Chapter 63622239

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Chapter NumberIII
Chapter TitleA BOLT FROM THE BLUE.'
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63622239
Full Date1889-11-14
Page Number0
Corrections0
Word Count2275
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleIllustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872)
Trove TitleBy Order of the Czar. The Tragic Story of Anna Klosstock, The Queen of the Ghetto
article text

CHAPTER III.

'A BOLT FROM THE BLUE/

A warm ruddy glow from the great stove fell lovingly upon the group, which had an Oriental picturesqueness of detail that might to an artist have recalled the lights and shadows of the master painters of old, with the exception that there was something modern, in the beauty of Anna, with her violet eyes, her rich red-gold hair, and her fresh complexion- a beauty more akin to pure Venetian than to that of the

Semitic race.

'Anna, it were well thou went to rest/ said Klosstock ; ' our guest and friend Andrea is over- anxious about this new governor. He will alarm thee ; and even our dear Losinski is inclined to exaggerate the possibilities of the change . in governorship. It is true we are parting with a kind and benevolent man, and we should rejoice in his promotion/

'If it is promotion/ said Ferrari.

' Yes, my son, it is-the Governor has told me so himself ; and as a good wife makes a good hus- band, so do good subjects make good govern- ments, and there is some truth in the credit which

General Poltava gives to me for the peace and happiness we enjoy in Czarovna. I have con- ciliated our masters, propitiated our neighbours, our people have placed their interests in my keep- ing. I have in my dealings followed the example of my father ; and the result of this policy is seen in the gates of the Ghetto having for years rusted on their hinges, unused and forgotten, and in the neighbourly relationship of Christian and Jew, such as exists at this day, Ferrari-as you were telling me when last you favoured us with your welcome presence-in that city of the sea, which once was the seat of persecutions and butcheries of our race beyond the power of pen or tongue to

describe/

cIt is so, my father; and it would be to Southern Russia as if the Messiah were with them, could our people enjoy the blessings their brethren enjoy in Venice and in London/

' And in regard to which Czarovna stands only second, eh, Ferrari ? ' '

' Czarovna has many blessings/ said the Italian. ' Thou art my blessing, Anna/ said Klosstock, ' and it grows late/

The Jewish maiden rose, embraced her father, took her leave of the rabbi and their guest, and taking up a quaint old lamp retired, her heart full of the hope that if she and he whom she loved did bend their steps to other lands where the original yoke of the Egyptians had indeed fallen clean away from the Jewish shoulders, her father might be induced to accompany them ; though she knew how he would cling at last to the spot where her mother, the beloved wife of his youth, lay in her everlasting bed. But she hoped all would be as she wished, and she was glad that the journey had been talked of before the rabbi's friendly messenger had brought the bad news, which might otherwise have made the departure of her father seem like an act of

desertion.

'Listen, both of you-Nathan Klosstock and you, my dear friend Losinski,' said Ferrari,

'The butchers are abroad. The red fury of barbarism is once more marching through the land. The prediction that the anti-Semitic trouble in Germany would spread to Russia has been pushed on by Panslavist emissaries from Moscow. The flame has broken out at Elizabeth- grad. The Jews, being forewarned of trouble, applied to the authorities for protection. They were treated with scorn. While I speak to you the Jews' quarter is a wreck. Placards were issued, informing the orthodox Russians that the property of the Jews had been given over to them, and that they might take it. The Government did not deny the outrageous notification. The orthodox rose. The military being called out presented themselves at the scene of the massacre, but only to look on, their criminal sympathy with

the mob only tending to encourage the cruel

i>YffiS«flH '

' Dielst thou say massacre ? ' asked Klosstock, looking aghast at the Italian.

' I said massacre. But it was worse than massacre, my father ; twenty-five good women, onr dear sisters, were violated, ten dying in

consequence/

' Holy Father ! ' exclaimed the rabbi.

' At the house of one, Mordecai Wienarski, the mob, disappointed of plunder, caught up his child and hurled it through the window. The infant fell dead at the feet of a company of Cossacks, but they moved neither to take it up nor to arrest the murderers. Two thousand of our brethren are houseless : six have gone to their long rest ; many are grievously wounded, and the community has been plundered of property of the value of forty thousand English pounds/

'Thou strikest me dumb, Ferrari!' said the host. ' What dost thou advise ? '

' Nay, calm yourself/ said Losinski ; this is not the first rising against our brethren ; and while all Russia has suffered much in this way, do not forget that Czarovna has been free from trouble. We must not seem to know of this terrible news ; we must show no fear ; we must not let it change

our manner towards our neighbours ; General Poltava is still with us, and his officers are kind

and considerate.'

' Do not be deceived/ said Ferrari ; ' to-morrow, perhaps to-night, your new governor will arrive at the palace ; I passed him on the way j he was travelling incognito. By this time General

Poltava is under arrest.'

Klosstock leaned back in his chair and groaned. . 'I almost hate myself for being the bearer of

such ill-tidings/ said Ferrari ; ' it is the bolt from the blue. I found you steeped in the happi- ness of virtue, good feeling, and sweet content ; I am a moral earthquake to your household bliss.

But it is in one's happiest hours that Fate strikes

us down.'

' Let us pray !' said the rabbi.

Nathan Klosstock fell upon his knees in a paroxysm of grief. Ferrari bowed his head, mumbling to himself that he would rather cut the throat of the servant Negrusz, before he had time to do him, at least, a mischief.

