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The old man stood there like Isaiah cursing the daughters of sin. His long beard wagged, his eyes blazed, his voice was like thunder. A crowd had gathered. Pinchas Spektor fled.
He fled so hurriedly and blundered along so blindly that he collided with a push-cart man and spattered himself with the brine that splashed from the tubs of pickles. One tub fell into the gutter; a swarm of urchins pounced upon it. The angry peddler grasped Pinchas by the arm. Pinchas looked upon him. Again a nowi, again the long-sought model for his Moses!
Have you such a donkey become not to know Moses himself it was what said: "Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves, for ye saw no manner of form on that day that God spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire; lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female'? And you of Moses himself, the prophet, would an image make! And you would have me-me, sit for model for that! Sacrilege, I say; abomination! Shame upon you! Old am I and poor, but by the high Awrohom Owinu, my hands paralyzed shall be before I do such wicked things! I spit upon your job. A curse upon your evil works!"
"I will pay," said Pinchas, "for the pickles damaged," and thrust a dollar into the grimy hand. It was a large hand, too, and Pinchas, measuring the man with his sculptor's eye, began to admire and, admiring, to covet him. The beard, the locks, the features were not quite so fine as those of the park-sleeper, but still it was a passable model. Again Pinchas drew a roseate picture of ease and good pay as he made his seductive offer. The push-cart man made no objections on the score of orthodoxy; but he said:
"My Sarah first I must speak with, and my son Asher Goldenski."
"Come, then," said Pinchas, "at once." "My pickles are not all sold already,"
said the push-cart man; "three dollars' a cold, superior stare; "but in the paper worth yet are left."
maybe you read I get ten thousand dollars "I will buy them," said Pinchas,
them,” said Pinchas, for the monument.” eagerly, and thrust the bills into Golden- There were gasps of astonishment from ski's hands. Again a crowd had gathered. father, wife, and son. The butcher
"You will take the pickles-all?" asked launched himself ponderously upon his Goldenski.
great feet, the fish burned and sputtered, "Give them,” said Spektor, "to the peo- the baby screamed and threshed about. ple," indicating the bystanders with a "Ten thousand dollars," roared the magnificent sweep of his arm. In a few butcher, while his small eyes shone with moments the tubs were empty, and a pro- more than emotion-"ten thousand dolcession of men, women, and children, lars you get, and you offer my fader fifty munching the dripping pickles, strung it- cents an hour!" self in both directions along Hester Street. “Not much more as gets a cloak-model,"
Pinchas hastened along the curb beside said the young wife, who had once served the push-cart as Goldenski trundled it as such. Visions of wealth arose at once. homeward to a Stygian tenement in Or Not in vain had she chosen to pronounce chard Street. Up three dark, creaking, her name Golden-sky. pestiferous flights the push-cart pickle- The elephantine butcher advanced tomerchant drew the sculptor and ushered ward little Spektor; the floor quivered him into a bright and tidy kitchen, now under his tread, his huge, rotund bulk clouded with the smoke of frying fish. loomed formidably, blotting out the light “My Sarah, my young wife," said
young wife," said from the single window. Goldenski, presenting a dark-eyed, buxom “Fader,” said he, turning en route to woman, arrayed in a loose, striped dress, the elder Goldenski, "we make no business who stood before the stove manipulating here." the frying-pan with one arm and holding Then approaching Spektor, he thrust her baby with the other. Pinchas bowed his red, round face close to the little man's, and smiled winningly, and addressed her and exclaimed loudly: as “Madame Goldenski,” accenting the “Fifty cents an hour you will pay my second syllable.
fader, and ten thousand you get for the “Mrs. Goldenski," she answered monument you make from
my fader? proudly in clear English, accenting the What you think? That we have mud in last syllable, and making the name Golden- our brains ? You mold my fader, then you sky. Mrs. Goldenski suffered from Amer- make him into bronze, and get ten thouicamania.
sand dollars, and my fader gets only fifty “My son Asher, by my first wife," said cents an hour? Ho! ho! you think I know the pickle-man, indicating a rounded, rubi- nothing of such things, eh-such art cund, and shiny person in the farther cor- things? But I have read in the papers.
Large brilliants blazed upon the You cannot make the statue without my paddy fingers, black of nails, and a great fader. He is the statue, not? So you cluster of crystals sparkled in his red scarf. will pay him a share- fifth; two thou“A butcher he is-a boss.”
sand dollars you will pay my fader for “Glad to know you," said the butcher, posing.” nodding carelessly.
