of course--when the time comes; and
if she guesses it before, you must put up with her guesses. A few sharp
words from a foolish woman will not frighten you, I hope."

"No words will frighten me out of my love, if you mean that--neither
words nor anything else."

"I believe you. You are brave, Nina. I know that. Though you will cry
if one but frowns at you, yet you are brave."

"Do not you frown at me, Anton."

"I am one of those that do frown at times, I suppose; but I will be
true to you, Nina, if you will be true to me."

"I will be true to you--true as the sun."

As she made her promise she turned her sweet face up to his, and he
leaned over her, and kissed her.

"And what is it that has disturbed you now, Nina? What has Madame
Zamenoy said to you?"

"She has said nothing--as yet. She suspects nothing--as yet."

"Then let her remain as she is."

"But, Anton, Souchey knows, and he will talk."

"Souchey! And do you care for that?"

"I care for nothing--for nothing; for nothing, that is, in the way of
preventing me. Do what they will, they cannot tear my love from my
heart."

"Nor can they take you away, or lock you up."

"I fear nothing of that sort, Anton. All that I really fear is secrecy.
Would it not be best that I should tell father?"

"What!--now, at once?"

"If you will let me. I suppose he must know it soon."

"You can if you please."

"Souchey will tell him."

"Will Souchey dare to speak of you like that?" asked the Jew.

"Oh, yes; Souchey dares to say anything to father now. Besides, it is
true. Why should not Souchey say it?"

"But you have not spoken to Souchey; you have not told him?"

"I! No indeed. I have spoken never a word to anyone about that--only to
you. How should I speak to another without your bidding? But when they
speak to me I must answer them. If father asks me whether there be
aught between you and me, shall I not tell him then?"

"It would be better to be silent for a while."

"But shall I lie to him? I should not mind Souchey nor aunt Sophie
much; but I never yet told a lie to father."

"I do not tell you to lie."

"Let me tell it all. Anton, and then, whatever they may say, whatever
they may do, I shall not mind. I wish that they knew it, and then I
could stand up against them. Then I could tell Ziska that which would
make him hold his tongue for ever."

"Ziska! Who cares for Ziska?"

"You need not, at any rate."

"The truth is, Nina, that I cannot be married till I have settled all
this about the houses in the Kleinseite. The very fact that you would
be your father's heir prevents my doing so."

"Do you think that I wish to hurry you? I would rather stay as I am,
knowing that you love me."

"Dear Nina! But when your aunt shall once know your secret, she will
give you no peace till you are out of her power. She will leave no
stone unturned to make you give up your Jew lover."

"She may as well leave the turning of such stones alone."

"But if she heard nothing of it till she heard that we were married--"

"Ah! but that is impossible. I could not do that without telling
father, and father would surely tell my aunt."

"You may do as you will, Nina; but it may be, when they shall know it,
that therefore there may be new difficulty made about the houses. Karil
Zamenoy has the papers, which are in truth mine--or my father's--which
should be here in my iron box." And Trendellsohn, as he spoke, put his
hand forcibly on the seat beside him, as though the iron box to which
he alluded were within his reach.

"I know they are yours," said Nina.

"Yes; and without them, should your father die, I could not claim my
property. The Zamenoys might say they held it on your behalf--and you
my wife at the time! Do you see, Nina? I could not stand that--I would
not stand that."

"I understand it well, Anton."

"The houses are mine--or ours, rather. Your father has long since had
the money, and more than the money. He knew that the houses were to be
ours."

"He knows it well. You do not think that he is holding back the
papers?"

"He should get them for me. He should not drive me to press him for
them. I know they are at Karil Zamenoy's counting-house; but your uncle
told me, when I spoke to him, that he had no business with me; if I had
a claim on him, there was the law. I have no claim on him. But I let
your father have the money when he wanted it, on his promise that the
deeds should be forthcoming. A Christian would not have been such a
fool."

"Oh, Anton, do not speak to me like that."

"But was I not a fool? See how it is now. Were you and I to become man
and wife, they would never give them up, though they are my own--my
own. No; we must wait; and you--you must demand them from your uncle."

"I will demand them. And as for waiting, I care nothing for that if you
love me."

"I do love you."

"Then all shall be well with me; and I will ask for the papers. Father,
I know, wishes that you should have all that is your own. He would
leave the house to-morrow if you desired it."

"He is welcome to remain there."

"And now, Anton, good-night."

"Good-night, Nina."

"When shall I see you again?"

"When you please, and as often. Have I not said that you are light
and heat to me? Can the sun rise too often for those who love it?"
Then she held her hand up to be kissed, and kissed his in return, and
went silently down the stairs into the street. He had said once in
the course of the conversation--nay, twice, as she came to remember
in thinking over it--that she might do as she would about telling
her friends; and she had been almost craftily careful to say nothing
herself, and to draw nothing from him, which could be held as
militating against this authority, or as subsequently negativing the
permission so given. She would undoubtedly tell her father--and her
aunt; and would as certainly demand from her uncle those documents of
which Anton Trendellsohn had spoken to her.




CHAPTER II


Nina, as she returned home from the Jews' quarter to her father's
house in the Kleinseite, paused for a while on the bridge to make some
resolution--some resolution that should be fixed--as to her immediate
conduct. Should she first tell her story to her father, or first to her
aunt Sophie? There were reasons for and against either plan. And if to
her father first, then should she tell it to-night? She was nervously
anxious to rush at once at her difficulties, and to be known to all
who belonged to her as the girl who had given herself to the Jew. It
was now late in the evening, and the moon was shining brightly on the
palace over against her. The colonnades seemed to be so close to her
that there could hardly be room for any portion of the city to cluster
itself between them and the river. She stood looking up at the great
building, and fell again into her trick of counting the windows,
thereby saving herself a while from the difficult task of following out
the train of her thoughts. But what were the windows of the palace to
her? So she walked on again till she reached a spot on the bridge at
which she almost always paused a moment to perform a little act of
devotion. There, having a place in the long row of huge statues which
adorn the bridge, is the figure of the martyr St John Nepomucene, who
at this spot was thrown into the river because he would not betray the
secrets of a queen's confession, and was drowned, and who has ever
been, from that period downwards, the favourite saint of Prague--and
of bridges. On the balustrade, near the figure, there is a small plate
inserted in the stone-work and good Catholics, as they pass over the
river, put their hands upon the plate, and then kiss their fingers. So
shall they be saved from drowning and from all perils of the water--as
far, at least, as that special transit of the river may be perilous.
Nina, as a child, had always touched the stone, and then touched her
lips, and did the act without much thought as to the saving power of St
John Nepomucene. But now, as she carried her hand up to her face, she
did think of the deed. Had she, who was about to marry a Jew, any right
to ask for the assistance of a Christian saint? And would such a deed
that she now proposed to herself put her beyond the pale of Christian
aid? Would the Madonna herself desert her should she marry a Jew? If
she were to become truer than ever to her faith--more diligent, more
thoughtful, more constant in all acts of devotion--would the blessed
Mary help to save her, even though she should commit this great sin?
Would the mild-eyed, sweet Saviour, who had forgiven so many women, who
had saved from a cruel death the woman taken in adultery, who had been
so gracious to the Samaritan woman at the well--would He turn from her
the graciousness of His dear eyes, and bid her go out for ever from
among the faithful? Madame Zamenoy would tell her so, and so would
Sister Teresa, an old nun, who was on most friendly terms with Madame
Zamenoy, and whom Nina altogether hated; and so would the priest, to
whom, alas! she would be bound to give faith. And if this were so,
whither should she turn for comfort? She could not become a Jewess! She
might call herself one; but how could she be a Jewess with her strong
faith in St Nicholas, who was the saint of her own Church, and in St
John of the River, and in the Madonna? No; she must be an outcast from
all religions, a Pariah, one devoted absolutely to the everlasting
torments which lie beyond Purgatory--unless, indeed, unless that mild-
eyed Saviour would be content to take her faith and her acts of hidden
worship, despite her aunt, despite that odious nun, and despite the
very priest himself! She did not know how this might be with her, but
she did know that all the teaching of her life was against any such
hope.

But what was--what could be the good of such thoughts to her? Had not
things gone too far with her for such thoughts to be useful? She loved
the Jew, and had told him so; and not all the penalties with which the
priests might threaten her could lessen her love, or make her think of
her safety here or hereafter, as a thing to be compared with her love.
Religion was much to her; the fear of the everlasting wrath of Heaven
was much to her; but love was paramount! What if it were her soul?
Would she not give even her soul for her love, if, for her love's sake,
her soul should be required from her? When she reached the archway, she
had made up her mind that she would tell her aunt first, and that she
would do so early on the following day. Were she to tell her father
first, her father might probably forbid her to speak on the subject to
Madame Zamenoy, thinking that his own eloquence and that of the priest
might prevail to put an end to so terrible an iniquity, and that so
Madame Zamenoy might never learn the tidings. Nina, thinking of all
this, and being quite determined that the Zamenoys should know what
she intended to tell them, resolved that she would say nothing on that
night at home.

"You are very late, Nina," said her father to her, crossly, as soon
as she entered the room in which they lived. It was a wide apartment,
having in it now but little furniture--two rickety tables, a few
chairs, an old bureau in which Balatka kept, under lock and key, all
that still belonged to him personally, and a little desk, which was
Nina's own repository.

"Yes, father, I am late; but not very late. I have been with Anton
Trendellsohn."

"And what have you been there for now?"

"Anton Trendellsohn has been talking to me about the papers which uncle
Karil has. He wants to have them himself. He says they are his."

"I suppose he means that we are to be turned out of the old house."

"No, father; he does not mean that. He is not a cruel man. But he says
that--that he cannot settle anything about the property without having
the papers. I suppose that is true."

"He has the rent of the other houses," said Balatka.

"Yes; but if the papers are his, he ought to have them."

"Did he send for them?"

"No, father; he did not send."

"And what made you go?"

"I am so of often going there. He had spoken to me before about this.
He thinks you do not like him to come here, and you never go there
yourself."

After this there was a pause for a few minutes, and Nina was settling
herself to her work. Then the old man spoke again.

"Nina, I fear you see too much of Anton Trendellsohn." The words were
the very words of Souchey; and Nina was sure that her father and the
servant had been discussing her conduct. It was no more than she had
expected, but her father's words had come very quickly upon Souchey's
speech to herself. What did it signify? Everybody would know it all
before twenty-four hours had passed by. Nina, however, was determined
to defend herself at the present moment, thinking that there was
something of injustice in her father's remarks. "As for seeing him
often, father, I have done it because your business has required it.
When you were ill in April I had to be there almost daily."

"But you need not have gone to-night. He did not send for you."

"But it is needful that something should be done to get for him that
which is his own." As she said this there came to her a sting of
conscience, a thought that reminded her that, though she was not lying
to her father in words, she was in fact deceiving him; and remembering
her assertion to her lover that she had never spoken falsely to her
father, she blushed with shame as she sat in the darkness of her seat.

"To-morrow father," she said, "I will talk to you more about this, and
you shall not at any rate say that I keep anything from you."

"I have never said so, Nina."

"It is late now, father. Will you not go to bed?"

Old Balatka yielded to this suggestion, and went to his bed; and Nina,
after some hour or two, went to hers. But before doing so she opened
the little desk that stood in the corner of their sitting-room, of
which the key was always in her pocket, and took out everything that it
contained. There were many letters there, of which most were on matters
of business--letters which in few houses would come into the hands of
such a one as Nina Balatka, but which, through the weakness of her
father's health, had come into hers. Many of these she now read; some
few she tore and burned in the stove, and others she tied in bundles
and put back carefully into their place. There was not a paper in the
desk which did not pass under her eye, and as to which she did not come
to some conclusion, either to keep it or to burn it. There were no
love-letters there. Nina Balatka had never yet received such a letter
as that. She saw her lover too frequently to feel much the need of
written expressions of love; and such scraps of his writing as there
were in the bundles, referred altogether to small matters of business.
When she had thus arranged her papers, she too went to bed. On the next
morning, when she gave her father his breakfast, she was very silent.
She made for him a little chocolate, and cut for him a few slips of
white bread to dip into it. For herself, she cut a slice from a black
loaf made of rye flour, and mixed with water a small quantity of the
thin sour wine of the country. Her meal may have been worth perhaps a
couple of kreutzers, or something less than a penny, whereas that of
her father may have cost twice as much. Nina was a close and sparing
housekeeper, but with all her economy she could not feed three people
upon nothing. Latterly, from month to month, she had sold one thing out
of the house after another, knowing as each article went that provision
from such store as that must soon fail her. But anything was better
than taking money from her aunt whom she hated--except taking money
from the Jew whom she loved. From him she had taken none, though it had
been often offered. "You have lost more than enough by father," she had
said to him when the offer had been made. "What I give to the wife of
my bosom shall never be reckoned as lost," he had answered. She had
loved him for the words, and had pressed his hand in hers--but she had
not taken his money. From her aunt some small meagre supply had been
accepted from time to time--a florin or two now, and a florin or two
again--given with repeated intimations on aunt Sophie's part, that
her husband Karil could not be expected to maintain the house in the
Kleinseite. Nina had not felt herself justified in refusing such gifts
from her aunt to her father, but as each occasion came she told herself
that some speedy end must be put to this state of things. Her aunt's
generosity would not sustain her father, and her aunt's generosity
nearly killed herself. On this very morning she would do that which
should certainly put an end to a state of things so disagreeable.
After breakfast, therefore, she started at once for the house in the
Windberg-gasse, leaving her father still in his bed. She walked very
quick, looking neither to the right nor the left, across the bridge,
along the river-side, and then up into the straight ugly streets of the
New Town. The distance from her father's house was nearly two miles,
and yet the journey was made in half an hour. She had never walked so
quickly through the streets of Prague before; and when she reached the
end of the Windberg-gasse, she had to pause a moment to collect her
thoughts and her breath. But it was only for a moment, and then the
bell was rung.

Yes; her aunt was at home. At ten in the morning that was a matter of
course. She was shown, not into the grand drawing-room, which was only
used on grand occasions, but into a little back parlour which, in spite
of the wealth and magnificence of the Zamenoys, was not so clean as the
room in the Kleinseite, and certainly not so comfortable as the Jew's
apartment. There was no carpet; but that was not much, as carpets in
Prague were not in common use. There were two tables crowded with
things needed for household purposes, half-a-dozen chairs of different
patterns, a box of sawdust close under the wall, placed there that
papa Zamenoy might spit into it when it pleased him. There was a crowd
of clothes and linen hanging round the stove, which projected far into
the room; and spread upon the table, close to which was placed mamma
Zamenoy's chair, was an article of papa Zamenoy's dress, on which mamma
Zamenoy was about to employ her talents in the art of tailoring. All
this, however, was nothing to Nina, nor was the dirt on the floor much
to her, though she had often thought that if she were to go and live
with aunt Sophie, she would contrive to make some improvement as to the
cleanliness of the house.

"Your aunt will be down soon," said Lotta Luxa as they passed through
the passage. "She is very angry, Nina, at not seeing you all the last
week."

"I don't know why she should be angry, Lotta. I did not say I would
come."

Lotta Luxa was a sharp little woman, over forty years of age, with
quick green eyes and thin red-tipped nose, looking as though Paris
might have been the town of her birth rather than Prague. She wore
short petticoats, clean stockings, an old pair of slippers; and in the
back of her hair she still carried that Diana's dart which maidens wear
in those parts when they are not only maidens unmarried, but maidens
also disengaged. No one had yet succeeded in drawing Lotta Luxa's arrow
from her head, though Souchey, from the other side of the river, had
made repeated attempts to do so. For Lotta Luxa had a little money of
her own, and poor Souchey had none. Lotta muttered something about the
thoughtless thanklessness of young people, and then took herself down-
stairs. Nina opened the door of the back parlour, and found her cousin
Ziska sitting alone with his feet propped upon the stove.

"What, Ziska," she said, "you not at work by ten o'clock!"

"I was not well last night, and took physic this morning," said Ziska.
"Something had disagreed with me."

"I'm sorry for that, Ziska. You eat too much fruit, I suppose."

"Lotta says it was the sausage, but I don't think it was. I'm very fond
of sausage, and everybody must be ill sometimes. She'll be down here
again directly;" and Ziska with his head nodded at the chair in which
his mother was wont to sit.

Nina, whose mind was quite full of her business, was determined to go
to work at once. "I'm glad to have you alone for a moment, Ziska," she
said.

"And so am I very glad; only I wish I had not taken physic, it makes
one so uncomfortable."

At this moment Nina had in her heart no charity towards her cousin, and
did not care for his discomfort. "Ziska," she said, "Anton Trendellsohn
wants to have the papers about the houses in the Kleinseite. He says
that they are his, and you have them."

Ziska hated Anton Trendellsohn, hardly knowing why he hated him. "If
Trendellsohn wants anything of us," said he, "why does he not come to
the office? He knows where to find us."

"Yes, Ziska, he knows where to find you; but, as he says, he has no
business with you--no business as to which he can make a demand. He
thinks, therefore, you would merely bid him begone."

"Very likely. One doesn't want to see more of a Jew than one can help."

"That Jew, Ziska, owns the house in which father lives. That Jew,
Ziska, is the best friend that--that--that father has."

"I'm sorry you think so, Nina."

"How can I help thinking it? You can't deny, nor can uncle, that the
houses belong to him. The papers got into uncle's hands when he and
father were together, and I think they ought to be given up now. Father
thinks that the Trendellsohns should have them. Even though they are
Jews, they have a right to their own."

"You know nothing about it, Nina. How should you know about such things
as that?"

"I am driven to know. Father is ill, and cannot come himself."

"Oh, laws! I am so uncomfortable. I never will take stuff from Lotta
Luxa again. She thinks a man is the same as a horse."

This little episode put a stop to the conversation about the title-
deeds, and then Madame Zamenoy entered the room. Madame Zamenoy was a
woman of a portly demeanour, well fitted to do honour by her personal
presence to that carriage and horses with which Providence and an
indulgent husband had blessed her. And when she was dressed in her
full panoply of French millinery--the materials of which had come from
England, and the manufacture of which had taken place in Prague--she
looked the carriage and horses well enough. But of a morning she was
accustomed to go about the house in a pale-tinted wrapper, which, pale-
tinted as it was, should have been in the washing-tub much oftener than
was the case with it--if not for cleanliness, then for mere decency of
appearance.

And the mode in which she carried her matutinal curls, done up with
black pins, very visible to the eye, was not in itself becoming. The
handkerchief which she wore in lieu of cap, might have been excused on
the score of its ugliness, as Madame Zamenoy was no longer young, had
it not been open to such manifest condemnation for other sins. And in
this guise she would go about the house from morning to night on days
not made sacred by the use of the carriage. Now Lotta Luxa was clean in
the midst of her work; and one would have thought that the cleanliness
of the maid would have shamed the slatternly ways of the mistress. But
Madame Zamenoy and Lotta Luxa had lived together long, and probably
knew each other well.

"Well, Nina," she said, "so you've come at last?"

"Yes; I've come, aunt. And as I want to say something very particular
to you yourself, perhaps Ziska won't mind going out of the room for a
minute." Nina had not sat down since she had been in the room, and was
now standing before her aunt with almost militant firmness. She was
resolved to rush at once at the terrible subject which she had in hand,
but she could not do so in the presence of her cousin Ziska.

Ziska groaned audibly. "Ziska isn't well this morning," said Madame
Zamenoy, "and I do not wish to have him disturbed."

"Then perhaps you'll come into the front parlour, aunt."

"What can there be that you cannot say before Ziska?"

"There is something, aunt," said Nina.

If there were a secret, Madame Zamenoy decidedly wished to hear it, and
therefore, after pausing to consider the matter for a moment or two,
she led the way into the front parlour.

"And now, Nina, what is it? I hope you have not disturbed me in this
way for anything that is a trifle."

"It is no trifle to me, aunt. I am going to be married to--Anton
Trendellsohn." She said the words slowly, standing bolt-upright, at her
greatest height, as she spoke them, and looking her aunt full in the
face with something of defiance both in her eyes and in the tone of
her voice. She had almost said, "Anton Trendellsohn, the Jew;" and when
her speech was finished, and admitted of no addition, she reproached
herself with pusillanimity in that she had omitted the word which had
always been so odious, and would now be doubly odious--odious to her
aunt in a tenfold degree.

Madame Zamenoy stood for a while speechless--struck with horror.
The tidings which she heard were so unexpected, so strange, and so
abominable, that they seemed at first to crush her. Nina was her
niece--her sister's child; and though she might be repudiated,
reviled, persecuted, and perhaps punished, still she must retain her
relationship to her injured relatives. And it seemed to Madame Zamenoy
as though the marriage of which Nina spoke was a thing to be done at
once, out of hand--as though the disgusting nuptials were to take place
on that day or on the next, and could not now be avoided. It occurred
to her that old Balatka himself was a consenting party, and that utter
degradation was to fall upon the family instantly. There was that in
Nina's air and manner, as she spoke of her own iniquity, which made the
elder woman feel for the moment that she was helpless to prevent the
evil with which she was threatened.

"Anton Trendellsohn--a Jew," she said, at last.

"Yes, aunt; Anton Trendellsohn, the Jew. I am engaged to him as his
wife."

There was a something of doubtful futurity in the word engaged, which
gave a slight feeling of relief to Madame Zamenoy, and taught her to
entertain a hope that there might be yet room for escape. "Marry a Jew,
Nina," she said; "it cannot be possible!"

"It is possible, aunt. Other Jews in Prague have married Christians."

"Yes, I know it. There have been outcasts among us low enough so to
degrade themselves--low women who were called Christians. There has
been no girl connected with decent people who has ever so degraded
herself. Does your father know of this?"

"Not yet."

"Your father knows nothing of it, and you come and tell me that you are
engaged--to a Jew!" Madame Zamenoy had so far recovered herself that
she was now able to let her anger mount above her misery. "You wicked
girl! Why have you come to me with such a story as this?"

"Because it is well that you should know it. I did not like to deceive
you, even by secrecy. You will not be hurt. You need not notice me any
longer. I shall be lost to you, and that will be all."

"If you were to do such a thing you would disgrace us. But you will not
be allowed to do it."

"But I shall do it."

"Nina!"

"Yes, aunt. I shall do it. Do you think I will be false to my troth?"

"Your troth to a Jew is nothing. Father Jerome will tell you so."

"I shall not ask Father Jerome. Father Jerome, of course, will condemn
me; but I shall not ask him whether or not I am to keep my promise--my
solemn promise."

"And why not?"

Then Nina paused a moment before she answered. But she did answer, and
answered with that bold defiant air which at first had disconcerted her
aunt.

"I will ask no one, aunt Sophie, because I love Anton Trendellsohn, and
have told him that I love him."

"Pshaw!"

"I have nothing more to say, aunt. I thought it right to tell you, and
now I will go."

She had turned to the door, and had her hand upon the lock when her
aunt stopped her. "Wait a moment, Nina. You have had your say; now you
must hear me."

"I will hear you if you say nothing against him."

"I shall say what I please."

"Then I will not hear you." Nina again made for the door, but her aunt
intercepted her retreat. "Of course you can stop me, aunt, in that way
if you choose."

"You bold, bad girl!"

"You may say what you please about myself."

"You are a bold, bad girl!"

"Perhaps I am. Father Jerome says we are all bad. And as for boldness,
I have to be bold."

"You are bold and brazen. Marry a Jew! It is the worst thing a
Christian girl could do."

"No, it is not. There are things ten times worse than that."

"How you could dare to come and tell me!"

"I did dare, you see. If I had not told you, you would have called me
sly."

"You are sly."

"I am not sly. You tell me I am bad and bold and brazen."

"So you are."

"Very likely. I do not say I am not. But I am not sly. Now, will you
let me go, aunt Sophie?"

"Yes, you may go--you may go; but you may not come here again till this
thing has been put an end to. Of course I shall see your father and
Father Jerome, and your uncle will see the police. You will be locked
up, and Anton Trendellsohn will be sent out of Bohemia. That is how it
will end. Now you may go." And Nina went her way.

Her aunt's threat of seeing her father and the priest was nothing to
Nina. It was the natural course for her aunt to take, and a course in
opposition to which Nina was prepared to stand her ground firmly. But
the allusion to the police did frighten her. She had thought of the
power which the law might have over her very often, and had spoken of
it in awe to her lover. He had reassured her, explaining to her that,
as the law now stood in Austria, no one but her father could prevent
her marriage with a Jew, and that he could only do so till she was of
age. Now Nina would be twenty-one on the first of the coming month, and
therefore would be free, as Anton told her, to do with herself as she
pleased. But still there came over her a cold feeling of fear when her
aunt spoke to her of the police. The law might give the police no power
over her; but was there not a power in the hands of those armed men
whom she saw around her on every side, and who were seldom countrymen
of her own, over and above the law? Were there not still dark dungeons
and steel locks and hard hearts? Though the law might justify her, how
would that serve her, if men--if men and women, were determined to
persecute her? As she walked home, however, she resolved that dark
dungeons and steel locks and hard hearts might do their worst against
her. She had set her will upon one thing in this world, and from
that one thing no persecution should drive her. They might kill her,
perhaps. Yes, they might kill her; and then there would be an end of
it. But to that end she would force them to come before she would
yield. So much she swore to herself as she walked home on that morning
to the Kleinseite.

Madame Zamenoy, when Nina left her, sat in solitary consideration for
some twenty minutes, and then called for her chief confidant, Lotta
Luxa. With many expressions of awe, and with much denunciation of her
niece's iniquity, she told to Lotta what she had heard, speaking of
Nina as one who was utterly lost and abandoned. Lotta, however, did not
express so much indignant surprise as her mistress expected, though she
was willing enough to join in abuse against Nina Balatka.

"That comes of letting girls go about just as they please among the
men," said Lotta.

"But a Jew!" said Madame Zamenoy. "If it had been any kind of a
Christian, I could understand it."

"Trendellsohn has such a hold upon her, and upon her father," said
Lotta.

"But a Jew! She has been to confession, has she not?"

"Regularly," said Lotta Luxa.

"Dear, dear! what a false hypocrite! And at mass?"

"Four mornings a-week always."

"And to tell me, after it all, that she means to marry a Jew. Of
course, Lotta, we must prevent it."

"But how? Her father will do whatever she bids him."

"Father Jerome would do anything for me."

"Father Jerome can do little or nothing if she has the bit between her
teeth," said Lotta. "She is as obstinate as a mule when she pleases. She
is not like other girls. You cannot frighten her out of anything."

"I'll try, at least," said Madame Zamenoy.

"Yes, we can try," said Lotta.

"Would not the mayor help us--that is, if we were driven to go to
that?"

"I doubt if he could do anything. He would be afraid to use a high
hand. He is Bohemian. The head of the police might do something, if
we could get at him."

"She might be taken away."

"Where could they take her?" asked Lotta. "No; they could not take her
anywhere."

"Not into a convent--out of the way somewhere in Italy?"

"Oh, heaven, no! They are afraid of that sort of thing now. All Prague
would know of it, and would talk; and the Jews would be stronger than
the priests; and the English people would hear of it, and there would
be the very mischief."

"The times have come to be very bad, Lotta."

"That's as may be," said Lotta as though she had her doubts upon the
subject. "That's as may be. But it isn't easy to put a young woman
away now without her will. Things have changed--partly for the worse,
perhaps, and partly for the better. Things are changing every day. My
wonder is that he should wish to many her."

"The men think her very pretty. Ziska is mad about her," said Madame
Zamenoy.

"But Ziska is a calf to Anton Trendellsohn. Anton Trendellsohn has cut
his wise teeth. Like them all, he loves his money; and she has not got
a kreutzer."

"But he has promised to marry her. You may be sure of that."

"Very likely. A man always promises that when he wants a girl to be
kind to him. But why should he stick to it? What can he get by marrying
Nina--a penniless girl, with a pauper for a father? The Trendellsohns
have squeezed that sponge dry already."

This was a new light to Madame Zamenoy, and one that was not altogether
unpleasant to her eyes. That her niece should have promised herself to
a Jew was dreadful, and that her niece should be afterwards jilted by
the Jew was a poor remedy. But still it was a remedy, and therefore she
listened.

"If nothing else can be done, we could perhaps put him against it,"
said Lotta Luxa.

Madame Zamenoy on that occasion said but little more, but she agreed
with her servant that it would be better to resort to any means than
to submit to the degradation of an alliance with the Jew.




CHAPTER III


On the third day after Nina's visit to her aunt, Ziska Zamenoy came
across to the Kleinseite on a visit to old Balatka. In the mean time
Nina had told the story of her love to her father, and the effect on
Balatka had simply been that he had not got out of his bed since. For
himself he would have cared, perhaps, but little as to the Jewish
marriage, had he not known that those belonging to him would have cared
so much. He had no strong religious prejudice of his own, nor indeed
had he strong feeling of any kind. He loved his daughter, and wished
her well; but even for her he had been unable to exert himself in his
younger days, and now simply expected from her hands all the comfort
which remained to him in this world. The priest he knew would attack
him, and to the priest he would be able to make no answer. But to
Trendellsohn, Jew as he was, he would trust in worldly matters, rather
than to the Zamenoys; and were it not that he feared the Zamenoys, and
could not escape from his close connection with them, he would have
been half inclined to let the girl marry the Jew. Souchey, indeed, had
frightened him on the subject when it had first been mentioned to him;
and Nina, coming with her own assurance so quickly after Souchey's
suspicion, had upset him; but his feeling in regard to Nina had none
of that bitter anger, no touch of that abhorrence which animated the
breast of his sister-in-law. When Ziska came to him he was alone in
his bedroom. Ziska had heard the news, as had all the household in the
Windberg-gasse, and had come over to his uncle's house to see what he
could do, by his own diplomacy, to put an end to an engagement which
was to him doubly calamitous. "Uncle Josef," he said, sitting by the
old man's bed, have you heard what Nina is doing?"

"What she is doing!" said the uncle. "What is she doing?" Balatka
feared all the Zamenoys, down to Lotta Luxa; but he feared Ziska less
than he feared any other of the household.

"Have you heard of Anton Trendellsohn?"

"What of Anton Trendellsohn? I have been hearing of Anton Trendellsohn
for the last thirty years. I have known him since he was born."

"Do you wish to have him for a son-in-law?"

"For a son-in-law?"

"Yes, for a son-in-law--Anton Trendellsohn, the Jew. Would he be a good
husband for our Nina? You say nothing, uncle Josef."

"What am I to say?"

"You have heard of it, then? Why can you not answer me, uncle Josef?
Have you heard that Trendellsohn has dared to ask Nina to be his wife?"

"There is not so much of daring in it, Ziska. Among you all the poor
girl is a beggar. If some one does not take pity on her, she will
starve soon."

"Take pity on her! Do not we all take pity on her?"

"No," said Josef Balatka, turning angrily against his nephew; "not a
scrap of pity--not a morsel of love. You cannot rid yourself of her
quite--of her or me--and that is your pity."

"You are wrong there."

"Very well; then let me be wrong. I can understand what is before my
eyes. Look round the house and see what we are coming to. Nina at the
present moment has not got a florin in her purse. We are starving, or
next to it, and yet you wonder that she should be willing to marry an
honest man who has plenty of money."

"But he is a Jew!"

"Yes; he is a Jew. I know that."

"And Nina knows it."

"Of course she does. Do you go home and eat nothing for a week, and
then see whether a Jew's bread will poison you."

"But to marry him, uncle Josef!"

"It is very bad. I know it is bad, but what can I do? If she says she
will do it, how can I help it? She has been a good child to me--a very
good child; and am I to lie here and see her starve? You would not give
to your dog the morsel of bread which she ate this morning before she
went out."

All this was a new light to Ziska. He knew that his uncle and cousin
were very poor, and had halted in his love because he was ashamed
of their poverty; but he had never thought of them as people hungry
from want of food, or cold from want of clothes. It may be said of
him, to his credit, that his love had been too strong for his shame,
and that he had made up his mind to marry his cousin Nina in spite
of her poverty. When Lotta Luxa had called him a calf she had not
inappropriately defined one side of his character. He was a good-
looking well-grown young man, not very wise, quickly susceptible to
female influences, and gifted with eyes capable of convincing him
that Nina Balatka was by far the prettiest woman whom he ever saw. But,
in connection with such calf-like propensities, Ziska was endowed with
something of his mother's bitterness and of his father's persistency;
and the old Zamenoys did not fear but that the fortunes of the family
would prosper in the hands of their son. And when it was known to
Madame Zamenoy and to her husband Karil that Ziska had set his heart
upon having his cousin, they had expressed no displeasure at the
prospect, poor as the Balatkas were. "There is no knowing how it may
go about the houses in the Kleinseite," Karil Zamenoy had said. "Old
Trendellsohn gets the rent and the interest, but he has little or
nothing to show for them--merely a written surrender from Josef,
which is worth nothing." No hindrance, therefore was placed in the
way of Ziska's suit, and Nina might have been already accepted in the
Windberg-gasse had Nina chosen to smile upon Ziska. Now Ziska was told
that the girl he loved was to marry a Jew because she was starving,
and the tidings threw a new light upon him. Why had he not offered
assistance to Nina? It was not surprising that Nina should be so hard
to him--to him who had as yet offered her nothing in her poverty but
a few cold compliments.

"She shall have bread enough, if that is what she wants," said Ziska.

"Bread and kindness," said the old man.

"She shall have kindness too, uncle Josef. I love Nina better than any
Jew in Prague can love her."

"Why should not a Jew love? I believe the man loves her well. Why else
should he wish to make her his wife?"

"And I love her well--and I would make her my wife."

"You want to marry Nina!"

"Yes, uncle Josef. I wish to marry Nina. I will marry her to-morrow--
or, for that matter, to-day--if she will have me."

"You! Ziska Zamenoy!"

"I, Ziska Zamenoy."

"And what would your mother say?"

"Both father and mother will consent. There need be no hindrance if
Nina will agree. I did not know that you were so badly off. I did not
indeed, or I would have come to you myself and seen to it."

Old Balatka did not answer for a while, having turned himself in his
bed to think of the proposition which had been made to him. "Would you
not like to have me for a son-in-law better than a Jew, uncle Josef?"
said Ziska, pleading for himself as best he knew how to plead.

"Have you ever spoken to Nina?" said the old man.

"Well, no; not exactly to say what I have said to you. When one loves a
girl as I love her, somehow--I don't know how--But I am ready to do so
at once.

"Ah, Ziska, if you had done it sooner!"

"But is it too late? You say she has taken up with this man because you
are both so poor. She cannot like a Jew best."

"But she is true--so true!"

"If you mean about her promise to Trendellsohn, Father Jerome would
tell her in a minute that she should not keep such a promise to a Jew."

"She would not mind Father Jerome."

"And what does she mind? Will she not mind you?"

"Me; yes--she will mind me, to give me my food."

"Will she not obey you?"

"How am I to bid her obey me? But I will try, Ziska."

"You would not wish her to marry a Jew?"

"No, Ziska; certainly I should not wish it."

"And you will give me your consent?"

"Yes, if it be any good to you."

"It will be good if you will be round with her, telling her that she
must not do such a thing as this. Love a Jew! It is impossible. As
you have been so very poor, she may be forgiven for having thought of
it. Tell her that, uncle Josef; and whatever you do, be firm with her."

"There she is in the next room," said the father, who had heard his
daughter's entrance. Ziska's face had assumed something of a defiant
look while he was recommending firmness to the old man; but now that
the girl of whom he had spoken was so near at hand, there returned to
his brow the young calf-like expression with which Lotta Luxa was so
well acquainted. "There she is, and you will speak to her yourself
now," said Balatka.

Ziska got up to go, but as he did so he fumbled in his pocket and
brought forth a little bundle of bank-notes. A bundle of bank-notes in
Prague may be not little, and yet represent very little money. When
bank-notes are passed for two-pence and become thick with use, a man
may have a great mass of paper currency in his pocket without being
rich. On this occasion, however, Ziska tendered to his uncle no two-
penny notes. There was a note for five florins, and two or three for
two florins, and perhaps half-a-dozen for a florin each, so that the
total amount offered was sufficient to be of real importance to one
so poor as Josef Balatka.

"This will help you awhile," said Ziska, "and if Nina will come round
and be a good girl, neither you nor she shall want anything; and she
need not be afraid of mother, if she will only do as I say." Balatka
had put out his hand and had taken the money, when the bedroom door was
opened, and Nina came in.

"What, Ziska," said she, "are you here?"

"Why not? why should I not see my uncle?"

"It is very good of you, certainly; only, as you never came before--"

"I mean it for kindness, now I have come, at any rate," said Ziska.

"Then I will take it for kindness," said Nina.

"Why should there be quarrelling among relatives?" said the old man
from among the bed-clothes.

