The Passover Guest part 4


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

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

He will certainly do so, he is a very kind and approachable person, he looks at every one, even at Rikel the maid, in such a friendly, such a very friendly way!

SoI think, and it seems to me, as I watch our guest, that he has read mythoughts, and that his beautiful black eyes say to me:

“Keepit dark, little friend, wait till after Passover, then we shall manage it!”


I dreamt all night long. I dreamt of a desert, a temple, a high priest, and a tall mountain. I climb the mountain. Diamonds and pearls grow on the trees, and my comrades sit on the boughs, and shake the jewels down onto the ground, whole showers of them, and I stand and gather them, and stuff them into my pockets, and, strange to say, however many I stuff in, there is still room! I stuff and stuff, and still there is room! I put my hand into my pocket, and draw out—not pearls and brilliants, but fruits of all kinds—apples, pears, oranges, olives, dates, nuts, and figs. This makes me very unhappy, and I toss from side to side. Then I dream of the temple, I hear the priests chant, and the Levites sing, and the organ play.

I want to go inside and I cannot—Rikel the maid has hold of me, and will not let me go. I beg of her and scream and cry, and again I am very unhappy, and toss from side to side. I wake—and see my father and mother standing there, half dressed, both pale, my father hanging his head, and my mother wringing her hands, and with her soft eyes full of tears. I feel at once that something has gone very wrong, very wrong indeed, but my childish head is incapable of imagining the greatness of the disaster.

Thefact is this: our guest from beyond the desert and the seven seas hasdisappeared, and a lot of things have disappeared with him: all the silverwine-cups, all the silver spoons, knives, and forks; all my mother`s ornaments,all the money that happened to be in the house, and also Rikel the maid!

Apang goes through my heart. Not on account of the silver cups, the silverspoons, knives, and forks that have vanished; not on account of mother`sornaments or of the money, still less on account of Rikel the maid, a goodriddance! But because of the happy, happy land whose roads were strewn withbrilliants, pearls, and diamonds; because of the temple with the priests, theLevites, and the organ; because of the altar and the sacrifices; because of allthe other beautiful things that have been taken from me, taken, taken, taken!I turn my face to the wall, and cry quietly to

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