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said the push-cart man; "three dollars' worth yet are left.”
"I will buy them," said Pinchas, eagerly, and thrust the bills into Goldenski's hands. Again a crowd had gathered. "You will take the pickles-all?" asked Goldenski.
"Give them," said Spektor, "to the people," indicating the bystanders with a magnificent sweep of his arm. In a few moments the tubs were empty, and a procession of men, women, and children, munching the dripping pickles, strung itself in both directions along Hester Street.
Pinchas hastened along the curb beside the push-cart as Goldenski trundled it homeward to a Stygian tenement in Orchard Street. Up three dark, creaking, pestiferous flights the push-cart picklemerchant drew the sculptor and ushered him into a bright and tidy kitchen, now clouded with the smoke of frying fish.
"My Sarah, my young wife," said Goldenski, presenting a dark-eyed, buxom woman, arrayed in a loose, striped dress, who stood before the stove manipulating the frying-pan with one arm and holding her baby with the other. Pinchas bowed and smiled winningly, and addressed her as "Madame Goldenski," accenting the second syllable.
"Mrs. Goldenski," she answered proudly in clear English, accenting the last syllable, and making the name Goldensky. Mrs. Goldenski suffered from Americamania.
a cold, superior stare; "but in the paper maybe you read I get ten thousand dollars for the monument.'
There were gasps of astonishment from father, wife, and son. The butcher launched himself ponderously upon his great feet, the fish burned and sputtered, the baby screamed and threshed about.
"Ten thousand dollars," roared the butcher, while his small eyes shone with more than emotion-"ten thousand dollars you get, and you offer my fader fifty cents an hour!"
"Not much more as gets a cloak-model," said the young wife, who had once served as such. Visions of wealth arose at once. Not in vain had she chosen to pronounce her name Golden-sky.
The elephantine butcher advanced toward little Spektor; the floor quivered under his tread, his huge, rotund bulk loomed formidably, blotting out the light from the single window.
"Fader," said he, turning en route to the elder Goldenski, "we make no business here."
Then approaching Spektor, he thrust his red, round face close to the little man's, and exclaimed loudly:
"Fifty cents an hour you will pay my fader, and ten thousand you get for the monument you make from my fader? What you think? That we have mud in our brains? You mold my fader, then you make him into bronze, and get ten thousand dollars, and my fader gets only fifty cents an hour? Ho! ho! you think I know nothing of such things, eh-such art things? But I have read in the papers. You cannot make the statue without my fader. He is the statue, not? So you will pay him a share-a fifth; two thousand dollars you will pay my fader for
"My son Asher, by my first wife," said the pickle-man, indicating a rounded, rubicund, and shiny person in the farther corner. Large brilliants blazed upon the paddy fingers, black of nails, and a great cluster of crystals sparkled in his red scarf. "A butcher he isa boss." "Glad to know you," said the butcher, posing." nodding carelessly.
Pinchas Spektor laughed aloud deris
But as Pinchas told the purpose of his ively. Then suddenly vexation seized him coming, he grew alert and vigilant.
"What you pay my fader to pose?" he asked quickly.
"Fifty cents an hour is for models the regular price," replied Pinchas; "that I will pay your father."
"What you say," exclaimed the son, rousing himself into aggressive attention -"fifty cents an hour? What you get for the job yourself, eh?"
"It is no matter," replied Spektor, with
at the aggressive attitude of the butcher.
"It is no work," he cried almost as loudly as the butcher; "it is only still to stand. One hour at fifty cents is almost a cent a minute. Your father cannot make that with his pickles, what?" Then in a softer tone he went on:
"But I will make it sixty cents an hour, four hours in the morning. Think of the honor, too-your father making the Moses on the monument."
"A bird's peep upon the honor!" said the butcher, truculently. "Two thousand dollars you will pay my fader, or he will not pose.
Old Goldenski nodded his head in approval of the keen sagacity of his son, and bent a lowering glance upon the wretched sculptor who would defraud a poor old man. In vain Spektor expostulated, explained, coaxed, and reasoned. Son and father remained obdurate, both repeating as in chorus, "Two thousand dollars you will pay."
"And a contract you will sign," added the butcher, brilliantly.
Pinchas Spektor, despairing, turned to go. The wife followed him down the dark hall with her shrill voice.
"I have a sister; she will pose for the price," she called; but the dark stairs, littered and a-creak, engulfed him, and the gaudy glass door of the Goldenski kitchen slammed.