"Why, indeed?" said Ziska.

"Why, indeed," said Nina, "--if it could be helped?"

She knew that the outward serenity of the words spoken was too good to
be a fair representation of thoughts below in the mind of any of them.
It could not be that Ziska had come there to express even his own
consent to her marriage with Anton Trendellsohn; and without such
consent there must of necessity be a continuation of quarrelling. "Have
you been speaking to father, Ziska, about those papers?" Nina was
determined that there should be no glozing of matters, no soft words
used effectually to stop her in her projected course. So she rushed at
once at the subject which she thought most important in Ziska's
presence.

"What papers?" said Ziska.

"The papers which belong to Anton Trendellsohn about this house and the
others. They are his, and you would not wish to keep things which
belong to another, even though he should be a--Jew."

Then it occurred to Ziska that Trendellsohn might be willing to give
up Nina if he got the papers, and that Nina might be willing to be
free from the Jew by the same arrangement. It could not be that such a
girl as Nina Balatka should prefer the love of a Jew to the love of a
Christian. So at least Ziska argued in his own mind. "I do not want to
keep anything that belongs to anybody," said Ziska. "If the papers are
with us, I am willing that they should be given up--that is, if it be
right that they should be given up."

"It is right," said Nina.

"I believe the Trendellsohns should have them--either father or son,"
said old Balatka.

"Of course they should have them," said Nina; "either father or son--it
makes no matter which."

"I will try and see to it," said Ziska.

"Pray do," said Nina; "it will be only just; and one would not wish
to rob even a Jew, I suppose." Ziska understood nothing of what was
intended by the tone of her voice, and began to think that there might
really be ground for hope.

"Nina," he said, "your father is not quite well. I want you to speak to
me in the next room."

"Certainly, Ziska, if you wish it. Father, I will come again to you
soon. Souchey is making your soup, and I will bring it to you when it
is ready." Then she led the way into the sitting-room, and as Ziska
came through, she carefully shut the door. The walls dividing the rooms
were very thick, and the door stood in a deep recess, so that no sound
could be heard from one room to another. Nina did not wish that her
father should hear what might now pass between herself and her cousin,
and therefore she was careful to shut the door close.

"Ziska," said she, as soon as they were together, "I am very glad that
you have come here. My aunt is so angry with me that I cannot speak
with her, and uncle Karil only snubs me if I say a word to him about
business. He would snub me, no doubt, worse than ever now; and yet who
is there here to speak of such matters if I may not do so? You see how
it is with father."

"He is not able to do much, I suppose."

"He is able to do nothing, and there is nothing for him to do--nothing
that can be of any use. But of course he should see that those who have
been good to him are not--are not injured because of their kindness."

"You mean those Jews--the Trendellsohns."

"Yes, those Jews the Trendellsohns! You would not rob a man because he
is a Jew," said she, repeating the old words.

"They know how to take care of themselves, Nina."

"Very likely."

"They have managed to get all your father's property between them."

"I don't know how that is. Father says that the business which uncle
and you have was once his, and that he made it. In these matters the
weakest always goes to the wall. Father has no son to help him, as
uncle Karil has--and old Trendellsohn."

"You may help him better than any son."

"I will help him if I can. Will you and uncle give up those papers
which you have kept since father left them with uncle Karil, just that
they might be safe?"

This question Ziska would not answer at once. The matter was one on
which he wished to negotiate, and he was driven to the necessity of
considering what might be the best line for his diplomacy. "I am sure,
Ziska," continued Nina, "you will understand why I ask this. Father is
too weak to make the demand, and uncle would listen to nothing that
Anton Trendellsohn would say to him."

"They say that you have betrothed yourself to this Jew, Nina."

"It is true. But that has nothing to do with it."

"He is very anxious to have the deeds?"

"Of course he is anxious. Father is old and poorly; and what would he
do if father were to die?"

"Nina, he shall have them--if he will give you up."

Nina turned away from her cousin and looked out from the window into
the little court. Ziska could not see her face; but had he done so he
would not have been able to read the smile of triumph with which for a
moment or two it became brilliant. No; Anton would make no such bargain
as that! Anton loved her better than any title-deeds. Had he not told
her that she was his sun--the sun that gave to him light and heat? "If
they are his own, why should he be asked to make any such bargain?"
said Nina.

"Nina," said Ziska, throwing all his passion into his voice, as he best
knew how, "it cannot be that you should love this man."

"Why not love him?"

"A Jew!"

"Yes--a Jew! I do love him."

"Nina!"

"What have you to say, Ziska? Whatever you say, do not abuse him. It is
my affair, not yours. You may think what you like of me for taking such
a husband, but remember that he is to be my husband."

"Nina, let me be your husband."

"No, Ziska; that cannot be."

"I love you. I love you fifty times better than he can do. Is not a
Christian's love better than a Jew's?"

"Because I do not love you. Can there be any other reason in such a
matter? I do not love you. I do not care if I never see you. But him I
love with all my heart. To see him is the only delight of my life. To
sit beside him, with his hand in mine, and my head on his shoulder, is
heaven to me. To obey him is my duty; to serve him is my pleasure. To
be loved by him is the only good thing which God has given me on earth.
Now, Ziska, you will know why I cannot be your wife." Still she stood
before him, and still she looked up into his face, keeping her gaze
upon him even after her words were finished.

"Accursed Jew!" said Ziska.

"That is right, Ziska; curse him; it is so easy."

"And you too will be cursed--here and hereafter. If you marry a Jew you
will be accursed to all eternity."

"That, too, is very easy to say."

"It is not I who say it. The priest will tell you the same."

"Let him tell me so; it is his business, but it is not yours. You say
it because you cannot have what you want yourself; that is all. When
shall I call in the Ross Markt for the papers?" In the Ross Markt was
the house of business of Karil Zamenoy, and there, as Nina well knew,
were kept the documents which she was so anxious to obtain. But the
demand at this moment was made simply with the object of vexing Ziska,
and urging him on to further anger.

"Unless you will give up Anton Trendellsohn, you had better not come to
the Ross Markt."

"I will never give him up."

"We will see. Perhaps he will give you up after a while. It will be a
fine thing to be jilted by a Jew."

"The Jew, at any rate, shall not be jilted by the Christian. And now,
if you please, I will ask you to go. I do not choose to be insulted in
father's house. It is his house still."

"Nina, I will give you one more chance."

"You can give me no chance that will do you or me any good. If you will
go, that is all I want of you now."

For a moment or two Ziska stood in doubt as to what he would next do
or say. Then he took up his hat and went away without another word. On
that same evening some one rang the bell at the door of the house in
the Windberg-gasse in a most humble manner--with that weak, hesitating
hand which, by the tone which it produces, seems to insinuate that no
one need hurry to answer such an appeal, and that the answer, when
made, may be made by the lowest personage in the house. In this
instance, however, Lotta Luxa did answer the bell, and not the stout
Bohemian girl who acted in the household of Madame Zamenoy as assistant
and fag to Lotta. And Lotta found Nina at the door, enveloped in her
cloak. "Lotta," she said, "will you kindly give this to my cousin
Ziska?" Then, not waiting for a word, she started away so quickly that
Lotta had not a chance of speaking to her, no power of uttering an
audible word of abuse. When Ziska opened the parcel thus brought to
him, he found it to contain all the notes which he had given to Josef
Balatka.




CHAPTER IV


When Nina returned to her father after Ziska's departure, a very few
words made everything clear between them. "I would not have him if
there was not another man in the world," Nina had said. "He thinks that
it is only Anton Trendellsohn that prevents it, but he knows nothing
about what a girl feels. He thinks that because we are poor I am to be
bought, this way or that way, by a little money. Is that a man, father,
that any girl can love?" Then the father had confessed his receipt of
the bank-notes from Ziska, and we already know to what result that
confession had led.

Till she had delivered her packet into the hands of Lotta Luxa, she
maintained her spirits by the excitement of the thing she was doing.
Though she should die in the streets of hunger, she would take no money
from Ziska Zamenoy. But the question now was not only of her wants, but
of her father's. That she, for herself, would be justified in returning
Ziska's money there could be no doubt; but was she equally justified in
giving back money that had been given to her father? As she walked to
the Windberg-gasse, still holding the parcel of notes in her hand, she
had no such qualms of conscience; but as she returned, when it was
altogether too late for repentance, she made pictures to herself of
terrible scenes in which her father suffered all the pangs of want,
because she had compelled him to part with this money. If she were to
say one word to Anton Trendellsohn, all her trouble on that head would
be over. Anton Trendellsohn would at once give her enough to satisfy
their immediate wants. In a month or two, when she would be Anton's
wife, she would not be ashamed to take everything from his hand; and
why should she be ashamed now to take something from him to whom she
was prepared to give everything? But she was ashamed to do so. She felt
that she could not go to him and ask him for bread. One other resource
she had. There remained to her of her mother's property a necklace,
which was all that was left to her from her mother. And when this
had been given to her at her mother's death, she had been specially
enjoined not to part with it. Her father then had been too deeply
plunged in grief to say any words on such a subject, and the gift had
been put into her hands by her aunt Sophie. Even aunt Sophie had been
softened at that moment, and had shown some tenderness to the orphan
child. "You are to keep it always for her sake," aunt Sophie had said;
and Nina had hitherto kept the trinket, when all other things were
gone, in remembrance of her mother. She had hitherto reconciled herself
to keeping her little treasure, when all other things were going, by
the sacredness of the deposit; and had told herself that even for her
father's sake she must not part with the gift which had come to her
from her mother. But now she comforted herself by the reflection that
the necklace would produce for her enough to repay her father that
present from Ziska which she had taken from him. Her father had pleaded
sorely to be allowed to keep the notes. In her emotion at the moment
she had been imperative with him, and her resolution had prevailed. But
she thought of his entreaties as she returned home, and of his poverty
and wants, and she determined that the necklace should go. It would
produce for her at any rate as much as Ziska had given. She wished that
she had brought it with her, as she passed the open door of a certain
pawnbroker, which she had entered often during the last six months, and
whither she intended to take her treasure, so that she might comfort
her father on her return with the sight of the money. But she had it
not, and she went home empty-handed. "And now, Nina, I suppose we may
starve," said her father, whom she found sitting close to the stove in
the kitchen, while Souchey was kneeling before it, putting in at the
little open door morsels of fuel which were lamentably insufficient for
the poor man's purpose of raising a fire. The weather, indeed, was as
yet warm--so warm that in the middle of the day the heat was matter of
complaint to Josef Balatka; but in the evening he would become chill;
and as there existed some small necessity for cooking, he would beg
that he might thus enjoy the warmth of the kitchen.

"Yes, we shall starve now," said Souchey, complacently. "There is not
much doubt about our starving."

"Souchey, I wonder you should speak like that before father," said
Nina.

"And why shouldn't he speak?" said Balatka. "I think he has as much
right as any one."

"He has no right to make things worse than they are."

"I don't know how I could do that, Nina," said the servant. "What made
you take that money back to your aunt?"

"I didn't take it back to my aunt."

"Well, to any of the family then? I suppose it came from your aunt?"

"It came from my cousin Ziska, and I thought it better to give it back.
Souchey, do not you come in between father and me. There are troubles
enough; do not you make them worse."

"If I had been here you should never have taken it back again," said
Souchey, obstinately.

"Father," said Nina, appealing to the old man, "how could I have kept
it? You knew why it was given."

"Who is to help us if we may not take it from them?"

"To-morrow," said Nina, "I can get as much as he brought. And I will,
and you shall see it."

"Who will give it you, Nina?"

"Never mind, father, I will have it."

"She will beg it from her Jew lover," said Souchey.

"Souchey," said she, with her eyes flashing fire at him, "if you cannot
treat your master's daughter better than that, you may as well go."

"Is it not true?" demanded Souchey.

"No, it is not true; it is false. I have never taken money from Anton;
nor shall I do so till we are married."

"And that will be never," said Souchey. "It is as well to speak out at
once. The priest will not let it be done."

"All the priests in Prague cannot hinder it," said Nina.

"That is true," said Balatka.

"We shall see," said Souchey. "And in the mean time what is the good
of fighting with the Zamenoys? They are your only friends, Nina, and
therefore you take delight in quarrelling with them. When people have
money, they should be allowed to have a little pride." Nina said
nothing further on the occasion, though Souchey and her father went
on grumbling for an hour. She discovered, however, from various words
that her father allowed to fall from him, that his opposition to her
marriage had nearly faded away. It seemed to be his opinion that if she
were to marry the Jew, the sooner she did it the better. Now, Nina was
determined that she would marry the Jew, though heaven and earth should
meet in consequence. She would marry him if he would marry her. They
had told her that the Jew would jilt her. She did not put much faith in
the threat; but even that was more probable than that she should jilt
him.

On the following morning Souchey, in return, as it were, for his
cruelty to his young mistress on the preceding day, produced some small
store of coin which he declared to be the result of a further sale of
the last relics of his master's property; and Nina's journey with the
necklace to the pawnbroker was again postponed. That day and the next
were passed in the old house without anything to make them memorable
except their wearisome misery, and then Nina again went out to visit
the Jews' quarter. She told herself that she was taken there by the
duties of her position; but in truth she could hardly bear her life
without the comfort of seeing the only person who would speak kindly
to her. She was engaged to marry this man, but she did not know when
she was to be married. She would ask no question of her lover on that
matter; but she could tell him--and she felt herself bound to tell him
--what was really her own position, and also all that she knew of his
affairs. He had given her to understand that he could not marry her
till he had obtained possession of certain documents which he believed
to be in the possession of her uncle. And for these documents she, with
his permission, had made application. She had at any rate discovered
that they certainly were at the office in the Ross Markt. So much she
had learned from Ziska; and so much, at any rate, she was bound to make
known to her lover. And, moreover, since she had seen him she had told
all her relatives of her engagement. They all knew now that she loved
the Jew, and that she had resolved to marry him; and of this also it
was her duty to give him tidings. The result of her communication to
her father and her relatives in the Windberg-gasse had been by no means
so terrible as she had anticipated. The heavens and the earth had not
as yet shown any symptoms of coming together. Her aunt, indeed, had
been very angry; and Lotta Luxa and Souchey had told her that such a
marriage would not be allowed. Ziska, too, had said some sharp words;
and her father, for the first day or two, had expostulated. But the
threats had been weak threats, and she did not find herself to be
annihilated--indeed, hardly to be oppressed--by the scolding of any
of them. What the priest might say she had not yet experienced; but
opposition from other quarters had not as yet come upon her in any
form that was not endurable. Her aunt had intended to consume her with
wrath, but Nina had not found herself to be consumed. All this it was
necessary that she should tell to Anton Trendellsohn. It was grievous
to her that it should be always her lot to go to her lover, and that he
should never--almost never--be able to seek her. It would in truth be
never now, unless she could induce her father to receive Anton openly
as his acknowledged future son-in-law; and she could hardly hope that
her father would yield so far as that. Other girls, she knew, stayed
till their lovers came to them, or met them abroad in public places--at
the gardens and music-halls, or perhaps at church; but no such joys as
these were within reach of Nina. The public gardens, indeed, were open
to her and to Anton Trendellsohn as they were to others; but she knew
that she would not dare to be seen in public with her Jew lover till
the thing was done and she and the Jew had become man and wife. On this
occasion, before she left her home, she was careful to tell her father
where she was going. "Have you any message to the Trendellsohns?" she
asked.

"So you are going there again?" her father said.

"Yes, I must see them. I told you that I had a commission from them to
the Zamenoys, which I have performed, and I must let them know what I
did. Besides, father, if this man is to be my husband, is it not well
that I should see him?" Old Balatka groaned, but said nothing further,
and Nina went forth to the Jews' quarter.

On this occasion she found Trendellsohn the elder standing at the door
of his own house.

"You want to see Anton," said the Jew. Anton is out. He is away
somewhere in the city--on business."

"I shall be glad to see you, father, if you can spare me a minute."

"Certainly, my child--an hour if it will serve you. Hours are not
scarce with me now, as they used to be when I was Anton's age, and as
they are with him now. Hours, and minutes too, are very scarce with
Anton in these days. Then he led the way up the dark stairs to the
sitting-room, and Nina followed him. Nina and the elder Trendellsohn
had always hitherto been friends. Before her engagement with his son
they had been affectionate friends, and since that had been made known
to him there had been no quarrel between them. But the old man had
hardly approved of his son's purpose, thinking that a Jew should look
for the wife of his bosom among his own people, and thinking also,
perhaps, that one who had so much of worldly wealth to offer as his
son should receive something also of the same in his marriage. Old
Trendellsohn had never uttered a word of complaint to Nina--had said
nothing to make her suppose that she was not welcome to the house; but
he had never spoken to her with happy, joy-giving words, as the future
bride of his son. He still called her his daughter, as he had done
before; but he did it only in his old fashion, using the affectionate
familiarity of an old friend to a young maiden. He was a small, aged
man, very thin and meagre in aspect--so meagre as to conceal in part,
by the general tenuity of his aspect, the shortness of his stature.
He was not even so tall as Nina, as Nina had discovered, much to her
surprise. His hair was grizzled, rather than grey, and the beard on his
thin, wiry, wizened face was always close shorn. He was scrupulously
clean in his person, and seemed, even at his age, to take a pride in
the purity and fineness of his linen. He was much older than Nina's
father--more than ten years older, as he would sometimes boast; but he
was still strong and active, while Nina's father was worn out with age.
Old Trendellsohn was eighty, and yet he would be seen trudging about
through the streets of Prague, intent upon his business of money-making;
and it was said that his son Anton was not even as yet actually in
partnership with him, or fully trusted by him in all his plans.

"Father," Nina said, "I am glad that Anton is out, as now I can speak a
word to you."

"My dear, you shall speak fifty words."

"That is very good of you. Of course I know that the house we live in
does in truth belong to you and Anton."

"Yes, it belongs to me," said the Jew.

"And we can pay no rent for it."

"Is it of that you have come to speak, Nina? If so, do not trouble
yourself. For certain reasons, which Anton can explain, I am willing
that your father should live there without rent."

Nina blushed as she found herself compelled to thank the Jew for his
charity. "I know how kind you have been to father," she said.

"Nay, my daughter, there has been no great kindness in it. Your father
has been unfortunate, and, Jew as I am, I would not turn him into the
street. Do not trouble yourself to think of it."

"But it was not altogether about that, father. Anton spoke to me the
other day about some deeds which should belong to you."

"They do belong to me," said Trendellsohn.

"But you have them not in your own keeping."

"No, we have not. It is, I believe, the creed of a Christian that
he may deal dishonestly with a Jew, though the Jew who shall deal
dishonestly with a Christian is to be hanged. It is strange what
latitude men will give themselves under the cloak of their religion!
But why has Anton spoken to you of this? I did not bid him."

"He sent me with a message to my aunt Sophie."

"He was wrong; he was very foolish; he should have gone himself."

"But, father, I have found out that the papers you want are certainly
in my uncle's keeping in the Ross Markt."

"Of course they are, my dear. Anton might have known that without
employing you."

So far Nina had performed but a small part of the task which she had
before her. She found it easier to talk to the old man about the title-
deeds of the house in the Kleinseite than she did to tell him of her
own affairs. But the thing was to be done, though the doing of it
was difficult; and, after a pause, she persevered. "And I told aunt
Sophie," she said, with her eyes turned upon the ground, "of my
engagement with Anton."

"You did?"

"Yes; and I told father."

"And what did your father say?"

"Father did not say much. He is poorly and weak."

"Yes, yes; not strong enough to fight against the abomination of a Jew
son-in-law. And what did your aunt say? She is strong enough to fight
anybody."

"She was very angry."

"I suppose so, I suppose so. Well, she is right. As the world goes in
Prague, my child, you will degrade yourself by marrying a Jew."

"I want nothing prouder than to be Anton's wife," said Nina.

"And to speak sooth," said the old man, "the Jew will degrade himself
fully as much by marrying you."

"Father, I would not have that. If I thought that my love would injure
him, I would leave him."

"He must judge for himself," said Trendellsohn, relenting somewhat.

"He must judge for himself and for me too," said Nina.

"He will be able, at any rate, to keep a house over your head."

"It is not for that," said Nina, thinking of her cousin Ziska's offer.
She need not want for a house and money if she were willing to sell
herself for such things as them.

"Anton will be rich, Nina, and you are very poor."

"Can I help that, father? Such as I am, I am his. If all Prague were
mine I would give it to him."

The old man shook his head. "A Christian thinks that it is too much
honour for a Jew to marry a Christian, though he be rich, and she have
not a ducat for her dower."

"Father, your words are cruel. Do you believe I would give Anton my
hand if I did not love him? I do not know much of his wealth; but,
father, I might be the promised wife of a Christian to-morrow, who is,
perhaps, as rich as he--if that were anything."

"And who is that other lover, Nina?"

"It matters not. He can be nothing to me--nothing in that way. I love
Anton Trendellsohn, and I could not be the wife of any other but him."

"I wish it were otherwise. I tell you so plainly to your face. I wish
it were otherwise. Jews and Christians have married in Prague, I know,
but good has never come of it. Anton should find a wife among his own
people; and you--it would be better for you to take that other offer of
which you spoke."

"It is too late, father."

"No, Nina, it is not too late. If Anton would be wise, it is not too
late."

"Anton can do as he pleases. It is too late for me. If Anton thinks it
well to change his mind, I shall not reproach him. You can tell him so,
father--from me."

"He knows my mind already, Nina. I will tell him, however, what you say
of your own friends. They have heard of your engagement, and are angry
with you, of course."

"Aunt Sophie and her people are angry."

"Of course they will oppose it. They will set their priests at you, and
frighten you almost to death. They will drive the life out of your
young heart with their curses. You do not know what sorrows are before
you."

"I can bear all that. There is only one sorrow that I fear. If Anton is
true to me, I will not mind all the rest."

The old man's heart was softened towards her. He could not bring
himself to say a word to her of direct encouragement, but he kissed her
before she went, telling her that she was a good girl, and bidding her
have no care as to the house in the Kleinseite. As long as he lived,
and her father, her father should not be disturbed. And as for deeds,
he declared, with something of a grim smile on his old visage, that
though a Jew had always a hard fight to get his own from a Christian,
the hard fighting did generally prevail at last. "We shall get them,
Nina, when they have put us to such trouble and expense as their
laws may be able to devise. Anton knows that as well as I do."

At the door of the house Nina found the old man's grand-daughter
waiting for her. Ruth Jacobi was the girl's name, and she was the
orphaned child of a daughter of old Trendellsohn. Father and mother
were both dead; and of her father, who had been dead long, Ruth had
no memory. But she still wore some remains of the black garments which
had been given to her at her mother's funeral; and she still grieved
bitterly for her mother, having no woman with her in that gloomy house,
and no other child to comfort her. Her grandfather and her uncle were
kind to her--kind after their own gloomy fashion; but it was a sad
house for a young girl, and Ruth, though she knew nothing of any better
abode, found the days to be very long, and the months to be very
wearisome.

"What has he been saying to you, Nina?" the girl asked, taking hold of
her friend's dress, to prevent her escape into the street. "You need
not be in a hurry for a minute. He will not come down."

"I am not afraid of him. Ruth."

"I am, then. But perhaps he is not cross to you."

"Why should he be cross to me?"

"I know why, Nina, but I will not say. Uncle Anton has been out all the
day, and was not home to dinner. It is much worse when he is away."

"Is Anton ever cross to you, Ruth?"

"Indeed he is--sometimes. He scolds much more than grandfather. But he
is younger, you know."

"Yes; he is younger, certainly."

"Not but what he is very old, too; much too old for you, Nina. When I
have a lover I will never have an old man."

"But Anton is not old."

"Not like grandfather, of course. But I should like a lover who would
laugh and be gay. Uncle Anton is never gay. My lover shall be only two
years older than myself. Uncle Anton must be twenty years older than
you, Nina."

"Not more than ten--or twelve at the most."

"He is too old to laugh and dance."

"Not at all, dear; but he thinks of other things."

"I should like a lover to think of the things that I think about. It is
all very well being steady when you have got babies of your own; but
that should be after ever so long. I should like to keep my lover as a
lover for two years. And all that time he should like to dance with me,
and to hear music, and to go about just where I would like to go."

"And what then, Ruth?"

"Then? Why, then I suppose I should marry him, and become stupid like
the rest. But I should have the two years to look back at and to
remember. Do you think, Nina, that you will ever come and live here
when you are married?"

"I do not know that I shall ever be married, Ruth."

"But you mean to marry uncle Anton?"

"I cannot say. It may be so."

"But you love him, Nina?"

"Yes, I love him. I love him with all my heart. I love him better than
all the world besides. Ruth, you cannot tell how I love him. I would
lie down and die if he were to bid me."

"He will never bid you do that."

"You think that he is old, and dull, and silent, and cross. But when he
will sit still and not say a word to me for an hour together, I think
that I almost love him the best. I only want to be near him, Ruth."

"But you do not like him to be cross."

"Yes, I do. That is, I like him to scold me if he is angry. If he were
angry, and did not scold a little, I should think that he was really
vexed with me."

Then you must be very much in love, Nina?"

"I am in love--very much."

"And does it make you happy?"

"Happy! Happiness depends on so many things. But it makes me feel that
there can only be one real unhappiness; and unless that should come to
me, I shall care for nothing. Good-bye, love. Tell your uncle that I
was here, and say--say to him when no one else can hear, that I went
away with a sad heart because I had not seen him."

It was late in the evening when Anton Trendellsohn came home, but Ruth
remembered the message that had been intrusted to her, and managed to
find a moment in which to deliver it. But her uncle took it amiss, and
scolded her. "You two have been talking nonsense together here half the
day, I suppose."

"I spoke to her for five minutes, uncle; that was all."

"Did you do your lessons with Madame Pulsky?"

"Yes, I did, uncle--of course. You know that."

"I know that it is a pity you should not be better looked after."

"Bring Nina home here and she will look after me."

"Go to bed, miss--at once, do you hear?"

Then Ruth went off to her bed, wondering at Nina's choice, and
declaring to herself, that if ever she took in hand a lover at all, he
should be a lover very different from her uncle, Anton Trendellsohn.




CHAPTER V


The more Madame Zamenoy thought of the terrible tidings which had
reached her, the more determined did she become to prevent the
degradation of the connection with which she was threatened. She
declared to her husband and son that all Prague were already talking
of the horror, forgetting, perhaps, that any knowledge which Prague had
on the subject must have come from herself. She had, indeed, consulted
various persons on the subject in the strictest confidence. We have
already seen that she had told Lotta Luxa and her son, and she had, of
course, complained frequently on the matter to her husband. She had
unbosomed herself to one or two trusty female friends who lived near
her, and she had applied for advice and assistance to two priests.
To Father Jerome she had gone as Nina's confessor, and she had also
applied to the reverend pastor who had the charge of her own little
peccadilloes. The small amount of assistance which her clerical allies
offered to her had surprised her very much. She had, indeed, gone so
far as to declare to Lotta that she was shocked by their indifference.
Her own confessor had simply told her that the matter was in the hands
of Father Jerome, as far as it could be said to belong to the Church at
all; and had satisfied his conscience by advising his dear friend to
use all the resources which female persecution put at her command. "You
will frighten her out of it, Madame Zamenoy, if you go the right way
about it," said the priest. Madame Zamenoy was well inclined to go the
right way about it, if she only knew how. She would make Nina's life a
burden to her if she could only get hold of the girl, and would scruple
at no threats as to this world or the next. But she thought that her
priest ought to have done more for her in such a crisis than simply
giving her such ordinary counsel. Things were not as they used to be,
she knew; but there was even yet something of the prestige of power
left to the Church, and there were convents with locks and bars, and
excommunication might still be made terrible, and public opinion, in
the shape of outside persecution, might, as Madame Zamenoy thought,
have been brought to bear. Nor did she get much more comfort from
Father Jerome. His reliance was placed chiefly on operations to be
carried on with the Jew; and, failing them, on the opposition which
the Jew would experience among his own people. "They think more of it
than we do," said Father Jerome.

"How can that be, Father Jerome?"

"Well, they do. He would lose caste among all his friends by such a
marriage, and would, I think, destroy all his influence among them.
When he perceives this more fully he will be shy enough about it
himself. Besides, what is he to get?"

"He will get nothing."

"He will think better of it. And you might manage something with those
deeds. Of course he should have them sooner or later, but they might be
surrendered as the price of his giving her up. I should say it might be
managed."

All this was not comfortable for Madame Zamenoy; and she fretted and
fumed till her husband had no peace in his house, and Ziska almost
wished that he might hear no more of the Jew and his betrothal. She
could not even commence her system of persecution, as Nina did not go
near her, and had already told Lotta Luxa that she must decline to
discuss the question of her marriage any further. So, at last, Madame
Zamenoy found herself obliged to go over in person to the house in the
Kleinseite. Such visits had for many years been very rare with her.
Since her sister's death and the days in which the Balatkas had been
prosperous, she had preferred that all intercourse between the two
families should take place at her own house; and thus, as Josef Balatka
himself rarely left his own door, she had not seen him for more than
two years. Frequent intercourse, however, had been maintained, and aunt
Sophie knew very well how things were going on in the Kleinseite. Lotta
had no compunctions as to visiting the house, and Lotta's eyes were
very sharp. And Nina had been frequently in the Windberg-gasse, having
hitherto believed it to be her duty to attend to her aunt's behests.
But Nina was no longer obedient, and Madame Zamenoy was compelled to
go herself to her brother-in-law, unless she was disposed to leave the
Balatkas absolutely to their fate. Let her do what she would, Nina must
be her niece, and therefore she would yet make a struggle.

On this occasion Madame Zamenoy walked on foot, thinking that her
carriage and horses might be too conspicuous at the arched gate in
the little square. The carriage did not often make its way over the
bridge into the Kleinseite, being used chiefly among the suburbs of the
New Town, where it was now well known and quickly recognised; and she
did not think that this was a good opportunity for breaking into new
ground with her equipage. She summoned Lotta to attend her, and after
her one o'clock dinner took her umbrella in her hand and went forth.
She was a stout woman, probably not more than forty-five years of age,
but a little heavy, perhaps from too much indulgence with her carriage.
She walked slowly, therefore; and Lotta, who was nimble of foot and
quick in all her ways, thanked her stars that it did not suit her
mistress to walk often through the city.

"How very long the bridge is, Lotta!" said Madame Zamenoy.

"Not longer, ma'am, than it always has been," said Lotta, pertly.

"Of course it is not longer than it always has been; I know that; but
still I say it is very long. Bridges are not so long in other places."

"Not where the rivers are narrower," said Lotta. Madame Zamenoy trudged
on, finding that she could get no comfort from her servant, and at last
reached Balatka's door. Lotta, who was familiar with the place, entered
the house first, and her mistress followed her. Hanging about the broad
passage which communicated with all the rooms on the ground-floor, they
found Souchey, who told them that his master was in bed, and that Nina
was at work by his bedside. He was sent in to announce the grand
arrival, and when Madame Zamenoy entered the sitting-room Nina was
there to meet her.

"Child," she said, "I have come to see your father."

"Father is in bed, but you can come in," said Nina.

"Of course I can go in," said Madame Zamenoy, "but before I go in let
me know this. Has he heard of the disgrace which you purpose to bring
upon him?"

Nina drew herself up and made no answer; whereupon Lotta spoke. "The
old gentleman knows all about it, ma'am, as well as you do."

"Lotta, let the child speak for herself. Nina, have you had the
audacity to tell your father--that which you told me?"

"I have told him everything," said Nina; "will you come into his room?"
Then Madame Zamenoy lifted up the hem of her garment and stepped
proudly into the old man's chamber.

By this time Balatka knew what was about to befall him, and was making
himself ready for the visit. He was well aware that he should be sorely
perplexed as to what he should say in the coming interview. He could
not speak lightly of such an evil as this marriage with a Jew; nor when
his sister-in-law should abuse the Jews could he dare to defend them.
But neither could he bring himself to say evil words of Nina, or to
hear evil words spoken of her without making some attempt to screen
her. It might be best, perhaps, to lie under the bed-clothes and say
nothing, if only his sister-in-law would allow him to lie there. "Am
I to come in with you, aunt Sophie?" said Nina. "Yes child," said the
aunt; "come and hear what I have to say to your father." So Nina
followed her aunt, and Lotta and Souchey were left in the sitting-room.

"And how are you, Souchey?" said Lotta, with unusual kindness of tone.
"I suppose you are not so busy but you can stay with me a few minutes
while she is in there?"

"There is not so much to do that I cannot spare the time," said
Souchey.

"Nothing to do, I suppose, and less to get?" said Lotta.

"That's about it, Lotta; but you wouldn't have had me leave them?"

"A man has to look after himself in the world; but you were always
easy-minded, Souchey."

"I don't know about being so easy-minded. I know what would make me
easy-minded enough."

"You'll have to be servant to a Jew now."

"No; I'll never be that."

"I suppose he gives you something at odd times?"

"Who? Trendellsohn? I never saw the colour of his money yet, and do not
wish to see it."

"But he comes here--sometimes?"

"Never, Lotta. I haven't seen Anton Trendellsohn within the doors these
six months."

"But she goes to him?"

"Yes; she goes to him."

"That's worse--a deal worse."

"I told her how it was when I saw her trotting off so often to the
Jews' quarter. 'You see too much of Anton Trendellsohn,' I said to her;
but it didn't do any good."

"You should have come to us, and have told us."

"What, Madame there? I could never have brought myself to that; she is
so upsetting, Lotta."

"She is upsetting, no doubt; but she don't upset me. Why didn't you
tell me, Souchey?"

"Well, I thought that if I said a word to her, perhaps that would be
enough. Who could believe that she would throw herself at once into a
Jew's arms--such a fellow as Anton Trendellsohn, too, old enough to be
her father, and she the bonniest girl in all Prague?"

"Handsome is that handsome does, Souchey."

"I say she's the sweetest girl in all Prague; and more's the pity she
should have taken such a fancy as this."

"She mustn't marry him, of course, Souchey."

"Not if it can be helped, Lotta."

"It must be helped. You and I must help it, if no one else can do so."

"That's easy said, Lotta."

"We can do it, if we are minded--that is, if you are minded. Only think
what a thing it would be for her to be the wife of a Jew! Think of her
soul, Souchey!"

Souchey shuddered. He did not like being told of people's souls,
feeling probably that the misfortunes of this world were quite
heavy enough for a poor wight like himself, without any addition in
anticipation of futurity. "Think of her soul, Souchey," repeated Lotta,
who was at all points a good churchwoman.

"It's bad enough any way," said Souchey.

"And there's our Ziska would take her to-morrow in spite of the Jew."

"Would he now?"

"That he would, without anything but what she stands up in. And he'd
behave very handsome to anyone that would help him."

"He'd be the first of his name that ever did, then. I have known the
time when old Balatka there, poor as he is now, would give a florin
when Karil Zamenoy begrudged six kreutzers."

"And what has come of such giving? Josef Balatka is poor, and Karil
Zamenoy bids fair to be as rich as any merchant in Prague. But no
matter about that. Will you give a helping hand? There is nothing I
wouldn't do for you, Souchey, if we could manage this between us."

"Would you now?" And Souchey drew near, as though some closer bargain
might be practicable between them.

"I would indeed; but, Souchey, talking won't do it."

"What will do it?"

Lotta paused a moment, looking round the room carefully, till suddenly
her eyes fell on a certain article which lay on Nina's work-table.
"What am I to do?" said Souchey, anxious to be at work with the
prospect of so great a reward.

"Never mind," said Lotta, whose tone of voice was suddenly changed.
"Never mind it now at least. And, Souchey, I think you'd better
go to your work. We've been gossiping here ever so long."

"Perhaps five minutes; and what does it signify?"

"She'd think it so odd to find us here together in the parlour."

"Not odd at all."

"Just as though we'd been listening to what they'd been saying. Go now,
Souchey--there's a good fellow; and I'll come again the day after to-
morrow and tell you. Go, I say. There are things that I must think of
by myself." And in this way she got Souchey to leave the room.

"Josef," said Madame Zamenoy, as she took her place standing by
Balatka's bedside--"Josef, this is very terrible." Nina also was
standing close by her father's head, with her hand upon her father's
pillow. Balatka groaned, but made no immediate answer.

"It is terrible, horrible, abominable, and damnable," said Madame
Zamenoy, bringing out one epithet after the other with renewed energy.
Balatka groaned again. What could he say in reply to such an address?

"Aunt Sophie," said Nina, "do not speak to father like that. He is
ill."

"Child," said Madame Zamenoy, "I shall speak as I please. I shall speak
as my duty bids me speak. Josef, this that I hear is very terrible. It
is hardly to be believed that any Christian girl should think of
marrying--a Jew."

"What can I do?" said the father. "How can I prevent her?"

