Chapter 63622326

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Chapter NumberXIII
Chapter TitleA GREAT FIGHT; BUT THE RED COCK CROWS OVER THE GHETTO.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63622326
Full Date1889-12-26
Page Number0
Corrections0
Word Count4676
IllustratedY
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 XIII.

A GEEÂ.T FICHIT; BUT THE RED COCK CEOWS OVER

THE G-IIKTTÓ. '

The entrance to the well, which was the narrow way to the underground palace of the wise old Jew, was a small open square or yard leading into the hack of the G-runstein warehouse or store-room, a not very safe place if the mob made their way through the strong iron-bound door that gave upon

it. But Ferrari was master of the situation, seeiuo that, go as far as he might through the pre° mises, he had strong doors between him and the rioters, unless through any indiscretion arisin»- out of his excitement they should score an advantage against him. The yard in question was unap- proachable from without, seeing that on one side it was shut in by the warehouse before mentioned

and on the other by the beginning of the overhang- * ingrock8 which were the commencement ofthat I curious geological formation the secret of which.

Moses Grunstein had discovered long ago, to his '

great satisfaction, if not to his financial profit. |

Ferrari, with the master key of the place in his. J hand, being also on the right side of all the bolts. j and bars, stood in the little courtyard of the under- | ground retreat, and listened. He had given the 1 knife which had Berved him so well on the night of 3 his escape from Klosstock's house to Anna_alas I $

to so little purpose-but he had replaced it from \ 'G-runstein's store with a superb example of the

cutler's art. It was not a dagger in the general \ acceptation of the term ; it was something between i a butcher's knife and the stiletto of the Spaniard; | it had the fine temper of the latter with the strength I of the former, and it rested in a heavy leathern I sheath ; it had not the handle of the dagger, but J was attached by a strap to the wrist. In a pocket J upon Ferrari's hip was a revolver, and in his reso- 1 lute eyes there was a whole armoury of weapons ; 1 for whatever one may have previously seen of the » ugly side of Ferrari was as nothing compared with jj the murderous look there was now in his face as he 1 stood listening for the mob, conscious of his power,. i and full of a determination to avenge on somebody 1 the death of the rabbi and the almost worse than ? assassination of Anna Klosstock. \

Let us glance at him in the streak of sunny day- | light that falls into the narrow gorge we have called . the courtyard, between the well and the Grunstein ! warehouse. Wearing a coarse grey shirt of woollen texture, a pair of breeches, with high boots, he is

stripped for battle. He is of medium height, bony, > lithe, some would say thin, and his muscles are of i

iron. His shirt is open at the throat, showing a I shapely neck; no Adam's apple in it, but strong

muscular bands right and left ; his head well fixed ] upon the neck ; and one notes that, in repose and j not under the tension of strong passion, head and j shoulders would be singularly graceful ; but now

the head was stiffly borne up, as if all the muscles j of the body were strung for some big athletic action. ¡ His face at first blush would have struck you as j more or less ascetic ; but there was something both | sensual and sensuous in the mouth, and just now f there was a drawing up and a twitching of the right j

corner of the upper lip that suggested the snarl of f a dog that is going to bite. His eyes, black as j night, only showed the whites, except that there \ was a touch of the sun by way of reflection in the ] pupils, that made a lustrous suggestion of their j depths. The forehead was square, and had two j strong wrinkles about the nose, and a decided scowl 1 right across the frontal bone. He had torn off the ; disguise of beard and moustache, leaving only a short, downy moustache as black as his long hair that hung about his forehead, and was in artistic harmony with his sun-tanned skin.

It was the face of an enthusiast, with the cun- ning of the Jew, and the hot passion in suppression

of the Italian bravo. But .when he fctretched his

two arms above his head, as if he were giving him- self a pull together for a great leap, you could see that with all the fire of physical passion there was also present a capacity for restraining it until the time was ripe for action. He suggested the tiger getting ready for a spring.