Pinchas Spektor laughed aloud derisBut as Pinchas told the purpose of his ively. Then suddenly vexation seized him coming, he grew alert and vigilant. at the aggressive attitude of the butcher.
"What you pay my fader to pose ?” he “It is no work," he cried almost as asked quickly.
loudly as the butcher; "it is only still to “Fifty cents an hour is for models the stand. One hour at fifty cents is almost regular price,” replied Pinchas; "that I a cent a minute. Your father cannot will pay your father."
make that with his pickles, what?" Then “What you say,” exclaimed the son, in a softer tone he went on: rousing himself into aggressive attention “But I will make it sixty cents an hour, _"fifty cents an hour? What you get four hours in the morning. Think of the for the job yourself, eh?”
honor, too- your father making the Moses "It is no matter," replied Spektor, with on the monument."
“A bird's peep upon the honor !" said The night, thought he, was sure to the butcher, truculently. "Two thousand bring forth fresh quarry for his hunt. dollars you will pay my fader, or he will That very evening he ranged the streets, not pose."
stalking the shambling figures from afar, Old Goldenski nodded his head in ap- peering into every face, measuring, weighproval of the keen sagacity of his son, and ing them with critical
All found bent a lowering glance upon the wretched wanting. At last he saw a crowd cluttered sculptor who would defraud a poor old about the blazing, garish portals of the man. In vain Spektor expostulated, ex- Maimonides American Hall. Out of the plained, coaxed, and reasoned. Son and portals came music, up from the crowd father remained obdurate, both repeating burst laughter. A semi-public East Side as in chorus, "Two thousand dollars you wedding-feast was raging within. In the
middle of the crowd, like a shaggy bear, “And a contract you will sign,” added danced a burly giant, a "Jewish man" of the butcher, brilliantly.
middle age, with black, bushy head and Pinchas Spektor, despairing, turned to tossing ringlets. It was the Ghetto ne'ergo. The wife followed him down the dark do-well, Morris Blumenstiefel. He was hall with her shrill voice.
violently executing the steps of a Jewish “I have a sister; she will pose for the folk-dance, the same dance that was going price," she called; but the dark stairs, lit- on within. Morris had just been ejected tered and a-creak, engulfed him, and the from the hall after too free and noisy a gaudy glass door of the Goldenski kitchen participation in the festivities. Pinchas slammed.
pushed through the crowd and eagerly His heart filled with anger, his soul surveyed this splendid, tripping Goliath. with disgust, his clothes with the “poor The merry ogre seized him and swung people's smell" of the tenements and the him around. splashing of the pickle-tubs, Spektor made "Great sir," shouted Morris, "O my his unhappy way back to his studio. A great sir, come dance, come dance !" letter awaited him there from his rich The crowd exploded in laughter and patron Ludwig Samoschein, demanding to then scattered under the charge of a poknow what progress had been made upon liceman who threatened Blumenstiefel the statue, and reminding him in red, type- with arrest. Pinchas flew to the rescue, written words of the ominous October 17. taking the potential model under his wing, The gaunt framework rose in the dim unto the lodgings of the latter. dusk of the atelier, a rusty, hungry skele- There, in the dim, drafty corridor, he ton waiting to be clothed with form and plied him with eloquence. Blumenstiefel substance.
listened dully, then grew quite melancholy. Twice Spektor awoke that night and At mention of a job he shook his shaggy saw the stark, rigid thing lifting its iron head solemnly, then waxed suspicious. rods in the moonbeams that forced their “Is not this a schwindel-business, no,' way through the cobwebbed panes of the he asked, “to pay for doing nothing but great top-light. He could sleep no longer; stand?" he walked the floor and shook his head, "I will pay,” said Spektor, "an hour exclaiming:
fifty cents, six hours a day.” “A model, a model! Ach, had I but a “In advance you will pay ?” demanded model for my nowi Moses, a real Jewish Morris, leering craftily. model !”