"How can you prevent her, Josef? Is she not your daughter? Does she
mean to say, standing there, that she will not obey her father? Tell
me. Nina, will you or will you not obey your father?"

"That is his affair, aunt Sophie; not yours."

"His affair! It is his affair, and my affair, and all our affairs.
Impudent girl!--brazen-faced, impudent, bad girl! Do you not know that
you would bring disgrace upon us all?"

"You are thinking about yourself, aunt Sophie; and I must think for
myself."

"You do not regard your father, then?"

"Yes, I do regard my father. He knows that I regard him. Father, is it
true that I do not regard you?"

"She is a good daughter," said the father.

"A good daughter, and talk of marrying a Jew!" said Madame Zamenoy.
"Has she your permission for such a marriage? Tell me that at once,
Josef, that I may know. Has she your sanction for--for--for this
accursed abomination?" Then there was silence in the room for a few
moments. "You can at any rate answer a plain question, Josef,"
continued Madame Zamenoy. "Has Nina your leave to betroth herself to
the Jew, Trendellsohn?"

"No, I have not got his leave," said Nina.

"I am speaking to your father, miss," said the enraged aunt.

"Yes; you are speaking very roughly to father, and he is ill. Therefore
I answer for him."

"And has he not forbidden you to think of marrying this Jew?"

"No, he has not," said Nina.

"Josef, answer for yourself like a man," said Madame Zamenoy. "Have you
not forbidden this marriage? Do you not forbid it now? Let me at any
rate hear you say that you have forbidden it." But Balatka found
silence to be his easiest course, and answered not at all. "What am I
to think of this?" continued Madame Zamenoy. "It cannot be that you
wish your child to be the wife of a Jew!"

"You are to think, aunt Sophie, that father is ill, and that he cannot
stand against your violence."

"Violence, you wicked girl! It is you that are violent."

"Will you come out into the parlour, aunt?"

"No, I will not come out into the parlour. I will not stir from
this spot till I have told your father all that I think about it.
Ill, indeed! What matters illness when it is a question of eternal
damnation!" Madame Zamenoy put so much stress upon the latter word
that her brother-in-law almost jumped from under the bed-clothes. Nina
raised herself, as she was standing, to her full height, and a smile of
derision came upon her face. "Oh, yes! I daresay you do not mind it,"
said Madame Zamenoy. "I daresay you can laugh now at all the pains of
hell. Castaways such as you are always blind to their own danger; but
your father, I hope, has not fallen so far as to care nothing for his
religion, though he seems to have forgotten what is due to his family."

"I have forgotten nothing," said old Balatka.

"Why then do you not forbid her to do this thing?" demanded Madame
Zamenoy. But the old man had recognised too well the comparative
security of silence to be drawn into argument, and therefore merely hid
himself more completely among the clothes. "Am I to get no answer from
you, Josef?" said Madame Zamenoy. No answer came, and therefore she was
driven to turn again upon Nina.

"Why are you doing this thing, you poor deluded creature? Is it the
man's money that tempts you?"

"It is not the man's money. If money could tempt me, I could have it
elsewhere, as you know."

"It cannot be love for such a man as that. Do you not know that he and
his father between them have robbed your father of everything?"

"I know nothing of the kind."

"They have; and he is now making a fool of you in order that he may get
whatever remains."

"Nothing remains. He will get nothing."

"Nor will you. I do not believe that after all he will ever marry you.
He will not be such a fool."

"Perhaps not, aunt; and in that case you will have your wish."

"But no one can ever speak to you again after such a condition. Do you
think that I or your uncle could have you at our house when all the
world shall know that you have been jilted by a Jew?"

"I will not trouble you by going to your house."

"And is that all the satisfaction I am to have?"

"What do you want me to say?"

I want you to say that you will give this man up, and return to your
duty as a Christian."

"I will never give him up--never. I would sooner die."

"Very well. Then I shall know how to act. You will not be a bit nearer
marrying him; I can promise you that. You are mistaken if you think
that in such a matter as this a girl like you can do just as she
pleases." Then she turned again upon the poor man in bed. "Josef
Balatka, I am ashamed of you. I am indeed--I am ashamed of you."

"Aunt Sophie," said Nina, "now that you are here, you can say what you
please to me; but you might as well spare father."

"I will not spare him. I am ashamed of him--thoroughly ashamed of him.
What can I think of him when he will lie there and not say a word to
save his daughter from the machinations of a filthy Jew?"

"Anton Trendellsohn is not a filthy Jew."

"He is a robber. He has cheated your father out of everything."

"He is no robber. He has cheated no one. I know who has cheated father,
if you come to that."

"Whom do you mean, hussey?"

"I shall not answer you; but you need not tell me any more about the
Jews cheating us. Christians can cheat as well as Jews, and can rob
from their own flesh and blood too. I do not care for your threats,
aunt Sophie, nor for your frowns. I did care for them, but you have
said that which makes it impossible that I should regard them any
further."

"And this is what I get for all my trouble--for all your uncle's
generosity!" Again Nina smiled. "But I suppose the Jew gives more than
we have given, and therefore is preferred. You poor creature--poor
wretched creature!"

During all this time Balatka remained silent; and at last, after very
much more scolding, in which Madame Zamenoy urged again and again the
terrible threat of eternal punishment, she prepared herself for going.
"Lotta Luxa," she said, "--where is Lotta Luxa?" She opened the door,
and found Lotta Luxa seated demurely by the window. "Lotta," she said,
"I shall go now, and shall never come back to this unfortunate house.
You hear what I say; I shall never return here. As she makes her bed,
so must she lie on it. It is her own doing, and no one can save her.
For my part, I think that the Jew has bewitched her."

"Like enough," said Lotta.

"When once we stray from the Holy Church, there is no knowing what
terrible evils may come upon us," said Madame Zamenoy.

"No indeed, ma'am," said Lotta Luxa.

"But I have done all in my power."

"That you have, ma'am."

"I feel quite sure, Lotta, that the Jew will never marry her. Why
should a man like that, who loves money better than his soul, marry a
girl who has not a kreutzer to bless herself?"

"Why indeed, ma'am! It's my mind that he don't think of marrying her."

"And, Jew as he is, he cares for his religion. He will not bring
trouble upon everybody belonging to him by taking a Christian for his
wife."

"That he will not, ma'am, you may be sure," said Lotta.

"And where will she be then? Only fancy, Lotta--to have been jilted by
a Jew!" Then Madame Zamenoy, without addressing herself directly to
Nina, walked out of the room; but as she did so she paused in the
doorway, and again spoke to Lotta. "To be jilted by a Jew, Lotta! Think
of that."

"I should drown myself," said Lotta Luxa. And then they both were gone.

The idea that the Jew might jilt her disturbed Nina more than all her
aunt's anger, or than any threats as to the penalties she might have
to encounter in the next world. She felt a certain delight, an inward
satisfaction, in giving up everything for her Jew lover--a satisfaction
which was the more intense, the more absolute was the rejection and the
more crushing the scorn which she encountered on his behalf from her
own people. But to encounter this rejection and scorn, and then to be
thrown over by the Jew, was more than she could endure. And would it,
could it, be so? She sat down to think of it; and as she thought of it
terrible fears came upon her. Old Trendellsohn had told her that such a
marriage on his son's part would bring him into great trouble; and old
Trendellsohn was not harsh with her as her aunt was harsh. The old
man, in his own communications with her, had always been kind and
forbearing. And then Anton himself was severe to her. Though he would
now and again say some dear, well-to-be-remembered happy word, as when
he told her that she was his sun, and that he looked to her for warmth
and light, such soft speakings were few with him and far between.
And then he never mentioned any time as the probable date of their
marriage. If only a time could be fixed, let it be ever so distant,
Nina thought that she could still endure all the cutting taunts of her
enemies. But what would she do if Anton were to announce to her some
day that he found himself, as a Jew, unable to marry with her as a
Christian? In such a case she thought that she must drown herself, as
Lotta had suggested to her.

As she sat thinking of this, her eyes suddenly fell upon the one key
which she herself possessed, and which, with a woman's acuteness of
memory, she perceived to have been moved from the spot on which she had
left it. It was the key of the little desk which stood in the corner of
the parlour, and in which, on the top of all the papers, was deposited
the necklace with which she intended to relieve the immediate
necessities of their household. She at once remembered that Lotta
had been left for a long time in the room, and with anxious, quick
suspicion she went to the desk. But her suspicions had wronged Lotta.
There, lying on a bundle of letters, was the necklace, in the exact
position in which she had left it. She kissed the trinket, which had
come to her from her mother, replaced it carefully, and put the key
into her pocket.

What should she do next? How should she conduct herself in her present
circumstances? Her heart prompted her to go off at once to Anton
Trendellsohn and tell him everything; but she greatly feared that Anton
would not be glad to see her. She knew that it was not well that a girl
should run after her lover; but yet how was she to live without seeing
him? What other comfort had she? and from whom else could she look for
guidance? She declared to herself at last that she, in her position,
would not be stayed by ordinary feelings of maiden reserve. She would
tell him everything, even to the threat on which her aunt had so much
depended, and would then ask him for his counsel. She would describe
to him, if words from her could describe them, all her difficulties,
and would promise to be guided by him absolutely in everything.
"Everything," she would say to him, "I have given up for you. I am
yours entirely, body and soul. Do with me as you will." If he should
then tell her that he would not have her, that he did not want the
sacrifice, she would go away from him--and drown herself. But she would
not go to him to-day--no, not to-day; not perhaps to-morrow. It was
but a day or two as yet since she had been over at the Trendellsohns'
house, and though on that occasion she had not seen Anton, Anton of
course would know that she had been there. She did not wish him to
think that she was hunting him. She would wait yet two or three days--
till the next Sunday morning perhaps--and then she would go again to
the Jews' quarter. On the Christian Sabbath Anton was always at home,
as on that day business is suspended in Prague both for Christian and
Jew.

Then she went back to her father. He was still lying with his face
turned to the wall, and Nina, thinking that he slept, took up her work
and sat by his side. But he was awake, and watching. "Is she gone?" he
said, before her needle had been plied a dozen times.

"Aunt Sophie? Yes, father, she has gone."

"I hope she will not come again."

"She says that she will never come again."

"What is the use of her coming here? We are lost and are perishing. We
are utterly gone. She will not help us, and why should she disturb us
with her curses?"

"Father, there may be better days for us yet."

"How can there be better days when you are bringing down the Jew upon
us? Better days for yourself, perhaps, if mere eating and drinking will
serve you."

"Oh, father!"

"Have you not ruined everything with your Jew lover? Did you not hear
how I was treated? What could I say to your aunt when she stood there
and reviled us?"

"Father, I was so grateful to you for saying nothing!"

"But I knew that she was right. A Christian should not marry a Jew. She
said it was abominable; and so it is."

"Father, father, do not speak like that! I thought that you had
forgiven me. You said to aunt Sophie that I was a good daughter. Will
you not say the same to me--to me myself?"

"It is not good to love a Jew."

"I do love him, father. How can I help it now? I cannot change my
heart."

"I suppose I shall be dead soon," said old Balatka, "and then it will
not matter. You will become one of them, and I shall be forgotten."

"Father, have I ever forgotten you?" said Nina, throwing herself upon
him on his bed. "Have I not always loved you? Have I not been good to
you? Oh, father, we have been true to each other through it all. Do not
speak to me like that at last."




CHAPTER VI


Anton Trendellsohn had learned from his father that Nina had spoken to
her aunt about the title-deeds of the houses in the Kleinseite, and
that thus, in a roundabout way, a demand had been made for them. "Of
course, they will not give them up," he had said to his father. "Why
should they, unless the law makes them? They have no idea of honour or
honesty to one of us." The elder Jew had then expressed his opinion
that Josef Balatka should be required to make the demand as a matter of
business, to enforce a legal right; but to this Anton had replied that
the old man in the Kleinseite was not in a condition to act efficiently
in the matter himself. It was to him that the money had been advanced,
but to the Zamenoys that it had in truth been paid; and Anton declared
his purpose of going to Karil Zamenoy and himself making his demand.
And then there had been a discussion, almost amounting to a quarrel,
between the two Trendellsohns as to Nina Balatka. Poor Nina need not
have added another to her many causes of suffering by doubting her
lover's truth. Anton Trendellsohn, though not given to speak of his
love with that demonstrative vehemence to which Nina had trusted in her
attempts to make her friends understand that she could not be talked
out of her engagement, was nevertheless sufficiently firm in his
purpose. He was a man very constant in all his purposes, whom none
who knew him would have supposed likely to jeopardise his worldly
interests for the love of a Christian girl, but who was very little
apt to abandon aught to which he had set his hand because the voices
of those around him might be against him. He had thought much of his
position as a Jew before he had spoken of love to the penniless
Christian maiden who frequented his father's house, pleading for her
father in his poverty; but the words when spoken meant much, and Nina
need not have feared that he would forget them. He was a man not much
given to dalliance, not requiring from day to day the soft sweetness of
a woman's presence to keep his love warm; but his love could maintain
its own heat, without any softness or dalliance. Had it not been so,
such a girl as Nina would hardly have surrendered to him her whole
heart as she had done.

"You will fall into trouble about the maiden," the elder Trendellsohn
had said.

"True, father; there will be trouble enough. In what that we do is
there not trouble?"

"A man in the business of his life must encounter labour and grief and
disappointment. He should take to him a wife to give him ease in these
things, not one who will be an increase to his sorrows."

"That which is done is done."

"My son, this thing is not done."

"She has my plighted word, father. Is not that enough?"

"Nina is a good girl. I will say for her that she is very good. I have
wished that you might have brought to my house as your wife the child
of my old friend Baltazar Loth; but if that may not be, I would have
taken Nina willingly by the hand--had she been one of us."

"It may be that God will open her eyes."

"Anton, I would not have her eyes opened by anything so weak as her
love for a man. But I have said that she was good. She will hear
reason; and when she shall know that her marriage among us would bring
trouble on us, she will restrain her wishes. Speak to her, Anton, and
see if it be not so."

"Not for all the wealth which all our people own in Bohemia! Father, to
do so would be to demand, not to ask. If she love me, could she refuse
such a request were I to ask it?"

"I will speak a word to Nina, my son, and the request shall come from
her."

"And if it does, I will never yield to it. For her sake I would not
yield, for I know she loves me. Neither for my own would I yield; for
as truly as I worship God, I love her better than all the world beside.
She is to me my cup of water when I am hot and athirst, my morsel of
bread when I am faint with hunger. Her voice is the only music which I
love. The touch of her hand is so fresh that it cools me when I am in
fever. The kiss of her lips is so sweet and balmy that it cures when
I shake with an ague fit. To think of her when I am out among men
fighting for my own, is such a joy, that now, methinks now, that I have
had it belonging to me, I could no longer fight were I to lose it. No.
father; she shall not be taken from me. I love her, and I will keep
her."

Oh that Nina could have heard him! How would all her sorrows have fled
from her, and left her happy in her poverty! But Anton Trendellsohn,
though he could speak after this manner to his father, could hardly
bring himself to talk of his feelings to the woman who would have given
her eyes, could she for his sake have spared them, to hear him. Now and
again, indeed, he would say a word, and then would frown and become
gloomy, as though angry with himself for such outward womanly
expression of what he felt. As it was, the words fell upon ears which
they delighted not. "Then, my son, you will live to rue the day in
which you first saw her," said the elder Jew. "She will be a bone of
contention in your way that will separate you from all your friends.
You will become neither Jew nor Christian, and will be odious alike to
both. And she will be the same."

"Then, father, we will bear our sorrows together."

"Yes; and what happens when sorrows come from such causes? The man
learns to hate the woman who has caused them, and ill-uses her, and
feels himself to be a Cain upon the earth, condemned by all, but by
none so much as by himself. Do you think that you have strength to bear
the contempt of all those around you?"

Anton waited a moment or two before he answered, and then spoke very
slowly. "If it be necessary to bear so much, I will at least make the
effort. It may be that I shall find the strength."

"Nothing then that your father says to you avails aught?"

"Nothing, father, on that matter. You should have spoken sooner."

"Then you must go your own way. As for me, I must look for another son
to bear the burden of my years." And so they parted.

Anton Trendellsohn understood well the meaning of the old man's threat.
He was quite alive to the fact that his father had expressed his
intention to give his wealth and his standing in trade and the business
of his house to some younger Jew, who would be more true than his own
son to the traditional customs of their tribes. There was Ruth Jacobi,
his granddaughter--the only child of the house--who had already reached
an age at which she might be betrothed; and there was Samuel Loth,
the son of Baltazar Loth, old Trendellsohn's oldest friend. Anton
Trendellsohn did not doubt who might be the adopted child to be taken
to fill his place. It has been already explained that there was no
partnership actually existing between the two Trendellsohns. By degrees
the son had slipt into the father's place, and the business by which
the house had grown rich had for the last five or six years been
managed chiefly by him. But the actual results of the son's industry
and the son's thrift were still in the possession of the father. The
old man might no doubt go far towards ruining his son if he were so
minded.

Dreams of a high ambition had, from very early years, flitted across
the mind of the younger Trendellsohn till they had nearly formed
themselves into a settled purpose. He had heard of Jews in Vienna, in
Paris, and in London, who were as true to their religion as any Jew of
Prague, but who did not live immured in a Jews' quarter, like lepers
separate and alone in some loathed corner of a city otherwise clean.
These men went abroad into the world as men, using the wealth with
which their industry had been blessed, openly as the Christians used
it. And they lived among Christians as one man should live with his
fellow-men--on equal terms, giving and taking, honouring and honoured.
As yet it was not so with the Jews of Prague, who were still bound to
their old narrow streets, to their dark houses, to their mean modes
of living, and who, worst of all, were still subject to the isolated
ignominy of Judaism. In Prague a Jew was still a Pariah. Anton's father
was rich--very rich. Anton hardly knew what was the extent of his
father's wealth, but he did know that it was great. In his father's
time, however, no change could be made. He did not scruple to speak to
the old man of these things; but he spoke of them rather as dreams, or
as distant hopes, than as being the basis of any purpose of his own.
His father would merely say that the old house, looking out upon the
ancient synagogue, must last him his time, and that the changes of
which Anton spoke must be postponed--not till he died--but till such
time as he should feel it right to give up the things of this world.
Anton Trendellsohn, who knew his father well, had resolved that he
would wait patiently for everything till his father should have gone to
his last home, knowing that nothing but death would close the old man's
interest in the work of his life. But he had been content to wait--to
wait, to think, to dream, and only in part to hope. He still communed
with himself daily as to that House of Trendellsohn which might,
perhaps, be heard of in cities greater than Prague, and which might
rival in the grandeur of its wealth those mighty commercial names which
had drowned the old shame of the Jew in the new glory of their great
doings. To be a Jew in London, they had told him, was almost better
than to be a Christian, provided that he was rich, and knew the ways
of trade--was better for such purposes as were his purposes. Anton
Trendellsohn believed that he would be rich, and was sure that he knew
the ways of trade; and therefore he nursed his ambition, and meditated
what his action should be when the days of his freedom should come to
him.

Then Nina Balatka had come across his path. To be a Jew, always a Jew,
in all things a Jew, had been ever a part of his great dream. It was as
impossible to him as it would be to his father to forswear the religion
of his people. To go forth and be great in commerce by deserting his
creed would have been nothing to him. His ambition did not desire
wealth so much as the possession of wealth in Jewish hands, without
those restrictions upon its enjoyment to which Jews under his own eye
had ever been subjected. It would have delighted him to think that, by
means of his work, there should no longer be a Jews' quarter in Prague,
but that all Prague should be ennobled and civilised and made beautiful
by the wealth of Jews. Wealth must be his means, and therefore he was
greedy; but wealth was not his last or only aim, and therefore his
greed did not utterly destroy his heart. Then Nina Balatka had come
across his path, and he was compelled to shape his dreams anew. How
could a Jew among Jews hold up his head as such who had taken to his
bosom a Christian wife?

But again he shaped his dreams aright--so far aright that he could
still build the castles of his imagination to his own liking. Nina
should be his wife. It might be that she would follow the creed of her
husband, and then all would be well. In those far cities to which he
would go, it would hardly in such case be known that she had been born
a Christian; or else he would show the world around him, both Jews and
Christians, how well a Christian and a Jew might live together. To
crush the prejudice which had dealt so hardly with his people--to make
a Jew equal in all things to a Christian--this was his desire; and how
could this better be fulfilled than by his union with a Christian? One
thing at least was fixed with him--one thing was fixed, even though it
should mar his dreams. He had taken the Christian girl to be part of
himself, and nothing should separate them. His father had spoken often
to him of the danger which he would incur by marrying a Christian, but
had never before uttered any word approaching to a personal threat.
Anton had felt himself to be so completely the mainspring of the
business in which they were both engaged--was so perfectly aware that
he was so regarded by all the commercial men of Prague--that he had
hardly regarded the absence of any positive possession in his father's
wealth as detrimental to him. He had been willing that it should be his
father's while his father lived, knowing that any division would be
detrimental to them both. He had never even asked his father for a
partnership, taking everything for granted. Even now he could not quite
believe that his father was in earnest. It could hardly be possible
that the work of his own hands should be taken from him because he had
chosen a bride for himself! But this he felt, that should his father
persevere in the intention which he had expressed, he would be upheld
in it by every Jew of Prague. "Dark, ignorant, and foolish," Anton said
to himself, speaking of those among whom he lived; "it is their pride
to live in disgrace, while all the honours of the world are open to
them if they chose to take them!"

He did not for a moment think of altering his course of action in
consequence of what his father had said to him. Indeed, as regarded the
business of the house, it would stand still altogether were he to alter
it. No successor could take up the work when he should leave it. No
other hand could continue the webs which were of his weaving. So he
went forth, as the errands of the day called him, soon after his
father's last words were spoken, and went through his work as though
his own interest in it were in no danger.

On that evening nothing was said on the subject between him and his
father, and on the next morning he started immediately after breakfast
for the Ross Markt, in order that he might see Karil Zamenoy, as he had
said that he would do. The papers, should he get them, would belong to
his father, and would at once be put into his father's hands. But the
feeling that it might not be for his own personal advantage to place
them there did not deter him. His father was an old man, and old men
were given to threaten. He at least would go on with his duty.

It was about eleven o'clock in the day when he entered the open door of
the office in the Ross Markt, and found Ziska and a young clerk sitting
opposite to each other at their desks. Anton took off his hat and bowed
to Ziska, whom he knew slightly, and asked the young man if his father
were within.

"My father is here," said Ziska, "but I do not know whether he can see
you."

"You will ask him, perhaps," said Trendellsohn.

"Well, he is engaged. There is a lady with him."

"Perhaps he will make an appointment with me, and I will call again. If
he will name an hour, I will come at his own time."

"Cannot you say to me, Herr Trendellsohn, that which you wish to say to
him?"

"Not very well."

"You know that I am in partnership with my father."

"He and you are happy to be so placed together. But if your father can
spare me five minutes, I will take it from him as a favour."

Then, with apparent reluctance, Ziska came down from his seat and went
into the inner room. There he remained some time, while Trendellsohn
was standing, hat in hand, in the outer office. If the changes which
he hoped to effect among his brethren could be made, a Jew in Prague
should, before long, be asked to sit down as readily as a Christian.
But he had not been asked to sit, and he therefore stood holding his
hat in his hand during the ten minutes that Ziska was away. At last
young Zamenoy returned, and, opening the door, signified to the Jew
that his father would see him at once if he would enter. Nothing more
had been said about the lady, and there, when Trendellsohn went into
the room, he found the lady, who was no other than Madame Zamenoy
herself. A little family council had been held, and it had been settled
among them that the Jew should be seen and heard.

"So, sir, you are Anton Trendellsohn," began Madame Zamenoy, as soon as
Ziska was gone--for Ziska had been told to go--and the door was shut.

"Yes, madame; I am Anton Trendellsohn. I had not expected the honour of
seeing you, but I wish to say a few words on business to your husband."

"There he is; you can speak to him."

"Anything that I can do, I shall be very happy," said Karil Zamenoy,
who had risen from his chair to prevent the necessity of having to ask
the Jew to sit down.

"Herr Zamenoy," began the Jew, "you are, I think, aware that my father
has purchased from your friend and brother-in-law, Josef Balatka,
certain houses in the Kleinseite, in one of which the old man still
lives."

"Upon my word, I know nothing about it," said Zamenoy--"nothing, that
is to say, in the way of business;" and the man of business laughed.
"Mind I do not at all deny that you did so--you or your father, or the
two together. Your people are getting into their hands lots of houses
all over the town; but how they do it nobody knows. They are not bought
in fair open market."

"This purchase was made by contract, and the price was paid in full
before the houses were put into our hands."

"They are not in your hands now, as far as I know."

"Not the one, certainly, in which Balatka lives. Motives of
friendship--"

"Friendship!" said Madame Zamenoy, with a sneer.

"And now motives of love," continued Anton, "have induced us to leave
the use of that house with Josef Balatka."

"Love!" said Madame Zamenoy, springing from her chair; love indeed! Do
not talk to me of love for a Jew."

"My dear, my dear!" said her husband, expostulating.

"How dares he come here to talk of his love? It is filthy--it is worse
than filthy--it is profane."

"I came here, madame," continued Anton, "not to talk of my love, but of
certain documents or title-deeds respecting those houses, which should
be at present in my father's custody. I am told that your husband has
them in his safe custody."

"My husband has them not," said Madame Zamenoy.

"Stop, my dear--stop," said the husband.

"Not that he would be bound to give them up to you if he had got them,
or that he would do so; but he has them not."

"In whose hands are they then?"

"That is for you to find out, not for us to tell you."

"Why should not all the world be told, so that the proper owner may
have his own?"

"It is not always so easy to find out who is the proper owner," said
Zamenoy the elder.

"You have seen this contract before, I think, said Trendellsohn,
bringing forth a written paper.

"I will not look at it now at any rate. I have nothing to do with it,
and I will have nothing to do with it. You have heard Madame Zamenoy
declare that the deed which you seek is not here. I cannot say whether
it is here or no. I do not say--as you will be pleased to remember. If
it were here it would be in safe keeping for my brother-in-law, and
only to him could it be given."

"But will you not say whether it is in your hands? You know well that
Josef Balatka is ill, and cannot attend to such matters."

"And who has made him ill, and what has made him ill?" said Madame
Zamenoy. "Ill! of course he is ill. Is it not enough to make any man
ill to be told that his daughter is to marry a Jew?"

"I have not come hither to speak of that," said Trendellsohn.

"But I speak of it; and I tell you this, Anton Trendellsohn--you shall
never marry that girl."

"Be it so; but let me at any rate have that which is my own."

"Will you give her up if it is given to you?"

"It is here then?"

"No; it is not here. But will you abandon this mad thought if I tell
you where it is?"

"No; certainly not."

"What a fool the man is!" said Madame Zamenoy. "He comes to us for what
he calls his property because he wants to marry the girl, and she is
deceiving him all the while. Go to Nina Balatka, Trendellsohn, and she
will tell you who has the document. She will tell you where it is, if
it suits her to do so."

"She has told me, and she knows that it is here."

"She knows nothing of the kind, and she has lied. She has lied in order
that she may rob you. Jew as you are, she will be too many for you. She
will rob you, with all her seeming simplicity."

"I trust her as I do my own soul," said Trendellsohn.

"Very well; I tell you that she, and she only, knows where these
papers are. For aught I know, she has them herself. I believe that she
has them. Ziska," said Madame Zamenoy, calling aloud--"Ziska, come
hither;" and Ziska entered the room. "Ziska, who has the title-deeds
of your uncle's houses in the Kleinseite?" Ziska hesitated a moment
without answering. "You know, if anybody does," said his mother; "tell
this man, since he is so anxious, who has got them."

"I do not know why I should tell him my cousin's secrets."

"Tell him, I say. It is well that he should know."

"Nina has them, as I believe," said Ziska, still hesitating.

"Nina has them!" said Trendellsohn.

"Yes; Nina Balatka," said Madame Zamenoy. "We tell you, to the best of
our knowledge at least. At any rate, they are not here."

"It is impossible that Nina should have them," said Trendellsohn. "How
should she have got them?"

"That is nothing to us," said Madame Zamenoy. "The whole thing is
nothing to us. You have heard all that we can tell you, and you had
better go."

"You have heard more than I would have told you myself," said Ziska,
"had I been left to my opinion."

Trendellsohn stood pausing for a moment, and then he turned to the
elder Zamenoy. "What do you say, sir? Is it true that these papers are
at the house in the Kleinseite?"

"I say nothing," said Karil Zamenoy. "It seems to me that too much has
been said already."

"A great deal too much," said the lady. "I do not know why I should
have allowed myself to be surprised into giving you any information at
all. You wish to do us the heaviest injury that one man can do another,
and I do not know why we should speak to you at all. Now you had better
go."

"Yes; you had better go," said Ziska, holding the door open, and
looking as though he were inclined to threaten. Trendellsohn paused
for a moment on the threshold, fixing his eyes full upon those of his
rival; but Ziska neither spoke nor made any further gesture, and then
the Jew left the house.

"I would have told him nothing," said the elder Zamenoy when they were
left alone.

"My dear, you don't understand; indeed you do not," said his wife. "No
stone should be left unturned to prevent such a horrid marriage as
this. There is nothing I would not say--nothing I would not do."

"But I do not see that you are doing anything."

"Leave this little thing to me, my dear--to me and Ziska. It is
impossible that you should do everything yourself. In such a matter as
this, believe me that a woman is best."

"But I hate anything that is really dishonest."

"There shall be no dishonesty--none in the world. You don't suppose
that I want to get the dirty old tumble-down houses. God forbid! But
you would not give up everything to a Jew! Oh, I hate them! I do hate
them! Anything is fair against a Jew." If such was Madame Zamenoy's
ordinary doctrine, it may well be understood that she would scruple at
using no weapon against a Jew who was meditating so great an injury
against her as this marriage with her niece. After this little
discussion old Zamenoy said no more, and Madame Zamenoy went home to
the Windberg-gasse.

Trendellsohn, as he walked homewards, was lost in amazement. He wholly
disbelieved the statement that the document he desired was in Nina's
hands, but he thought it possible that it might be in the house in
the Kleinseite. It was, after all, on the cards that old Balatka was
deceiving him. The Jew was by nature suspicious, though he was also
generous. He could be noble in his confidence, and at the same time
could become at a moment distrustful. He could give without grudging,
and yet grudge the benefits which came of his giving. Neither he nor
his father had ever positively known in whose custody were the title-
deeds which he was so anxious to get into his own hands. Balatka had
said that they must be with the Zamenoys, but even Balatka had never
spoken as of absolute knowledge. Nina, indeed, had declared positively
that they were in the Ross Markt, saying that Ziska had so stated in
direct terms; but there might be a mistake in this. At any rate he
would interrogate Nina, and if there were need, would not spare the old
man any questions that could lead to the truth. Trendellsohn, as he
thought of the possibility of such treachery on Balatka's part, felt
that, without compunction, he could be very cruel, even to an old man,
under such circumstances as those.




CHAPTER VII


Madame Zamenoy and her son no doubt understood each other's purposes,
and there was another person in the house who understood them--Lotta
Luxa, namely; but Karil Zamenoy had been kept somewhat in the dark.
Touching that piece of parchment as to which so much anxiety had been
expressed, he only knew that he had, at his wife's instigation, given
it into her hand in order that she might use it in some way for putting
an end to the foul betrothal between Nina and the Jew. The elder
Zamenoy no doubt understood that Anton Trendellsohn was to be bought
off by the document; and he was not unwilling to buy him off so
cheaply, knowing as he did that the houses were in truth the Jew's
property; but Madame Zamenoy's scheme was deeper than this. She did
not believe that the Jew was to be bought off at so cheap a price; but
she did believe that it might be possible to create such a feeling in
his mind as would make him abandon Nina out of the workings of his own
heart. Ziska and his mother were equally anxious to save Nina from the
Jew, but not exactly with the same motives. He had received a promise,
both from his father and mother, before anything was known of the Jew's
love, that Nina should be received as a daughter-in-law, if she would
accept his suit; and this promise was still in force. That the girl
whom he loved should love a Jew distressed and disgusted Ziska; but it
did not deter him from his old purpose. It was shocking, very shocking,
that Nina should so disgrace herself; but she was not on that account
less pretty or less charming in her cousin's eyes. Madame Zamenoy,
could she have had her own will, would have rescued Nina from the Jew--
firstly, because Nina was known all over Prague to be her niece--and,
secondly, for the good of Christianity generally; but the girl herself,
when rescued, she would willingly have left to starve in the poverty of
the old house in the Kleinseite, as a punishment for her sin in having
listened to a Jew.

"I would have nothing more to say to her," said the mother to her son.

"Nor I either," said Lotta, who was present. "She has demeaned herself
far too much to be a fit wife for Ziska."

"Hold your tongue, Lotta; what business have you to speak about such a
matter?" said the young man.

"All the same, Ziska, if I were you, I would give her up," said the
mother.

"If you were me, mother, you would not give her up. If every man is to
give up the girl he likes because somebody else interferes with him,
how is anybody to get married at all? It's the way with them all."

"But a Jew, Ziska!"

"So much the more reason for taking her away from him." Then Ziska went
forth on a certain errand, the expediency of which he had discussed
with his mother.

"I never thought he'd be so firm about it, ma'am," said Lotta to her
mistress.

"If we could get Trendellsohn to turn her off, he would not think much
of her afterwards," said the mother. "He wouldn't care to take the
Jew's leavings."

"But he seems to be so obstinate," said Lotta. "Indeed I did not think
there was so much obstinacy in him."

"Of course he is obstinate while he thinks the other man is to have
her," said the mistress; "but all that will be changed when the girl is
alone in the world."

It was a Saturday morning, and Ziska had gone out with a certain fixed
object. Much had been said between him and his mother since Anton
Trendellsohn's visit to the office, and it had been decided that he
should now go and see the Jew in his own home. He should see him and
speak him fair, and make him understand if possible that the whole
question of the property should be settled as he wished it--if he would
only give up his insane purpose of marrying a Christian girl. Ziska
would endeavour also to fill the Jew's mind with suspicion against
Nina. The former scheme was Ziska's own; the second was that in which
Ziska's mother put her chief trust. "If once he can be made to think
that the girl is deceiving him, he will quarrel with her utterly,"
Madame Zamenoy had said.

On Saturday there is but little business done in Prague, because
Saturday is the Sabbath of the Jews. The shops are of course open in
the main streets of the town, but banks and counting-houses are closed,
because the Jews will not do business on that day--so great is the
preponderance of the wealth of Prague in the hands of that people! It
suited Ziska, therefore, to make his visit on a Saturday, both because
he had but little himself to do on that day, and because he would be
almost sure to find Trendellsohn at home. As he made his way across the
bottom of the Kalowrat-strasse and through the centre of the city to
the narrow ways of the Jews' quarter, his heart somewhat misgave him as
to the result of his visit. He knew very well that a Christian was safe
among the Jews from any personal ill-usage; but he knew also that such
a one as he would be known personally to many of them as a Christian
rival, and probably as a Christian enemy in the same city, and he
thought that they would look at him askance. Living in Prague all his
life, he had hardly been above once or twice in the narrow streets
which he was now threading. Strangers who come to Prague visit the
Jews' quarter as a matter of course, and to such strangers the Jews of
Prague are invariably courteous. But the Christians of the city seldom
walk through the heart of the Jews' locality, or hang about the Jews'
synagogue, or are seen among their houses unless they have special
business. The Jews' quarter, though it is a banishment to the Jews from
the fairer portions of the city, is also a separate and somewhat sacred
castle in which they may live after their old fashion undisturbed. As
Ziska went on, he became aware that the throng of people was unusually
great, and that the day was in some sort more peculiar than the
ordinary Jewish Sabbath. That the young men and girls should be dressed
in their best clothes was, as a matter of course, incidental to the
day; but he could perceive that there was an outward appearance of gala
festivity about them which could not take place every week. The tall
bright-eyed black-haired girls stood talking in the streets, with
something of boldness in their gait and bearing, dressed many of them
in white muslin, with bright ribbons and full petticoats, and that
small bewitching Hungarian hat which they delight to wear. They stood
talking somewhat loudly to each other, or sat at the open windows;
while the young men in black frock-coats and black hats, with crimson
cravats, clustered by themselves, wishing, but not daring so early in
the day, to devote themselves to the girls, who appeared, or attempted
to appear, unaware of their presence. Who can say why it is that those
encounters, which are so ardently desired by both sides, are so rarely
able to get themselves commenced till the enemies have been long in
sight of each other? But so it is among Jews and Christians, among rich
and poor, out under the open sky, and even in the atmosphere of the
ball-room, consecrated though it be to such purposes. Go into any
public dancing-room of Vienna, where the girls from the shops and the
young men from their desks congregate to waltz and make love, and you
shall observe that from ten to twelve they will dance as vigorously as
at a later hour, but that they will hardly talk to each other till the
mellowness of the small morning hours has come upon them.

