|Chapter Title||HAPPY CZAROVNA.|
|Newspaper Title||Illustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872)|
|Trove Title||By Order of the Czar. The Tragic Story of Anna Klosstock, The Queen of the Ghetto|
CHAPTER II. j
HAPPY CZAROVNA. 1
It was an interesting and characteristic group, lj the Klosstock household, with Ferrari and <| Losinski as guests, a few days before the year of ¿-j Anna's betrothal to the young and learned rabbi 1 was ended. They sat round about the great stove, | after dinner, Klosstock in his brown gabardine, |
looking venerable and picturesque; the young ft rabbi similarly attired but in black, a heavy | signet ring upon the forefinger of his right hand, | his face singularly handsome, with soft, dreamy, | hazel eyes, a brown beard, not unlike the beard p which painters give to their imaginary portraits | of Christ ; Andrea Ferrari, the Italian Jew tra- | veller, a shrewd, keen-looking man of middle
height, with a watchful manner, a dark olive \ complexion, a straggling black beard and mous- p tache, a low compact forehead, as much of his | mouth as you could see denoting firmness of | character, his. hand strong and nervous, bony, í almost clawlike, his dress of a far more artistic cut \ than the others, with a girdle of tanned leather * and of ample proportions, large enough and | strong enough to carry treasures even more | valuable than their weight in gold ; and hidden | in his breast both knife and pistol-for while | Andrea could play the humble Jew, he knew also g how to protect himself on occasion. There had I been times when he had found it useful-and his g conscience took no affront at it-to pass himself | off as a Christian citizen of Venice. He hated g Russia with the intensity of an unforgiving 1 nature ; his father, an inoffensive pedlar in the I land', having lost his life in a street brawl at. the | hands of a drunken crew of Moscow revellers, his | mother falling a victim to grief at her husband s |
Apart from these inducements to revenge, 1
Andrea Ferrari had imbibed the doctrines and some of the hopes of the latest propaganda of the Nihilists of Eussia; but this he kept a strict secret in his own breast, he well knowing that in Russia even a secret so well guarded as his, some- times gets out, not by open or private confession, but through a keenly interpreted look, a sudden interrogation, or an ill-considered remark.
The somewhat sinister exjn-ession of Andrea's face, a habit he had of dropping his eyes, an introspective manner, was very much in contrast nth the frank, open countenances of the host, the rabbi, and the young girl who was not only known within the Pale of the Settlement as the Queen of the Ghetto, but outside the Jew's quarter as the good daughter of the liberal Jew.
Anna loved to hear Andrea Ferrari talk of his travels, and the rabbi, by whose side she sat, an attentive listener to the general conversation, was also much interested in him.
'Tell Anna,' said the rabbi, fof Venice; of those olden days of our people, and how our brethren have progressed in wealth, in power, and in freedom ; moreover such advancement is an encouragement for hope, even here in Eussia.'
'Would to God that all our neighbours, fal- and near/ said Klosstock, lighting his big German pipe, 'were as well considered and as justly protected in their rights as we of Czar-
'Eights !' exclaimed Andrea, in a fierce but suppressed tone, ' what rights, my father ?'
'The right to live without being beaten-the right to pray to the God of our Fathers-the right tobuy and sell.'
'Yes, we are well off at Czarovna/ remarked the rabbi; 'but that should not make us content when our brethren in the east and west are ground under the heel, beaten in the streets, cast into prison, crucified; and even here in the south, Czarovna is one of the few exceptions, where we may clo more than herd together like animals
1 content to feed on the husks their masters fling
i to them. But it was so in Venice, ° I where to-day our brethren hold
Inp their heads in the blessed, sun,
and walk with the Christian mer- chants, their equals in respect and in power.'
'Not quite that,' said Andrea, 'but of a sufficient freedom of action and life; it is only in London where it may be said the Jew is equal to the Christian. And if it were not that some of our brethren, steeped in the prejudices and vices that have been engendered of a thousand rears of persecution, did not trespass upon the English liberal and humane sentiment by ill acts that we as a community would be
I the first ourselves to punish,
London would come to forget entirely that a man were Jew or Gentile, except, if he were a Jew, to glorify him all the more for fe good works. It is thus that ire are cursed from generation to generation ; the offspring of the lead, hitter past, the child of persecution, the seed of misery and dependence, waxes strong, and in his strength develops the cunning of a past in which it ms his only weapon, and brings down upon individuals the curses of even the great liberal-minded people of London.'
