Puslapio vaizdai
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JANUARY, 1918.

ONE OF THEM

BY ELIZABETH HASANOVITZ

I

ists who devoted all their spare time and sacrificed a great deal of their earn

'SAY, kid, wake up! Are you going ings for the creation of a literary folkto sleep all day?'

Sunk in despondency, I had forgotten everything: my surroundings, the hall where the Dramatic Club was meeting, the members of the club, all had vanished in my misery.

'Are you asleep?'

I jumped up. Near me stood Clara, one of the members of the club, who had always taken a friendly interest in me. She recalled me with a start to the present. I was sitting in a dark humble hall, a low ceiling over our heads the shelter of the Dramatic Club. Slowly and monotonously, the rehearsal had dragged along. The director, his body reeking with sweat, had repeated for the tenth time the act which failed to please him.

The object of the club was to acquaint the Yiddish public of the East Side of New York with literary dramas, to encourage a better understanding of literature than they could gain from the Yiddish theatres, which usually fed their patrons with the trash common in the theatrical world. The best dramas of Ibsen, Maeterlinck, Hauptmann, Sudermann, and other modern writers were translated into Yiddish and produced in that small hall by a few ideal

VOL. 121- NO. 1

theatre. That evening the last rehearsal for the next day's performance had taken place.

Confused and puzzled, I had sat through the rehearsal. The poor light in the hall had brought the ceiling still lower, making me sink deeper into despair. Was the play interesting or not, the acting good or bad? Where had my enthusiasm gone? What was nagging me so dreadfully?

My mind wandered in dark confusion. Unconsciously, my hand, digging in my pocket, crumpled a small piece of paper. What was it?

Oh, the two-dollar bill! And the enlightenment came: my only two dollars - all my precious wealth! And over me swept the past nine weeks of weary, never-ending search for work. Rising each day with new hope, looking over every advertisement, running from place to place, all fruitless, until, broken with fatigue, I would return home, throw myself on my bed, and spend the rest of the day in the stupor of despair, apathetically gazing at the ceiling.

Most of the advertisements wanted skilled 'hands,' others were four-dollar jobs with little chance for advancement. My self-consciousness would not

they?'

allow me to work for four dollars a kid; your boats are not all sunk, are week. Nine long, long weeks I looked. in vain for a place where I could learn some trade that would, in the end; pay me more. After a long year of struggle, here I stood, more helpless than on the day I arrived in America; 'Why had I come to America?. What had I accomplished by. the historic change in my life?'

From the dark brooding that made me unconscious of my surroundings, I was recalled by Clara's kindly voice. The lights were all out, the people all gone.

Clara was amazed to see me in such a mood, for by nature, I was a very joyous person, and among friends I made myself very merry, often being the ringleader in all the fun and merriment, so that my sufferings for the last nine weeks were not known to any one.

'I think they are, Clara,' I answered, clutching my only two-dollar bill, which so painfully reminded me of my situation.

Her efforts to start a conversation were not successful. I was too tired and

'I hope you don't mind if I walk discouraged to speak, and silently we home with you?'

I looked up at her as if I saw her for the first time a face full of wrinkles, a cut on the lower lip, big inflamed eyes, looked at me smilingly; a face which I had never liked before looked much pleasanter to me now.

'Why, yes, I shall be glad,' I said. We climbed down the dark creaking staircase, tracing our way along Orchard Street, the small dirty thoroughfare crowded with push-carts and people. The noise of the elevated trains on Allen Street was deafening, but above the din was a greater noise than usual. Bells were ringing, whistles blowing, the air was full of merriment and joy. Young people, holding feather-dusters dipped in some ill-smelling white powder or in charcoal, smeared the faces of the people as they passed by.

reached my door. After wishing each other good-night and a Happy New Year, I climbed the dark, dirty stairway to the fourth floor and opened the door into a cold, unfriendly room. An old couch, two chairs, a broken white table, and an old, once-white dresser furnished the small room. The only window faced a narrow court that never allowed the sunlight to break in.

My room-mate was absent. I lighted the gas. Lonely and homesick, I paced back and forth from one corner to another, my mind painfully wandering far away to my home, now clad in silver white.

H-r-ough; h—r—ough; h—r—ough; h-r-ough!

Oh, those sickening sounds from my snoring neighbors, coming from the windows crowded around the narrow airshaft! They played on my weakened nerves and drove me almost to distraction. For two months that snoring discord so near my room disturbed my peace, irritated my nerves, and kept me awake through the nights.

'New Year's Eve! New Year's Eve!' Clara joyfully exclaimed, infected by the merriment around her. To me it was annoying. Could not the people enjoy themselves more intelligently? On New Year's Eve, in Russia, the peasants usually get drunk and often break the windows of the Yiddish dwellings. Here the young folks were running round screaming like wild animals, tormenting the passer-by. 'You're moody to-night. Cheer up, ringing, cheerful voices greeting: 'Hap

II

The city clock slowly struck twelve. The New Year had come. More bells

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