Among these groups in the Jewish quarter Ziska made his way, conscious
that the girls eyed him and whispered to each other something as to
his presence, and conscious also that the young men eyed him also,
though they did so without speaking of him as he passed. He knew that
Trendellsohn lived close to the synagogue, and to the synagogue he made
his way. And as he approached the narrow door of the Jews' church, he
saw that a crowd of men stood round it, some in high caps and some in
black hats, but all habited in short muslin shirts, which they wore
over their coats. Such dresses he had seen before, and he knew that
these men were taking part from time to time in some service within
the synagogue. He did not dare to ask of one of them which was
Trendellsohn's house, but went on till he met an old man alone just at
the back of the building, dressed also in a high cap and shirt, which
shirt, however, was longer than those he had seen before. Plucking up
his courage, he asked of the old man which was the house of Anton
Trendellsohn.

"Anton Trendellsohn has no house," said the old man; "but that is his
father's house, and there Anton Trendellsohn lives. I am Stephen
Trendellsohn, and Anton is my son."

Ziska thanked him, and, crossing the street to the house, found that
the door was open, and that two girls were standing just within the
passage. The old man had gone, and Ziska, turning, had perceived that
he was out of sight before he reached the house.

"I cannot come till my uncle returns," said the younger girl.

"But, Ruth, he will be in the synagogue all day," said the elder, who
was that Rebecca Loth of whom the old Jew had spoken to his son.

"Then all day I must remain," said Ruth; "but it may be he will be in
by one." Then Ziska addressed them, and asked if Anton Trendellsohn did
not live there.

"Yes; he lives there," said Ruth, almost trembling, as she answered the
handsome stranger.

"And is he at home?"

"He is in the synagogue," said Ruth. "You will find him there if you
will go in."

"But they are at worship there," said Ziska, doubtingly.

"They will be at worship all day, because it is our festival," said
Rebecca, with her eyes fixed upon the ground; "but if you are a
Christian they will not object to your going in. They like that
Christians should see them. They are not ashamed."

Ziska, looking into the girl's face, saw that she was very beautiful;
and he saw also at once that she was exactly the opposite of Nina,
though they were both of a height. Nina was fair, with grey eyes, and
smooth brown hair which seemed to demand no special admiration, though
it did in truth add greatly to the sweet delicacy of her face; and she
was soft in her gait, and appeared to be yielding and flexible in all
the motions of her body. You would think that if you were permitted to
embrace her, the outlines of her body would form themselves to yours,
as though she would in all things fit herself to him who might be
blessed by her love. But Rebecca Loth was dark, with large dark-blue
eyes and jet black tresses, which spoke out loud to the beholder of
their own loveliness. You could not fail to think of her hair and of
her eyes, as though they were things almost separate from herself. And
she stood like a queen, who knew herself to be all a queen, strong on
her limbs, wanting no support, somewhat hard withal, with a repellant
beauty that seemed to disdain while it courted admiration, and utterly
rejected the idea of that caressing assistance which men always love
to give, and which women often love to receive. At the present moment
she was dressed in a frock of white muslin, looped round the skirt,
and bright with ruby ribbons. She had on her feet coloured boots,
which fitted them to a marvel, and on her glossy hair a small new hat,
ornamented with the plumage of some strange bird. On her shoulders she
wore a coloured jacket, open down the front, sparkling with jewelled
buttons, over which there hung a chain with a locket. In her ears she
carried long heavy earrings of gold. Were it not that Ziska had seen
others as gay in their apparel on his way, he would have fancied that
she was tricked out for the playing of some special part, and that she
should hardly have shown herself in the streets with her gala finery.
Such was Rebecca Loth the Jewess, and Ziska almost admitted to himself
that she was more beautiful than Nina Balatka.

"And are you also of the family?" Ziska asked.

"No; she is not of the family," said Ruth. "She is my particular
friend, Rebecca Loth. She does not live here. She lives with her
brother and her mother."

"Ruth, how foolish you are! What does it signify to the gentleman?"

"But he asked, and so I supposed he wanted to know."

"I have to apologise for intruding on you with any questions young
ladies," said Ziska; "especially on a day which seems to be solemn."

"That does not matter at all," said Rebecca. "Here is my brother,
and he will take you into the synagogue if you wish to see Anton
Trendellsohn." Samuel Loth, her brother, then came up and readily
offered to take Ziska into the midst of the worshippers. Ziska would
have escaped now from the project could he have done so without remark;
but he was ashamed to seem afraid to enter the building, as the
girls seemed to make so light of his doing so. He therefore followed
Rebecca's brother, and in a minute or two was inside the narrow door.

The door was very low and narrow, and seemed to be choked up by men
with short white surplices, but nevertheless he found himself inside,
jammed among a crowd of Jews; and a sound of many voices, going
together in a sing-song wail or dirge, met his ears. His first impulse
was to take off his hat, but that was immediately replaced upon his
head, he knew not by whom; and then he observed that all within the
building were covered. His guide did not follow him, but whispered to
some one what it was that the stranger required. He could see that
those inside the building were all clothed in muslin shirts of
different lengths, and that it was filled with men, all of whom had
before them some sort of desk, from which they were reading, or rather
wailing out their litany. Though this was the chief synagogue in
Prague, and, as being the so-called oldest in Europe, is a building
of some consequence in the Jewish world, it was very small. There was
no ceiling, and the high-pitched roof, which had once probably been
coloured, and the walls, which had once certainly been white, were
black with the dirt of ages. In the centre there was a cage, as it
were, or iron grille, within which five or six old Jews were placed,
who seemed to wail louder than the others. Round the walls there was
a row of men inside stationary desks, and outside them another row,
before each of whom there was a small movable standing desk, on which
there was a portion of the law of Moses. There seemed to be no possible
way by which Ziska could advance, and he would have been glad to
retreat had retreat been possible. But first one Jew and then another
moved their desks for him, so that he was forced to advance, and some
among them pointed to the spot where Anton Trendellsohn was standing.
But as they pointed, and as they moved their desks to make a pathway,
they still sang and wailed continuously, never ceasing for an instant
in their long, loud, melancholy song of prayer. At the further end
there seemed to be some altar, in front of which the High Priest wailed
louder than all, louder even than the old men within the cage; and even
he, the High Priest, was forced to move his desk to make way for Ziska.
But, apparently without displeasure, he moved it with his left hand,
while he swayed his right hand backwards and forwards as though
regulating the melody of the wail. Beyond the High Priest Ziska saw
Anton Trendellsohn, and close to the son he saw the old man whom he
had met in the street, and whom he recognised as Anton's father. Old
Trendellsohn seemed to take no notice of him, but Anton had watched him
from his entrance, and was prepared to speak to him, though he did not
discontinue his part in the dirge till the last moment.

"I had a few words to say to you, if it would suit you," said Ziska, in
a low voice.

"Are they of import?" Trendellsohn asked. "If so, I will come to you."

Ziska then turned to make his way back, but he saw that this was not
to be his road for retreat. Behind him the movable phalanx had again
formed itself into close rank, but before him the wailing wearers of
the white shirts were preparing for the commotion of his passage by
grasping the upright stick of their movable desks in their hands. So he
passed on, making the entire round of the synagogue; and when he got
outside the crowded door, he found that the younger Trendellsohn had
followed him. "We had better go into the house," said Anton; "it will
not be well for us to talk here on any matter of business. Will you
follow me?"

Then he led the way into the old house, and there at the front door
still stood the two girls talking to each other.

"You have come back, uncle," said Ruth.

"Yes; for a few moments, to speak to this gentleman."

"And will you return to the synagogue?"

"Of course I shall return to the synagogue."

"Because Rebecca wishes me to go out with her," said the younger girl,
in a plaintive voice.

"You cannot go out now. Your grandfather will want you when he
returns."

"But, uncle Anton, he will not come till sunset."

"My mother wished to have Ruth with her this afternoon if it were
possible," said Rebecca, hardly looking at Anton as she spoke to him;
"but of course if you will not give her leave I must return without
her."

"Do you not know, Rebecca," said Anton, "that she is needful to her
grandfather?"

"She could be back before sunset."

"I will trust to you, then, that she is brought back." Ruth, as soon
as she heard the words, scampered up-stairs to array herself in such
finery as she possessed, while Rebecca still stood at the door.

"Will you not come in, Rebecca, while you wait for her?" said Anton.

"Thank you, I will stand here. I am very well here."

"But the child will be ever so long making herself ready. Surely you
will come in."

But Rebecca was obstinate, and kept her place at the door. "He has that
Christian girl there with him day after day," she said to Ruth as they
went away together. "I will never enter the house while she is allowed
to come there."

"But Nina is very good," said Ruth.

"I do not care for her goodness."

"Do you not know that she is to be uncle Anton's wife?"

"They have told me so, but she shall be no friend of mine, Ruth. Is it
not shameful that he should wish to marry a Christian?"

When the two men had reached the sitting-room in the Jew's house, and
Ziska had seated himself, Anton Trendellsohn closed the door, and
asked, not quite in anger, but with something of sternness in his
voice, why he had been disturbed while engaged in an act of worship.

"They told me that you would not mind my going in to you," said Ziska,
deprecating his wrath.

"That depends on your business. What is it that you have to say to me?"

"It is this. When you came to us the other day in the Ross Markt, we
were hardly prepared for you. We did not expect you."

"Your mother could hardly have received me better had she expected me
for a twelvemonth."

"You cannot be surprised that my mother should be vexed. Besides, you
would not be angry with a lady for what she might say."

"I care but little what she says. But words, my friend, are things,
and are often things of great moment. All that, however, matters very
little. Why have you done us the honour of coming to our house?"

Even Ziska could perceive, though his powers of perception in such
matters were perhaps not very great, that the Jew in the Jews' quarter,
and the Jew in the Ross Markt, were very different persons. Ziska was
now sitting while Anton Trendellsohn was standing over him. Ziska, when
he remembered that Anton had not been seated in his father's office--
had not been asked to sit down--would have risen himself, and have
stood during the interview, but he did not know how to leave his seat.
And when the Jew called him his friend, he felt that the Jew was
getting the better of him--was already obtaining the ascendant. "Of
course we wish to prevent this marriage," said Ziska, dashing at once
at his subject.

"You cannot prevent it. The law allows it. If that is what you have to
come to do, you may as well return."

"But listen to me, my friend," said Ziska, taking a leaf out of the
Jew's book. "Only listen to me, and then I shall go."

"Speak, then, and I will listen; but be quick."

"You want, of course, to be made right about those houses?"

"My father, to whom they belong, wishes to be made right, as you call
it."

"It is all the same thing. Now, look here. The truth is this.
Everything shall be settled for you, and the whole thing given up
regularly into your hands, if you will only give over about Nina
Balatka."

"But I will not give over about Nina Balatka. Am I to be bribed out of
my love by an offer of that which is already mine own? But that you are
in my father's house, I would be wrathful with you for making me such
an offer."

"Why should you seek a Christian wife, with such maidens among you as
her whom I saw at the door?"

"Do not mind the maiden whom you saw at the door. She is nothing to
you."

"No; she is nothing to me. Of course, the lady is nothing to me. If I
were to come here looking for her, you would be angry, and would bid me
seek for beauty among my own people. Would you not do so? Answer me
now."

"Like enough. Rebecca Loth has many friends who would take her part."

"And why should we not take Nina's part--we who are her friends?"

"Have you taken her part? Have you comforted her when she was in
sorrow? Have you wiped her tears when she wept? Have you taken from her
the stings of poverty, and striven to make the world to her a pleasant
garden? She has no mother of her own. Has yours been a mother to her?
Why is it that Nina Balatka has cared to receive the sympathy and the
love of a Jew? Ask that girl whom you saw at the door for some corner
in her heart, and she will scorn you. She, a Jewess, will scorn you, a
Christian. She would so look at you that you would not dare to repeat
your prayer. Why is it that Nina has not so scorned me? We are lodged
poorly here, while Nina's aunt has a fine house in the New Town. She
has a carriage and horses, and the world around her is gay and bright.
Why did Nina come to the Jews' quarter for sympathy, seeing that she,
too, has friends of her own persuasion? Take Nina's part, indeed! It is
too late now for you to take her part. She has chosen for herself, and
her resting-place is to be here." Trendellsohn, as he spoke, put his
hand upon his breast, within the fold of his waistcoat; but Ziska
hardly understood that his doing so had any special meaning. Ziska
supposed that the "here" of which the Jew spoke was the old house in
which they were at that moment talking to each other.

"I am sure we have meant to be kind to her," said Ziska.

"You see the effect of your kindness. I tell you this only in answer to
what you said as to the young woman whom you saw at the door. Have you
aught else to say to me? I utterly decline that small matter of traffic
which you have proposed to me."

"It was not traffic exactly."

"Very well. What else is there that I can do for you?"

"I hardly know how to go on, as you are so--so hard in all that you
say."

"You will not be able to soften me, I fear."

"About the houses--though you say that I am trafficking, I really wish
to be honest with you."

"Say what you have to say, then, and be honest."

"I have never seen but one document which conveys the ownership of
those houses."

"Let my father, then, have that one document."

"It is in Balatka's house."

"That can hardly be possible," said Trendellsohn.

"As I am a Christian gentleman," said Ziska, "I believe it to be in
that house."

"As I am a Jew, sir, fearing God," said the other, "I do not believe
it. Who in that house has the charge of it?"

Ziska hesitated before he replied. "Nina, as I think," he said at last.
"I suppose Nina has it herself."

"Then she would be a traitor to me."

"What am I to say as to that?" said Ziska, smiling. Trendellsohn came
to him and sat down close at his side, looking closely into his face.
Ziska would have moved away from the Jew, but the elbow of the sofa
did not admit of his receding; and then, while he was thinking that he
would escape by rising from his seat, Anton spoke again in a low voice
--so low that it was almost a whisper, but the words seemed to fall
direct into Ziska's ears, and to hurt him. "What are you to say? You
called yourself just now a Christian gentleman. Neither the one name
nor the other goes for aught with me. I am neither the one nor the
other. But I am a man; and I ask you, as another man, whether it be
true that Nina Balatka has that paper in her possession--in her own
possession, mind you, I say." Ziska had hesitated before, but his
hesitation now was much more palpable. "Why do you not answer me?"
continued the Jew. "You have made this accusation against her. Is
the accusation true?"

"I think she has it," said Ziska. "Indeed I feel sure of it."

"In her own hands?"

"Oh yes; in her own hands. Of course it must be in her own hands."

"Christian gentleman," said Anton, rising again from his seat, and now
standing opposite to Ziska, "I disbelieve you. I think that you are
lying to me. Despite your Christianity, and despite your gentility--you
are a liar. Now, sir, unless you have anything further to say to me,
you may go."

Ziska, when thus addressed, rose of course from his seat. By nature he
was not a coward, but he was unready, and knew not what to do or to say
on the spur of the moment. "I did not come here to be insulted," he
said.

"No; you came to insult me, with two falsehoods in your mouth, either
of which proves the other to be a lie. You offer to give me up the
deeds on certain conditions, and then tell me that they are with the
girl! If she has them, how can you surrender them? I do not know
whether so silly a story might prevail between two Christians, but we
Jews have been taught among you to be somewhat observant. Sir, it is
my belief that the document belonging to my father is in your father's
desk in the Ross Markt."

"By heaven, it is in the house in the Kleinseite."

"How could you then have surrendered it?"

"It could have been managed."

It was now the Jew's turn to pause and hesitate. In the general
conclusion to which his mind had come, he was not far wrong. He
thought that Ziska was endeavouring to deceive him in the spirit of
what he said, but that as regarded the letter, the young man was
endeavouring to adhere to some fact for the salvation of his conscience
as a Christian. If Anton Trendellsohn could but find out in what lay
the quibble, the discovery might be very serviceable to him. "It could
have been managed--could it?" he said, speaking very slowly. "Between
you and her, perhaps."

"Well, yes; between me and Nina--or between some of us," said Ziska.

"And cannot it be managed now?"

"Nina is not one of us now. How can we deal with her?"

"Then I will deal with her myself. I will manage it if it is to be
managed. And, sir, if I find that in this matter you have told me the
simple truth--not the truth, mind you, as from a gentleman, or the
truth as from a Christian, for I suspect both--but the simple truth as
from man to man, then I will express my sorrow for the harsh words I
have used to you." As he finished speaking, Trendellsohn held the door
of the room open in his hand, and Ziska, not being ready with any
answer, passed through it and descended the stairs. The Jew followed
him and also held open the house door, but did not speak again as Ziska
went out. Nor did Ziska say a word, the proper words not being ready to
his tongue. The Jew returned at once into the synagogue, having during
the interview with Ziska worn the short white surplice in which he had
been found; and Ziska returned at once to his own house in the
Windberg-gasse.




CHAPTER VIII


Early on the following morning--the morning of the Christian Sunday--
Nina Balatka received a note, a very short note, from her lover the
Jew. "Dearest, meet me on the bridge this evening at eight. I will be
at your end on the right-hand pathway exactly at eight. Thine, ever and
always, A. T." Nina, directly she had read the words, rushed out to the
door in order that she might give assurance to the messenger that she
would do as she was bidden; but the messenger was gone, and Nina was
obliged to reconcile herself to the prospect of silent obedience. The
note, however, had made her very happy, and the prospect pleased her
well. It was on this very day that she had intended to go to her lover;
but it was in all respects much pleasanter to her that her lover should
come to her. And then, to walk with him was of all things the most
delightful, especially in the gloom of the evening, when no eyes could
see her--no eyes but his own. She could hang upon his arm, and in this
way she could talk more freely with him than in any other. And then the
note had in it more of the sweetness of a love-letter than any written
words which she had hitherto received from him. It was very short, no
doubt, but he had called her "Dearest," instead of "Dear Nina," as had
been his custom, and then he had declared that he was hers ever and
always. No words could have been sweeter. She was glad that the note
was so short, because there was nothing in it to mar her pleasure. Yes,
she would be there at eight. She was quite determined that she would
not keep him waiting.

At half-past seven she was on the bridge. There could be no reason, she
thought, why she should not walk across it to the other side and then
retrace her steps, though in doing so she was forced, by the rule of
the road upon the bridge, to pass to the Old Town by the right-hand
pathway in going, while he must come to her by the opposite side. But
she would walk very quickly and watch very closely. If she did not see
him as she crossed and recrossed, she would at any rate be on the spot
indicated at the time named. The autumn evenings had become somewhat
chilly, and she wrapped her thin cloak close round her, as she felt the
night air as she came upon the open bridge. But she was not cold. She
told herself that she could not and would not be cold. How could she be
cold when she was going to meet her lover? The night was dark, for the
moon was now gone and the wind was blowing; but there were a few stars
bright in the heaven, and when she looked down through the parapets of
the bridge, there was just light enough for her to see the black water
flowing fast beneath her. She crossed quickly to the figure of St John,
that she might look closely on those passing on the other side, and
after a few moments recrossed the road. It was the figure of the saint,
St John Nepomucene, who was thrown from this very bridge and drowned,
and who has ever since been the protector of good Christians from the
fate which he himself had suffered. Then Nina bethought herself whether
she was a good Christian, and whether St John of the Bridge would be
justified in interposing on her behalf, should she be in want of him.
She had strong doubts as to the validity of her own Christianity, now
that she loved a Jew; and feared that it was more than probable that St
John would do nothing for her, were she in such a strait as that in
which he was supposed to interfere. But why now should she think of any
such danger? Lotta Luxa had told her to drown herself when she should
find herself to have been jilted by her Jew lover; but her Jew lover
was true to her; she had his dear words at that moment in her bosom,
and in a few moments her hand would be resting on his arm. So she
passed on from the statue of St John, with her mind made up that
she did not want St John's aid. Some other saint she would want, no
doubt, and she prayed a little silent prayer to St Nicholas, that he
would allow her to marry the Jew without taking offence at her. Her
circumstances had been very hard, as the saint must know, and she had
meant to do her best. Might it not be possible, if the saint would help
her, that she might convert her husband? But as she thought of this,
she shook her head. Anton Trendellsohn was not a man to be changed in
his religion by any words which she could use. It would be much more
probable, she knew, that the conversion would be the other way. And she
thought she would not mind that, if only it could be a real conversion.
But if she were induced to say that she was a Jewess, while she still
believed in St Nicholas and St John, and in the beautiful face of the
dear Virgin--if to please her husband she were to call herself a Jewess
while she was at heart a Christian--then her state would be very
wretched. She prayed again to St Nicholas to keep her from that state.
If she were to become a Jewess, she hoped that St Nicholas would let
her go altogether, heart and soul, into Judaism.

When she reached the end of the long bridge she looked anxiously up the
street by which she knew that he must come, endeavouring to discover
his figure by the glimmering light of an oil-lamp that hung at an angle
in the street, or by the brighter glare which came from the gas in a
shop-window by which he must pass. She stood thus looking and looking
till she thought he would never come. Then she heard the clock in the
old watch-tower of the bridge over her head strike three-quarters, and
she became aware that, instead of her lover being after his time, she
had yet to wait a quarter of an hour for the exact moment which he
had appointed. She did not in the least mind waiting. She had been
a little uneasy when she thought that he had neglected or forgotten
his own appointment. So she turned again and walked back towards the
Kleinseite, fixing her eyes, as she had so often done, on the rows of
windows which glittered along the great dark mass of the Hradschin
Palace. What were they all doing up there, those slow and faded
courtiers to an ex-Emperor, that they should want to burn so many
candles? Thinking of this she passed the tablet on the bridge, and,
according to her custom, put the end of her fingers on it. But as she
was raising her hand to her mouth to kiss it she remembered that the
saint might not like such service from one who was already half a Jew
at heart, and she refrained. She refrained, and then considered whether
the bridge might not topple down with her into the stream because of
her iniquity. But it did not topple down, and now she was standing
beyond any danger from the water at the exact spot which Trendellsohn
had named. She stood still lest she might possibly miss him by moving,
till she was again cold. But she did not regard that, though she
pressed her cloak closely round her limbs. She did not move till she
heard the first sound of the bell as it struck eight, and then she
gave a little jump as she found that her lover was close upon her.

"So you are here, Nina," he said, putting his hand upon her arm.

"Of course I am here, Anton. I have been looking, and looking, and
looking, thinking you never would come; and how did you get here?"

"I am as punctual as the clock, my love."

"Oh yes, you are punctual, I know; but where did you come from?"

"I came down the hill from the Hradschin. I have had business there. It
did not occur to your simplicity that I could reach you otherwise than
by the direct road from my own home."

"I never thought of your coming from the side of the Hradschin," said
Nina, wondering whether any of those lights she had seen could have
been there for the use of Anton Trendellsohn. "I am so glad you have
come to me. It is so good of you."

"It is good of you to come and meet me, my own one. But you are cold.
Let us walk, and you will be warmer."

Nina, who had already put her hand upon her lover's arm, thrust it in
a little farther, encouraged by such sweet words; and then he took her
little hand in his, and drew her still nearer to him, till she was
clinging to him very closely. "Nina, my own one," he said again. He had
never before been in so sweet a mood with her. Walk with him? Yes; she
would walk with him all night if he would let her. Instead of turning
again over the bridge as she had expected, he took her back into the
Kleinseite, not bearing round to the right in the direction of her
own house, but going up the hill into a large square, round which
the pathway is covered by the overhanging houses, as is common for
avoidance of heat in Southern cities. Here, under the low colonnade, it
was very dark, and the passengers going to and fro were not many. At
each angle of the square where the neighbouring streets entered it,
in the open space, there hung a dull, dim oil-lamp; but other light
there was none. Nina, however, did not mind the darkness while Anton
Trendellsohn was with her. Even when walking close under the buttresses
of St Nicholas--of St Nicholas, who could not but have been offended--
close under the very niche in which stood the statue of the saint--she
had no uncomfortable qualms. When Anton was with her she did not much
regard the saints. It was when she was alone that those thoughts on her
religion came to disturb her mind. "I do so like walking with you," she
said. "It is the nicest way of talking in the world."

"I want to ask you a question, Nina," said Anton; "or perhaps two
questions." The tight grasping clasp made on his arm by the tips of her
fingers relaxed itself a little as she heard his words, and remarked
their altered tone. It was not, then, to be all love; and she could
perceive that he was going to be serious with her, and, as she feared,
perhaps angry. Whenever he spoke to her on any matter of business, his
manner was so very serious as to assume in her eyes, when judged by her
feelings, an appearance of anger. The Jew immediately felt the little
movement of her fingers, and hastened to reassure her. "I am quite sure
that your answers will satisfy me."

"I hope so," said Nina. But the pressure of her hand upon his arm was
not at once repeated.

"I have seen your cousin Ziska, Nina; indeed, I have seen him twice
lately; and I have seen your uncle and your aunt."

"I suppose they did not say anything very pleasant about me."

"They did not say anything very pleasant about anybody or about
anything. They were not very anxious to be pleasant; but that I did
not mind."

"I hope they did not insult you, Anton?"

"We Jews are used as yet to insolence from Christians, and do not mind
it."

They shall never more be anything to me, if they have insulted you."

"It is nothing, Nina. We bear those things, and think that such of you
Christians as use that liberty of a vulgar tongue, which is still
possible towards a Jew in Prague, are simply poor in heart and
ignorant."

"They are poor in heart and ignorant."

"I first went to your uncle's office in the Ross Markt, where I saw him
and your aunt and Ziska. And afterwards Ziska came to me, at our own
house. He was tame enough then."

"To your own house?"

"Yes; to the Jews' quarter. Was it not a condescension? He came into
our synagogue and ferreted me out. You may be sure that he had
something very special to say when he did that. But he looked as though
he thought that his life were in danger among us."

"But, Anton, what had he to say?"

"I will tell you. He wanted to buy me off."

"Buy you off!"

"Yes; to bribe me to give you up. Aunt Sophie does not relish the idea
of having a Jew for her nephew."

"Aunt Sophie!--but I will never call her Aunt Sophie again. Do you mean
that they offered you money?"

"They offered me property, my dear, which is the same. But they did it
economically, for they only offered me my own. They were kind enough to
suggest that if I would merely break my word to you, they would tell me
how I could get the title-deeds of the houses, and thus have the power
of turning your father out into the street."

"You have the power. He would go at once if you bade him."

"I do not wish him to go. As I have told you often, he is welcome to
the use of the house. He shall have it for his life, as far as I am
concerned. But I should like to have what is my own."

"And what did you say?" Nina, as she asked the question, was very
careful not to tighten her hold upon his arm by the weight of a single
ounce.

"What did I say? I said that I had many things that I valued greatly,
but that I had one thing that I valued more than gold or houses--more
even than my right."

"And what is that?" said Nina, stopping suddenly, so that she might
hear clearly every syllable of the words which were to come. "What is
that?" She did not even yet add an ounce to the pressure; but her
fingers were ready.

"A poor thing," said Anton; "just the heart of a Christian girl."

Then the hand was tightened, or rather the two hands, for they were
closed together upon his arm; and his other arm was wound round her
waist; and then, in the gloom of the dark colonnade, he pressed her
to his bosom, and kissed her lips and her forehead, and then her lips
again. "No," he said, "they have not bribed high enough yet to get from
me my treasure--my treasure."

"Dearest, am I your treasure?"

"Are you not? What else have I that I make equal to you?" Nina was
supremely happy--triumphant in her happiness. She cared nothing for her
aunt, nothing for Lotta Luxa and her threats; and very little at the
present moment even for St Nicholas or St John of the Bridge. To be
told by her lover that she was his own treasure, was sufficient to
banish for the time all her miseries and all her fears.

"You are my treasure. I want you to remember that, and to believe it,"
said the Jew.

"I will believe it," said Nina, trembling with anxious eagerness. Could
it be possible that she would ever forget it?

"And now I will ask my questions. Where are those title-deeds?"

"Where are they?" said she, repeating his question.

"Yes; where are they?"

"Why do you ask me? And why do you look like that?"

"I want you to tell me where they are, to the best of your knowledge."

"Uncle Karil has them--or else Ziska."

"You are sure of that?"

"How can I be sure? I am not sure at all. But Ziska said something
which made me feel sure of it, as I told you before. And I have
supposed always that they must be in the Ross Markt. Where else can
they be?"

"Your aunt says that you have got them."

"That I have got them?"

"Yes, you. That is what she intends me to understand." The Jew had
stopped at one of the corners, close under the little lamp, and looked
intently into Nina's face as he spoke to her.

"And you believe her?" said Nina.

But he went on without noticing her question. "She intends me
to believe that you have got them, and are keeping them from me
fraudulently! cheating me, in point of fact--that you are cheating me,
so that you may have some hold over the property for your own purposes.
That is what your aunt wishes me to believe. She is a wise woman, is
she not? and very clever. In one breath she tries to bribe me to give
you up, and in the next she wants to convince me that you are not worth
keeping."

"But, Anton--"

"Nay, Nina, I will not put you to the trouble of protestation. Look at
that star. I should as soon suspect the light which God has placed in
the heaven of misleading me, as I should suspect you."

"Oh, Anton, dear Anton, I do so love you for saying that! Would it be
possible that I should keep anything from you?"

"I think you would keep nothing from me. Were you to do so, you could
not be my own love any longer. A man's wife must be true to him in
everything, or she is not his wife. I could endure not only no fraud
from you, but neither could I endure falsehood."

"I have never been false to you. With God's help I never will be false
to you."

"He has given you His help. He has made you true-hearted, and I do not
doubt you. Now answer me another question. Is it possible that your
father should have the paper?"

Nina paused a moment, and then she replied with eagerness, "Quite
impossible. I am sure that he knows nothing of it more than you know."
When she had so spoken they walked in silence for a few yards, but
Anton did not at once reply to her. "You do not think that father is
keeping anything from you, do you," said Nina.

"I do not know," said the Jew. "I am not sure."

"You may be sure. You may be quite sure. Father is at least honest."

"I have always thought so."

"And do you not think so still?"

"Look here, Nina. I do not know that there is a Christian in Prague who
would feel it to be beneath him to rob a Jew, and I do not altogether
blame them. They believe that we would rob them, and many of us do so.
We are very sharp, each on the other, dealing against each other always
in hatred, never in love--never even in friendship."

"But, for all that, my father has never wronged you."

"He should not do so, for I am endeavouring to be kind to him. For your
sake, Nina, I would treat him as though he were a Jew himself."

"He has never wronged you; I am sure that he has never wronged you."

"Nina, you are more to me than you are to him."

"Yes. I am--I am your own; but yet I will declare that he has never
wronged you."

"And I should be more to you than he is."

"You are more--you are everything to me; but, still, I know that he has
never wronged you."

Then the Jew paused again, still walking onwards through the dark
colonnade with her hand upon his arm. They walked in silence the whole
side of the large square. Nina waiting patiently to hear what would
come next, and Trendellsohn considering what words he would use. He did
suspect her father, and it was needful to his purpose that he should
tell her so; and it was needful also, as he thought, that she should be
made to understand that in her loyalty and truth to him she must give
up her father, or even suspect her father, if his purpose required that
she should do so. Though she were still a Christian herself, she must
teach herself to look at other Christians, even at those belonging to
herself, with Jewish eyes. Unless she could do so she would not be true
and loyal to him with that troth and loyalty which he required. Poor
Nina! It was the dearest wish of her heart to be true and loyal to him
in all things; but it might be possible to put too hard a strain even
upon such love as hers. "Nina," the Jew said, "I fear your father. I
think that he is deceiving us."

"No, Anton, no! he is not deceiving you. My aunt and uncle and Ziska
are deceiving you."

"They are trying to deceive me, no doubt; but as far as I can judge
from their own words and looks, they do believe that at this moment the
document which I want is in your father's house. As far as I can judge
their thoughts from their words, they think that it is there."

"It is not there," said Nina, positively.

"That is what we must find out. Your uncle was silent. He said nothing,
or next to nothing."

"He is the best of the three, by far," said Nina.

"Your aunt is a clever woman in spite her blunder about you; and had I
dealt with her only I should have thought that she might have expressed
herself as she did, and still have had the paper in her own keeping. I
could not read her mind as I could read his. Women will lie better than
men."

"But men can lie too," said Nina.

"Your cousin Ziska is a fool."

"He is a fox," said Nina.

"He is a fool in comparison with his mother. And I had him in my own
house, under my thumb, as it were. Of course he lied. Of course he
tried to deceive me. But, Nina, he believes that the document is here--
in your house. Whether it be there or not, Ziska thinks that it is
there."

"Ziska is more fox than fool," said Nina.

"Let that be as it may. I tell you the truth of him. He thinks it is
here. Now, Nina, you must search for it."

"It is not there, Anton. I tell you of my own knowledge, it is not in
the house. Come and search yourself. Come to-morrow. Come to-night, if
you will."

"It would be of no use. I could not search as you can do. Tell me,
Nina; has your father no place locked up which is not open to you?"

"Yes; he has his old desk; you know it, where it stands in the
parlour."

"You never open that?"

"No, never; but there is nothing there--nothing of that nature."

"How can you tell? Or he can keep it about his person?"

"He keeps it nowhere. He has not got it. Dear Anton, put it out of your
head. You do not know my cousin Ziska. That he has it in his own hands
I am now sure."

"And I, Nina, am sure that it is here in the Kleinseite--or at least
am sure that he thinks it to be so. The question now is this: Will you
obey me in what directions I may give you concerning it?" Nina could
not bring herself to give an unqualified reply to this demand on the
spur of the moment. Perhaps it occurred to her that the time for such
implicit obedience on her part had hardly yet come--that as yet at
least she must not be less true to her father than to her lover. She
hesitated, therefore, in answering him. "Do you not understand me,
Nina?" he said roughly. "I asked you whether you will do as I would
have you do, and you make no reply. We two, Nina, must be one in all
things, or else we must be apart--in all things."

"I do not know what it is you wish of me," she said, trembling.

"I wish you to obey me."

"But suppose--"

"I know that you must trust me first before you can obey me."

"I do trust you. You know that I trust you."

"Then you should obey me."

"But not to suspect my own father!"

"I do not ask you to suspect him."

"But you suspect him?"

"Yes; I do. I am older than you, and know more of men and their ways
than you can do. I do suspect him. You must promise me that you will
search for this deed."

Again she paused, but after a moment or two a thought struck her, and
she replied eagerly, "Anton, I will tell you what I will do. I will ask
him openly. He and I have always been open to each other."

"If he is concealing it, do you think he will tell you?"

"Yes, he would tell me. But he is not concealing it."

"Will you look?"

"I cannot take his keys from him and open his box."

"You mean that you will not do as I bid you?"

"I cannot do it. Consider of it, Anton. Could you treat your own father
in such a way?"

"I would cling to you sooner than to him. I have told him so, and he
has threatened to turn me penniless from his house. Still I shall cling
to you, because you are my love. I shall do so if you are equally true
to me. That is my idea of love. There can be no divided allegiance."

And this also was Nina's idea of love--an idea up to which she had
striven to act and live when those around her had threatened her with
all that earth and heaven could do to her if she would not abandon the
Jew. But she had anticipated no such trial as that which had now come
upon her. "Dear Anton," she said, appealing to him weakly in her
weakness, "if you did but know how I love you!"

"You must prove your love."

"Am I not ready to prove it? Would I not give up anything, everything,
for you?"

"Then you must assist me in this thing, as I am desiring you." As he
said this they had reached the corner from whence the street ran in the
direction of the bridge, and into this he turned instead of continuing
their walk round the square. She said nothing as he did so; but
accompanied him, still leaning upon his arm. He walked on quickly and
in silence till they came to the turn which led towards Balatka's
house, and then he stopped. "It is late," said he, "and you had better
go home."

"May I not cross the bridge with you?"

"You had better go home." His voice was very stern, and as she dropped
her hand from his arm she felt it to be impossible to leave him in that
way. Were she to do so, she would never be allowed to speak to him or
to see him again. "Good-night," he said, preparing to turn from her.

"Anton, Anton, do not leave me like that."

"How then shall I leave you? Shall I say that it does not matter
whether you obey me or not? It does matter. Between you and me such
obedience matters everything. If we are to be together, I must abandon
everything for you, and you must comply in everything with me." Then
Nina, leaning close upon him, whispered into his ear that she would
obey him.