Behold him creep to the great door and fling it back upon its hinges. Behold him leave it wide open for easy egress. Behold him pass along to the next door, and listen. He hears no sound. He draws the bolts, releases the bar. He is now in the midst of bales and boxes of skins and rich textiles. Still no sound ? Yes. A murmur that is not far

away. He opens the next door ; he is in the Jew's ' living room, the apartment where he and Grunstein had drunk confusion to the foe. The mob is at the door; they have broken down the two other doors,

and are thundering. at this. Ferrari draws his knife, kisses the blade, and snarls. The mob have broken in one of the panels. There are two bolte on the upper half of the door.- Ferrari undoes one of these, whereupon half the panel gives way, and there is a yell of triumph without, followed by a yell of pain. Two arms that were thrust into the opening have been instantly _ seized by Ferrari in one bony hand, to be literally scored from wrist to elbow with red gashes that leave the flesh hanging like loose bandages.

And now Ferrari's lips are red, for he lias kissed his knife again, and he laughs like a maniac. ' Come on, scum of the earth! Don't be bashful. Come on ; there's room for all of you, and to spare !r But they did not hear a word, although they had paused for a moment to let the wounded assailants

fall to the rear.

Bang, bang, crash came the blows upon the door, as if a very battering-ram of old had got to work.

They were determined men, these ; not the sort who passed on because they met a strange resistance ; besides they knew the value of Grunstein's store. Down came the top half of the door, and crash inte ' the faces that looked in went Ferrari's knife amidst howls of pain and execration.

And they saw Ferrari - those who were not blinded with his knife - and he laughed aloud and ; died, and leaped, and flourished his weapon,

and had nearly lost his life, as a consequence, the sharp or:« ck of a pistol and the whizz of a bullet causing him at once to dodge his head and rush for . the oecund room. He had only just time to swing

the doo!' upon the jambs, and bolt and bar it, when, the mob were inside the next room, and had flung theniPcivos upon the door; but it was made ol' stm-i-er and sterner stuff than the other, and it had the additional protection of an iron bar.

. « Don't be a fool, Andrea,' Ferrari said to him-

self, almost hissing the words, as?if he weie addressing some second person. ' Don't be a tool, would you let them catch you and skin you alive r

Don'the a fool I tell you!'

His hand sought his hip pocket and then with-

drew ,

'No, not yet,' he said, 'jou will empty your pistol at the last stand.'

The door was thick, but he thought between tue' blows upon it he could hear the ruffians dragging,'

.^iway the Griinstein bales ; he saw them, indeed, as much as heard them, inhisim'igination, gloating and yelling over their spoil and maddened with the drink they must have found in the first room of the strange old house. The door cracked. He tightened his belt, examined his knife, gave his shirt sleeves ¡mother roll above the elbow, that snarling curl of tho upper lip showed one of his teeth, the one called the canine tooth, ard his delicate nostrils dilated. How curiously the daintily-modelled nose seemed to contradict the sensuous and somewhat cruel

mouth.

A piece of the door flew past him in splinters followed by a shout of triumph, but no venturesome nrm was thrust. through the ragged aperture. Ferrari thought he recognised the voice of the man who had been a ringleader in the first rush upon the Jews near the scaffold-one of the strangers who had como into the town from Elizabethgrad. It was different from the voices and accent of the Czarovna

men.

Another aperture in the door was made, and it was as if the assailants had kept silence as a signal for their leader to speak. ' Now you rat, we've got you; say your prayers, you filthy Jew.'

Yes, it was the voice of the ruffian who had come into Czarovna with the false ukase and the. pistol

and dagger.

' Come and take me, then,' said Ferrari, his face as near the hole as he dared to place it, and his voice as calm as if he were speaking to some one in the open street, and without fear. ' Make a hole big enough to let in one at a time, and I'll fight YOU all, you wretched canaille of the earth .cowards, thieves, cut-throats, and assassins of

women.'

The challenge seemed to be accepted with a howl .of anger and derision, and the blows at the door were renewed. They were now literally battering on the bar, and they made no way. Another pause ; but no arm came through the broken panel.

' I'll open to you if you will thrust in your filthy leader,' shouted Ferrari.

' Open then,' responded the stranger ; and the mob gave a yell that was something in the nature

?of a cheer.

At that moment some kind of reinforcement arrived, and it was as if a dozen men at one swing flung themselves upon the door armed with black- smith's hammers. The iron bar bent before the assault, the door shook upon its hinges.

Ferrari glanced at his base of retreat, and held his breath. The blows were repeated again and again, and presently the timber began to give, and ia au incautious moment a hand was thrust through to seize the bar with a view to lift it. In a moment the venturesome hand was almost severed from the wrist, and a cry rang out fierce enough to chill even the hot Italian blood of Ferrari-a cry not alone of one man, but of a score, a rasping howl of ven- geance, followed the next moment with a renewed

attack.