His heart filled with anger, his soul with disgust, his clothes with the "poor people's smell" of the tenements and the splashing of the pickle-tubs, Spektor made his unhappy way back to his studio. A letter awaited him there from his rich patron Ludwig Samoschein, demanding to know what progress had been made upon the statue, and reminding him in red, typewritten words of the ominous October 17. The gaunt framework rose in the dim dusk of the atelier, a rusty, hungry skeleton waiting to be clothed with form and substance.
Twice Spektor awoke that night and saw the stark, rigid thing lifting its iron rods in the moonbeams that forced their way through the cobwebbed panes of the great top-light. He could sleep no longer; he walked the floor and shook his head, exclaiming:
"A model, a model! Ach, had I but a model for my nowi Moses, a real Jewish model!"
Early the next day he set forth, hunted high and low through the Ghetto from Houston Street to Corlear's Hook, but in vain. Many spoors he uncovered, and struck many scents, artistic and olfactory, followed innumerable pointing fingers and confident directions, but a model for his great Moses was nowhere to be found. And Ludwig Samoschein was threatening to pay a visit to the studio!
The night, thought he, was bring forth fresh quarry for his hunt. That very evening he ranged the streets, stalking the shambling figures from afar, peering into every face, measuring, weighing them with critical eye. All were found wanting. At last he saw a crowd cluttered about the blazing, garish portals of the Maimonides American Hall. Out of the portals came music, up from the crowd burst laughter. A semi-public East Side wedding-feast was raging within. In the middle of the crowd, like a shaggy bear, danced a burly giant, a "Jewish man" of middle age, with black, bushy head and tossing ringlets. It was the Ghetto ne'erdo-well, Morris Blumenstiefel. He was violently executing the steps of a Jewish folk-dance, the same dance that was going on within. Morris had just been ejected from the hall after too free and noisy a participation in the festivities. Pinchas pushed through the crowd and eagerly surveyed this splendid, tripping Goliath. The merry ogre seized him and swung him around.
"Great sir," shouted Morris, "O my great sir, come dance, come dance!"
The crowd exploded in laughter and then scattered under the charge of a policeman who threatened Blumenstiefel with arrest. Pinchas flew to the rescue, taking the potential model under his wing, even unto the lodgings of the latter. There, in the dim, drafty corridor, he plied him with eloquence. Blumenstiefel listened dully, then grew quite melancholy. At mention of a job he shook his shaggy head solemnly, then waxed suspicious.
"Is not this a schwindel-business, no," he asked, "to pay for doing nothing but stand?"
"I will pay," said Spektor, "an hour fifty cents, six hours a day."
"In advance you will pay?" demanded Morris, leering craftily.
Pinchas deliberated, then drew forth a five-dollar bill and his card, and handed them to Blumenstiefel.
"For the two dollars left," said he, glancing at the dingy linen and skin, not dusky by nature alone, "you get yourself a new shirt, collars, and a bath, then be at my studio by ten."
Morris Blumenstiefel swore by the prophets to be punctual. Pinchas joyfully accompanied him up-stairs and gave him
over to his landlady, a withered, scolding,
"It is better I take for the five dollars
"The bath-forget not the bath. You will pose a little undressed."
He went home jubilant. True, this oaf of a Blumenstiefel was somewhat younger than his Moses ought to be, but form and features were superb. At the studio little Yuski made report that Ludwig Samoschein had come that afternoon and fumed about the place on seeing nothing but the empty framework. He had even threatened to give the order to another sculptor, a young Gentile from the West. Spektor slept calmly that night. But "Will he come?" was his query the next morning as ten o'clock struck. A few moments later came a knock upon the door. Smiling broadly, Morris Blumenstiefel stood there on the threshold in the sun, and took off his low-crowned hat. A striped colored shirt shone on his bosom, a high celluloid collar encircled his neck. Spektor gave him one glance, then cried out in horror and rage.
Mensch," he shrieked, "what have you done to yourself! What!"
Blumenstiefel stood blandly, his head close-shorn, revealing there grinning unsuspected bumps, the short forelocks plastered greasily down over his brow, his fine beard gone, and what was left of it clipped into a stubby and fashionable Vandyke! He that was yesterday a shaggy, picturesque, and classic prophet, was this morning nothing but a docked, barbered, and oleaginous comedy Hebrew.
"Your beard, your hair," yelled Pinchas, "where is it?"
The wide smile upon the thick lips beneath the cropped mustache was goodnatured, and good-natured was the innocent response:
"Well, when I gets me the bath, I gets me also a hair-cut and mine beard trimmed."