Pinchas deliberated, then drew forth a Early the next day he set forth, hunted five-dollar bill and his card, and handed high and low through the Ghetto from them to Blumenstiefel. Houston Street to Corlear's Hook, but in "For the two dollars left," said he, vain. Many spoors he uncovered, and glancing at the dingy linen and skin, not struck many scents, artistic and olfactory, dusky by nature alone, "you get yourself followed innumerable pointing fingers and a new shirt, collars, and a bath, then be at confident directions, but a model for his my studio by ten.” great Moses was nowhere to be found. Morris Blumenstiefel swore by the And Ludwig Samoschein was threatening prophets to be punctual. Pinchas joyfully to pay a visit to the studio!
accompanied him up-stairs and gave him
over to his landlady, a withered, scolding, Pinchas Spektor raged up and down his but maternal dame.
dusty studio. He seized a heavy mallet “It is better I take for the five dollars and paused twice before the framework in a receipt,” said Pinchas, thoughtfully, a threatening attitude, as if to wreck it calling the landlady to witness. His final with a blow. Twice he caught up lumps words were:
of wet clay, as if to batter the small sketch“The bath- forget not the bath. You model into shapelessness. Finally he seized will pose a little undressed.”
his hat and dashed out into the street. At He went home jubilant. True, this oaf the door the postman handed him a letter; of a Blumenstiefel was somewhat younger the envelop bore an engraved address, than his Moses ought to be, but form and “Samoschein & Co., Bankers." Another features were superb. At the studio little warning! Yuski made report that Ludwig Samo- The quest that day proved futile, too. schein had come that afternoon and fumed Late in the evening, foot-sore, dusty, dry, about the place on seeing nothing but the Pinchas ambled into Lubin's café. There empty framework. He had even threat- sat his friend Kempinski, the editor of ened to give the order to another sculptor, the chief Yiddish daily. The tousle-headed a young Gentile from the West. But journalist listened with interest, if not Spektor slept calmly that night.
sympathy, then said: “Will he come?" was his query the next “This is Thursday, fish-buying night. morning as ten o'clock struck. A few mo- Under the Williamsburg Bridge, in the ments later came a knock upon the door. next stall by Mutter Bontsie's crockerySmiling broadly, Morris Blumenstiefel cart, you will find a fish-seller. His name stood there on the threshold in the sun, is M. Abasch; he is your man, your nowi." and took off his low-crowned hat. A Two hours later, Pinchas stood shoestriped colored shirt shone on his bosom, deep in the cold mud and broken ice that a high celluloid collar encircled his neck, covered the passages between the stalls of Spektor gave him one glance, then cried the venders of fish, fruit, and crockery out in horror and rage.
under the vast, soaring bridge. Overhead "Mensch," he shrieked, “what have the cars thundered, Alinging green and you done to yourself! What!”
glaring lightnings down upon this teeming Blumenstiefel stood
stood there grinning under-world; the endless rows of torches blandly, his head close-shorn, revealing smoked, and scattered a crimson light over unsuspected bumps, the short forelocks all. This torch-fire glistened on masses of plastered greasily down over his brow, his fish, reflected itself on livid glass and palfine beard gone, and what was left of it lid pottery, burned and glowed on pyraclipped into a stubby and fashionable Van- mids of oranges and apples, on the red dyke! He that was yesterday a shaggy, faces of the men and the scarlet shawls of picturesque, and classic prophet, was this the women, buyers and sellers, as they morning nothing but a docked, barbered, huddled in groups and chaffered loudly. and oleaginous comedy Hebrew.
M. Abasch was discovered towering above "Your beard, your hair,” yelled Pin- his tray of fish, a black skull-cap upon his chas, “where is it?"
head, his arms, bare to the elbow, flecked The wide smile upon the thick lips be- with scales and smeared with blood, a neath the cropped mustache was good- sack tied about his waist for apron, In a natured, and good-natured was the inno- deep voice he cried his wares, holding up cent response:
by the gills immense, dripping salmon and "Well, when I gets me the bath, I gets cod, or wielding his cleaver upon his sloppy me also
hair-cut and mine beard chopping-block. Such a beard, such arms, trimmed."
such height, such a presence! The sculp"Jackass !” roared the furious sculptor, tor's heart leaped for joy. and shut the heavy door with its brass "A Moses," he murmured to himself, knocker in the face of the astonished “a patriarch, a Samson!” Blumenstiefel, who stared, shook his de- "A fish! a nice fish for Shabbas, cheap, spoiled and tonsured head, then made for very cheap!" yelled the fishmonger, and a bar that lay on the opposite side of the swung a big salmon toward Pinchas. street.
There came a lull in the trafficking,