VOLUME II




CHAPTER IX


Nina's misery as she went home was almost complete. She had not,
indeed, quarrelled with her lover, who had again caressed her as she
left him, and assured her of his absolute confidence, but she had
undertaken a task against which her very soul revolted. It gave her
no comfort to say to herself that she had undertaken to look for that
which she knew she would not find, and that therefore her search could
do no harm. She had, in truth, consented to become a spy upon her
father, and was so to do in furtherance of the views of one who
suspected her father of fraud, and who had not scrupled to tell her
that her father was dishonest. Now again she thought of St Nicholas, as
she heard the dull chime of the clock from the saint's tower, and found
herself forced to acknowledge that she was doing very wickedly in
loving a Jew. Of course troubles would come upon her. What else could
she expect? Had she not endeavoured to throw behind her and to trample
under foot all that she had learned from her infancy under the guidance
of St Nicholas? Of course the saint would desert her. The very sound
of the chime told her that he was angry with her. How could she hope
again that St John would be good to her? Was it not to be expected
that the black-flowing river over which she understood him to preside
would become her enemy and would swallow her up--as Lotta Luxa had
predicted? Before she returned home, when she was quite sure that Anton
Trendellsohn had already passed over, she went down upon the bridge,
and far enough along the causeway to find herself over the river, and
there, crouching down, she looked at the rapid-running silent black
stream beneath her. The waters were very silent and very black, but
she could still see or feel that they were running rapidly. And they
were cold, too. She herself at the present moment was very cold. She
shuddered as she looked down, pressing her face against the stone-work,
with her two hands resting on two of the pillars of the parapet. It
would be very terrible. She did not think that she much cared for
death. The world had been so hard to her, and was growing so much
harder, that it would be a good thing to get away from it. If she could
become ill and die, with a good kind nun standing by her bedside, and
with the cross pressed to her bosom, and with her eyes fixed on the
sweet face of the Virgin Mother as it was painted in the little picture
in her room--in that way she thought that death might even be grateful.
But to be carried away she knew not whither in the cold, silent, black-
flowing Moldau! And yet she half believed the prophecy of Lotta. Such a
quiet death as that she had pictured to herself could not be given to
her! What nun would come to her bedside--to the bed of a girl who had
declared to all Prague that she intended to marry a Jew? For weeks past
she had feared even to look at the picture of the Virgin.

"I'm afraid you'll think I am very late, father," she said, as soon as
she reached home.

Her father muttered something, but not angrily, and she soon busied
herself about him, doing some little thing for his comfort, as was
her wont. But as she did so she could not but remember that she had
undertaken to be a spy upon him, to secrete his key, and to search
surreptitiously for that which he was supposed to be keeping
fraudulently. As she sat by him empty-handed--for it was Sunday night,
and as a Christian she never worked with a needle upon the Sunday--she
told herself that she could not do it. Could there be any harm done
were she to ask him now, openly, what papers he kept in that desk? But
she desired to obey her lover where obedience was possible, and he had
expressly forbidden her to ask any such question. She sat, therefore,
and said no word that could tend to ease her suffering; and then, when
the time came, she went suffering to her bed.

On the next day there seemed to come to her no opportunity for doing
that which she had to do. Souchey was in and out of the house all the
morning, explaining to her that they had almost come to the end of the
flour and of the potatoes which he had bought, that he himself had
swallowed on the previous evening the last tip of the great sausage--
for, as he had alleged, it was no use a fellow dying of starvation
outright--and that there was hardly enough of chocolate left to make
three cups. Nina had brought out her necklace and had asked Souchey to
take it to the shop and do the best with it he could; but Souchey had
declined the commission, alleging that he would be accused of having
stolen it; and Nina had then prepared to go herself, but her father had
called her, and he had come out into the sitting-room and had remained
there during the afternoon, so that both the sale of the trinket and
the search in the desk had been postponed. The latter she might have
done at night, but when the night came the deed seemed to be more
horrid than it would be even in the day.

She observed also, more accurately than she had ever done before, that
he always carried the key of his desk with him. He did not, indeed, put
it under his pillow, or conceal it in bed, but he placed it with an old
spectacle-case which he always carried, and a little worn pocket-book
which Nina knew to be empty, on a low table which stood at his bed-
head; and now during the whole of the afternoon he had the key on the
table beside him. Nina did not doubt but that she could take the key
while he was asleep; for when he was even half asleep--which was
perhaps his most customary state--he would not stir when she entered
the room. But if she took it at all, she would do so in the day. She
could not bring herself to creep into the room in the night, and to
steal the key in the dark. As she lay in bed she still thought of it.
She had promised her lover that she would do this thing. Should she
resolve not to do it, in spite of that promise, she must at any rate
tell Anton of her resolution. She must tell him, and then there would
be an end of everything. Would it be possible for her to live without
her love?

On the following morning it occurred to her that she might perhaps be
able to induce her father to speak of the houses, and of those horrid
documents of which she had heard so much, without disobeying any of
Trendellsohn's behests. There could, she thought, be no harm in her
asking her father some question as to the ownership of the houses,
and as to the Jew's right to the property. Her father had very often
declared in her presence that old Trendellsohn could turn him into the
street at any moment. There had been no secrets between her and her
father as to their poverty, and there could be no reason why her tongue
should now be silenced, so long as she refrained from any positive
disobedience to her lover's commands. That he must be obeyed she still
recognised as the strongest rule of all--obeyed, that is, till she
should go to him and lay down her love at his feet, and give back to
him the troth which he had given her.

"Father," she said to the old man about noon that day, "I suppose this
house does belong to the Trendellsohns?"

"Of course it does," said he, crossly.

"Belongs to them altogether, I mean?" she said.

"I don't know what you call altogether. It does belong to them, and
there's an end of it. What's the good of talking about it?"

"Only if so, they ought to have those deeds they are so anxious about.
Everybody ought to have what is his own. Don't you think so, father?"

"I am keeping nothing from them," said he; "you don't suppose that I
want to rob them?"

"Of course you do not." Then Nina paused again. She was drawing
perilously near to forbidden ground, if she were not standing on it
already; and yet she was very anxious that the subject should not be
dropped between her and her father.

"I'm sure you do not want to rob anyone, father. But--"

"But what? I suppose young Trendellsohn has been talking to you again
about it. I suppose he suspects me; if so, no doubt, you will suspect
me too."

"Oh, father! how can you be so cruel?"

"If he thinks the papers are here, it is his own house; let him come
and search for them."

"He will not do that, I am sure."

"What is it he wants, then? I can't go out to your uncle and make him
give them up."

"They are, then, with uncle?"

"I suppose so; but how am I to know? You see how they treat me. I
cannot go to them, and they never come to me--except when that woman
comes to scold."

"But they can't belong to uncle."

"Of course they don't."

"Then why should he keep them? What good can they do him? When I spoke
to Ziska, Ziska said they should be kept, because Trendellsohn is a
Jew; but surely a Jew has a right to his own. We at any rate ought to
do what we can for him, Jew as he is, since he lets us live in his
house."

The slight touch of irony which Nina had thrown into her voice when she
spoke of what was due to her lover even though he was a Jew was not
lost upon her father. "Of course you would take his part against a
Christian," he said.

"I take no one's part against anyone," said she, "except so far as
right is concerned. If we take a Jew's money, I think we should give
him the thing which he purchases."

"Who is keeping him from it?" said Balatka, angrily.

"Well--I suppose it is my uncle," replied Nina.

"Why cannot you let me be at peace then?"

Having so said he turned himself round to the wall, and Nina felt
herself to be in a worse position than ever. There was nothing now for
her but to take the key, or else to tell her lover that she would not
obey him. There could be no further hope in diplomacy. She had just
resolved that she could not take the key--that in spite of her promise
she could not bring herself to treat her father after such fashion as
that--when the old man turned suddenly round upon her again, and went
back to the subject.

"I have got a letter somewhere from Karil Zamenoy," said he, "telling
me that the deed is in his own chest."

"Have you, father?" said she, anxiously, but struggling to repress her
anxiety.

"I had it, I know. It was written ever so long ago--before I had
settled with the Trendellsohns; but I have seen it often since. Take
the key and unlock the desk, and bring me the bundle of papers that
are tied with an old tape; or--stop--bring me all the papers." With
trembling hand Nina took the key. She was now desired by her father to
do exactly that which her lover wished her to have done; or, better
still, her father was about to do the thing himself. She would at any
rate have positive proof that the paper was not in her father's desk.
He had desired her to bring all the papers, so that there would be no
doubt left. She took the key very gently, as softly as was possible to
her, and went slowly into the other room. When there she unlocked the
desk and took out the bundle of letters tied with an old tape which lay
at the top ready to her hand. Then she collected together the other
papers, which were not many, and without looking at them carried them
to her father. She studiously avoided any scrutiny of what there might
be, even by so much as a glance of her eye. "This seems to be all there
is, father, except one or two old account-books."

He took the bundle, and with feeble hands untied the tape and moved
the documents, one by one. Nina felt that she was fully warranted in
looking at them now, as her father was in fact showing them to her.
In this way she would be able to give evidence in his favour without
having had recourse to any ignoble practice. The old man moved every
paper in the bundle, and she could see that they were all letters. She
had understood that the deed for which Trendellsohn had desired her to
search was written on a larger paper than any she now saw, and that she
might thus know it at once. There was, certainly, no such deed among
the papers which her father slowly turned over, and which he slowly
proceeded to tie up again with the old tape. "I am sure I saw it the
other day," he said, fingering among the loose papers while Nina looked
on with anxious eyes. Then at last he found the letter from Karil
Zamenoy, and having read it himself, gave it her to read. It was dated
seven or eight years back, at a time when Balatka was only on his way
to ruin--not absolutely ruined, as was the case with him now--and
contained an offer on Zamenoy's part to give safe custody to certain
documents which were named, and among which the deed now sought for
stood first.

"And has he got all those other papers?" Nina asked.

"No! he has none of them, unless he has this. There is nothing left but
this one that the Jew wants."

"And uncle Karil has never given that back?"

"Never."

"And it should belong to Stephen Trendellsohn?"

"Yes, I suppose it should."

"Who can wonder, then, that they should be anxious and inquire after
it, and make a noise about it? Will not the law make uncle Karil give
it up?"

"How can the law prove that he has got it? I know nothing about the
law. Put them all back again." Then Nina replaced the papers and locked
the desk. She had, at any rate, been absolutely and entirely successful
in her diplomacy, and would be able to assure Anton Trendellsohn, of
her knowledge, that that which he sought was not in her father's
keeping.

On the same day she went out to sell her necklace. She waited till
it was nearly dark--till the first dusk of evening had come upon the
street--and then she crossed the bridge and hurried to a jeweller's
shop in the Grosser Ring which she had observed, and at which she knew
such trinkets as hers were customarily purchased. The Grosser Ring
is an open space--such as we call a square--in the oldest part of the
town, and in it stand the Town Hall and the Theinkirche, which may be
regarded as the most special church in Prague, as there for many years
were taught the doctrines of Huss, the great Reformer of Bohemia.
Here, in the Grosser Ring, there was generally a crowd of an evening,
as Nina knew, and she thought that she could go in and out of the
jeweller's shop without observation. She believed that she might be
able to borrow money on her treasure, leaving it as a deposit; and
this, if possible, she would do. There were regular pawnbrokers in the
town, by whom no questions would be made, who, of course, would lend
her money in the ordinary way of their trade; but she believed that
such people would advance to her but a very small portion of the value
of her necklace; and then, if, as would be too probable, she could not
redeem it, the necklace would be gone, and gone without a price!

"Yes, it is my own, altogether my own--my very own." She had to explain
all the circumstances to the jeweller, and at last, with a view of
quelling any suspicion, she told the jeweler what was her name, and
explained how poor were the circumstances of her house. "But you must
be the niece of Madame Zamenoy, in the Windberg-gasse," said the
jeweller. And then, when Nina with hesitation acknowledged that such
was the case, the man asked her why she did not go to her rich aunt,
instead of selling a trinket which must be so valuable.

"No!" said Nina, "I cannot do that. If you will lend me something of
its value, I shall be so much obliged to you."

"But Madame Zamenoy would surely help you?"

"We would not take it from her. But we will not speak of that, sir.
Can I have the money?" Then the jeweller gave her a receipt for the
necklace and took her receipt for the sum he lent her. It was more than
Nina had expected, and she rejoiced that she had so well completed her
business. Nevertheless she wished that the jeweller had known nothing
of her aunt. She was hardly out of the shop before she met her cousin
Ziska, and she so met him that she could not escape him. She heard his
voice, indeed, almost as soon as she recognised him, and had stopped at
his summons before she had calculated whether it might not be better to
run away. "What, Nina! is that you?" said Ziska, taking her hand before
she knew how to refuse it to him.

"Yes; it is I," said Nina.

"What are you doing here?"

"Why should I not be in the Grosser Ring as well as another? It is open
to rich and poor."

"So is Rapinsky's shop; but poor people do not generally have much to
do there." Rapinsky was the name of the jeweller who had advanced the
money to Nina.

"No, not much," said Nina. "What little they have to sell is soon
sold."

"And have you been selling anything?"

"Nothing of yours, Ziska."

"But have you been selling anything?"

"Why do you ask me? What business is it of yours?"

"They say that Anton Trendellsohn, the Jew, gives you all that you
want," said Ziska.

"Then they say lies," said Nina, her eyes flashing fire upon her
Christian lover through the gloom of the evening. "Who says so? You say
so. No one else would be mean enough to be so false."

"All Prague says so."

"All Prague! I know what that means. And did all Prague go to the Jews'
quarter last Saturday, to tell Anton Trendellsohn that the paper which
he wants, and which is his own, was in father's keeping? Was it all
Prague told that falsehood also?" There was a scorn in her face as she
spoke which distressed Ziska greatly, but which he did not know how to
meet or how to answer. He wanted to be brave before her; and he wanted
also to show his affection for her, if only he knew how to do so,
without making himself humble in her presence.

"Shall I tell you, Nina, why I went to the Jews' quarter on Saturday?"

"No; tell me nothing. I wish to hear nothing from you. I know enough
without your telling me."

"I wish to save you if it be possible, because--because I love you."

"And I--I never wish to see you again, because I hate you. I hate you,
because you have been cruel. But let me tell you this; poor as we are,
I have never taken a farthing of Anton's money. When I am his wife, as
I hope to be--as I hope to be--I will take what he gives me as though
it came from heaven. From you!--I would sooner die in the street
than take a crust of bread from you." Then she darted from him, and
succeeded in escaping without hearing the words with which he replied
to her angry taunts. She was woman enough to understand that her
keenest weapon for wounding him would be an expression of unbounded
love and confidence as to the man who was his rival; and therefore,
though she was compelled to deny that she had lived on the charity of
her lover, she had coupled her denial with an assurance of her faith
and affection, which was, no doubt, bitter enough in Ziska's ears. "I
do believe that she is witched," he said, as he turned away towards his
own house. And then he reflected wisely on the backward tendency of the
world in general, and regretted much that there was no longer given to
priests in Bohemia the power of treating with salutary ecclesiastical
severity patients suffering in the way in which his cousin Nina was
afflicted.

Nina had hardly got out of the Grosser Ring into the narrow street
which leads from thence towards the bridge, when she encountered her
other lover. He was walking slowly down the centre of the street when
she passed him, or would have passed him, had not she recognized his
figure through the gloom. "Anton," she said, coming up to him and
touching his arm as lightly as was possible. "I am so glad to meet
you here."

"Nina?"

"Yes; Nina."

"And what have you been doing?"

"I don't know that I want to tell you; only that I like to tell you
everything."

"If so, you can tell me this." Nina, however, hesitated. "If you have
secrets, I do not want to inquire into them," said the Jew.

"I would rather have no secrets from you, only--"

"Only what?"

"Well; I will tell you. I had a necklace; and we are not very rich, you
know, at home; and I wanted to get something for father, and--"

"You have sold it?"

"No; I have not sold it. The man was very civil, indeed quite kind, and
he lent me some money."

"But the kind man kept the necklace, I suppose."

"Of course he kept the necklace. You would not have me borrow money
from a stranger, and leave him nothing?"

"No; I would not have you do that. But why not borrow from one who is
no stranger?"

"I do not want to borrow at all," said Nina, in her lowest tone.

"Are you ashamed to come to me in your trouble?"

"Yes," said Nina. "I should be ashamed to come to you for money. I
would not take it from you."

He did not answer her at once, but walked on slowly while she kept
close to his side.

"Give me the jeweller's docket," he said at last. Nina hesitated for a
moment, and then he repeated his demand in a sterner voice. "Nina, give
me the jeweller's docket." Then she put her hand in her pocket and gave
it him. She was very averse to doing so, but she was more averse to
refusing him aught that he asked of her.

"I have got something to tell you, Anton," she said, as soon as he had
put the jeweller's paper into his purse.

"Well--what is it?"

"I have seen every paper and every morsel of everything that is in
father's desk, and there is no sign of the deed you want."

"And how did you see them?"

"He showed them to me."

"You told him, then, what I had said to you?"

"No; I told him nothing about it. He gave me the key, and desired me to
fetch him all the papers. He wanted to find a letter which uncle Karil
wrote him ever so long ago. In that letter uncle Karil acknowledges
that he has the deed."

"I do not doubt that in the least."

"And what is it you do doubt, Anton?"

"I do not say I doubt anything."

"Do you doubt me, Anton?"

There was a little pause before he answered her--the slightest moment
of hesitation. But had it been but half as much, Nina's ear and Nina's
heart would have detected it. "No," said Anton, "I am not saying that I
doubt any one."

"If you doubt me, you will kill me. I am at any rate true to you. What
is it you want? What is it you think?"

"They tell me that the document is in the house in the Kleinseite."

"Who are they? Who is it that tells you?"

"More than one. Your uncle and aunt said so--and Ziska Zamenoy came to
me on purpose to repeat the same."

"And would you believe what Ziska says? I have hardly thought it worth
my while to tell you that Ziska--"

"To tell me what of Ziska?"

"That Ziska pretends to--to want that I should be his wife. I would not
look at him if there were not another man in Prague. I hate him. He is
a liar. Would you believe Ziska?"

"And another has told me."

"Another?" said Nina, considering.

"Yes, another."

"Lotta Luxa, I suppose."

"Never mind. They say indeed that it is you who have the deed."

"And you believe them?"

"No, I do not believe them. But why do they say so?"

"Must I explain that? How can I tell? Anton, do you not believe that
the woman who loves you will be true to you?"

Then he paused again--"Nina, sometimes I think that I have been mad to
love a Christian."

"What have I been then? But I do love you, Anton--I love you better
than all the world. I care nothing for Jew or Christian. When I think
of you, I care nothing for heaven or earth. You are everything to me,
because I love you. How could I deceive you?"

"Nina, Nina, my own one!" he said.

"And as I love you, so do you love me? Say that you love me also."

"I do," said he--"I love you as I love my own soul."

Then they parted; and Nina, as she went home, tried to make herself
happy with the assurance which had been given to her by the last words
her lover had spoken; but still there remained with her that suspicion
of a doubt which, if it really existed, would be so cruel an injury to
her love.




CHAPTER X


Some days passed on after the visit to the jeweller's shop--perhaps ten
or twelve--before Nina heard from or saw her lover again; and during
that time she had no tidings from her relatives in the Windberg-gasse.
Life went on very quietly in the old house, and not the less quietly
because the proceeds of the necklace saved Nina from any further
immediate necessity of searching for money. The cold weather had come,
or rather weather that was cold in the morning and cold in the evening,
and old Balatka kept his bed altogether. His state was such that no one
could say why he should not get up and dress himself, and he himself
continued to speak of some future time when he would do so; but there
he was, lying in his bed, and Nina told herself that in all probability
she would never see him about the house again. For herself, she was
becoming painfully anxious that some day should be fixed for her
marriage. She knew that she was, herself, ignorant in such matters;
and she knew also that there was no woman near her from whom she could
seek counsel. Were she to go to some matron of the neighbourhood, her
neighbour would only rebuke her, because she loved a Jew. She had
boldly told her relatives of her love, and by doing so had shut herself
out from all assistance from them. From even her father she could get
no sympathy; though with him her engagement had become so far a thing
sanctioned, that he had ceased to speak of it in words of reproach.
But when was it to be? She had more than once made up her mind that
she would ask her lover, but her courage had never as yet mounted high
enough in his presence to allow her to do so. When he was with her,
their conversation always took such a turn that before she left him she
was happy enough if she could only draw from him an assurance that he
was not forgetting to love her. Of any final time for her marriage he
never said a word. In the mean time she and her father might starve!
They could not live on the price of a necklace for ever. She had not
made up her mind--she never could make up her mind--as to what might be
best for her father when she should be married; but she had made up her
mind that when that happy time should come, she would simply obey her
husband. He would tell her what would be best for her father. But in
the mean time there was no word of her marriage; and now she had been
ten days in the Kleinseite without once having had so much as a message
from her lover. How was it possible that she should continue to live in
such a condition as this?

She was sitting one morning very forlorn in the big parlour, looking
out upon the birds who were pecking among the dust in the courtyard
below, when her eye just caught the drapery of the dress of some woman
who had entered the arched gateway. Nina, from her place by the window,
could see out through the arch, and no one therefore could come through
their gate while she was at her seat without passing under her eye; but
on this occasion the birds had distracted her attention, and she had
not caught a sight of the woman's face or figure. Could it be her aunt
come to torture her again--her and her father? She knew that Souchey
was down-stairs, hanging somewhere in idleness about the door, and
therefore she did not leave her place. If it were indeed her aunt, her
aunt might come up there to seek her. Or it might possibly be Lotta
Luxa, who, next to her aunt, was of all women the most disagreeable to
Nina. Lotta, indeed, was not so hard to bear as aunt Sophie, because
Lotta could be answered sharply, and could be told to go, if matters
proceeded to extremities. In such a case Lotta no doubt would not
go; but still the power of desiring her to do so was much. Then Nina
remembered that Lotta never wore her petticoats so full as was the
morsel of drapery which she had seen. And as she thought of this
there came a low knock at the door. Nina, without rising, desired the
stranger to come in. Then the door was gently opened, and Rebecca Loth
the Jewess stood before her. Nina had seen Rebecca, but had never
spoken to her. Each girl had heard much of the other from their younger
friend Ruth Jacobi. Ruth was very intimate with them both, and Nina had
been willing enough to be told of Rebecca, as had Rebecca also to be
told of Nina. "Grandfather wants Anton to marry Rebecca," Ruth had said
more than once; and thus Nina knew well that Rebecca was her rival. "I
think he loves her better than his own eyes," Ruth had said to Rebecca,
speaking of her uncle and Nina. Rut Rebecca had heard from a thousand
sources of information that he who was to have been her lover had
forgotten his own people and his own religion, and had given himself
to a Christian girl. Each, therefore, now knew that she looked upon an
enemy and a rival; but each was anxious to be very courteous to her
enemy.

Nina rose from her chair directly she saw her visitor, and came forward
to meet her. "I suppose you hardly know who I am, Fraeulein?" said
Rebecca.

"Oh, yes," said Nina, with her pleasantest smile; "you are Rebecca
Loth."

"Yes, I am Rebecca Loth, the Jewess."

"I like the Jews," said Nina.

Rebecca was not dressed now as she had been dressed on that gala
occasion when we saw her in the Jews' quarter. Then she had been as
smart as white muslin and bright ribbons and velvet could make her. Now
she was clad almost entirely in black, and over her shoulders she wore
a dark shawl, drawn closely round her neck. But she had on her head,
now as then, that peculiar Hungarian hat which looks almost like a
coronet in front, and gives an aspect to the girl who wears it half
defiant and half attractive; and there were there, of course, the long,
glossy, black curls, and the dark-blue eyes, and the turn of the face,
which was so completely Jewish in its hard, bold, almost repellant
beauty. Nina had said that she liked the Jews, but when the words were
spoken she remembered that they might be open to misconstruction, and
she blushed. The same idea occurred to Rebecca, but she scorned to take
advantage of even a successful rival on such a point as that. She would
not twit Nina by any hint that this assumed liking for the Jews was
simply a special predilection for one Jew in particular. "We are not
ungrateful to you for coming among us and knowing us," said Rebecca.
Then there was a slight pause, for Nina hardly knew what to say to
her visitor. But Rebecca continued to speak. "We hear that in other
countries the prejudice against us is dying away, and that Christians
stay with Jews in their houses, and Jews with Christians, eating with
them, and drinking with them. I fear it will never be so in Prague."

"And why not in Prague? I hope it may. Why should we not do in Prague
as they do elsewhere?"

"Ah, the feeling is so firmly settled here. We have our own quarter,
and live altogether apart. A Christian here will hardly walk with a
Jew, unless it be from counter to counter, or from bank to bank. As for
their living together--or even eating in the same room--do you ever see
it?"

Nina of course understood the meaning of this. That which the girl said
to her was intended to prove to her how impossible it was that she
should marry a Jew, and live in Prague with a Jew as his wife; but she,
who stood her ground before aunt Sophie, who had never flinched for a
moment before all the threats which could be showered upon her from
the Christian side, was not going to quail before the opposition of a
Jewess, and that Jewess a rival!

"I do not know why we should not live to see it," said Nina.

"It must take long first--very long," said Rebecca. "Even now,
Fraeulein, I fear you will think that I am very intrusive in coming to
you. I know that a Jewess has no right to push her acquaintance upon a
Christian girl." The Jewess spoke very humbly of herself and of her
people; but in every word she uttered there was a slight touch of irony
which was not lost upon Nina. Nina could not but bethink herself that
she was poor--so poor that everything around her, on her, and about
her, told of poverty; while Rebecca was very rich, and showed her
wealth even in the sombre garments which she had chosen for her morning
visit. No idea of Nina's poverty had crossed Rebecca's mind, but Nina
herself could not but remember it when she felt the sarcasm implied in
her visitor's self-humiliation.

"I am glad that you have come to me--very glad indeed, if you have come
in friendship." Then she blushed as she continued, "To me, situated as
I am, the friendship of a Jewish maiden would be a treasure indeed."

"You intend to speak of--"

"I speak of my engagement with Anton Trendellsohn. I do so with you
because I know that you have heard of it. You tell me that Jews and
Christians cannot come together in Prague, but I mean to marry a Jew. A
Jew is my lover. If you will say that you will be my friend, I will
love you indeed. Ruth Jacobi is my friend; but then Ruth is so young."

"Yes, Ruth is very young. She is a child. She knows nothing."

"A child's friendship is better than none."

"Ruth is very young. She cannot understand. I too love Ruth Jacobi. I
have known her since she was born. I knew and loved her mother. You do
not remember Ruth Trendellsohn. No; your acquaintance with them is only
of the other day."

"Ruth's mother has been dead seven years," said Nina.

"And what are seven years? I have known them for four-and-twenty."

"Nay; that cannot be."

"But I have. That is my age, and I was born, so to say, in their arms.
Ruth Trendellsohn was ten years older than I--only ten."

"And Anton?"

"Anton was a year older than his sister; but you know Anton's age. Has
he never told you his age?"

"I never asked him; but I know it. There are things one knows as a
matter of course. I remember his birthday always."

"It has been a short always."

"No, not so short. Two years is not a short time to know a friend."

"But he has not been betrothed to you for two years?"

"No; not betrothed to me."

"Nor has he loved you so long; nor you him?"

"For him, I can only speak of the time when he first told me so."

"And that was but the other day--but the other day, as I count the
time." To this Nina made no answer. She could not claim to have known
her lover from so early a date as Rebecca Loth had done, who had been,
as she said, born in the arms of his family. But what of that? Men
do not always love best those women whom they have known the longest.
Anton Trendellsohn had known her long enough to find that he loved her
best. Why then should this Jewish girl come to her and throw in her
teeth the shortness of her intimacy with the man who was to be her
husband? If she, Nina, had also been a Jewess, Rebecca Loth would not
then have spoken in such a way. As she thought of this she turned her
face away from the stranger, and looked out among the sparrows who were
still pecking among the dust in the court. She had told Rebecca at the
beginning of their interview that she would be delighted to find a
friend in a Jewess, but now she felt sorry that the girl had come to
her. For Anton's sake she would bear with much from one whom he had
known so long. But for that thought she would have answered her visitor
with short courtesy. As it was, she sat silent and looked out upon the
birds.

"I have come to you now," said Rebecca Loth, "to say a few words to you
about Anton Trendellsohn. I hope you will not refuse to listen."

"That will depend on what you say."

"Do you think it will be for his good to marry a Christian?"

"I shall leave him to judge of that," replied Nina, sharply.

"It cannot be that you do not think of it. I am sure you would not
willingly do an injury to the man you love."

"I would die for him, if that would serve him."

"You can serve him without dying. If he takes you for his wife, all his
people will turn against him. His own father will become his enemy."

"How can that be? His father knows of it, and yet he is not my enemy."

"It is as I tell you. His father will disinherit him. Every Jew in
Prague will turn his back upon him. He knows it now. Anton knows it
himself, but he cannot be the first to say the word that shall put an
end to your engagement."

"Jews have married Christians in Prague before now," said Nina,
pleading her own cause with all the strength she had.

"But not such a one as Anton Trendellsohn. An unconsidered man may do
that which is not permitted to those who are more in note."

"There is no law against it now."

"That is true. There is no law. But there are habits stronger than law.
In your own case, do you not know that all the friends you have in the
world will turn their backs upon you? And so it would be with him. You
two would be alone--neither as Jews nor as Christians--with none to aid
you, with no friend to love you."

"For myself I care nothing," said Nina. "They may say, if they like,
that I am no Christian."

"But how will it be with him? Can you ever be happy if you have been
the cause of ruin to your husband?"

Nina was again silent for a while, sitting with her face turned
altogether away from the Jewess. Then she rose suddenly from her
chair, and, facing round almost fiercely upon the other girl, asked
a question, which came from the fulness of her heart, "And you--you
yourself, what is it that you intend to do? Do you wish to marry him?"

"I do," said Rebecca, bearing Nina's gaze without dropping her own eyes
for a moment. "I do. I do wish to be the wife of Anton Trendellsohn."

"Then you shall never have your wish--never. He loves me, and me only.
Ask him, and he will tell you so."

"I have asked him, and he has told me so." There was something so
serious, so sad, and so determined in the manner of the young Jewess,
that it almost cowed Nina--almost drove her to yield before her
visitor. "If he has told you so," she said--then she stopped, not
wishing to triumph over her rival.

"He has told me so; but I knew it without his telling. We all know it.
I have not come here to deceive you, or to create false suspicions. He
does love you. He cares nothing for me, and he does love you. But is he
therefore to be ruined? Which had he better lose? All that he has in
the world, or the girl that has taken his fancy?"

"I would sooner lose the world twice over than lose him."

"Yes; but you are only a woman. Think of his position. There is not a
Jew in all Prague respected among us as he is respected. He knows more,
can do more, has more of wit and cleverness, than any of us. We look to
him to win for the Jews in Prague something of the freedom which Jews
have elsewhere--in Paris and in London. If he takes a Christian for his
wife, all this will be destroyed."

"But all will be well if he were to marry you!"

Now it was Rebecca's turn to pause; but it was not for long. "I love
him dearly," she said; "with a love as warm as yours."

"And therefore I am to be untrue to him," said Nina, again seating
herself.

"And were I to become his wife," continued Rebecca, not regarding the
interruption, "it would be well with him in a worldly point of view.
All our people would be glad, because there has been friendship between
the families from of old. His father would be pleased, and he would
become rich; and I also am not without some wealth of my own."

"While I am poor," said Nina; "so poor that--look here, I can only mend
my rags. There, look at my shoes. I have not another pair to my feet.
But if he likes me, poor and ragged, better than he likes you, rich--"
She got so far, raising her voice as she spoke; but she could get no
farther, for her sobs stopped her voice.

But while she was struggling to speak, the other girl rose and knelt at
Nina's feet, putting her long tapering fingers upon Nina's thread-bare
arms, so that her forehead was almost close to Nina's lips. "He does,"
said Rebecca. "It is true--quite true. He loves you, poor as you are,
ten times--a hundred times--better than he loves me, who am not poor.
You have won it altogether by yourself, with nothing of outside art to
back you. You have your triumph. Will not that be enough for a life's
contentment?"

"No--no, no," said Nina. "No, it will not be enough." But her voice
now was not altogether sorrowful. There was in it something of a wild
joy which had come to her heart from the generous admission which the
Jewess made. She did triumph as she remembered that she had conquered
with no other weapons than those which nature had given her.

"It is more of contentment than I shall ever have," said Rebecca.
"Listen to me. If you will say to me that you will release him from
his promise, I will swear to you by the God whom we both worship, that
I will never become his wife--that he shall never touch me or speak to
me in love." She had risen before she made this proposal, and now stood
before Nina with one hand raised, with her blue eyes fixed upon Nina's
face, and a solemnity in her manner which for a while startled Nina
into silence. "You will believe my word, I am sure," said Rebecca.

"Yes, I would believe you," said Nina.

"Shall it be a bargain between us? Say so, and whatever is mine shall
be mine and yours too. Though a Jew may not make a Christian his wife,
a Jewish girl may love a Christian maiden; and then, Nina, we shall
both know that we have done our very best for him whom we both love
better than all the world beside."

Nina was again silent, considering the proposition that had been made
to her. There was one thing that she did not see; one point of view
in which the matter had not been presented to her. The cause for her
sacrifice had been made plain to her, but why was the sacrifice of the
other also to become necessary? By not yielding she might be able to
keep her lover to herself; but if she were to be induced to abandon him
--for his sake, so that he might not be ruined by his love for her--
why, in that case, should he not take the other girl for his wife? In
such a case Nina told herself that there would be no world left for
her. There would be nothing left for her beyond the accomplishment of
Lotta Luxa's prophecy. But yet, though she thought of this, though in
her misery she half resolved that she would give up Anton, and not
exact from Rebecca the oath which the Jewess had tendered, still, in
spite of that feeling, the dread of a rival's success helped to make
her feel that she could never bring herself to yield.

"Shall it be as I say?" said Rebecca; "and shall we, dear, be friends
while we live?"

"No," said Nina, suddenly.

"You cannot bring yourself to do so much for the man you love?"

"No, I cannot. Could you throw yourself from the bridge into the
Moldau, and drown yourself?"

"Yes," said Rebecca, "I could. If it would serve him, I think that I
could do so."

"What! in the dark, when it is so cold? The people would see you in the
daytime."

"But I would live, that I might hear of his doings, and see his
success."

"Ah! I could not live without feeling that he loved me."

"But what will you think of his love when it has ruined him? Will it be
pleasant then? Were I to do that, then--then I should bethink myself of
the cold river and the dark night, and the eyes of the passers-by whom
I should be afraid to meet in the daytime. I ask you to be as I am. Who
is there that pities me? Think again, Nina. I know you would wish that
he should be prosperous."

Nina did think again, and thought long. And she wept, and the Jewess
comforted her, and many words were said between them beyond those which
have been here set down; but, in the end, Nina could not bring herself
to say that she would give him up. For his sake had she not given up
her uncle and her aunt, and St John and St Nicholas--and the very
Virgin herself, whose picture she had now removed from the wall
beside her bed to a dark drawer? How could she give up that which was
everything she had in the world--the very life of her bosom? "I will
ask him--him himself," she said at last, hoarsely. "I will ask him, and
do as he bids me. I cannot do anything unless it is as he bids me."

"In this matter you must act on your own judgment, Nina."

"No, I will not. I have no judgment. He must judge for me in
everything. If he says it is better that we should part, then--then--
then I will let him go."

After this Rebecca left the room and the house. Before she went, she
kissed the Christian girl; but Nina did not remember that she had been
kissed. Her mind was so full, not of thought, but of the suggestion
that had been made to her, that it could now take no impression from
anything else. She had been recommended to do a thing as her duty--as
a paramount duty towards him who was everything to her--the doing of
which it would be impossible that she should survive. So she told
herself when she was once more alone, and had again seated herself in
the chair by the window. She did not for a moment accuse Rebecca of
dealing unfairly with her. It never occurred to her as possible that
the Jewess had come to her with false views of her own fabrication.
Had she so believed, her suspicions would have done great injustice to
her rival; but no such idea presented itself to Nina's mind. All that
Rebecca had said to her had come to her as though it were gospel. She
did believe that Trendellsohn, as a Jew, would injure himself greatly
by marrying a Christian. She did believe that the Jews of Prague would
treat him somewhat as the Christians would treat herself. For herself
such treatment would be nothing, if she were but once married; but she
could understand that to him it would be ruinous. And Nina believed
also that Rebecca had been entirely disinterested in her mission--that
she came thither, not to gain a lover for herself, but to save from
injury the man she loved, without reference to her own passion. Nina
knew that Rebecca was strong and good, and acknowledged also that she
herself was weak and selfish. She thought that she ought to have been
persuaded to make the sacrifice, and once or twice she almost resolved
that she would follow Rebecca to the Jews' quarter and tell her that it
should be made. But she could not do it. Were she to do so, what would
be left to her? With him she could bear anything, everything. To starve
would hardly be bitter to her, so that his arm could be round her
waist, and that her head could be on his shoulder. And, moreover, was
she not his to do with as he pleased? After all her promises to him,
how could she take upon herself to dispose of herself otherwise than as
he might direct?