That which struck the only note of fear in Ferrari's breast was the sudden firing of several muskets into the broken door. But he was as cunning as he was brave ; he only had one desire at the moment, and that waa to have his hand on the leader of the gang. Silence followed the firing, and the Italian guessed its object, and humoured the hope of the foe.

' You have done for me, you cowards,' he screamed, and then gasped and fell heavily; but he was on his feet in a second, his knife clutched firmly in his right hand.

' Ha, ha, ha!' laughed the leader at the top of his voice, and the rest joined him in chorus-such a cruel, brutal laugh! Then there was a scuffle and

a rush, and the next moment the leader squeezed his body through the half-open rloor, and in an instant was seized and dragged through the room, and beyond the next door and into the little courtyard of the Aladdin's Palace underground, the great door swinging back, with a closing and shutting of automatic bolts like the ring of doom. Before he could hardly breathe the man

from Elizabethgrad was disarmed : and stamped upon.

' Wait, my friend, wait,' said Ferrari, fastening the remaining bolts of the great door. The mob pouring into the breach of the pre- vious door had evidently paused to look for the dead Ferrari and their

live leader ; not finding them were puzzled, and before attacking the next barrier had spent some of their energies in ransacking the warehouse, which gave them a very satisfactory plunder.

Meanwhile, Ferrari, taking his opponent by the throat, raised him to his feet. He was a powerful, low-browed, shaggy-haired Russian, in a sheep- skin jacket, worn, no doubt, more particularly to please the mujiks, for whose interests he professed to be fighting. He was dazed and stunnrd, but shook himself free of Ferrari', and looked at him with a threatening eye.

'Well, Christian!' said Ferrari. 'Well, thief, murderer, beast ! How will you die ? Will you be crucified ? That is a death you talk about a deal, you gentle religious folk. Ha, you brute, I have a great mind to rip you into a thousand

pieces !'

Ferrari flashed his knife in the man's face. The Russian did not flinch. He fixed a dull gaze upon Ferrari's bony face and sparkling eyes.

' Ci ve me a chance,' at last said the leader from Elizabethgrad.

' A chance to kill me ?' ' A chance of my life ?'

' Ho, ho !' laughed Ferrari, ' do you ask a Jew to do that ? Do you ask a Jew who crucifies babies nnd makes sacrifices of Christians at his bloody feasts ? Do you ask me to save you ?'

'To save yourself, ' said the man, sullenly. ' You will kill me, then ?'

. They will,' said the man, pointing to the closed

door.

' Have you not read, in what you call your Scrip- tures, what the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did for his people in the old days ?'

No reply.

' Answer me, you thief, or I will stab you.'

41 have answered,' the man replied. And now there began a fresh assault upon Ferrari's last barrier, and the long ears of the man from Eliza

i bethgrad moved as a horse's mighb, and a tremor of

hopo ran through every muscle.

' Your friends ave coming ; are you not sorry you left them ?' said Ferrari, \yith a sneer.

Just as the spy in the opening chapter of these i recordsi lost his life to Ferrari's knife by a glance : aside in a moment of victorious pride and cynicism,

so for the twinkling of an eye was Ferrari off his guard with his unbound prisoner, who sprang at him and held him with the hug of a bear. Neither of them spoke. They fell to the ground with a thud; they writhed; Ferrari's knife fell from his i grip, but it was still fastened to his wrist. He could » not recover it within his hand ; his opponent was

feeling for it, and also trying to seize Ferrari by his right wrist ; the fight on both sides concentrated > in this. The man from Elizabethgrad held Ferrari > in so strong a hug that the Italian could not move i his hand sufficiently to clasp the haudle of his knife. , The Russian's knife and revolver were on the

ground only a few yards away ; the man from i Elizabethgrad was trying to drag Ferrari in their ? direction, but Ferrari had twined his strong muscu-

lar right leg round the two heavy limbs of the other wrestler, and worked it as a rudder ; and, more I over, his left hand was on the throat of his as-

sailant, and he fairly gripped the wretch's wind- pipe as in a vice. At the same time the man from i Elizabethgrad held Ferrari with a close persistence ; that only had to last long enough to be fatal, for it . would in time have squeezed the very life out of him.