"Jackass!" roared the furious sculptor, and shut the heavy door with its brass knocker in the face of the astonished Blumenstiefel, who stared, shook his despoiled and tonsured head, then made for a bar that lay on the opposite side of the
Pinchas Spektor raged up and down his and paused twice before the framework in dusty studio. He seized a heavy mallet with a blow. Twice he caught up lumps a threatening attitude, as if to wreck it model into shapelessness. Finally he seized of wet clay, as if to batter the small sketchhis hat and dashed out into the street. At the door the postman handed him a letter; the envelop bore an engraved address, "Samoschein & Co., Bankers." Another
Late in the evening, foot-sore, dusty, dry, The quest that day proved futile, too. Pinchas ambled into Lubin's café. There the chief Yiddish daily. The tousle-headed sat his friend Kempinski, the editor of journalist listened with interest, if not sympathy, then said:
"This is Thursday, fish-buying night. Under the Williamsburg Bridge, in the next stall by Mutter Bontsie's crockerycart, you will find a fish-seller. His name is M. Abasch; he is your man, your nowi."
deep in the cold mud and broken ice that Two hours later, Pinchas stood shoecovered the passages between the stalls of the venders of fish, fruit, and crockery the cars thundered, flinging green and under the vast, soaring bridge. Overhead glaring lightnings down upon this teeming smoked, and scattered a crimson light over under-world; the endless rows of torches all. This torch-fire glistened on masses of fish, reflected itself on livid glass and pallid pottery, burned and glowed on pyramids of oranges and apples, on the red faces of the men and the scarlet shawls of the women, buyers and sellers, as they huddled in groups and chaffered loudly. his tray of fish, a black skull-cap upon his M. Abasch was discovered towering above head, his arms, bare to the elbow, flecked with scales and smeared with blood, a sack tied about his waist for apron. In a deep voice he cried his wares, holding up by the gills immense, dripping salmon and chopping-block. Such a beard, such arms, cod, or wielding his cleaver upon his sloppy tor's heart leaped for joy. such height, such a presence! The sculp
"A Moses," he murmured to himself, "a patriarch, a Samson!"
"A fish! a nice fish for Shabbas, cheap, very cheap!" yelled the fishmonger, and swung a big salmon toward Pinchas.
There came a lull in the trafficking,
then Spektor advanced valiantly.
First, to propitiate the man, he bought a whole salmon and held the wet, limp thing, wrapped in newspapers, in his arms, as a man holds a baby. Then he made his proposal. M. Abasch listened impassively, often interrupting the fervid Pinchas by calling aloud his wares to the passers-by. Would he pose? He would pose, yes, and at fifty cents an hour; but on fish-days, no. "It is settled!" cried the delighted sculptor, and gave his card into the big, wet hand of the fish-man, then shook it in joy and gratitude.
lumpy mass a wonderful and rugged figure began to shape itself.
During the pauses for rest, Pinchas regaled his model with conversation, wine, and sandwiches. It was a perfect day.
"At ten to-morrow morning," he said for the fifth time, and left the chilly place. Near Norfolk Street he grew aware that the fish was heavy and so laid it in the lap of an old match-woman who squatted beside a door. Then Spektor made his way back to Lubin's café and ordered two bottles of wine for Editor Kempinski and his cronies.
"By the sketch-model," said Kempinski, "which I have at your studio seen, your Moses is grander than the Moses of Michelangelo. It takes a Jew to shape a Jew."
M. Abasch, clothed in a long ulster and a diffusive odor of fish, came punctually to the studio door the next morning. The iron framework on the platform had been covered with clay by Yuski Golubok, and stood there knobby and ominous, a masterpiece unborn.
Spektor welcomed his model with vast affability; he had never been half so polite even to Ludwig Samoschein. He ushered M. Abasch behind the screen, placed a rug upon the model's platform, and awaited the appearance of the fish-dealer. sniffed the air and muttered:
"A smell it is to drive a wagon! Is it perhaps a Neptune to be, not a Moses?"
When the model for the nowi came forth from behind the screen, Spektor gave a gasp of delight. Such a fellow it wasa prophet out of the Old Testament! With torso like a gladiator, arms full and muscular, from the fine head, large eyes, and patriarchal beard to the well-formed feet it was a perfect Moses. Spektor draped the robe about him, tied on his sandals, placed him in position with the two tablets, and set feverishly to work.
The superfluous clay dropped down in strips and chunks. Out of the rough,
The following morning, as Spektor was at work upon the feet of his prophet, the silent fishmonger developed a sudden loquacity, and spoke feelingly of wife and children and the poor condition of his business, hinting at impending changes in his destiny. But Pinchas gave him only half an ear, and, when the posing was over, pressed three dollar-bills into the fish-dealer's hand and said pleasantly:
"To-morrow at ten, good Mr. Abasch." M.
Abasch murmured his thanks, looked mournfully at Pinchas, and left.