But then some thought of the missing document came back upon her, and
she remembered in her grief that he suspected her--that even now he
had some frightful doubt as to her truth to him--her faith, which was,
alas, alas! more firm and bright towards him than towards that heavenly
Friend whose aid would certainly suffice to bring her through all her
troubles, if only she could bring herself to trust as she asked it. But
she could trust only in him, and he doubted her! Would it not be better
to do as Rebecca said, and make the most of such contentment as might
come to her from her triumph over herself? That would be better--ten
times better than to be abandoned by him--to be deserted by her Jew
lover, because the Jew would not trust her, a Christian! On either side
there could be nothing for her but death; but there is a choice even of
deaths. If she did the thing herself, she thought that there might be
something sweet even in the sadness of her last hour--something of the
flavour of sacrifice. But should it be done by him, in that way there
lay nothing but the madness of desolation! It was her last resolve, as
she still sat at the window counting the sparrows in the yard, that she
would tell him everything, and leave it to him to decide. If he would
say that it was better for them to part, then he might go; and Rebecca
Loth might become his wife, if he so wished it.




CHAPTER XI


On one of these days old Trendellsohn went to the office of Karil
Zamenoy, in the Ross Markt, with the full determination of learning in
truth what there might be to be learned as to that deed which would be
so necessary to him, or to those who would come after him, when Josef
Balatka might die. He accused himself of having been foolishly soft-
hearted in his transactions with this Christian, and reminded himself
from time to time that no Jew in Prague would have been so treated by
any Christian. And what was the return made to him? Among them they had
now secreted that of which he should have enforced the rendering before
he had parted with his own money; and this they did because they knew
that he would be unwilling to take harsh legal proceedings against a
bed-ridden old man! In this frame of mind he went to the Ross Markt,
and there he was assured over and over again by Ziska Zamenoy--for
Karil Zamenoy was not to be seen--that Nina Balatka had the deed in her
own keeping. The name of Nina Balatka was becoming very grievous to the
old man. Even he, when the matter had first been broached to him, had
not recognised all the evils which would come from a marriage between
his son and a Christian maiden; but of late his neighbours had been
around him, and he had looked into the thing, and his eyes had been
opened, and he had declared to himself that he would not take a
Christian girl into his house as his daughter-in-law. He could not
prevent the marriage. The law would be on his son's side. The law of
the Christian kingdom in which he lived allowed such marriages, and
Anton, if he executed the contract which would make the marriage valid,
would in truth be the girl's husband. But--and Trendellsohn, as he
remembered the power which was still in his hands, almost regretted
that he held it--if this thing were done, his son must go out from his
house, and be his son no longer.

The old man was very proud of his son. Rebecca had said truly that no
Jew in Prague was so respected among Jews as Anton Trendellsohn. She
might have added, also, that none was more highly esteemed among
Christians. To lose such a son would be a loss indeed. "I will share
everything with him, and he shall go away out of Bohemia," Trendellsohn
had said to himself. "He has earned it, and he shall have it. He has
worked for me--for us both--without asking me, his father, to bind
myself with any bond. He shall have the wealth which is his own, but he
shall not have it here. Ah! if he would but take that other one as his
bride, he should have everything, and his father's blessing--and then
he would be the first instead of the last among his people." Such was
the purpose of Stephen Trendellsohn towards his son; but this, his real
purpose, did not hinder him from threatening worse things. To prevent
the marriage was his great object; and if threats would prevent it, why
should he not use them?

But now he had conceived the idea that Nina was deceiving his son--that
Nina was in truth holding back the deed with some view which he could
hardly fathom. Ziska Zamenoy had declared, with all the emphasis in
his power, that the document was, to the best of his belief, in Nina's
hands; and though Ziska's emphasis would not have gone far in
convincing the Jew, had the Jew's mind been turned in the other
direction, now it had its effect. "And who gave it her?" Trendellsohn
had asked. "Ah, there you must excuse me," Ziska had answered; "though,
indeed, I could not tell you if I would. But we have nothing to do with
the matter. We have no claim upon the houses. It is between you and the
Balatkas." Then the Jew had left the Zamenoys' office, and had gone
home, fully believing that the deed was in Nina's hands.

"Yes, it is so--she is deceiving you," he said to his son that evening.

"No father. I think not."

"Very well. You will find, when it is too late, that my words are true.
Have you ever known a Christian who thought it wrong to rob a Jew?"

"I do not believe that Nina would rob me."

"Ah! that is the confidence of what you call love. She is honest, you
think, because she has a pretty face."

"She is honest, I think, because she loves me."

"Bah! Does love make men honest, or women either? Do we not see every
day how these Christians rob each other in their money dealings when
they are marrying? What was the girl's name?--old Thibolski's daughter
--how they robbed her when they married her, and how her people tried
their best to rob the lad she married. Did we not see it all?"

"It was not the girl who did it--not the girl herself."

"Why should a woman be honester than a man? I tell you, Anton, that
this girl has the deed."

"Ziska Zamenoy has told you so?"

"Yes, he has told me. But I am not a man to be deceived because such a
one as Ziska wishes to deceive me. You, at least, know me better than
that. That which I tell you, Ziska himself believes."

"But Ziska may believe wrongly."

"Why should he do so? Whose interest can it be to make this thing seem
so, if it be not so? If the girl have the deed, you can get it more
readily from her than from the Zamenoys. Believe me, Anton, the deed is
with the girl."

"If it be so, I shall never believe again in the truth of a human
being," said the son.

"Believe in the truth of your own people," said the father. "Why should
you seek to be wiser than them all?"

The father did not convince the son, but the words which he had spoken
helped to create a doubt which already had almost an existence of its
own. Anton Trendellsohn was prone to suspicions, and now was beginning
to suspect Nina, although he strove hard to keep his mind free from
such taint. His better nature told him that it was impossible that she
should deceive him. He had read the very inside of her heart, and knew
that her only delight was in his love. He understood perfectly the
weakness and faith and beauty of her feminine nature, and her trusting,
leaning softness was to his harder spirit as water to a thirsting
man in the desert. When she clung to him, promising to obey him in
everything, the touch of her hands, and the sound of her voice, and the
beseeching glance of her loving eyes, were food and drink to him. He
knew that her presence refreshed him and cooled him--made him young
as he was growing old, and filled his mind with sweet thoughts which
hardly came to him but when she was with him. He had told himself over
and over again that it must be good for him to have such a one for his
wife, whether she were Jew or Christian. He knew himself to be a better
man when she was with him than at other moments of his life. And then
he loved her. He was thinking of her hourly, though his impatience to
see her was not as hers to be with him. He loved her. But yet--yet--
what if she should be deceiving him? To be able to deceive others, but
never to be deceived himself, was to him, unconsciously, the glory
which he desired. To be deceived was to be disgraced. What was all his
wit and acknowledged cunning if a girl--a Christian girl--could outwit
him? For himself, he could see clearly enough into things to be
aware that, as a rule, he could do better by truth than he could by
falsehood. He was not prone to deceive others. But in such matters he
desired ever to have the power with him to keep, as it were, the upper
hand. He would fain read the hearts of others entirely, and know their
wishes, and understand their schemes, whereas his own heart and his own
desires and his own schemes should only be legible in part. What if,
after all, he were unable to read the simple tablets of this girl's
mind--tablets which he had regarded as being altogether in his own
keeping?

He went forth for a while, walking slowly through the streets, as he
thought of this, wandering without an object, but turning over in his
mind his father's words. He knew that his father was anxious to prevent
his marriage. He knew that every Jew around him--for now the Jews
around him had all heard of it--was keenly anxious to prevent so great
a disgrace. He knew all that his father had threatened, and he was well
aware how complete was his father's power. But he could stand against
all that, if only Nina were true to him. He would go away from Prague.
What did it matter? Prague was not all the world. There were cities
better, nobler, richer than Prague, in which his brethren, the Jews,
would not turn their backs upon him because he had married a Christian.
It might be that he would have to begin the world again; but for that,
too, he would be prepared. Nina had shown that she could bear poverty.
Nina's torn boots and threadbare dress, and the utter absence of any
request ever made with regard to her own comfort, had not been lost
upon him. He knew how noble she was in bearing--how doubly noble she
was in never asking. If only there was nothing of deceit at the back to
mar it all!

He passed over the bridge, hardly knowing whither he was going, and
turned directly down towards Balatka's house. As he did so he observed
that certain repairs were needed in an adjoining building which
belonged to his father, and determined that a mason should be sent
there on the next day. Then he turned in under the archway, not passing
through it into the court, and there he stood looking up at the window,
in which Nina's small solitary lamp was twinkling. He knew that she was
sitting by the light, and that she was working. He knew that she would
be raised almost to a seventh heaven of delight if he would only call
her to the door and speak to her a dozen words before he returned to
his home. But he had no thought of doing it. Was it possible that she
should have this document in her keeping?--that was the thought that
filled his mind. He had bribed Lotta Luxa, and Lotta had sworn by her
Christian gods that the deed was in Nina's hands. If the thing was
false, why should they all conspire to tell the same falsehood? And yet
he knew that they were false in their natures. Their manner, the words
of each of them, betrayed something of falsehood to his well-tuned
ear, to his acute eye, to his sharp senses. But with Nina--from Nina
herself--everything that came from her spoke of truth. A sweet savour
of honesty hung about her breath, and was a blessing to him when he
was near enough to her to feel it. And yet he told himself that he was
bound to doubt. He stood for some half-hour in the archway, leaning
against the stonework at the side, and looking up at the window where
Nina was sitting. What was he to do? How should he carry himself in
this special period of his life? Great ideas about the destiny of his
people were mingled in his mind with suspicions as to Nina, of which he
should have been, and probably was, ashamed. He would certainly take
her away from Prague. He had already perceived that his marriage with a
Christian would be regarded in that stronghold of prejudice in which
he lived with so much animosity as to impede, and perhaps destroy, the
utility of his career. He would go away, taking Nina with him. And he
would be careful that she should never know, by a word or a look, that
he had in any way suffered for her sake. And he swore to himself that
he would be soft to her, and gentle, loving her with a love more
demonstrative than he had hitherto exhibited. He knew that he had been
stern, exacting, and sometimes harsh. All that should be mended. He had
learned her character, and perceived how absolutely she fed upon his
love; and he would take care that the food should always be there,
palpably there, for her sustenance. But--but he must try her yet once
more before all this could be done for her. She must pass yet once
again through the fire; and if then she should come forth as gold, she
should be to him the one pure ingot which the earth contained. With how
great a love would he not repay her in future days for all that she
would have suffered for his sake?

But she must be made to go through the fire again. He would tax her
with the possession of the missing deed, and call upon her to cleanse
herself from the accusation which was made against her. Once again he
would be harsh with her--harsh in appearance only--in order that his
subsequent tenderness might be so much more tender! She had already
borne much, and she must be made to endure once again. Did not he mean
to endure much for her sake? Was he not prepared to recommence the
troubles and toil of his life all from the beginning, in order that
she might be that life's companion? Surely he had the right to put her
through the fire, and prove her as never gold was proved before.

At last the little light was quenched, and Anton Trendellsohn felt
that he was alone. The unseen companion of his thoughts was no longer
with him, and it was useless for him to remain there standing in the
archway. He blew her a kiss from his lips, and blessed her in his
heart, and protested to himself that he knew she would come out of the
fire pure altogether and proved to be without dross. And then he went
his way. In the mean time Nina, chill and wretched, crept to her cold
bed, all unconscious of the happiness that had been so near her. "If he
thinks I can be false to him, it will be better to die," she said to
herself, as she drew the scanty clothing over her shivering shoulders.

As she did so her lover walked home, and having come to a resolution
which was intended to be definite as to his love, he allowed his
thoughts to run away with him to other subjects. After all, it would
be no evil to him to leave Prague. At Prague how little was there of
progress either in thought or in things material! At Prague a Jew could
earn money, and become rich--might own half the city; and yet at Prague
he could only live as an outcast. As regarded the laws of the land, he,
as a Jew, might fix his residence anywhere in Prague or around Prague;
he might have gardens, and lands, and all the results of money; he
might put his wife into a carriage twice as splendid as that which
constituted the great social triumph of Madame Zamenoy--but so strong
against such a mode of life were the traditional prejudices of
both Jews and Christians, that any such fashion of living would be
absolutely impossible to him. It would not be good for him that he
should remain at Prague. Knowing his father as he did, he could not
believe that the old man would be so unjust as to let him go altogether
empty-handed. He had toiled, and had been successful; and something of
the corn which he had garnered would surely be rendered to him. With
this--or, if need be, without it--he and his Christian wife would go
forth and see if the world was not wide enough to find them a spot on
which they might live without the contempt of those around them.

Though Nina had quenched her lamp and had gone to bed, it was not late
when Trendellsohn reached his home, and he knew that he should find his
father waiting for him. But his father was not alone. Rebecca Loth was
sitting with the old man, and they had just supped together when Anton
entered the room. Ruth Jacobi was also there, waiting till her friend
should go, before she also went to her bed.

"How are you, Anton?" said Rebecca, giving her hand to the man she
loved. "It is strange to see you in these days."

"The strangeness, Rebecca, comes from no fault of my own. Few men, I
fancy, are more constant to their homes than I am."

"You sleep here and eat here, I daresay."

"My business lies mostly out, about the town."

"Have you been about business now, uncle Anton?" said Ruth.

"Do not ask forward questions, Ruth," said the uncle. "Rebecca, I fear,
teaches you to forget that you are still a child."

"Do not scold her," said the old man. "She is a good girl."

"It is Anton that forgets that nature is making Ruth a young woman,"
said Rebecca.

"I do not want to be a young woman a bit before uncle Anton likes it,"
said Ruth. "I don't mind waiting ever so long for him. When he is
married he will not care what I am."

"If that be so, you may be a woman very soon," said Rebecca.

"That is more than you know," said Anton, turning very sharply on her.
"What do you know of my marriage, or when it will be?"

"Are you scolding her too?" said the elder Trendellsohn.

"Nay, father; let him do so," said Rebecca. "He has known me long
enough to scold me if he thinks that I deserve it. You are gentle to me
and spoil me, and it is only well that one among my old friends should
be sincere enough to be ungentle."

"I beg your pardon, Rebecca, if I have been uncourteous."

"There can be no pardon where there is no offence."

"If you are ashamed to hear of your marriage," said the father, "you
should be ashamed to think of it."

Then there was silence for a few seconds before anyone spoke. The girls
did not dare to speak after words so serious from the father to the
son. It was known to both of them that Anton could hardly bring himself
to bear a rebuke even from his father, and they felt that such a rebuke
as this, given in their presence, would be altogether unendurable.
Every one in the room understood the exact position in which each
stood to the other. That Rebecca would willingly have become Anton's
wife, that she had refused various offers of marriage in order that
ultimately it might be so, was known to Stephen Trendellsohn, and to
Anton himself, and to Ruth Jacobi. There had not been the pretence of
any secret among them in the matter. But the subject was one which
could hardly be discussed by them openly. "Father," said Anton, after a
while, during which the black thunder-cloud which had for an instant
settled on his brow had managed to dispel itself without bursting into
a visible storm--"father, I am neither ashamed to think of my intended
marriage nor to speak of it. There is no question of shame. But it is
unpleasant to make such a subject matter of general conversation when
it is a source of trouble instead of joy among us. I wish I could have
made you happy by my marriage."

"You will make me very wretched."

"Then let us not talk about it. It cannot be altered. You would not
have me false to my plighted word?"

Again there was silence for some minutes, and then Rebecca spoke--the
words coming from her in the lowest possible accents.

"It can be altered without breach of your plighted word. Ask the young
woman what she herself thinks. You will find that she knows that you
are both wrong."

"Of course she knows it," said the father.

"I will ask her nothing of the kind," said the son.

"It would be of no use," said Ruth.

After this Rebecca rose to take her leave, saying something of the
falseness of her brother Samuel, who had promised to come for her and
to take her home. "But he is with Miriam Harter," said Rebecca, "and,
of course, he will forget me."

"I will go home with you," said Anton.

"Indeed you shall not. Do you think I cannot walk alone through our own
streets in the dark without being afraid?"

"I am well aware that you are afraid of nothing; but nevertheless, if
you will allow me, I will accompany you." There was no sufficient cause
for her to refuse his company, and the two left the house together.

As they descended the stairs, Rebecca determined that she would
have the first word in what might now be said between them. She had
suggested that this marriage with the Christian girl might be abandoned
without the disgrace upon Anton of having broken his troth, and she had
thereby laid herself open to a suspicion of having worked for her own
ends--of having done so with unmaidenly eagerness to gratify her own
love. Something on the subject must be said--would be said by him if
not by her--and therefore she would explain herself at once. She spoke
as soon as she found herself by his side in the street. "I regretted
what I said up-stairs, Anton, as soon as the words were out of my
mouth."

"I do not know that you said anything to regret."

"I told you that if in truth you thought this marriage to be wrong--"

"Which I do not."

"Pardon me, my friend, for a moment. If you had so thought, I said that
there was a mode of escape without falsehood or disgrace. In saying so
I must have seemed to urge you to break away from Nina Balatka."

"You are all urging me to do that."

"Coming from the others, such advice cannot even seem to have an
improper motive." Here she paused, feeling the difficulty of her task--
aware that she could not conclude it without an admission which no
woman willingly makes. But she shook away the impediment, bracing
herself to the work, and went on steadily with her speech. "Coming from
me, such motive may be imputed--nay, it must be imputed."

"No motive is imputed that is not believed by me to be good and healthy
and friendly."

"Our friends," continued Rebecca, "have wished that you and I should be
husband and wife. That is now impossible."

"It is impossible--because Nina will be my wife."

"It is impossible, whether Nina should become your wife or should not
become your wife. I do not say this from any girlish pride. Before I
knew that you loved a Christian woman, I would willingly have been--as
our friends wished. You see I can trust you enough for candour. When
I was young they told me to love you, and I obeyed them. They told
me that I was to be your wife, and I taught myself to be happy in
believing them. I now know that they were wrong, and I will endeavour
to teach myself another happiness."

"Rebecca, if I have been in fault--"

"You have never been in fault. You are by nature too stern to fall into
such faults. It has been my misfortune--perhaps rather I should say
my difficulty--that till of late you have given me no sign by which I
could foresee my lot. I was still young, and I still believed what they
told me, even though you did not come to me as lovers come. Now I know
it all; and as any such thoughts--or wishes, if you will--as those I
used to have can never return to me, I may perhaps be felt by you to be
free to use what liberty of counsel old friendship may give me. I know
you will not misunderstand me--and that is all. Do not come further
with me."

He called to her, but she was gone, escaping from him with quick
running feet through the dark night; and he returned to his father's
house, thinking of the girl that had left him.




CHAPTER XII


Again some days passed by without any meeting between Nina and her
lover, and things were going very badly with the Balatkas in the old
house. The money that had come from the jeweller was not indeed all
expended, but Nina looked upon it as her last resource, till marriage
should come to relieve her; and the time of her marriage seemed to be
as far from her as ever. So the kreutzers were husbanded as only a
woman can husband them, and new attempts were made to reduce the little
expenses of the little household.

"Souchey, you had better go. You had indeed," said Nina. "We cannot
feed you." Now Souchey had himself spoken of leaving them some days
since, urged to do so by his Christian indignation at the abominable
betrothal of his mistress. "You said the other day that you would do
so, and it will be better."

"But I shall not."

"Then you will be starved."

"I am starved already, and it cannot be worse. I dined yesterday on
what they threw out to the dogs in the meat-market."

"And where will you dine to-day?"

"Ah, I shall dine better to-day. I shall get a meal in the Windberg-
gasse."

"What! at my aunt's house?"

"Yes; at your aunt's house. They live well there, even in the kitchen.
Lotta will have for me some hot soup, a mess of cabbage, and a sausage.
I wish I could bring it away from your aunt's house to the old man and
yourself."

"I would sooner fall in the gutter than eat my aunt's meat."

"That is all very fine for you, but I am not going to marry a Jewess.
Why should I quarrel with your aunt, or with Lotta Luxa? If you would
give up the Jew, Nina, your aunt's house would be open to you; yes--and
Ziska's house."

"I will not give up the Jew," said Nina, with flashing eyes.

"I suppose not. But what will you do when he gives you up? What if
Ziska then should not be so forward?"

"Of all those who are my enemies, and whom I hate because they are so
cruel, I hate Ziska the worst. Go and tell him so, since you are
becoming one of them. In doing so much you cannot at any rate do me
harm."

Then she took herself off, forgetting in her angry spirit the
prudential motives which had induced her to begin the conversation with
Souchey. But Souchey, though he was going to Madame Zamenoy's house to
get his dinner, and was looking forward with much eagerness to the mess
of hot cabbage and the cold sausage, had by no means become "one of
them" in the Windberg-gasse. He had had more than one interview of late
with Lotta Luxa, and had perceived that something was going on, of
which he much desired to be at the bottom. Lotta had some scheme, which
she was half willing and half unwilling to reveal to him, by which she
hoped to prevent the threatened marriage between Nina and the Jew. Now
Souchey was well enough inclined to take a part in such a scheme--
provided it did not in any way make him a party with the Zamenoys in
things general against the Balatkas. It was his duty as a Christian--
though he himself was rather slack in the performance of his own
religious duties--to put a stop to this horrible marriage if he could
do so; but it behoved him to be true to his master and mistress, and
especially true to them in opposition to the Zamenoys. He had in some
sort been carrying on a losing battle against the Zamenoys all his
life, and had some of the feelings of a martyr, telling himself that
he had lost a rich wife by doing so. He would go on this occasion and
eat his dinner and be very confidential with Lotta; but he would be
very discreet, would learn more than he told, and, above all, would not
betray his master or mistress.

Soon after he was gone, Anton Trendellsohn came over to the Kleinseite,
and, ringing at the bell of the house, received admission from Nina
herself. "What! you, Anton?" she said, almost jumping into his arms,
and then restraining herself. "Will you come up? It is so long since I
have seen you."

"Yes--it is long. I hope the time is soon coming when there shall be no
more of such separation."

"Is it? Is it indeed?"

"I trust it is."

"I suppose as a maiden I ought to be coy, and say that I would prefer
to wait; but, dearest love, sorrow and trouble have banished all that.
You will not love me less because I tell you that I count the minutes
till I may be your wife."

"No; I do not love you less on that account. I would have you be true
and faithful in all things."

Though the words themselves were assuring, there was something in the
tone of his voice which repressed her. "To you I am true and faithful
in all things; as faithful as though you were already my husband. What
were you saying of a time that is soon coming?"

He did not answer her question, but turned the subject away into
another channel. "I have brought something for you," he said--something
which I hope you will be glad to have."

"Is it a present? she asked. As yet he had never given her anything
that she could call a gift, and it was to her almost a matter of pride
that she had taken nothing from her Jew lover, and that she would take
nothing till it should be her right to take everything.

"Hardly a present; but you shall look at it as you will. You remember
Rapinsky, do you not?" Now Rapinsky was the jeweller in the Grosser
Ring, and Nina, though she well remembered the man and the shop, did
not at the moment remember the name. "You will not have forgotten this
at any rate," said Trendellsohn, bringing the necklace from out of his
pocket.

"How did you get it?" said Nina, not putting out her hand to take it,
but looking at it as it lay upon the table.

"I thought you would be glad to have it back again."

"I should be glad if--"

"If what?" Will it be less welcome because it comes through my hands?"

"The man lent me money upon it, and you must have paid the money."

"What if I have? I like your pride, Nina; but be not too proud. Of
course I have paid the money. I know Rapinsky, who deals with us often.
I went to him after you spoke to me, and got it back again. There is
your mother's necklace."

"I am sorry for this, Anton."

"Why sorry?"

"We are so poor that I shall be driven to take it elsewhere again. I
cannot keep such a thing in the house while father wants. But better he
should want than--"

"Than what, Nina?"

"There would be something like cheating in borrowing money on the same
thing twice."

"Then put it by, and I will be your lender."

"No; I will not borrow from you. You are the only one in the world that
I could never repay. I cannot borrow from you. Keep this thing, and if
I am ever your wife, then you shall give it me."

"If you are ever my wife?"

"Is there no room for such an if? I hope there is not, Anton. I wish it
were as certain as the sun's rising. But people around us are so cruel!
It seems, sometimes, as though the world were against us. And then you,
yourself--"

"What of me myself, Nina?"

"I do not think you trust me altogether; and unless you trust me, I
know you will not make me your wife."

"That is certain; and yet I do not doubt that you will be my wife."

"But do you trust me? Do you believe in your heart of hearts that I
know nothing of that paper for which you are searching?" She paused
for a reply, but he did not at once make any. "Tell me," she went
on saying, with energy, "are you sure that I am true to you in that
matter, as in all others? Though I were starving--and it is nearly so
with me already--and though I loved you beyond even all heaven, as I
do, I do--I would not become your wife if you doubted me in any tittle.
Say that you doubt me, and then it shall be all over." Still he did not
speak. "Rebecca Loth will be a fitter wife for you than I can be," said
Nina.

"If you are not my wife, I shall never have a wife," said Trendellsohn.

In her ecstasy of delight, as she heard these words, she took up his
hand and kissed it; but she dropped it again, as she remembered that
she had not yet received the assurance that she needed. "But you do
believe me about this horrid paper?"

It was necessary that she should be made to go again through the fire.
In deliberate reflection he had made himself aware that such necessity
still existed. It might be that she had some inner reserve as to duty
towards her father. There was, possibly, some reason which he could
not fathom why she should still keep something back from him in this
matter. He did not, in truth, think that it was so, but there was the
chance. There was the chance, and he could not bear to be deceived. He
felt assured that Ziska Zamenoy and Lotta Luxa believed that this deed
was in Nina's keeping. Indeed, he was assured that all the household of
the Zamenoys so believed. "If there be a God above us, it is there,"
Lotta had said, crossing herself. He did not think it was there; he
thought that Lotta was wrong, and that all the Zamenoys were wrong, by
some mistake which he could not fathom; but still there was the chance,
and Nina must be made to bear this additional calamity.

"Do you think it impossible," said he, "that you should have it among
your own things?"

"What! without knowing that I have it?" she asked.

"It may have come to you with other papers," he said, "and you may not
quite have understood its nature."

"There, in that desk, is every paper that I have in the world. You
can look if you suspect me. But I shall not easily forgive you for
looking." Then she threw down the key of her desk upon the table. He
took it up and fingered it, but did not move towards the desk. "The
greatest treasure there," she said, "are scraps of your own, which I
have been a fool to value, as they have come from a man who does not
trust me."

He knew that it would be useless for him to open the desk. If she were
secreting anything from him, she was not hiding it there. "Might it not
possibly be among your clothes?" he asked.

"I have no clothes," she answered, and then strode off across the wide
room towards the door of her father's apartment. But after she had
grasped the handle of the door, she turned again upon her lover. "It
may, however, be well that you should search my chamber and my bed. If
you will come with me, I will show you the door. You will find it to be
a sorry place for one who was your affianced bride."

"Who _is_ my affianced bride," said Trendellsohn.

"No, sir!--who was, but is so no longer. You will have to ask my
pardon, at my feet, before I will let you speak to me again as my
lover. Go and search. Look for your deed--and then you shall see that
I will tear out my own heart rather than submit to the ill-usage of
distrust from one who owes me so much faith as you do."

"Nina" he said.

"Well, sir."

"I do trust you."

"Yes--with a half trust--with one eye closed, while the other is
watching me. You think you have so conquered me that I will be good to
you, and yet cannot keep yourself from listening to those who whisper
that I am bad to you. Sir, I fear they have been right when they told
me that a Jew's nature would surely shock me at last."

The dark frowning cloud, which she had so often observed with fear,
came upon his brow; but she did not fear him now. "And do you too taunt
me with my religion?" he said.

"No, not so--not with your religion, Anton; but with your nature."

"And how can I help my nature?"

"I suppose you cannot help it, and I am wrong to taunt you. I should
not have taunted you. I should only have said that I will not endure
the suspicion either of a Christian or of a Jew."

He came up to her now, and put out his arm as though he were about to
embrace her. "No," she said; "not again, till you have asked my pardon
for distrusting me, and have given me your solemn word that you
distrust me no longer."

He paused a moment in doubt, then put his hat on his head and prepared
to leave her. She had behaved very well, but still he would not be weak
enough to yield to her in everything at once. As to opening her desk,
or going up-stairs into her room, that he felt to be quite impossible.
Even his nature did not admit of that. But neither did his nature allow
him to ask her pardon and to own that he had been wrong. She had said
that he must implore her forgiveness at her feet. One word, however,
one look, would have sufficed. But that word and that look were, at the
present moment, out of his power. "Good-bye, Nina," he said. "It is
best that I should leave you now."

"By far the best; and you will take the necklace with you, if you
please."

"No; I will leave that. I cannot keep a trinket that was your
mother's."

"Take it, then, to the jeweller's, and get back your money. It shall
not be left here. I will have nothing from your hands." He was so far
cowed by her manner that he took up the necklace and left the house,
and Nina was once more alone.

What they had told her of her lover was after all true. That was the
first idea that occurred to her as she sat in her chair, stunned by
the sorrow that had come upon her. They had dinned into her ears their
accusations, not against the man himself, but against the tribe to
which he belonged, telling her that a Jew was, of his very nature,
suspicious, greedy, and false. She had perceived early in her
acquaintance with Anton Trendellsohn that he was clever, ambitious,
gifted with the power of thinking as none others whom she knew could
think; and that he had words at his command, and was brave, and was
endowed with a certain nobility of disposition which prompted him to
wish for great results rather than for small advantages. All this had
conquered her, and had made her resolve to think that a Jew could be as
good as a Christian. But now, when the trial of the man had in truth
come, she found that those around her had been right in what they had
said. How base must be the nature which could prompt a man to suspect
a girl who had been true to him as Nina had been true to her lover!

She would never see him again--never! He had left the room without even
answering the question which she had asked him. He would not even say
that he trusted her. It was manifest that he did not trust her, and
that he believed at this moment that she was endeavouring to rob him in
this matter of the deed. He had asked her if she had it in her desk or
among her clothes, and her very soul revolted from the suspicion so
implied. She would never speak to him again. It was all over. No; she
would never willingly speak to him again.

But what would she do? For a few minutes she fell back, as is so
natural with mortals in trouble, upon that religion which she had been
so willing to outrage by marrying the Jew. She went to a little drawer
and took out a string of beads which had lain there unused since she
had been made to believe that the Virgin and the saints would not
permit her marriage with Anton Trendellsohn. She took out the beads--
but she did not use them. She passed no berries through her fingers to
check the number of prayers said, for she found herself unable to say
any prayer at all. If he would come back to her, and ask her pardon--
ask it in truth at her feet--she would still forgive him, regardless
of the Virgin and the saints. And if he did not come back, what was
the fate that Lotta Luxa had predicted for her, and to which she had
acknowledged to herself that she would be driven to submit? In either
case how could she again come to terms with St John and St Nicholas?
And how was she to live? Should she lose her lover, as she now told
herself would certainly be her fate, what possibility of life was left
to her? From day to day and from week to week she had put off to a
future hour any definite consideration of what she and her father
should do in their poverty, believing that it might be postponed till
her marriage would make all things easy. Her future mode of living
had often been discussed between her and her lover, and she had been
candid enough in explaining to him that she could not leave her father
desolate. He had always replied that his wife's father should want for
nothing, and she had been delighted to think that she could with joy
accept that from her husband which nothing would induce her to accept
from her lover. This thought had sufficed to comfort her, as the evil
of absolute destitution was close upon her. Surely the day of her
marriage would come soon.

But now it seemed to her to be certain that the day of her marriage
would never come. All those expectations must be banished, and she must
look elsewhere--if elsewhere there might be any relief. She knew well
that if she would separate herself from the Jew, the pocket of her aunt
would be opened to relieve the distress of her father--would be opened
so far as to save the old man from perishing of want. Aunt Sophie, if
duly invoked, would not see her sister's husband die of starvation.
Nay, aunt Sophie would doubtless so far stretch her Christian charity
as to see that her niece was in some way fed, if that niece would be
duly obedient. Further still, aunt Sophie would accept her niece as
the very daughter of her house, as the rising mistress of her own
establishment, if that niece would only consent to love her son. Ziska
was there as a husband in Anton's place, if Ziska might only gain
acceptance.

But Nina, as she rose from her chair and walked backwards and forwards
through her chamber, telling herself all these things, clenched her
fist, and stamped her foot, as she swore to herself that she would
dare all that the saints could do to her, that she would face all the
terrors of the black dark river, before she would succumb to her cousin
Ziska. As she worked herself into wrath, thinking now of the man she
loved, and then of the man she did not love, she thought that she could
willingly perish--if it were not that her father lay there so old
and so helpless. Gradually, as she magnified to herself the terrible
distresses of her heart, the agony of her yearning love for a man who,
though he loved her, was so unworthy of her perfect faith, she began to
think that it would be well to be carried down by the quick, eternal,
almighty stream beyond the reach of the sorrow which encompassed her.
When her father should leave her she would be all alone--alone in the
world, without a friend to regard her, or one living human being on
whom she, a girl, might rely for protection, shelter, or even for a
morsel of bread. Would St Nicholas cover her from the contumely of the
world, or would St John of the Bridges feed her? Did she in her heart
of hearts believe that even the Virgin would assist her in such a
strait? No; she had no such belief. It might be that such real belief
had never been hers. She hardly knew. But she did know that now, in the
hour of her deep trouble, she could not say her prayers and tell her
beads, and trust valiantly that the goodness of heaven would suffice to
her in her need.

In the mean time Souchey had gone off to the Windberg-gasse, and had
gladdened himself with the soup, with the hot mess of cabbage and the
sausage, supplied by Madame Zamenoy's hospitality. The joys of such a
moment are unknown to any but those who, like Souchey, have been driven
by circumstances to sit at tables very ill supplied. On the previous
day he had fed upon offal thrown away from a butcher's stall, and habit
had made such feeding not unfamiliar to him. As he walked from the
Kleinseite through the Old Town to Madame Zamenoy's bright-looking
house in the New Town, he had comforted himself greatly with thoughts
of the coming feast. The representation which his imagination made to
him of the banquet sufficed to produce happiness, and he went along
hardly envying any man. His propensities at the moment were the
propensities of a beast. And yet he was submitting himself to the
terrible poverty which made so small a matter now a matter of joy to
him, because there was a something of nobility within him which made
him true to the master who had been true to him, when they had both
been young together. Even now he resolved, as he sharpened his teeth,
that through all the soup and all the sausage he would be true to the
Balatkas. He would be true even to Nina Balatka--though he recognised
it as a paramount duty to do all in his power to save her from the Jew.

He was seated at the table in the kitchen almost as soon as he had
entered the house in the Windberg-gasse, and found his plate full
before him. Lotta had felt that there was no need of the delicacy of
compliment in feeding a man who was so undoubtedly hungry, and she had
therefore bade him at once fall to. "A hearty meal is a thing you are
not used to," she had said, "and it will do your old bones a deal of
good." The address was not complimentary, especially as coming from a
lady in regard to whom he entertained tender feelings; but Souchey
forgave the something of coarse familiarity which the words displayed,
and, seating himself on the stool before the victuals, gave play to the
feelings of the moment. "There's no one to measure what's left of the
sausage," said Lotta, instigating him to new feats.

"Ain't there now?" said Souchey, responding to the sound of the
trumpet. "I always thought she had the devil's own eye in looking after
what was used in the kitchen."

"The devil himself winks sometimes," said Lotta, cutting another half-
inch off from the unconsumed fragment, and picking the skin from the
meat with her own fair fingers. Hitherto Souchey had been regardless of
any such niceness in his eating, the skin having gone with the rest;
but now he thought that the absence of the outside covering and the
touch of Lotta's fingers were grateful to his appetite.

"Souchey," said Lotta, when he had altogether done, and had turned his
stool round to the kitchen fire, "where do you think Nina would go if
she were to marry--a Jew?" There was an abrupt solemnity in the manner
of the question which at first baffled the man, whose breath was heavy
with the comfortable repletion which had been bestowed upon him.

"Where would she go to?" he said, repeating Lotta's words.

"Yes, Souchey, where would she go to? Where would be her eternal home?
What would become of her soul? Do you know that not a priest in Prague
would give her absolution though she were on her dying bed? Oh, holy
Mary, it's a terrible thing to think of! It's bad enough for the old
man and her to be there day after day without a morsel to eat; and I
suppose if it were not for Anton Trendellsohn it would be bad enough
with them--"

"Not a gulden, then, has Nina ever taken from the Jew--nor the value of
a gulden, as far as I can judge between them."