4 And crash into the faces that looked in went Ferrar? s knife'

And the thunder of the attacking party without fell upon the great door, fell upon it in measured strokes ; a veritable ringing file fire of blows, with now and then an added rush in force, that shook the timbers and drew forth grunts and

screams from bolts and bars.

These sounds were like bells of hopeful song to the man from Elizabethgrad, who under their in- spiration made a sudden and almost superhuman effort, aB also at the same moment did Ferrari, who, with the breath nearly battered out of his body, re- covered his knife. Feeling the handle of it within his grasp was the one touch of magic needed for his salvation. With a sense of fainting coming over him, he made a last attempt to free his right aim. He had held on to his opponent's throat, who was also getting weak from approaching suffocation. It was the supreme moment for both of them. Ferrari wrenched his arm free, clutched his knife, drew it steadily upwards, thrust it into his oppo- nent's side, and fainted.

At the entrance to th« retreat, just within the well, had stood awaiting the return of Ferrari his friend and host. Between his sighs and prayers he had heard all that had transpired in the little court- yard; heard it and prayed and listened, looked up to the sky, and had Been nothing. Once he was on the point of ascending to the daylight, but hearing that Ferrari had a prisoner, who of course would be bound, did not consider his assistance necessary ; then he had gone back into the cavern to reassure Anna and to bring some weapon away-he knew not why, so bewildered was he. When he returned all was still ; he heard, as he thought, hard breath- ing, and thought perhaps Ferrari had executed his prisoner, and was waiting to learn the outcome of the attack on the old house.

' Andrea Ferrari,' he called in a f-.oft voice. No reply. 'Andrea!' he exclaimed. No answer. Now

louder, ' Andrea Ferrari,"my dear friend ! Art thou

there P'

Then the old man crept from his hiding-place and peered out above the coping-stone of the well. There lay the two combatants. He' issued forth and hurried to Ferrari. At the same time he glanced cautiously at the enemy, taking also the precaution to unsheathe the knife he had brought from his retreat. The "Russian was dead. Ferrari moved and sighed. Moses Grunstein knelt down beside him and poured down his throat a measure of brandy from a flask at his girdle. The Italian sighed more deeply and opened his eyes. For a moment there was a look of agony in them; it gradually chanced into a smile, and then he struggled painfully to his feet.

At the same time the mob thundered upon the great oaken door with a din of terrible resolution.

' Come, my son, come!' said the old man, ' or we

are lost.'

'Yes,' said Ferrari, ' thank God in the meantime

that we are saved.'

As he looked up and uttered this brief prayer he turned the Russian over with his foot and spat upon the bleeding body.

'Come-come,'said Grunstein.

Ferrari, with a look of hatred in the direction of the mob, stood aside while Grunstein descended the well. Then, shaking his fist at the mob he could not see, he followed his leader. Standing at the entrance to the approaches of the cave the old man

said, ' Now, my son, to perform a miracle. It has pleased God to afflict us sorely ; it has pleased Him at least to let his hand fall upon one of our persecu tors;; it may please 'Him to save us for a happy future. For the present we are safe, and we shall emerge again free ; these storms of persecution and death come and go; the fury past, there will be peace, and Moses Grunstein has some treasures left. Listen ; it is a powerful barrier, the last one,

is it not ?'

1 It laughs at them,' said Ferrari.

' But it will give way anon,' said the old man, ' and then it cannot be that they will not examine the well ; possibly suspect its secret. So now for

the miracle I told thee of.'

The old man took Ferrari by the hand. 4 A few steps to the left, my son.'

Paesing to the left they went a few steps forward, and then the old man stopped.

* What do you hear,' asked Ferrari's host.

* A rush of water.'

' It is the stream that passes through the cavern at the further end; a small stream, but confined to a narrow gully, it makes a great noise. I turn it aside and it enters the well until the water rises above the entrance.'

He stooped as he spoke, and with considerable effort turned a heavy screw that creaked and creaked with a painful sound, and presently the old man rose to his feet. There was a change in the noise of the water; it was now heard as if falling from a height, and with a splashing

sound.

f We retrace our steps,' said the old man.

They returned to the entrance of the cave. A stream of water was filling into the well.

' Now, my son,' said the old man, ' turn thine eyes to the right.'

' Yes,' said Ferrari.

' Raise the lamp."

Ferrari held the lamp above his head. ' Tou see a ring of iron ?'

'Yes.'

' Grasp it.'