The sculptor sat down before his growing masterpiece and regarded it. The rough proportions were not yet perfect, but they were suggestive of perfection. The head was merely outlined in mass. Now that he had found so fine and reliable a model, he would leave the head until the last.
M. Abasch did not come the next morning. The impatience of Pinchas swelled into tremulous anxiety and fear. At eleven there came a knock-a timid knock upon the brass Medusa head on the door. A slim, undersized creature stood there, a shrinking, apologetic manikin in wrinkled, narrow trousers, boots with curling toes, a shiny coat, and an ancient derby hat with wide brim. wide brim. This he took off, revealing a small, conical head as bald as an egg. The beady little eyes twinkled, and under the scanty, scrubby beard a broad smile spread almost to the batlike ears.
"I am D. Abasch," said the midget. "My bruder to Philadelphia has gone a new fish-business to start. I have come to take his place, to poise for you."
"You," exclaimed Pinchas, glaring down at the sorry, ratlike D. Abasch"you pose for my nowi!"
"Yes," said the young brother of the patriarch; "I have just at present nothing to do. Fifty cents an hour my bruder says you pay him. I will do it for thirtyfive."
"What," repeated Pinchas, with a terrifying laugh, "you pose for my nowiyou!"
"Yes," answered D. Abasch, a surprised and harried expression passing over
his weazen features. "Is it too much?
"Not for twenty-five dollars!" bellowed
"Where find another model?" echoed Kempinski, the Yiddish editor, at Lubin's that night. "Advertise, friend Spektor; advertise. I will fix up a notice and put it in my paper. It has the largest circulation. Prophets will come by dozens."
So they did, but they were not prophets, merely deposed rabbis, old-clothesmen, peddlers, unemployed and unemployables, old and young, fat and lean, tall and short, some in tow of their wives; a motley crew, hopelessly unfit, with no figures, no beards; no hair, no height.
Pinchas wailed aloud at Lubin's. Then silent, astute old Simon Kuch, the shadchen, or marriage-broker, pricked up his
"If I can find a man a wife and a woman a husband, cannot I find a sculptor a model?" said he. "For a commission and expenses, Pinchas Spektor, I will bring you ten men to pick from."
"Done!" cried Pinchas. he must be. Ludwig Samoschein will not "But a Jew have a Gentile; he says a Jewish monument of a Jew, by a Jew, for the Jews."
Old Simon nodded, but said no more. The very next day he brought four different candidates to Pinchas's studio, but Pinchas rejected them all. The following day Simon herded in five more. Pinchas, in disgust, also refused as imThese possible. Simon Kuch, muttering, shrugging his shoulders, and shaking his head, went sadly away. In half an hour he returned with another candidate. Spektor gave a cry of delight. A tall man stalked
beside the little shadchen, a fine figure of an elderly man.
Pinchas sharply. "Is he not a first-class "Look at him," said Simon, watching Yiddish type, a patriarch, a nowi? See beard, a long beard, a fine beard, never what a head he has, and hair; and what a touched by shears or razor!"
Pinchas expressed his gratification, and asked the man his name. The model made answered for him: no reply. But impressively Simon Kuch
"His very name is a prophet's name, a Bible name, Pinchas Spektor: Ezekiel is his name. Only"- and here he dropped his voice-"he has one bad thing the matter with him." "Eh?" said "What you say?"
hoarsely; "the poor man is dumb-and "He is dumb," whispered old Simon, deaf!"
relieved; "it is better even, maybe. I hate "It is no matter," answered Pinchas, models what talk, talk, talk like barbers."
Kuch, quickly. "You have then my com"You are satisfied, then?" asked Simon mission-and expenses?"
Pinchas paid all at once, and something over, and Simon, nodding sagely to Ezekiel, went away.
What an Hebraic type, what a father gloated over his model. He was glad that in Israel, what a nowi, was here! Pinchas his statue. What long, thick hair, what a he had not yet worked upon the head of fine, venerable elder's head, what bristling brows, deep-sunken eyes, and eagle nose! He was a grandfather out of Palestine, a Moses himself. true prince of the House of David; nay,
Pinchas set to work at once. mime he gave directions to his model, who In pantofollowed them exactly. Day after day Ezekiel came, posed, and got his meed of dollars. Wrapped in dreams, Pinchas worked away in the strange silence. It was as if the model himself were only a lifeless twinkled at times, Pinchas thought, with statue, so quiet was he. Only his eyes a strange, hidden meaning, and sometimes, liar smile upon the lips of Ezekiel. But when caught unawares, there was a pecuPinchas himself was now happy, and sang sinister bust of Ludwig Samoschein smiled as he wrought upon the clay. Even the down upon him. The pompous Samo