"What matters that, Souchey? Is she not engaged to him as his wife? Can
anything in the world be so dreadful? Don't you know she'll be--damned
for ever and ever?" Lotta, as she uttered the terrible words, brought
her face close to Souchey's, looking into his eyes with a fierce glare.
Souchey shook his head sorrowfully, owning thereby that his knowledge
in the matter of religion did not go to the point indicated by Lotta
Luxa. "And wouldn't anything, then, be a good deed that would prevent
that?"

"It's the priests that should do it among them."

"But the priests are not the men they used to be, Souchey. And it is
not exactly their fault neither. There are so many folks about in these
days who care nothing who goes to glory and who does not, and they are
too many for the priests."

"If the priests can't fight their own battle, I can't fight it for
them," said Souchey.

"But for the old family, Souchey, that you have known so long! Look
here; you and I between us can prevent it."

"And how is it to be done?"

"Ah! that's the question. If I felt that I was talking to a real
Christian that had a care for the poor girl's soul, I would tell you in
a moment."

"So I am; only her soul isn't my business."

"Then I cannot tell you this. I can't do it unless you acknowledge that
her welfare as a Christian is the business of us all. Fancy, Souchey,
your mistress married to a filthy Jew!"

"For the matter of that, he isn't so filthy neither."

"An abominable Jew! But, Souchey, she will never fall out with him. We
must contrive that he shall quarrel with her. If she had a thing about
her that he did not want her to have, couldn't you contrive that he
should know it?"

"What sort of thing? Do you mean another lover, like?"

"No, you gander. If there was anything of that sort I could manage it
myself. But if she had a thing locked up--away from him, couldn't you
manage to show it to him? He's very generous in rewarding, you know."

"I don't want to have anything to do with it," said Souchey, getting up
from his stool and preparing to take his departure. Though he had been
so keen after the sausage, he was above taking a bribe in such a matter
as this.

"Stop, Souchey, stop. I didn't think that I should ever have to ask
anything of you in vain."

Then she put her face very close to his, so that her lips touched his
ear, and she laid her hand heavily upon his arm, and she was very
confidential. Souchey listened to the whisper till his face grew longer
and longer. "'Tis for her soul," said Lotta--"for her poor soul's sake.
When you can save her by raising your hand, would you let her be damned
for ever?"

But she could exact no promise from Souchey except that he would keep
faith with her, and that he would consider deeply the proposal made to
him. Then there was a tender farewell between them, and Souchey
returned to the Kleinseite.




CHAPTER XIII


For two days after this Nina heard nothing from the Jews' quarter, and
in her terrible distress her heart almost became softened towards the
man who had so deeply offended her. She began to tell herself, in the
weariness of her sorrow, that men were different from women, and, of
their nature, more suspicious; that no woman had a right to expect
every virtue in her lover, and that no woman had less of such right
than she herself, who had so little to give in return for all that
Anton proposed to bestow upon her. She began to think that she could
forgive him, even for his suspicion, if he would only come to be
forgiven. But he came not, and it was only too plain to her that she
could not be the first to go to him after what had passed between them.
And then there fell another crushing sorrow upon her. Her father was
ill--so ill that he was like to die. The doctor came to him--some son
of Galen who had known the merchant in his prosperity--and, with kind
assurances, told Nina that her father, though he could pay nothing,
should have whatever assistance medical attention could give him; but
he said, at the same time, that medical attention could give no aid
that would be of permanent service. The light had burned down in the
socket, and must go out. The doctor took Nina by the hand, and put his
own hand upon her soft tresses, and spoke kind words to console her.
And then he said that the sick man ought to take a few glasses of wine
every day; and as he was going away, turned back again, and promised
to send the wine from his own house. Nina thanked him, and plucked up
something of her old spirit during his presence, and spoke to him as
though she had no other care than that of her father's health; but as
soon as the doctor was gone she thought again of her Jew lover. That
her father should die was a great grief. But when she should be alone
in the old house, with the corpse lying on the bed, would Anton
Trendellsohn come to her then?

He did not come to her now, though he knew of her father's illness. She
sent Souchey to the Jews' quarter to tell the sad news--not to him, but
to old Trendellsohn. "For the sake of the property it is right that he
should know," Nina said to herself, excusing to herself on this plea
her weakness in sending any message to the house of Anton Trendellsohn
till he should have come and asked her pardon. But even after this he
came not. She listened to every footstep that entered the courtyard.
She could not keep herself from going to the window, and from looking
into the square. Surely now, in her deep sorrow, in her solitude, he
would come to her. He would come and say one word--that he did trust
her, that he would trust her! But no; he came not at all; and the hours
of the day and the night followed slowly and surely upon each other, as
she sat by her father's bed watching the last quiver of the light in
the socket.

But though Trendellsohn did not come himself, there came to her a
messenger from the Jew's house--a messenger from the Jew's house, but
not a messenger from Anton Trendellsohn. "Here is a girl from the--
Jew," said Souchey, whispering into her ear as she sat at her father's
bedside--"one of themselves. Shall I tell her to go away, because he
is so ill?" And Souchey pointed to his master's head on the pillow.
"She has got a basket, but she can leave that."

Nina, however, was by no means inclined to send the Jewess away,
rightly guessing that the stranger was her friend Ruth. "Stop here,
Souchey, and I will go to her," Nina said. "Do not leave him till I
return. I will not be long." She would not have let a dog go without a
word that had come from Anton's house or from Anton's presence. Perhaps
he had written to her. If there were but a line to say, "Pardon me; I
was wrong," everything might yet be right. But Ruth Jacobi was the
bearer of no note from Anton, nor indeed had she come on her present
message with her uncle's knowledge. She had put a heavy basket on the
table, and now, running forward, took Nina by the hands, and kissed
her.

"We have been so sorry, all of us, to hear of your father's illness,"
said Ruth.

"Father is very ill," said Nina. "He is dying."

"Nay, Nina; it may be that he is not dying. Life and death both are in
the hands of God."

"Yes; it is in God's hands of course; but the doctor says that he will
die."

"The doctors have no right to speak in that way," said Ruth, "for how
can they know God's pleasure? It may be that he will recover."

"Yes; it may be," said Nina. "It is good of you to come to me, Ruth.
I am so glad you have come. Have you any--any--message?" If he would
only ask to be forgiven through Ruth, or even if he had sent a word
that might be taken to show that he wished to be forgiven, it should
suffice.

"I have--brought--a few things in a basket," said Ruth, almost
apologetically.

Then Nina lifted the basket. "You did not surely carry this through the
streets?"

"I had Shadrach, our boy, with me. He carried it. It is not from me,
exactly; though I have been so glad to come with it."

"And who sent it?" said Nina, quickly, with her fingers trembling on
its lid. If Anton had thought to send anything to her, that anything
should suffice.

"It was Rebecca Loth who thought of it, and who asked me to come," said
Ruth.

Then Nina drew back her fingers as though they were burned, and walked
away from the table with quick angry steps. "Why should Rebecca Loth
send anything to me?" she said. "What is there in the basket?"

"She has written a little line. It is at the top. But she has asked me
to say--"

"What has she asked you to say? Why should she say anything to me?"

"Nay, Nina; she is very good, and she loves you."

"I do not want her love."

"I am to say to you that she has heard of your distress, and she hopes
that a girl like you will let a girl like her do what she can to
comfort you."

"She cannot comfort me."

"She bade me say that if she were ill or in sorrow, there is no hand
from which she would so gladly take comfort as from yours--for the
sake, she said, of a mutual friend."

"I have no--friend," said Nina.

"Oh, Nina, am not I your friend? Do not I love you?"

"I do not know. If you do love me now, you must cease to love me. You
are a Jewess, and I am a Christian, and we must live apart. You, at
least, must live. I wish you would tell the boy that he may take back
the basket."

"There are things in it for your father, Nina; and, Nina, surely you
will read Rebecca's note?"

Then Ruth went to the basket, and from the top she took out Rebecca's
letter, and gave it to Nina, and Nina read it. It was as follows:

    I shall always regard you as very dear to me, because our hearts
    have been turned in the same way. It may not be perhaps that we
    shall know each other much at first; but I hope the days may come
    when we shall be much older than we are now, and that then we may
    meet and be able to talk of what has passed without pain. I do not
    know why a Jewess and a Christian woman should not be friends.

    I have sent a few things which may perhaps be of comfort to your
    father. In pity to me do not refuse them. They are such as one
    woman should send to another. And I have added a little trifle
    for your own use. At the present moment you are poor as to money,
    though so rich in the gifts which make men love. On my knees before
    you I ask you to accept from my hand what I send, and to think of
    me as one who would serve you in more things if it were possible.
    Yours, if you will let me, affectionately,               REBECCA.

    I see when I look at them that the shoes will be too big.

She stood for a while apart from Ruth, with the open note in her hand,
thinking whether or no she would accept the gifts which had been sent.
The words which Rebecca had written had softened her heart, especially
those in which the Jewess had spoken openly to her of her poverty. "At
the present moment you are poor as to money," the girl had said, and
had said it as though such poverty were, after all, but a small thing
in their relative positions one to another. That Nina should be loved,
and Rebecca not loved, was a much greater thing. For her father's sake
she would take the things sent--and for Rebecca's sake. She would take
even the shoes, which she wanted so sorely. She remembered well, as she
read the last word, how, when Rebecca had been with her, she herself
had pointed to the poor broken slippers which she wore, not meaning to
excite such compassion as had now been shown. Yes, she would accept it
all--as one woman should take such things from another.

"You will not make Shadrach carry them back?" said Ruth, imploring her.

"But he--has he sent nothing?--not a word?" She would have thought
herself to be utterly incapable, before Ruth had come, of showing so
much weakness; but her reserve gave way as she admitted in her own
heart the kindness of Rebecca, and she became conquered and humbled.
She was so terribly in want of his love at this moment! "And has he
sent no word of a message to me?"

"I did not tell him that I was coming."

But he knows--he knows that father is so ill."

"Yes; I suppose he has heard that, because Souchey came to the house.
But he has been out of temper with us all, and unhappy, for some days
past. I know that he is unhappy when he is so harsh with us."

"And what has made him unhappy?

"Nay, I cannot tell you that. I thought perhaps it was because you did
not come to him. You used to come and see us at our house."

Dear Ruth! Dearest Ruth, for saying such dear words! She had done more
than Rebecca by the sweetness of the suggestion. If it were really the
case that he were unhappy because they had parted from each other in
anger, no further forgiveness would be necessary.

"But how can I come, Ruth?" she said. "It is he that should come to
me."

"You used to come."

"Ah, yes. I came first with messages from father, and then because I
loved to hear him talk to me. I do not mind telling you, Ruth, now. And
then I came because--because he said I was to be his wife. I thought
that if I was to be his wife it could not be wrong that I should go to
his father's house. But now that so many people know it--that they talk
about it so much--I cannot go to him now."

"But you are not ashamed of being engaged to him--because he is a Jew?"

"No," said Nina, raising herself to her full height; "I am not ashamed
of him. I am proud of him. To my thinking there is no man like him.
Compare him and Ziska, and Ziska becomes hardly a man at all. I am very
proud to think that he has chosen me."

"That is well spoken, and I shall tell him."

"No, you must not tell him, Ruth. Remember that I talk to you as a
friend, and not as a child."

"But I will tell him, because then his brow will become smooth, and he
will be happy. He likes to think that people know him to be clever; and
he will be glad to be told that you understand him."

"I think him greater and better than all men; but, Ruth, you must not
tell him what I say--not now, at least--for a reason."

"What reason, Nina?"

"Well; I will tell you, though I would not tell anyone else in the
world. When we parted last I was angry with him--very angry with him."

"He had been scolding you, perhaps?"

"I should not mind that--not in the least. He has a right to scold me."

"He has a right to scold me, I suppose; but I mind it very much."

"But he has no right to distrust me, Ruth. I wish he could see my heart
and all my mind, and know every thought in my breast, and then he would
feel that he could trust me. I would not deceive him by a word or a
look for all the world. He does not know how true I am to him, and that
kills me."

"I will tell him everything."

"No, Ruth; tell him nothing. If he cannot find it out without being
told, telling will do no good. If you thought a person was a thief,
would you change your mind because the person told you he was honest?
He must find it out for himself if he is ever to know it."

When Ruth was gone, Nina knew that she had been comforted. To have
spoken about her lover was in itself much; and to have spoken about him
as she had done seemed almost to have brought him once more near to
her. Ruth had declared that Anton was sad, and had suggested to Nina
that the cause of his sadness was the same as her own. There could not
but be comfort in this. If he really wished to see her, would he not
come over to the Kleinseite? There could be no reason why he should not
visit the girl he intended to marry, and whom he was longing to see. Of
course he had business which must occupy his time. He could not give up
every moment to thoughts of love, as she could do. She told herself all
this, and once more endeavoured to be comforted.

And then she unpacked the basket. There were fresh eggs, and a quantity
of jelly, and some soup in a jug ready to be made hot, and such
delicacies as invalids will eat when their appetites will serve for
nothing else. And Nina, as she took these things out, thought only of
her father. She took them as coming for him altogether, without any
reference to her own use. But at the bottom of the basket there were
stockings, and a handkerchief or two, and a petticoat, and a pair of
shoes. Should she throw them out among the ashes behind the kitchen, or
should she press them to her bosom as treasures to be loved as long as
a single thread of them might hang together? She had taken such alms
before--from her aunt Sophie--taking them in bitterness of spirit, and
wearing them as though they were made of sackcloth, very sore to the
skin. The acceptance of such things, even from her aunt, had been gall
to her; but, in the old days, no idea of refusing them had come to her.
Of course she must submit herself to her aunt's charity, because of her
father's poverty. And garments had come to her which were old and worn,
bearing unmistakable signs of Lotta's coarse but reparative energies--
raiment against which her feminine niceness would have rebelled, had it
been possible for her, in her misfortunes, to indulge her feminine
niceness.

But there was a sweet scent of last summer's roses on the things which
now lay in her lap, and each article was of the best; and, though each
had been worn, they were all such as one girl would lend to another who
was her dearest friend--who was to be made welcome to the wardrobe as
though it were her own. There was something of the tenderness of love
in the very folding, and respect as well as friendship in the care of
the packing. Her aunt's left-off clothes had come to her in a big roll,
fastened with a corking-pin. But Rebecca, with delicate fingers, had
made each article of her tribute to look pretty, as though for the
dress of such a one as Nina prettiness and care must always be needed.
It was not possible for her to refuse a present sent to her with so
many signs of tenderness.

And then she tried on the shoes. Of all the things she needed these
were the most necessary. At her first glance she thought that they were
new; but she perceived that they had been worn, and she liked them the
better on that account. She put her feet into them and found that they
were in truth a little too large for her. And this, even this, tended
in some sort to gratify her feelings and soothe the asperity of her
grief. "It is only a quarter of a size," she said to herself, as she
held up her dress that she might look at her feet. And thus she
resolved that she would accept her rival's kindness.

On the following morning the priest came--that Father Jerome whom she
had known as a child, and from whom she had been unable to obtain
ghostly comfort since she had come in contact with the Jew. Her aunt
and her father, Souchey and Lotta Luxa, had all threatened her with
Father Jerome; and when it had become manifest to her that it would be
necessary that the priest should visit her father in his extremity, she
had at first thought that it would be well for her to hide herself.
But the cowardice of this had appeared to her to be mean, and she had
resolved that she would meet her old friend at her father's bedside.
After all, what would his bitterest words be to her after such words
as she had endured from her lover?

Father Jerome came, and she received him in the parlour. She received
him with downcast eyes and a demeanour of humility, though she was
resolved to flare up against him if he should attack her too cruelly.
But the man was as mild to her and as kind as ever he had been in her
childhood, when he would kiss her, and call her his little nun, and
tell her that if she would be a good girl she should always have a
white dress and roses at the festival of St Nicholas. He put his hand
on her head and blessed her, and did not seem to have any abhorrence of
her because she was going to marry a Jew. And yet he knew it.

He asked a few words as to her father, who was indeed better on this
morning than he had been for the last few days, and then he passed on
into the sick man's room. And there, after a few faintest words of
confession from the sick man, Nina knelt by her father's bedside, while
the priest prayed for them both, and forgave the sinner his sins, and
prepared him for his further journey with such preparation as the
extreme unction of his Church would afford.

When the prayer and the ceremony were over, and the viaticum had been
duly administered, the priest returned into the parlour, and Nina
followed him. "He is stronger than I had expected to find him," said
Father Jerome.

"He has rallied a little, Father, because you were coming. You may be
sure that he is very ill."

"I know that he is very ill, but I think that he may still last some
days. Should it be so, I will come again." After that Nina thought that
the priest would have gone; but he paused for a few moments as though
hesitating, and then spoke again, putting down his hat, which he had
taken up. "But what is all this that I hear about you, Nina?"

"All what?" said Nina, blushing.

"They tell me that you have engaged yourself to marry Anton
Trendellsohn, the Jew."

She stood before him confessing her guilt by her silence. "Is it true,
Nina?" he asked.

"It is true."

"I am very sorry for that--very sorry. Could you not bring yourself to
love some Christian youth, rather than a Jew? Would it not be better,
do you think, to do so--for your soul's sake?"

"It is too late now, Father."

"Too late! No; it can never be too late to repent of evil."

"But why should it be evil, Father Jerome? It is permitted; is it not?"

"The law permits it, certainly."

"And when I am a Jew's wife, may I not go to mass?"

"Yes; you may go to mass. Who can hinder you?"

"And if I pray devoutly, will not the saints hear me?"

"It is not for me to limit their mercy. I think that they will hear all
prayers that are addressed to them with faith and humility."

"And you, Father, will you not give me absolution if I am a Jew's
wife?"

"I would ten times sooner give it you as the wife of a Christian, Nina.
My absolution would be nothing to you, Nina, if the while you had a
deep sin upon your conscience." Then the priest went, being unwilling
to endure further questioning, and Nina seated herself in a glow of
triumph. And this was the worst that she would have to endure from the
Church after all her aunt's threatenings--after Lotta's bitter words,
and the reproaches of all around her! Father Jerome--even Father
Jerome himself, who was known to be the strictest priest on that side
of the river in opposing the iniquities of his flock--did not take upon
himself to say that her case as a Christian would be hopeless, were she
to marry the Jew! After that she went to the drawer in her bedroom, and
restored the picture of the Virgin to its place.




CHAPTER XIV


Father Jerome had been very mild with Nina, but his mildness did not
produce any corresponding feelings of gentleness in the breasts of
Nina's relatives in the Windberg-gasse. Indeed, it had the contrary
effect of instigating Madame Zamenoy and Lotta Luxa to new exertions.
Nina, in her triumph, could not restrain herself from telling Souchey
that Father Jerome did not by any means think so badly of her as did
the others; and Souchey, partly in defence of Nina, and partly in
quest of further sound information on the knotty religious difficulty
involved, repeated it all to Lotta. Among them they succeeded in
cutting Souchey's ground from under him as far as any defence of Nina
was concerned, and they succeeded also in solving his religious doubts.
Poor Souchey was at last convinced that the best service he could
tender to his mistress was to save her from marrying the Jew, let the
means by which this was to be done be, almost, what they might.

As the result of this teaching, Souchey went late one afternoon to
the Jews' quarter. He did not go thither direct from the house in the
Kleinseite, but from Madame Zamenoy's abode, where he had again dined
previously in Lotta's presence. Madame Zamenoy herself had condescended
to enlighten his mind on the subject of Nina's peril, and had gone so
far as to invite him to hear a few words on the subject from a priest
on that side of the water. Souchey had only heard Nina's report of what
Father Jerome had said, but he was listening with his own ears while
the other priest declared his opinion that things would go very badly
with any Christian girl who might marry a Jew. This sufficed for him;
and then--having been so far enlightened by Madame Zamenoy herself--he
accepted a little commission, which took him to the Jew's house. Lotta
had had much difficulty in arranging this; for Souchey was not open
to a bribe in the matter, and on that account was able to press his
legitimate suit very closely. Before he would start on his errand to
the Jew, Lotta was almost obliged to promise that she would yield.

It was late in the afternoon when he got to Trendellsohn's house. He
had never been there before, though he well knew the exact spot on
which it stood, and had often looked up at the windows, regarding the
place with unpleasant suspicions; for he knew that Trendellsohn was
now the owner of the property that had once been his master's, and, of
course, as a good Christian, he believed that the Jew had obtained
Balatka's money by robbery and fraud. He hesitated a moment before he
presented himself at the door, having some fear at his heart. He knew
that he was doing right, but these Jews in their own quarter were
uncanny, and might be dangerous! To Anton Trendellsohn, over in the
Kleinseite, Souchey could be independent, and perhaps on occasions a
little insolent; but of Anton Trendellsohn in his own domains he almost
acknowledged to himself that he was afraid. Lotta had told him that, if
Anton were not at home, his commission could be done as well with the
old man; and as he at last made his way round the synagogue to the
house door, he determined that he would ask for the elder Jew. That
which he had to say, he thought, might be said easier to the father
than to the son.

The door of the house stood open, and Souchey, who, in his confusion,
missed the bell, entered the passage. The little oil-lamp still hung
there, giving a mysterious glimmer of light, which he did not at all
enjoy. He walked on very slowly, trying to get courage to call, when,
of a sudden, he perceived that there was a figure of a man standing
close to him in the gloom. He gave a little start, barely suppressing a
scream, and then perceived that the man was Anton Trendellsohn himself.
Anton, hearing steps in the passage, had come out from the room on the
ground-floor, and had seen Souchey before Souchey had seen him.

"You have come from Josef Balatka's," said the Jew. "How is the old
man?"

Souchey took off his cap and bowed, and muttered something as to his
having come upon an errand. "And my master is something better to-day,"
he said, "thanks be to God for all His mercies!"

"Amen," said the Jew.

"But it will only last a day or two; no more than that," said Souchey.
"He has had the doctor and the priest, and they both say that it is all
over with him for this world."

"And Nina--you have brought some message probably from her?"

"No--no indeed; that is, not exactly; not to-day, Herr Trendellsohn.
The truth is, I had wished to speak a word or two to you about the
maiden; but perhaps you are engaged--perhaps another time would be
better."

"I am not engaged, and no other time could be better."

They were still out in the passage, and Souchey hesitated. That which
he had to say it would behove him to whisper into the closest privacy
of the Jew's ear--into the ear of the old Jew or of the young. "It is
something very particular," said Souchey.

"Very particular--is it?" said the Jew.

"Very particular indeed." said Souchey. Then Anton Trendellsohn led
the way back into the dark room on the ground-floor from whence he had
come, and invited Souchey to follow him. The shutters were up, and the
place was seldom used. There was a counter running through it, and a
cross-counter, such as are very common when seen by the light of day
in shops; but the place seemed to be mysterious to Souchey; and always
afterwards, when he thought of this interview, he remembered that his
tale had been told in the gloom of a chamber that had never been
arranged for honest Christian purposes.

"And now, what is it you have to tell me?" said the Jew.

After some fashion Souchey told his tale, and the Jew listened to him
without a word of interruption. More than once Souchey had paused,
hoping that the Jew would say something; but not a sound had fallen
from Trendellsohn till Souchey's tale was done.

"And it is so--is it?" said the Jew when Souchey ceased to speak. There
was nothing in his voice which seemed to indicate either sorrow or joy,
or even surprise.

"Yes, it is so," said Souchey.

"And how much am I to pay you for the information?" the Jew asked.

"You are to pay me nothing," said Souchey.

"What! you betray your mistress gratis?"

"I do not betray her," said Souchey. I love her and the old man too. I
have been with them through fair weather and through foul. I have not
betrayed her."

"Then why have you come to me with this story?"

The whole truth was almost on Souchey's tongue. He had almost said that
his sole object was to save his mistress from the disgrace of marrying
a Jew. But he checked himself, then paused a moment, and then left the
room and the house abruptly. He had done his commission, and the fewer
words which he might have with the Jew after that the better.

On the following morning Nina was seated by her father's bedside, when
her quick ear caught through the open door the sound of a footstep in
the hall below. She looked for a moment at the old man, and saw that if
not sleeping he appeared to sleep. She leaned over him for a moment,
gave one gentle touch with her hand to the bed-clothes, then crept out
into the parlour, and closed behind her the door of the bed-room. When
in the middle of the outer chamber she listened again, and there was
clearly a step on the stairs. She listened again, and she knew that the
step was the step of her lover. He had come to her at last, then. Now,
at this moment, she lost all remembrance of her need of forgiving him.
Forgiving him! What could there be to be forgiven to one who could make
her so happy as she felt herself to be at this moment? She opened the
door of the room just as he had raised his hand to knock, and threw
herself into his arms. "Anton, dearest, you have come at last. But I
am not going to scold. I am so glad that you have come, my own one!"

While she was yet speaking, he brought her back into the room,
supporting her with his arm round her waist; and when the door was
closed he stood over her still holding her up, and looking down into
her face, which was turned up to his. "Why do you not speak to me,
Anton?" she said. But she smiled as she spoke, and there was nothing
of fear in the tone of her voice, for his look was kind, and there was
love in his eyes.

He stooped down over her, and fastened his lips upon her forehead. She
pressed herself closer against his shoulder, and shutting her eyes, as
she gave herself up to the rapture of his embrace, told herself that
now all should be well with them.

"Dear Nina," he said.

"Dearest, dearest Anton," she replied.

And then he asked after her father; and the two sat together for a
while, with their knees almost touching, talking in whispers as to the
condition of the old man. And they were still so sitting, and still so
talking, when Nina rose from her chair, and put up her forefinger with
a slight motion for silence, and a pretty look of mutual interest--as
though Anton were already one of the same family; and, touching his
hair lightly with her hand as she passed him, that he might feel how
delighted she was to be able so to touch him, she went back to the door
of the bedroom on tiptoe, and, lifting the latch without a sound, put
in her head and listened. But the sick man had not stirred. His face
was still turned from her, as though he slept, and then, again closing
the door, she came back to her lover.

"He is quite quiet," she said, whispering.

"Does he suffer?"

"I think not; he never complains. When he is awake he will sit with my
hand within his own, and now and again there is a little pressure."

"And he says nothing?"

"Very little; hardly a word now and then. When he does speak, it is of
his food."

"He can eat, then?"

"A morsel of jelly, or a little soup. But, Anton, I must tell you--I
tell you everything, you know--where do you think the things that he
takes have come from? But perhaps you know."

"Indeed I do not."

"They were sent to me by Rebecca Loth."

"By Rebecca!"

"Yes; by your friend Rebecca. She must be a good girl."

"She is a good girl, Nina."

"And you shall know everything; see--she sent me these," and Nina
showed her shoes; "and the very stockings I have on; I am not ashamed
that you should know."

"Your want, then, has been so great as that?"

"Father has been very poor. How should he not be poor when nothing is
earned? And she came here, and she saw it."

"She sent you these things?"

"Yes, Ruth came with them; there was a great basket with nourishing
food for father. It was very kind of her. But, Anton, Rebecca says that
I ought not to marry you, because of our religion. She says all the
Jews in Prague will become your enemies."

"We will not stay in Prague; we will go elsewhere. There are other
cities besides Prague."

"Where nobody will know us?"

"Where we will not be ashamed to be known."

"I told Rebecca that I would give you back all your promises, if you
wished me to do so."

"I do not wish it. I will not give you back your promises, Nina."

The enraptured girl again clung to him. "My own one," she said, "my
darling, my husband; when you speak to me like that, there is no girl
in Bohemia so happy as I am. Hush! I thought it was father. But no;
there is no sound. I do not mind what anyone says to me, as long as you
are kind."

She was now sitting on his knee, and his arm was round her waist, and
she was resting her head against his brow; he had asked for no pardon,
but all the past was entirely forgiven; why should she even think of it
again? Some such thought was passing through her mind, when he spoke a
word, and it seemed as though a dagger had gone into her heart. "About
that paper, Nina?" Accursed document, that it should be brought again
between them to dash the cup of joy from her lips at such a moment as
this! She disengaged herself from his embrace, almost with a leap.
"Well! what about the paper?" she said.

Simply this, that I would wish to know where it is."

"And you think I have it?"

"No; I do not think so; I am perplexed about it, hardly knowing what to
believe; but I do not think you have it; I think that you know nothing
of it."

"Then why do you mention it again, reminding me of the cruel words
which you spoke before?"

"Because it is necessary for both our sakes. I will tell you plainly
just what I have heard: your servant Souchey has been with me, and he
says that you have it."

"Souchey!"

"Yes; Souchey. It seemed strange enough to me, for I had always thought
him to be your friend."

"Souchey has told you that I have got it?"

"He says that it is in that desk," and the Jew pointed to the old
depository of all the treasures which Nina possessed.

"He is a liar."

"I think he is so, though I cannot tell why he should have so lied; but
I think he is a liar; I do not believe that it is there; but in such a
matter it is well that the fact should be put beyond all dispute. You
will not object to my looking into the desk?" He had come there with a
fixed resolve that he would demand to search among her papers. It was
very unpleasant to him, and he knew that his doing so would be painful
to her; but he told himself that it would be best for them both that he
should persevere.

"Will you open it, or shall I?" he said; and as he spoke, she looked
into his face, and saw that all tenderness and love were banished from
it, and that the hard suspicious greed of the Jew was there instead.

"I will not unlock it," she said; "there is the key, and you can do as
you please." Then she flung the key upon the table, and stood with her
back up against the wall, at some ten paces distant from the spot where
the desk stood. He took up the key, and placed it remorselessly in the
lock, and opened the desk, and brought all the papers forth on to the
table which stood in the middle of the room.

"Are all my letters to be read?" she asked.

"Nothing is to be read," he said.

"Not that I should mind it; or at least I should have cared but little
ten minutes since. There are words there may make you think I have been
a fool, but a fool only too faithful to you."

He made no answer to this, but moved the papers one by one carefully
till he came to a folded document larger than the others. Why dwell
upon it? Of course it was the deed for which he was searching. Nina,
when from her station by the wall she saw that there was something in
her lover's hands of which she had no knowledge--something which had
been in her own desk without her privity--came forward a step or two,
looking with all her eyes. But she did not speak till he had spoken;
nor did he speak at once. He slowly unfolded the document, and perused
the heading of it; then he refolded it, and placed it on the table, and
stood there with his hand upon it.

"This," said he, "is the paper for which I am looking. Souchey, at any
rate, is not a liar.

"How came it there?" said Nina, almost screaming in her agony.

"That I know not; but Souchey is not a liar; nor were your aunt and her
servant liars in telling me that I should find it in your hands."

"Anton," she said, "as the Lord made me, I knew not of it;" and she
fell on her knees before his feet.

He looked down upon her, scanning every feature of her face and every
gesture of her body with hard inquiring eyes. He did not stoop to raise
her, nor, at the moment, did he say a word to comfort her. "And you
think that I stole it and put it there?" she said. She did not quail
before his eyes, but seemed, though kneeling before him, to look up
at him as though she would defy him. When first she had sunk upon the
ground, she had been weak, and wanted pardon though she was ignorant
of all offence; but his hardness, as he stood with his eyes fixed upon
her, had hardened her, and all her intellect, though not her heart,
was in revolt against him. "You think that I have robbed you?"

"I do not know what to think," he said.

Then she rose slowly to her feet, and, collecting the papers which he
had strewed upon the table, put them back slowly into the desk, and
locked it.

"You have done with this now," she said, holding the key in her hand.

"Yes; I do not want the key again."

"And you have done with me also?"

He paused a moment or two to collect his thoughts, and then he answered
her. "Nina, I would wish to think about this before I speak of it more
fully. What step I may next take I cannot say without considering it
much. I would not wish to pain you if I could help it."

"Tell me at once what it is that you believe of me?"

"I cannot tell you at once. Rebecca Loth is friendly to you, and I will
send her to you to-morrow."

"I will not see Rebecca Loth," said Nina. "Hush! there is father's
voice. Anton, I have nothing more to say to you--nothing--nothing."
Then she left him, and went into her father's room.

For some minutes she was busy by her father's bed, and went about her
work with a determined alacrity, as though she would wipe out of her
mind altogether, for the moment, any thought about her love and the Jew
and the document that had been found in her desk; and for a while she
was successful, with a consciousness, indeed, that she was under the
pressure of a terrible calamity which must destroy her, but still with
an outward presence of mind that supported her in her work. And her
father spoke to her, saying more to her than he had done for days past,
thanking her for her care, patting her hand with his, caressing her,
and bidding her still be of good cheer, as God would certainly be good
to one who had been so excellent a daughter. "But I wish, Nina, he were
not a Jew," he said suddenly.

"Dear father, we will not talk of that now."

"And he is a stern man, Nina."

But on this subject she would speak no further, and therefore she left
the bedside for a moment, and offered him a cup, from which he drank.
When he had tasted it he forgot the matter that had been in his mind,
and said no further word as to Nina's engagement.

As soon as she had taken the cup from her father's hand, she returned
to the parlour. It might be that Anton was still there. She had left
him in the room, and had shut her ears against the sound of his steps,
as though she were resolved that she would care nothing ever again for
his coming or going. He was gone, however, and the room was empty, and
she sat down in solitude, with her back against the wall, and began to
realise her position. He had told her that others accused her, but that
he had not suspected her. He had not suspected her, but he had thought
it necessary to search, and had found in her possession that which had
made her guilty in his eyes!

She would never see him again--never willingly. It was not only that he
would never forgive her, but that she could never now be brought to
forgive him. He had stabbed her while her words of love were warmest in
his ear. His foul suspicions had been present to his mind even while
she was caressing him. He had never known what it was to give himself
up really to his love for one moment. While she was seated on his knee,
with her head pressed against his, his intellect had been busy with the
key and the desk, as though he were a policeman looking for a thief,
rather than a lover happy in the endearments of his mistress. Her vivid
mind pictured all this to her, filling her full with every incident of
the insult she had endured. No. There must be an end of it now. If she
could see her aunt that moment, or Lotta, or even Ziska, she would tell
them that it should be so. She would say nothing to Anton--no, not a
word again, though both might live for an eternity; but she would write
a line to Rebecca Loth, and tell the Jewess that the Jew was now free
to marry whom he would among his own people. And some of the words that
she thought would be fitting for such a letter occurred to her as she
sat there. "I know now that a Jew and a Christian ought not to love
each other as we loved. Their hearts are different." That was her
present purpose, but, as will be seen, she changed it afterwards.

But ever and again as she strengthened her resolution, her thoughts
would run from her, carrying her back to the sweet rapture of some
moment in which the man had been gracious to her; and even while she
was struggling to teach herself to hate him, she would lean her head on
one side, as though by doing so she might once more touch his brow with
hers; and unconsciously she would put out her fingers, as though they
might find their way into his hand. And then she would draw them back
with a shudder, as though recoiling from the touch of an adder.

Hours had passed over her before she began to think whence had come the
paper which Trendellsohn had found in her desk; and then, when the idea
of some fraud presented itself to her, that part of the subject did
not seem to her to be of great moment. It mattered but little who had
betrayed her. It might be Rebecca, or Souchey, or Ruth, or Lotta, or
all of them together. His love, his knowledge of her whom he loved,
should have carried him aloft out of the reach of any such poor trick
as that! What mattered it now who had stolen her key, and gone like
a thief to her desk, and laid this plot for her destruction? That he
should have been capable of being deceived by such a plot against her
was enough for her. She did not even speak to Souchey on the subject.
In the course of the afternoon he came across her as she moved about
the house, looking ashamed, not daring to meet her eyes, hardly able
to mutter a word to her. But she said not a syllable to him about her
desk. She could not bring herself to plead the cause between her and
her lover before her father's servant.

The greater part of the day she passed by her father's bedside, but
whenever she could escape from the room, she seated herself in the
chair against the wall, endeavouring to make up her mind as to the
future. But there was much more of passion than of thought within her
breast. Never, never, never would she forgive him! Never again would
she sit on his knee caressing him. Never again would she even speak to
him. Nothing would she take from his hand, or from the hands of his
friends! Nor would she ever stoop to take aught from her aunt, or
from Ziska. They had triumphed over her. She knew not how. They had
triumphed over her, but the triumph should be very bitter to them--
very bitter, if there was any touch of humanity left among them.

Later in the day there came to be something of motion in the house. Her
father was worse in health, was going fast, and the doctor was again
there. And in these moments Souchey was with her, busy in the dying
man's room; and there were gentle kind words spoken between him and
Nina--as would be natural between such persons at such a time. He knew
that he had been a traitor, and the thought of his treachery was heavy
at his heart; but he perceived that no immediate punishment was to come
upon him, and it was some solace to him that he could be sedulous and
gentle and tender. And Nina, though she knew that the man had given his
aid in destroying her, bore with him not only without a hard word, but
almost without a severe thought. What did it matter what such a one as
Souchey could do?