Ferrari laid hold upon it.

'Stand back and pull it. Keep free from the

entrance.'

Ferrari pulled the ring. There fell down a slab of metal or hard wood, entirely closing communica-

tion with the well and the exit above.

' The water will rise up in front of it,' said the old man, ' and no skill in Russia will find out it« secret. When it is time for us to go forth, we open our door and admit our watery guard, which will

scatter itself in these passages in ten minutes, and ? our egress remains as before. Without this sentinel some prying devil more clever than his fellows might find our hall of entrance ; but now if be bas a mind to drop into the well he finds no rest for thé sole of his foot ; only the water. And didst thou notice a rope hanging from the rock over the

yard ?

' No.'

' They will notice it when they beat down the door, and close by pieces of rock and soil, as if someone had clambered up to the daylight; and that will be regarded as thy means of escape, and so, peradventure, the well may claim no attention whatever. Come, then, my friend, let us go within

and praise the Lord, for His mercy endureth for

ever!'

Ferrari shrugged his shoulders at the invitation, thinking of the dead rabbi and the worse than dead

Queen of the Ghetto.

And while they prayed and feasted, and slept and ate and drank in security-Moses and his wife and servant, and the stranger within his gates-the storm of civil and unholy strife, the red waves of persecution passed over Czarovna like a blight from hell. Helpless women and children fell before the lust and savagery of ignorance, fanaticism, bloodguiltiness, and revenge. Once more the cruel fate of their predecessors of Egypt had sought out the Israelites in this remote corner of the world, and they were beaten with many stripes, tortured with rod and fire, their household goods taken from them, their altars and shrines desolated, their num- bers decimated with fire and sword. Czarovna was almost wiped from the face of the earth. In the daytime the ghetto resounded with cries of death and yells of drunken vengeance. At night the red cock crowed over the long street, and flamed high above the eaves and chimneys of the home of the Klosstocks. And when the work of desolation came to an end, the country round about was filled with houseless Jews seeking the shelter of wood and forest, making their way to the river that held its course through hostile town and village to the dis-

tant sea.

The historian's duty in regard to this part of his narrative is complete with the simple record of the sack and burning of Czarovna, and the intimation that out of this flame and smoke of desolation came forth at last safe through the furnace Andrea Fer- rari, Moses Grunstein, his wife and servant. How Ferrari eventually made his way through the spies and police of Russia is not a matter of so much account as what he did with his liberty, which it will bethe business of the narrator to set forth in future chapters ; but it is important to relate that he left Anna Klosstock a miserable wreck in the Christian hospital at Czarovna, subject to the treatment of local medical science, which prided itself on the roughest and readiest means of curing those victim ¡? of the knout whose friends had not been able to purchase the death-blow-curing them that they should be enabled to undergo such further punish- ment as their crimes involved by order of the Czar.

There were in particular two men in the world Count Stravensky and Andrea Ferrari-whose hearts bled for Anna Klosstock, and who had sworn to avenge both herself and her father upon Ivan Petronovitch, if not upon the Czar himself, under whose government such deeds were possible as those which blasted the house of Klosstock, giving over its virtuous inmates to the pangs of exile, torture, infamy, and untimely death.

[To be continued.)

-- » '

Mr. Elsasser, representing Messrs. H. H. Warner and Co., of Safe Cure fame, arrived in Sydney recently from Queensland, and intends making a lengthy stay in the city. He will in- troduce various new medicinal preparations which have been patented by his firm.

The article with regard to the suburb of Red- fern, which appeared in our last issue, has attracted a great deal of attention, and the notice therein contained of the Great Southern Bread Factory, in Redfern-street, has brought that im- portant concern more prominently than ever before the eyes of the public of Sydney. Mr. William White, the proprietor of this leviathan bakery, and a self-made man, may well feel proud of being at the head of such a

business.

Messrs. Kerry and Jones, who are pre-eminent in their own particular branch for landscape views, have recently added considerably to their collection of pictures representing the various phases of station life. Under the title of ' Peeps in Sunny New South Wales/ Messrs. Kerry and Jones have issued a charming series of views, which are a very agreeable departure from the stereotyped form of chromo Christmas cards. The two pictures selected for the frontispiece are gems in their way, and reflect great credit on the photographers. They are racy of the soil, and will afford friends at home truthful and, at the same time, picturesque glimpses of the land which their relatives and friends have adopted.