' If thou wert not a Jew, and (meas the ring of thine own gold, Andrea Ferrari, thy words would te thine own condemnation ; but, friend of many countries, do thou tell our daughter Anna of that city of the sea, which is like the dream of a poet rather than a sober incident from the book of real experience ; and whither our tar son, the rabbi, doth propose to travel with our loving daughter
Anim-mayhap accompanied by
their father-what sayst thou, Anna ?'
'It is too much happiness to think upon,' she
'You may go to bed, Amos Negrusz,' said " «stock, addressing a serving-man, whom both
rabbi and Ferrari had eyed with something ) suspicion. The man bowed, but said nothing, even ' Good night.' He was a sinister-looking person, and had probably noticed a certain watch- fulness on the part of the guests that was peculiar to their manner on this occasion, for though he had only been in the Jew Klosstock's service a f« weeks he had come with such excellent cre- dentials, and Avas so Avilling and so anxious to all sppearance to please, that both the rabbi and the master were inclined to trust him, and to regard fe as an acquisition to the household.
'%give me,' said the rabbi, lifting the heavy curtain over the door Avhence Amos Negrusz had disappeared, and standing for a moment in a lis- tening attitude, ' and I will explain later.'
Klosstock looked inquiringly at his daughter, fhose hand seeking his, he raised it to his lips, aftd she laid her head upon hi's shoulder.
'Ho not like the man Amos,' said the rabbi, in
a low voice.
'Nor do I,' added Ferrari.
'Nay, what has the poor fellow done ?' asked hlosstock. < You thought him a good man and ful, my son, until now.'
'Idid,' said the rabbi. ' It is only to-day that 'doubt him ; only to-night that I fear him.'
Fear him?' said Klosstock. 'Do I hear
] Where did he como from ?' asked the Italian. From Elizabethgrad,' said Klosstock.
Recommended by one worthy of trust ?'
than?tnÜy'' Mplied Klosstock> 'tiie merchant
'Ithought so,' said Ferarri significantly. ' Do
W know the merchant Chane ?'
Aot to speak with him,' said Klosstock, ( but I
kl i by rePute as one whose word is his
' , and Avho has large possessions.'
' Ha !' ejaculated the Italian, rising and pacing the room for a moment, and at the same time pausing near the door, as if he listened for footsteps.
' Do you know him ?' asked the rabbi.
' I do,' said Ferrari.
' I fear a cloud is gathering about us/ said the rabbi, ' but one which may break far away if we are careful. I have kept watch over my words this evening that your servant might not hear of the warnings which have reached me within the last few hours from a trusted friend in St. Peters-
' Is it touching the new Governor ?' said Ferrari,
' It is/ said the rabbi.
fAIas, I can endorse it; and I, too, have observed a reticent ; demeanour, for the reason
that this Amos is not what he represents himself
'Forewarned is forearmed/ said the rabbi. 'The new Governor is on his way to Czarovna; it may be possible to propitiate him ; I know that it is possible for him to reduce our lives to the miserable level of those of our brethren at Kiew. That we are an exception is due to exceptional causes. The hand of persecution lies heavy on
our brethren all round about us.'
' Our brethren are themselves much to blame, said Klosstock. /'They make hard bargains they thrive on the Christian need ; they do n< acts of charity outside the Pale of Settlement they forget that God made us all.'
' They remember/ said Ferrari, ' that thi Christian has ground them beneath his heel they remember that from age to age in al countries they have been harried by Christia: fire and sword ; and that even in these days o so-called charity and education, and especially i: this land of the Czar, they are the victims c harsh laws, aliens alike from freedom an justice, and compelled to kiss the rod tba strikes them. No, my father, blame them nc that they take their revenge.'
' Ferrari, with the agility of a cat, was upon him, his knife in his throat.''
'But I do blame them, my son/ said Kloss tock, ' and I present to them and to you, the example of Czarovna as proof of the good that
comes out of toleration/
' Toleration !' exclaimed the Italian, but in a hoarse whisper. ' The merchant Chane is a tolerant man. Hush ! But we alarm oivr good young hostess.'
' I have spoken something of this to Anna already/ said the rabbi, 'and we are accus- tomed to discuss many things outside the ordinary lines of education.'
Anna crept closer to her father's side, and looked up wistfully at the handsome young savant who was to be her husband ;,within the next few days, and whom she loved with the devotion of her fervent and affectionate nature.