In the middle watches of that night the old man died, and Nina was
alone in the world. Souchey, indeed, was with her in the house, and
took from her all painful charge of the bed at which now her care could
no longer be of use. And early in the morning, while it was yet dark,
Lotta came down, and spoke words to her, of which she remembered
nothing. And then she knew that her aunt Sophie was there, and that
some offers were made to her at which she only shook her head. "Of
course you will come up to us," aunt Sophie said. And she made many
more suggestions, in answer to all of which Nina only shook her head.
Then her aunt and Nina, with Lotta's aid, fixed upon some plan--Nina
hardly knew what--as to the morrow. She did not care to know what it
was that they fixed. They were going to leave her alone for this day,
and the day would be very long. She told herself that it would be long
enough for her.

The day was very long. When her aunt had left her she saw no one but
Souchey and an old woman who was busy in the bedroom which was now
closed. She had stood at the foot of the bed with her aunt, but after
that she did not return to the chamber. It was not only her father who,
for her, was now lying dead. She had loved her father well, but with a
love infinitely greater she had loved another; and that other one was
now dead to her also. What was there left to her in the world? The
charity of her aunt, and Lotta's triumph, and Ziska's love? No indeed!
She would bear neither the charity, nor the triumph, nor the love. One
other visitor came to the house that day. It was Rebecca Loth. But Nina
refused to see Rebecca. "Tell her," she said to Souchey, "that I cannot
see a stranger while my father is lying dead." How often did the idea
occur to her, throughout the terrible length of that day, that "he"
might come to her? But he came not. "So much the better," she said to
herself. "Were he to come, I would not see him."

Late in the evening, when the little lamp in the room had been already
burning for some hour or two, she called Souchey to her. "Take this
note," she said, "to Anton Trendellsohn."

"What! to-night?" said Souchey, trembling.

"Yes, to-night. It is right that he should know that the house is now
his own, to do what he will with it."

Then Souchey took the note, which was as follows:

     My father is dead, and the house will be empty to-morrow.
     You may come and take your property without fear that you
     will be troubled by                          NINA BALATKA.




CHAPTER XV


When Souchey left the room with the note, Nina went to the door and
listened. She heard him turn the lock below, and heard his step out
in the courtyard, and listened till she knew that he was crossing the
square. Then she ran quickly up to her own room, put on her hat and her
old worn cloak--the cloak which aunt Sophie had given her--and returned
once more into the parlour. She looked round the room with anxious
eyes, and seeing her desk, she took the key from her pocket and put
it into the lock. Then there came a thought into her mind as to the
papers; but she resolved that the thought need not arrest her, and
she left the key in the lock with the papers untouched. Then she went
to the door of her father's room, and stood there for a moment with her
hand upon the latch. She tried it ever so gently, but she found that
the door was bolted. The bolt, she knew, was on her side, and she could
withdraw it; but she did not do so; seeming to take the impediment as
though it were a sufficient bar against her entrance. Then she ran down
the stairs rapidly, opened the front door, and found herself out in the
night air.

It was a cold windy night--not so late, indeed, as to have made her
feel that it was night, had she not come from the gloom of the dark
parlour, and the glimmer of her one small lamp. It was now something
beyond the middle of October, and at present it might be eight o'clock.
She knew that there would be moonlight, and she looked up at the sky;
but the clouds were all dark, though she could see that they were
moving along with the gusts of wind. It was very cold, and she drew her
cloak closer about her as she stepped out into the archway.

Up above her, almost close to her in the gloom of the night, there was
the long colonnade of the palace, with the lights glimmering in the
windows as they always glimmered. She allowed herself for a moment to
think who might be there in those rooms--as she had so often thought
before. It was possible that Anton might be there. He had been there
once before at this time in the evening, as he himself had told her.
Wherever he might be, was he thinking of her? But if he thought of her,
he was thinking of her as one who had deceived him, who had tried to
rob him. Ah! the day would soon come in which he would learn that he
had wronged her. When that day should come, would his heart be bitter
within him? "He will certainly be unhappy for a time," she said; "but
he is hard and will recover, and she will console him. It will be
better so. A Christian and a Jew should never love each other."

As she stood the clouds were lifted for a moment from the face of the
risen moon, and she could see by the pale clear light the whole facade
of the palace as it ran along the steep hillside above her. She could
count the arches, as she had so often counted them by the same light.
They seemed to be close over her head, and she stood there thinking of
them, till the clouds had again skurried across the moon's face, and
she could only see the accustomed glimmer in the windows. As her eye
fell upon the well-known black buildings around her, she found that it
was very dark. It was well for her that it should be so dark. She never
wanted to see the light again.

There was a footstep on the other side of the square, and she paused
till it had passed away beyond the reach of her ears. Then she came out
from under the archway, and hurried across the square to the street
which led to the bridge. It was a dark gloomy lane, narrow, and
composed of high buildings without entrances, the sides of barracks and
old palaces. From the windows above her head on the left, she heard
the voices of soldiers. A song was being sung, and she could hear the
words. How cruel it was that other people should have so much of light-
hearted joy in the world, but that for her everything should have been
so terribly sad! The wind, as it met her, seemed to penetrate to her
bones. She was very cold! But it was useless to regard that. There was
no place on the face of the earth that would ever be warm for her.

As she passed along the causeway leading to the bridge, a sound with
which she was very familiar met her ears. They were singing vespers
under the shadow of one of the great statues which are placed one over
each arch of the bridge. There was a lay friar standing by a little
table, on which there was a white cloth and a lighted lamp and a small
crucifix; and above the crucifix, supported against the stone-work of
the bridge, there was a picture of the Virgin with her Child, and there
was a tawdry wreath of paper flowers, so that by the light of the lamp
you could see that a little altar had been prepared. And on the table
there was a plate containing kreutzers, into which the faithful who
passed and took a part in the evening psalm of praise, might put an
offering for the honour of the Virgin, and for the benefit of the poor
friar and his brethren in their poor cloisters at home. Nina knew all
about it well. Scores of times had she stood on the same spot upon the
bridge, and sung the vesper hymn, ere she passed on to the Kleinseite.

And now she paused and sang it once again. Around the table upon the
pavement there stood perhaps thirty or forty persons, most of them
children, and the remainder girls perhaps of Nina's age. And the friar
stood close by the table, leaning idly against the bridge, with his eye
wandering from the little plate with the kreutzers to the passers-by
who might possibly contribute. And ever and anon he with drawling
voice would commence some sentence of the hymn, and then the girls and
children would take it up, well knowing the accustomed words; and their
voices as they sang would sound sweetly across the waters, the loud
gurgling of which, as they ran beneath the arch, would be heard during
the pauses.

And Nina stopped and sang. When she was a child she had sung there very
often, and the friar of those days would put his hand upon her head and
bless her, as she brought her small piece of tribute to his plate. Of
late, since she had been at variance with the Church by reason of the
Jew, she had always passed by rapidly, as though feeling that she had
no longer any right to take a part in such a ceremony. But now she had
done with the Jew, and surely she might sing the vesper song. So she
stopped and sang, remembering not the less as she sang, that that which
she was about to do, if really done, would make all such singing
unavailing for her.

But then, perhaps, even yet it might not be done. Lotta's first
prediction, that the Jew would desert her, had certainly come true;
and Lotta's second prediction, that there would be nothing left for
her but to drown herself, seemed to her to be true also. She had left
the house in which her father's dead body was still lying, with this
purpose. Doubly deserted as she now was by lover and father, she could
live no longer. It might, however, be possible that that saint who was
so powerful over the waters might yet do something for her--might yet
interpose on her behalf, knowing, as he did, of course, that all idea
of marriage between her, a Christian, and her Jew lover had been
abandoned. At any rate she stood and sang the hymn, and when there
came the accustomed lull at the end of the verse, she felt in her
pocket for a coin, and, taking a piece of ten kreutzers, she stepped
quickly up to the plate and put it in. A day or two ago ten kreutzers
was an important portion of the little sum which she still had left in
hand, but now ten kreutzers could do nothing for her. It was at any
rate better that the friar should have it than that her money should
go with her down into the blackness of the river. Nevertheless she did
not give the friar all. She saw one girl whispering to another as she
stepped up to the table, and she heard her own name. "That is Nina
Balatka." And then there was an answer which she did not hear, but
which she was sure referred to the Jew. The girls looked at her with
angry eyes, and she longed to stop and explain to them that she was no
longer betrothed to the Jew. Then, perhaps, they would be gentle with
her, and she might yet hear a kind word spoken to her before she went.
But she did not speak to them. No; she would never speak to man or
woman again. What was the use of speaking now? No sympathy that she
could receive would go deep enough to give relief to such wounds as
hers.

As she dropped her piece of money into the plate her eyes met those of
the friar, and she recognised at once a man whom she had known years
ago, at the same spot and engaged in the same work. He was old and
haggard, and thin, and grey, and very dirty; but there came a smile
over his face as he also recognised her. He could not speak to her, for
he had to take up a verse in the hymn, and drawl out the words which
were to set the crowd singing, and Nina had retired back again before
he was silent. But she knew that he had known her, and she almost felt
that she had found a friend who would be kind to her. On the morrow,
when inquiry would be made--and aunt Sophie would certainly be loud
in her inquiries--this friar would be able to give some testimony
respecting her.

She passed on altogether across the bridge, in order that she might
reach the spot she desired without observation--and perhaps also with
some halting idea that she might thus postpone the evil moment. The
figure of St John Nepomucene rested on the other balustrade of the
bridge, and she was minded to stand for a while under its shadow. Now,
at Prague it is the custom that they who pass over the bridge shall
always take the right-hand path as they go; and she, therefore, in
coming from the Kleinseite, had taken that opposite to the statue of
the saint. She had thought of this, and had told herself that she would
cross the roadway in the middle of the bridge; but at that moment the
moon was shining brightly: and then, too, the night was long. Why need
she be in a hurry?

At the further end of the bridge she stood a while in the shade of the
watch-tower, and looked anxiously around her. When last she had been
over in the Old Town, within a short distance of the spot where she now
stood, she had chanced to meet her lover. What if she should see him
now? She was sure that she would not speak to him. And yet she looked
very anxiously up the dark street, through the glimmer of the dull
lamps. First there came one man, and then another, and a third; and
she thought, as her eyes fell upon them, that the figure of each was
the figure of Anton Trendellsohn. But as they emerged from the darker
shadow into the light that was near, she saw that it was not so, and
she told herself that she was glad. If Anton were to come and find
her there, it might be that he would disturb her purpose. But yet she
looked again before she left the shadow of the tower. Now there was no
one passing in the street. There was no figure there to make her think
that her lover was coming either to save her or to disturb her.

Taking the pathway on the other side, she turned her face again towards
the Kleinseite, and very slowly crept along under the balustrade of
the bridge. This bridge over the Moldau is remarkable in many ways,
but it is specially remarkable for the largeness of its proportions. It
is very long, taking its spring from the shore a long way before the
actual margin of the river; it is of a fine breadth: the side-walks to
it are high and massive; and the groups of statues with which it is
ornamented, though not in themselves of much value as works of art,
have a dignity by means of their immense size which they lend to the
causeway, making the whole thing noble, grand, and impressive. And
below, the Moldau runs with a fine, silent, dark volume of water--a
very sea of waters when the rains have fallen and the little rivers
have been full, though in times of drought great patches of ugly dry
land are to be seen in its half-empty bed. At the present moment there
were no such patches; and the waters ran by, silent, black, in great
volumes, and with unchecked rapid course. It was only by pausing
specially to listen to them that the passer-by could hear them as they
glided smoothly round the piers of the bridge. Nina did pause and did
hear them. They would have been almost less terrible to her, had the
sound been rougher and louder.

On she went, very slowly. The moon, she thought, had disappeared
altogether before she reached the cross inlaid in the stone on the
bridge-side, on which she was accustomed to lay her fingers, in order
that she might share somewhat of the saint's power over the river. At
that moment, as she came up to it, the night was very dark. She had
calculated that by this time the light of the moon would have waned,
so that she might climb to the spot which she had marked for herself
without observation. She paused, hesitating whether she would put her
hand upon the cross. It could not at least do her any harm. It might
be that the saint would be angry with her, accusing her of hypocrisy;
but what would be the saint's anger for so small a thing amidst the
multitudes of charges that would be brought against her? For that which
she was going to do now there could be no absolution given. And perhaps
the saint might perceive that the deed on her part was not altogether
hypocritical--that there was something in it of a true prayer. He
might see this, and intervene to save her from the waters. So she put
the palm of her little hand full upon the cross, and then kissed it
heartily, and after that raised it up again till it rested on the foot
of the saint. As she stood there she heard the departing voices of the
girls and children singing the last verse of the vesper hymn, as they
followed the friar off the causeway of the bridge into the Kleinseite.

She was determined that she would persevere. She had endured that which
made it impossible that she should recede, and had sworn to herself a
thousand times that she would never endure that which would have to be
endured if she remained longer in this cruel world. There would be no
roof to cover her now but the roof in the Windberg-gasse, beneath which
there was to her a hell upon earth. No; she would face the anger of
all the saints rather than eat the bitter bread which her aunt would
provide for her. And she would face the anger of all the saints rather
than fall short in her revenge upon her lover. She had given herself to
him altogether--for him she had been half-starved, when, but for him,
she might have lived as a favoured daughter in her aunt's house--for
him she had made it impossible to herself to regard any other man with
a spark of affection--for his sake she had hated her cousin Ziska--
her cousin who was handsome, and young, and rich, and had loved her--
feeling that the very idea that she could accept love from anyone but
Anton had been an insult to her. She had trusted Anton as though his
word had been gospel to her. She had obeyed him in everything, allowing
him to scold her as though she were already subject to his rule; and,
to speak the truth, she had enjoyed such treatment, obtaining from it
a certain assurance that she was already his own. She had loved him
entirely, had trusted him altogether, had been prepared to bear all
that the world could fling upon her for his sake, wanting nothing in
return but that he should know that she was true to him.

This he had not known, nor had he been able to understand such truth.
It had not been possible to him to know it. The inborn suspicion of
his nature had broken out in opposition to his love, forcing her to
acknowledge to herself that she had been wrong in loving a Jew. He had
been unable not to suspect her of some vile scheme by which she might
possibly cheat him of his property, if at the last moment she should
not become his wife. She told herself that she understood it all now--
that she could see into his mind, dark and gloomy as were its recesses.
She had wasted all her heart upon a man who had never even believed
in her; and would she not be revenged upon him? Yes, she would be
revenged, and she would cure the malady of her own love by the only
possible remedy within her reach.

The statue of St John Nepomucene is a single figure, standing in
melancholy weeping posture on the balustrade of the bridge, without
any of that ponderous strength of wide-spread stone which belongs to
the other groups. This St John is always pictured to us as a thin,
melancholy, half-starved saint, who has had all the life washed out
of him by his long immersion. There are saints to whom a trusting
religious heart can turn, relying on their apparent physical
capabilities. St Mark, for instance, is always a tower of strength,
and St Christopher is very stout, and St Peter carries with him an
ancient manliness which makes one marvel at his cowardice when he
denied his Master. St Lawrence, too, with his gridiron, and St
Bartholomew with his flaying-knife and his own skin hanging over his
own arm, look as though they liked their martyrdom, and were proud of
it, and could be useful on an occasion. But this St John of the Bridges
has no pride in his appearance, and no strength in his look. He is a
mild, meek saint, teaching one rather by his attitude how to bear with
the malice of the waters, than offering any protection against their
violence. But now, at this moment, his aid was the only aid to which
Nina could look with any hope. She had heard of his rescuing many
persons from death amidst the current of the Moldau. Indeed she thought
that she could remember having been told that the river had no power to
drown those who could turn their minds to him when they were struggling
in the water. Whether this applied only to those who were in sight
of his statue on the bridge of Prague, or whether it was good in all
rivers of the world, she did not know. Then she tried to think whether
she had ever heard of any case in which the saint had saved one who
had--who had done the thing which she was now about to do. She was
almost sure that she had never heard of such a case as that. But, then,
was there not something special in her own case? Was not her suffering
so great, her condition so piteous, that the saint would be driven to
compassion in spite of the greatness of her sin? Would he not know that
she was punishing the Jew by the only punishment with which she could
reach him? She looked up into the saint's wan face, and fancied that
no eyes were ever so piteous, no brow ever so laden with the deep
suffering of compassion. But would this punishment reach the heart of
Anton Trendellsohn? Would he care for it? When he should hear that she
had--destroyed her own life because she could not endure the cruelty of
his suspicion, would the tidings make him unhappy? When last they had
been together he had told her, with all that energy which he knew so
well how to put into his words, that her love was necessary to his
happiness. "I will never release you from your promises," he had said,
when she offered to give him back his troth because of the ill-will of
his people. And she still believed him. Yes, he did love her. There was
something of consolation to her in the assurance that the strings of
his heart would be wrung when he should hear of this. If his bosom were
capable of agony, he would be agonised.

It was very dark at this moment, and now was the time for her to climb
upon the stone-work and hide herself behind the drapery of the saint's
statue. More than once, as she had crossed the bridge, she had observed
the spot, and had told herself that if such a deed were to be done,
that would be the place for doing it. She had always been conscious,
since the idea had entered her mind, that she would lack the power to
step boldly up on to the parapet and go over at once, as the bathers do
when they tumble headlong into the stream that has no dangers for them.
She had known that she must crouch, and pause, and think of it, and
look at it, and nerve herself with the memory of her wrongs. Then,
at some moment in which her heart was wrung to the utmost, she would
gradually slacken her hold, and the dark, black, silent river should
take her. She climbed up into the niche, and found that the river was
very far from her, though death was so near to her and the fall would
be so easy. When she became aware that there was nothing between her
and the great void space below her, nothing to guard her, nothing left
to her in all the world to protect her, she retreated, and descended
again to the pavement. And never in her life had she moved with more
care, lest, inadvertently, a foot or a hand might slip, and she might
tumble to her doom against her will.

When she was again on the pathway she remembered her note to Anton--
that note which was already in his hands. What would he think of her if
she were only to threaten the deed, and then not perform it? And would
she allow him to go unpunished? Should he triumph, as he would do if
she were now to return to the house which she had told him she had
left? She clasped her hands together tightly, and pressed them first
to her bosom and then to her brow, and then again she returned to the
niche from which the fall into the river must be made. Yes, it was very
easy. The plunge might be taken at any moment. Eternity was before her,
and of life there remained to her but the few moments in which she
might cling there and think of what was coming. Surely she need not
begrudge herself a minute or two more of life.

She was very cold, so cold that she pressed herself against the stone
in order that she might save herself from the wind that whistled round
her. But the water would be colder still than the wind, and when once
there she could never again be warm. The chill of the night, and the
blackness of the gulf before her, and the smooth rapid gurgle of the
dark moving mass of waters beneath, were together more horrid to her
imagination than even death itself. Thrice she released herself from
her backward pressure against the stone, in order that she might fall
forward and have done with it, but as often she found herself returning
involuntarily to the protection which still remained to her. It seemed
as though she could not fall. Though she would have thought that
another must have gone directly to destruction if placed where she was
crouching--though she would have trembled with agony to see anyone
perched in such danger--she appeared to be firm fixed. She must jump
forth boldly, or the river would not take her. Ah! what if it were so--
that the saint who stood over her, and whose cross she had so lately
kissed, would not let her perish from beneath his feet? In these
moments her mind wandered in a maze of religious doubts and fears, and
she entertained, unconsciously, enough of doctrinal scepticism to found
a school of freethinkers. Could it be that God would punish her with
everlasting torments because in her agony she was driven to this as her
only mode of relief? Would there be no measuring of her sins against
her sorrows, and no account taken of the simplicity of her life? She
looked up towards heaven, not praying in words, but with a prayer in
her heart. For her there could be no absolution, no final blessing. The
act of her going would be an act of terrible sin. But God would know
all, and would surely take some measure of her case. He could save her
if He would, despite every priest in Prague. More than one passenger
had walked by while she was crouching in her niche beneath the statue--
had passed by and had not seen her. Indeed, the night at present was so
dark, that one standing still and looking for her would hardly be able
to define her figure. And yet, dark as it was, she could see something
of the movement of the waters beneath her, some shimmer produced by the
gliding movement of the stream. Ah! she would go now and have done with
it. Every moment that she remained was but an added agony.

Then, at that moment, she heard a voice on the bridge near her, and she
crouched close again, in order that the passenger might pass by without
noticing her. She did not wish that anyone should hear the splash of
her plunge, or be called on to make ineffectual efforts to save her. So
she would wait again. The voice drew nearer to her, and suddenly she
became aware that it was Souchey's voice. It was Souchey, and he was
not alone. It must be Anton who had come out with him to seek her,
and to save her. But no. He should have no such relief as that from
his coming sorrow. So she clung fast, waiting till they should pass,
but still leaning a little towards the causeway, so that, if it were
possible, she might see the figures as they passed. She heard the voice
of Souchey quite plain, and then she perceived that Souchey's companion
was a woman. Something of the gentleness of a woman's voice reached her
ear, but she could distinguish no word that was spoken. The steps were
now very close to her, and with terrible anxiety she peeped out to see
who might be Souchey's companion. She saw the figure, and she knew at
once by the hat that it was Rebecca Loth. They were walking fast, and
were close to her now. They would be gone in an instant.

On a sudden, at the very moment that Souchey and Rebecca were in the
act of passing beneath the feet of the saint, the clouds swept by from
off the disc of the waning moon, and the three faces were looking at
each other in the clear pale light of the night. Souchey started back
and screamed. Rebecca leaped forward and put the grasp of her hand
tight upon the skirt of Nina's dress, first one hand and then the
other, and, pressing forward with her body against the parapet, she got
a hold also of Nina's foot. She perceived instantly what was the girl's
purpose, but, by God's blessing on her efforts, there should be no cold
form found in the river that night; or, if one, then there should be
two. Nina kept her hold against the figure, appalled, dumbfounded, awe-
stricken, but still with some inner consciousness of salvation that
comforted her. Whether her life was due to the saint or to the Jewess
she knew not, but she acknowledged to herself silently that death was
beyond her reach, and she was grateful.

"Nina," said Rebecca. Nina still crouched against the stone, with her
eyes fixed on the other girl's face; but she was unable to speak. The
clouds had again obscured the moon, and the air was again black, but
the two now could see each other in the darkness, or feel that they did
so. "Nina, Nina--why are you here?"

"I do not know," said Nina, shivering.

"For the love of God take care of her," said Souchey, "or she will be
over into the river."

"She cannot fall now," said Rebecca. "Nina, will you not come down to
me? You are very cold. Come down, and I will warm you."

"I am very cold," said Nina. Then gradually she slid down into
Rebecca's arms, and was placed sitting on a little step immediately
below the figure of St John. Rebecca knelt by her side, and Nina's head
fell upon the shoulder of the Jewess. Then she burst into the violence
of hysterics, but after a moment or two a flood of tears relieved her.

"Why have you come to me?" she said. "Why have you not left me alone?"

"Dear Nina, your sorrows have been too heavy for you to bear."

"Yes; they have been very heavy."

"We will comfort you, and they shall be softened."

"I do not want comfort. I only want to--to--to go."

While Rebecca was chafing Nina's hands and feet, and tying a
handkerchief from off her own shoulders round Nina's neck, Souchey
stood over them, not knowing what to propose. "Perhaps we had better
carry her back to the old house," he said.

"I will not be carried back," said Nina.

"No, dear; the house is desolate and cold. You shall not go there. You
shall come to our house, and we will do for you the best we can there,
and you shall be comfortable. There is no one there but mother, and she
is kind and gracious. She will understand that your father has died,
and that you are alone."

Nina, as she heard this, pressed her head and shoulders close against
Rebecca's body. As it was not to be allowed to her to escape from
all her troubles, as she had thought to do, she would prefer the
neighbourhood of the Jews to that of any Christians. There was no
Christian now who would say a kind word to her. Rebecca spoke to her
very kindly, and was soft and gentle with her. She could not go where
she would be alone. Even if left to do so, all physical power would
fail her. She knew that she was weak as a child is weak, and that
she must submit to be governed. She thought it would be better to be
governed by Rebecca Loth at the present moment than by anyone else whom
she knew. Rebecca had spoken of her mother, and Nina was conscious of
a faint wish that there had been no such person in her friend's house;
but this was a minor trouble, and one which she could afford to
disregard amidst all her sorrows. How much more terrible would have
been her fate had she been carried away to aunt Sophie's house! "Does
he know?" she said, whispering the question into Rebecca's ear.

"Yes, he knows. It was he who sent me." Why did he not come himself?
That question flashed across Nina's mind, and it was present also to
Rebecca. She knew that it was the question which Nina, within her
heart, would silently ask. "I was there when the note came," said
Rebecca, "and he thought that a woman could do more than a man. I
am so glad he sent me--so very glad. Shall we go, dear?"

Then Nina rose from her seat, and stood up, and began to move slowly.
Her limbs were stiff with cold, and at first she could hardly walk; but
she did not feel that she would be unable to make the journey. Souchey
came to her side, but she rejected his arm petulantly. "Do not let him
come," she said to Rebecca. "I will do whatever you tell me; I will
indeed." Then the Jewess said a word or two to the old man, and he
retreated from Nina's side, but stood looking at her till she was out
of sight. Then he returned home to the cold desolate house in the
Kleinseite, where his only companion was the lifeless body of his old
master. But Souchey, as he left his young mistress, made no complaint
of her treatment of him. He knew that he had betrayed her, and brought
her close upon the step of death's door. He could understand it all
now. Indeed he had understood it all since the first word that Anton
Trendellsohn had spoken after reading Nina's note.

"She will destroy herself," Anton had said.

"What! Nina, my mistress?" said Souchey. Then, while Anton had called
Rebecca to him, Souchey had seen it all. "Master," he said, when the
Jew returned to him, "it was Lotta Luxa who put the paper in the desk.
Nina knew nothing of its being there." Then the Jew's heart sank coldly
within him, and his conscience became hot within his bosom. He lost
nothing of his presence of mind, but simply hurried Rebecca upon her
errand. "I shall see you again to-night," he said to the girl.

"You must come then to our house," said Rebecca. "It may be that I
shall not be able to leave it."

Rebecca, as she led Nina back across the bridge, at first said nothing
further. She pressed the other girl's arm within her own, and there
was much of tenderness and regard in the pressure. She was silent,
thinking, perhaps, that any speech might be painful to her companion.
But Nina could not restrain herself from a question, "What will they
say of me?"

"No one, dear, shall say anything."

"But he knows."

"I know not what he knows, but his knowledge, whatever it be, is only
food for his love. You may be sure of his love, Nina--quite sure, quite
sure. You may take my word for that. If that has been your doubt, you
have doubted wrongly."

Not all the healing medicines of Mercury, not wine from the flasks of
the gods, could have given Nina life and strength as did those words
from her rival's lips. All her memory of his offences against her had
again gone in her thought of her own sin. Would he forgive her and
still love her? Yes; she was a weak woman--very weak; but she had that
one strength which is sufficient to atone for all feminine weakness--
she could really love; or rather, having loved, she could not cease
to love. Anger had no effect on her love, or was as water thrown on
blazing coal, which makes it burn more fiercely. Ill usage could not
crush her love. Reason, either from herself or others, was unavailing
against it. Religion had no power over it. Her love had become her
religion to Nina. It took the place of all things both in heaven and
earth. Mild as she was by nature, it made her a tigress to those who
opposed it. It was all the world to her. She had tried to die, because
her love had been wounded; and now she was ready to live again because
she was told that her lover--the lover who had used her so cruelly--
still loved her. She pressed Rebecca's arm close into her side. "I
shall be better soon," she said. Rebecca did not doubt that Nina would
soon be better, but of her own improvement she was by no means so
certain.

They walked on through the narrow crooked streets into the Jews'
quarter, and soon stood at the door of Rebecca's house. The latch was
loose, and they entered, and they found a lamp ready for them on the
stairs. "Had you not better come to my bed for to-night?" said Rebecca.

"Only that I should be in your way, I should be so glad."

"You shall not be in my way. Come, then. But first you must eat and
drink." Though Nina declared that she could not eat a morsel, and
wanted no drink but water, Rebecca tended upon her, bringing the food
and wine that were in truth so much needed. "And now, dear, I will help
you to bed. You are yet cold, and there you will be warm."

"But when shall I see him?"

"Nay, how can I tell? But, Nina, I will not keep him from you. He shall
come to you here when he chooses--if you choose it also."

"I do choose it--I do choose it," said Nina, sobbing in her weakness--
conscious of her weakness.

While Rebecca was yet assisting Nina--the Jewess kneeling as the
Christian sat on the bedside--there came a low rap at the door, and
Rebecca was summoned away. "I shall be but a moment," she said, and she
ran down to the front door.

"Is she here?" said Anton, hoarsely.

"Yes, she is here."

"The Lord be thanked! And can I not see her?"

"You cannot see her now, Anton. She is very weary, and all but in bed."

"To-morrow I may come?"

"Yes, to-morrow."

"And, tell me, how did you find her? Where did you find her?"

"To-morrow Anton, you shall be told--whatever there is to tell For to-
night, is it not enough for you to know that she is with me? She will
share my bed, and I will be as a sister to her."

Then Anton spoke a word of warm blessing to his friend, and went his
way home.




CHAPTER XVI


Early in the following year, while the ground was yet bound with frost,
and the great plains of Bohemia were still covered with snow, a Jew and
his wife took their leave of Prague, and started for one of the great
cities of the west. They carried with them but little of the outward
signs of wealth, and but few of those appurtenances of comfort which
generally fall to the lot of brides among the rich; the man, however,
was well to do in the world, and was one who was not likely to bring
his wife to want. It need hardly be said that Anton Trendellsohn was
the man, and that Nina Balatka was his wife.

On the eve of their departure, Nina and her friend the Jewess had said
farewell to each other. "You will write to me from Frankfort?" said
Rebecca.

"Indeed I will," said Nina; "and you, you will write to me often, very
often?"

As often as you will wish it."

"I shall wish it always," said Nina; and you can write; you are clever.
You know how to make your words say what there is in your heart."

"But you have been able to make your face more eloquent than any
words."

"Rebecca, dear Rebecca! Why was it that he did not love such a one as
you rather than me? You are more beautiful."

"But he at least has not thought so."

"And you are so clever and so good; and you could have given him help
which I never can give him."

"He does not want help. He wants to have by his side a sweet soft
nature that can refresh him by its contrast to his own. He has done
right to love you, and to make you his wife; only, I could wish that
you were as we are in religion." To this Nina made no answer. She could
not promise that she would change her religion, but she thought that
she would endeavour to do so. She would do so if the saints would let
her. "I am glad you are going away, Nina," continued Rebecca. "It will
be better for him and better for you."

"Yes, it will be better."

"And it will be better for me also." Then Nina threw herself on
Rebecca's neck and wept. She could say nothing in words in answer to
that last assertion. If Rebecca really loved the man who was now the
husband of another, of course it would be better that they should be
apart. But Nina, who knew herself to be weak, could not understand that
Rebecca, who was so strong, should have loved as she had loved.

"If you have daughters," said Rebecca, "and if he will let you name one
of them after me, I shall be glad." Nina swore that if God gave her
such a treasure as a daughter, that child should be named after the
friend who had been so good to her.

There were also a few words of parting between Anton Trendellsohn and
the girl who had been brought up to believe that she was to be his
wife; but though there was friendship in them, there was not much of
tenderness. "I hope you will prosper where you are going," said
Rebecca, as she gave the man her hand.

"I do not fear but that I shall prosper, Rebecca."

"No; you will become rich, and perhaps great--as great, that is, as we
Jews can make ourselves."

"I hope you will live to hear that the Jews are not crushed elsewhere
as they are here in Prague."

"But, Anton, you will not cease to love the old city where your fathers
and friends have lived so long?"

"I will never cease to love those, at least, whom I leave behind me.
Farewell, Rebecca;" and he attempted to draw her to him as though
he would kiss her. But she withdrew from him, very quietly, with no
mark of anger, with no ostentation of refusal. "Farewell," she said.
"Perhaps we shall see each other after many years."

Trendellsohn, as he sat beside his young wife in the post-carriage
which took them out of the city, was silent till he had come nearly to
the outskirts of the town; and then he spoke. "Nina," he said, "I am
leaving behind me, and for ever, much that I love well."

"And it is for my sake," she said. "I feel it daily, hourly. It makes
me almost wish that you had not loved me."

"But I take with me that which I love infinitely better than all that
Prague contains. I will not, therefore, allow myself a regret. Though I
should never see the old city again, I will always look upon my going
as a good thing done." Nina could only answer him by caressing his
hand, and by making internal oaths that her very best should be done in
every moment of her life to make him contented with the lot he had
chosen.

There remains very little of the tale to be told--nothing, indeed, of
Nina's tale--and very little to be explained. Nina slept in peace at
Rebecca's house that night on which she had been rescued from death
upon the bridge--or, more probably, lay awake anxiously thinking what
might yet be her fate. She had been very near to death--so near that
she shuddered, even beneath the warmth of the bed-clothes, and with the
protection of her friend so close to her, as she thought of those long
dreadful minutes she had passed crouching over the river at the feet
of the statue. She had been very near to death, and for a while could
hardly realise the fact of her safety. She knew that she was glad
to have been saved; but what might come next was, at that moment,
all vague, uncertain, and utterly beyond her own control She hardly
ventured to hope more than that Anton Trendellsohn would not give her
up to Madame Zamenoy. If he did, she must seek the river again, or some
other mode of escape from that worst of fates. But Rebecca had assured
her of Anton's love, and in Rebecca's words she had a certain, though a
dreamy, faith. The night was long, but she wished it to be longer. To
be there and to feel that she was warm and safe was almost happiness
for her after the misery she had endured.

On the next day, and for a day or two afterwards, she was feverish and
she did not rise, but Rebecca's mother came to her, and Ruth--and at
last Anton himself. She never could quite remember how those few days
were passed, or what was said, or how it came to be arranged that she
was to stay for a while in Rebecca's house; that she was to stay there
for a long while--till such time as she should become a wife, and
leave it for a house of her own. She never afterwards had any clear
conception, though she very often thought of it all, how it came to be
a settled thing among the Jews around her, that she was to be Anton's
wife, and that Anton was to take her away from Prague. But she knew
that her lover's father had come to her, and that he had been kind,
and that there had been no reproach cast upon her for the wickedness
she had attempted. Nor was it till she found herself going to mass all
alone on the third Sunday that she remembered that she was still a
Christian, and that her lover was still a Jew. "It will not seem so
strange to you when you are away in another place," Rebecca said to her
afterwards. "It will be good for both of you that you should be away
from Prague."

Nor did Nina hear much of the attempts which the Zamenoys made to
rescue her from the hands of the Jews. Anton once asked her very
gravely whether she was quite certain that she did not wish to see
her aunt. "Indeed, I am," said Nina, becoming pale at the idea of
the suggested meeting. "Why should I see her? She has always been
cruel to me." Then Anton explained to her that Madame Zamenoy had made
a formal demand to see her niece, and had even lodged with the police a
statement that Nina was being kept in durance in the Jews' quarter; but
the accusation was too manifestly false to receive attention even when
made against a Jew, and Nina had reached an age which allowed her to
choose her own friends without interposition from the law. "Only," said
Anton, "it is necessary that you should know your own mind."

"I do know it," said Nina, eagerly.

And she saw Madame Zamenoy no more, nor her uncle Karil, nor her cousin
Ziska. Though she lived in the same city with them for three months
after the night on which she had been taken to Rebecca's house, she
never again was brought into contact with her relations. Lotta she once
saw, when walking in the street with Ruth; and Lotta too saw her, and
endeavoured to address her; but Nina fled, to the great delight of
Ruth, who ran with her; and Lotta Luxa was left behind at the street
corner.

I do not know that Nina ever had a more clearly-defined idea of the
trick that Lotta had played upon her, than was conveyed to her by the
sight of the deed as it was taken from her desk, and the knowledge that
Souchey had put her lover upon the track. She soon learned that she was
acquitted altogether by Anton, and she did not care for learning more.
Of course there had been a trick. Of course there had been deceit. Of
course her aunt and Lotta Luxa and Ziska, who was the worst of them
all, had had their hands in it! But what did it signify? They had
failed, and she had been successful. Why need she inquire farther?

But Souchey, who repented himself thoroughly of his treachery, spoke
his mind freely to Lotta Luxa. "No," said he, "not if you had ten times
as many florins, and were twice as clever, for you nearly drove me to
be the murderer of my mistress."



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