The rabbi offered up an eloquent appeal to the God of their fathers, recalling the many favours He had accorded to His chosen people, and especially the blessings He had vouchsafed to Czarovna, bewailing the persecutions which His people suffered round about them, and more especially asking for the protéctioh of this house of Klosstock, and of His servant Anna, the light of her father's old age, and soon with His favour to be a wife unto the humble petitioner, and so on-a prayer of faith and hope and humility, to which Klosstock said 'Amen/ and Ferrari 'So

mote it be !'

Then there was a dead pause, and. the three men stood up and listened, as if they expected an answer to the rabbi's prayer in the shape of some good omen or token of peace. But all was still as death, except for the howl of some restless dog in

a distant street.

The moon had risen, and was pouring its beams into her chamber as Anna set down her lamp upon

a quaint old chest by the window

She sat right in the midst of the lunar radiance, and thortght how beautiful it was, how lovely was life-her life-what rich blessings God had lavished upon her. There was not a single tremor of fear in her heart. If trot\ble was coming to Czarovna, she and those she most loved would be able to leave it. It would have been too much to have expected her to think of any others at that moment besides her father and her lover. Nor could she realise the bitterness of a persecution which she had not felt, and which Czarovna had not known in her time; and while the rabbi had spoken of these things, he had been jealous not to overshadow Anna's happiness with tales of horrors, the recitation of which, while they might cast a shadow upon her thoughts, could serve no useful purpose. For she was born with sensibilities and a sympa- thetic nature, and would find in life itself, as she grew older, quite enough that was sad, without lavishing her sympathies upon sorrows and troubles she could neither influence, amend, nor

control.

Anna did not dream of the shadowy form that crept out of the moonlight, crouching beneath her window, as she closed the shutters and betook herself to her prayers. Neither did the rabbi, nor the guest, nor good old Father Klosstock. For the three men now lighted fresh pipes, and gathered about the stove to be free and confidential in their

conversation, Anna having re-

tired.

' This new governor/ said Fer- rari, 'is General Petronovitch, a man of cruel disposition, who hates our chosen people, and aids and abets their persecution. Nay, dear host, my good friend, be not impatient with me. I know what I say ; know more than I dare communicate to you ; know more than some

might say I ought ; more I hope than is good for

such as Petronovitch/

' I have never asked thee, Ferrari, whence thou comest, or whither thou goest ; but I trust to thy love and discretion not to compromise this house- hold with anything that can be called political/

' Your trust is well placed ; I am here for the last time. Czarovna will see me no more, nor, indeed, will Russia, after I leave her accursed soil on this last journey. Indeed, but for the love I bear you and your daughter, I should not have been here to say farewell ; for I passed a long dis- tance out of the way I was going to bring you the warning which the rabbi Losinski has haply re- ceived before me. It is well ; you might other- wise have thought less of what I had to tell you/

'If you are compromised in the eyes of the Government, Andrea Ferrari, it is hardly kind to have made this yotu* chief house of call in Southern Russia/ said the rabbi.

' I have had no reason to believe that I was a suspect until I left St. Petersburg this time, intending to go to Paris ; but some sudden know- ledge of the change of Government here, and the departure of a certain man from the capital for Elizabethgrad and Czarovna, forced me, as I said before, out of the love I bear this household, to make my way hither/

While he was speaking, the man who had crept out of the moonlight entered the old house by a side door in the courtyard, which 'was opened to him by an inmate ; and at the same time there emerged from an archway in the street at the entrance to the Ghetto a file of soldiers, and a, waggon came rumbling along the thoroughfare, awakening the otherwise quiet echoes of the night.

' What is the noise outside/ asked Ferrari,, feeling the knife, which he always carried handy

in a belt on his hip.

'Some late carrier from the country,' said

Klosstock.

'You seem much disturbed,' remarked the

rabbi.

' I had a bad dream last night ; I thought I was sitting here among you, and that suddenly there started up behind the stove a man who said, "Andrea Ferrari, thou art my prisonei*," The noise outside struck me curiously as if it were the prologue to my captivity.'

'Hast thou been drinking, Andrea?' the old

man asked.

' Nay, I am in my soberest senses ; a little over anxious for thy welfare, pei'haps ; for know this Governor General Petronovitch is a sensualist, and a tyrant ; he is believed to have instigated the rising against our chosen peojjle at Elizabeth- grad ; and your friend Poltava's withdrawal from the province is not promotion, it is disgrace ; he is even suspected of sympathy with the Nihilistic propaganda.'

' God forbid !' exclaimed Klosstock,

' Moreover, thy new servant, Amos Negrusz, is a Government spy-'

' And he arrests thee, Andrea Ferrari, as a traitor !' said a voice which seemed to come from the earth, as the three men started to their feet and the servant emerged from a dark corner of the room, covering Ferrari with the shining barrel of a revolver, while at the same time another person appeared from the doorway whence Anna had retired, and a loud knocking was heard

at the front door of the house.

' Do thou open thy door to the police,' said Negrusz.

Ferrari had stood perfectly still, his heart beating wildly, but hand and head ready for the slightest chance of escape. The arrogant act of the servant in ordering the master to open his own door gave Ferrari the opportunity. It was only for a second that Negrusz was off his guard, but in that second Ferrari, with the agility of a cat, was upon him, his knife in his throat, the 2)istol wrested from him, and the next moment the lithe Italian had disappeared through the open doorway in the rear.

A scene of confusion followed : hurried orders of military men, the screams of women, and pre- sently the report of firearms in the principal

street of the Ghetto.

(To be continued.)